Chris Grosso: Where does your funny – and what many would call, accurate – cynicism come from?

Chuck Palahniuk: My cynicism? Consider that I was born in 1962 and carried as an infant through the “World of Tomorrow,” as staged at the 1963 Seattle World’s Fair. Everything seemed possible. TWA was selling tickets for their first flight to the moon. The Jetsons cartoon family lived in a house almost identical to the Space Needle.

At the age of twelve I toured Expo74, the World’s Fair held in Spokane, Washington in 1974. Instead of space travel, the new emphasis was on: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. By 1974, the Vietnam war and American politics were a mess. The inner cities were wrecked. The optimism of my childhood was replaced by the cathartic disaster movies of the 1970s: massive ocean liners, towering skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, all of humanity’s greatest achievements were depicted being wrecked by tidal waves, fires, earthquakes or nuclear war. Romantic Fatalism presented itself in other films. The Bad News Bears lost. Rocky lost. In Saturday Night Fever, Travolta won his dance contest, only to discover that it was rigged. Successful horror movies such as The Omen, Burnt Offerings, The Sentinel, and Rosemary’s Baby all promised a future of continuing evil.

The same architect who designed the Seattle fair’s futuristic Science Center, with its lacy Gothic arches and spires, Minoru Yamasaki, was hired to design the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Seattle had promised fairgoers a glimpse of the world that would exist in 2001. That year eventually unfolded as something less than the dream we’d imagined.

CG: You’re undoubtedly one of the great writers of our day and have legions of readers, yet you seem to have remained completely unfazed by the author/rock star syndrome and totally accessible to your fans. What do you attribute not getting caught up in the ego stuff to?

CP: Take my word for it: I was a huge prick for the first couple years of my success. To me, my achievements proved that my friends and family members could also realize their own dreams – if only they’d work harder. So I pushed and harangued the people I loved to become painters, musicians, writers, etc. Whatever they’d once hoped to become. Eventually my well-intentioned bullying drove them from my life. Since then I’ve come to accept people as they are.

Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, speaker, freelance writer and musician. He created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with TheIndieSpiritualist.com, and continues the exploration with his bestselling debut book, Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality.

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