Questions on Grak

I got this message today. It’s not often that I get a chance to discuss these topics so thoroughly, so I thought it was worth posting here.

Hey I’m Scott, I’m currently writing a report about Things Grak Hates and I’m diving into how philosophical ideas like Nietzsche’s will to power and Freud’s Id and Ego play a role in your book. I was just wondering if you had any one particular philosopher or sociological idea in mind when you wrote the book so I can analyze them for my class. Thank you!

Hi Scott,

For me to say that I had any one thinker or their ideas in mind when I wrote Things Grak Hates would be inaccurate. I usually prefer to write in a more abstract manner, drawing on many sources and ideas. Standing on the shoulders of giants, as it were.

That being said, Nietzsche and Freud have had such an impact on society that most modern writers who touch on the psyche reflect their work in some fashion, and I am clearly no exception. Much as any originality that I possess is merely drawn from the originality of previous writers, my observations on psyche are merely drawn from previous thinkers.

Nietzsche’s influence is clear enough. I agree with his understanding of the basis of human psyche in most respects, though I disagree with his nihilistic conclusions. As such, I laid out a bleak foundation with an open ending that carries a modicum of hope and only hints at darker things to come. However, I also attempted to show how not every character in my story was egocentric, which demonstrates where I deviate from the will to power as a basis for human psyche.

Freud’s structural model fills out more of my view, demonstrated through the conflicting impulses in Grak’s mind as well as in his tribe. This footprint is also visible in the story’s chronology, revealing not only a conflict, but also a sort of emergence from a tribal (or unconscious) setting toward a more complex (or conscious) world.

C. S. Lewis played a large role in the novel’s portrayal of the dissemination of ideas and humanity’s false sense of control (yet simultaneously and paradoxically true). I attempted to shape Things Grak Hates in the tradition of Pandora’s Box, showing that Grak has set certain events into motion and all who come after are subject to what he has done. A good quote of Lewis’ along these lines is,

“For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please …

At the moment, then, of Man’s victory over Nature, we find the whole human race subjected to some individual men, and those individuals subjected to that in themselves which is purely ‘natural’ – to their irrational impulses.”

As it happens, when we view history through this lens, Newton’s point about shoulders and giants suggests that we would also be confined or at least hindered by that view.

Most recently and perhaps most hopefully, Viktor Frankl has played a large role in my thinking as it pertains to Things Grak Hates. Here are some fantastic quotes of his that were reflected in my novel.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

“For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

While I’ll admit that my story was bleak, woven throughout is a thread of hope. At times, that thread whispers through words bluntly spoken. Other times it speaks calmly through a speck of dialogue here or an overlooked action there. Sometimes that thread shouts through the vacuum of evil portrayed.

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