One City

One City


Reif Larsen Gets Sympathetic Joy

posted by Ethan Nichtern

Jealousy strikes us all in different ways. Sympathetic joy, (mudita for those of you pali/sanskrit geeks) refers to a  a series of  guided meditations offered by the Buddhist tradition to overcome the insidious human poison of envy. I have found the practice to be quite helpful, as I find all Buddhist practice to be helpful, but there is one group of people who incites the need for the practice in me more than any other sentient beings, and I’m not sure why. My “jealousy gang” consists of young male writers who are sometimes younger than I am and have a tremendous amount of success. And the group that gets me going has a brand new leader for me to visualize in the space in front of my body. Move over Dave Eggers (you were minor league), get outta here Jonathan Safran Foer (you were cute and harmless anyway), Reif Larsen is here.

larsen_reif2.jpg


Reif Larsen received a $1 Million advance for The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, an illustrated novel about a 12 year-old cartographer.

I know what you are going to say. You’ll say “Ethan, you’re doing great! You’re first book was published when you were 29. You do good work. You write for a great blog. You’re working on rewriting a novel you are very proud of. If all goes well, it has a good shot of getting published by a small publisher. You’re book has been translated into German and Dutch (btw, I have two copies of One City in each language I have no idea what to do with). By all measures, you are a success. So chill out, homie, and don’t ponder others.”

But it doesn’t matter what you say. Because I will tell you, from Mara’s mouth to your ears, that you are right. I got plenty. But it ain’t about what I got. It’s about what I ain’t got. Reif (is that really your real name, man?) got an advance 150 times the size of mine (for real). Reif went to the same college as I did, and is two years younger (that strikes a bit close to home). Reif’s in Vanity Fair! And you know what else, turns out Reif’s all into…wait for it…Zen Buddhism! That was the dagger. Dude’s Buddhist! Why can’t he be an alcoholic nihilist like other writers and leave the dharma niche to me? If you start a blog about Zen and mapmaking, Reif, I’m gonna lose my shit!

Jealousy has nothing to do with what we have; it always operates as a relative comparison of lack. Because what we have is not solid, and our experience moves ungraspably onward toward an inevitable anti-climax, leaving us to wonder if someone else figured out the key to contentment. Don’t worry, they didn’t.

Nobody here but us fools, saddled with our lack, raging against the intricacies of day-by-day boredom. And it turns out, when you meditate on mudita, the only thing that fills the lack is the production of spontaneous joy, which has no solidity either. Go figure.

So here’s to you, Reif Larsen. You look like a nice guy (way cooler than Dave Eggers). I’ll buy your book. And I’d even like to interview you for our podcast to ask you about Zen and your creative process. I’ll buy you a drink at the Brooklyn bar of your choice (like you need me to!).

Back to One City Blog Homepage



Advertisement
Comments read comments(24)
post a comment
Julia May

posted May 12, 2009 at 2:57 pm


I long ago trained myself out of artistic or creative success-oriented jealousy. It was beyond corrosive to my process. That was very easy, as I’ve learned the only way for me to make anything succesful creatively is to be interested in the puzzle that My Work presents and disregard its potential cache. Every time I start to think about its cache the whole thing gets crap.
That said I am, to my chagrin, jealous of tall women. Maybe because there is no possibility of ever changing my shrimpdom.



report abuse
 

gza

posted May 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm


a million . . .thats a lot of clams for a book that sounds weird



report abuse
 

Paul Griffin

posted May 12, 2009 at 4:11 pm


You forgot about Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision.
As for Eggers, though he’s become his own brand, I still find his work compelling. His What Is The What was terrific. Did you see the all-star hipster team that collaborated on the new movie Away We Go? Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida wrote the script; Sam Mendes directs; Maggie Gyllenhaal, John Krasinski, Jeff Daniels, Catherine O’Hara, and Maya Rudolph star. But in all honesty, I do deeply appreciate the work of these artists, and I feel sympathetic joy for them.
If anything, I’m still jealous of Fitzergald, who published The Side of Paradise at age 24.



report abuse
 

Patrick Groneman

posted May 12, 2009 at 4:48 pm


There is a seemingly practical aspect to the jealousy experienced within the creative field in a capitalist context. There is a creative window within popular culture that closes once a style has become “cliched.” William Bayer spoke to this idea in his guide to young filmmkers “Breaking Through, Seling Out and Dropping Dead”
“Easy Rider fulfilled a craving by a particular segment of the audience (alienated young Americans)…the moment it appeared it was instantly recognized by millions of young people as certifying a certain fantasy and a certain truth they had come to hold…once a certain fantasy has fulfilled an audience, the territory it has covered is burned out…”
This to me is the real disaster involved in mixing art, capitalism and a global popular culture…Those who would have the most to share in terms of intimate creative dialogue have to view each other through the eyes of competition rather than sympathetic joy!



report abuse
 

ellen

posted May 12, 2009 at 4:49 pm


Relative success and failure, esp in the writing world, is so very odd. It’s interesting to look at Pulitzer Prize winners that are out of print (even one from the 90s, I recall) and to read their reviews. How perfectly insubstantial is literary “buzz.” Isn’t there something about the 8 worldly somethings that deals with this?
I am wary of $1 million advances for many reasons, mostly publishing economic ones. But sympathetic joy is somehow not that big an issue for me. My business partner has often remarked that that makes me a less-than-cutthroat competitor in the marketplace.
Hmm: can joy at competitors’ success serve a good capitalist purpose in the marketplace? another blog post a comin’ . . .



report abuse
 

Julia May

posted May 12, 2009 at 5:35 pm


We can all feel sympathetic joy that we didn’t grow up with a name like Reif. I’m sure Reif loves his name now. But I’m sure he didn’t love it at eleven years old.



report abuse
 

Vincent

posted May 12, 2009 at 6:21 pm


Oh its an ILLUSTRATED novel. Well that makes sense. God forbid there’s a book without a gimmick. Maybe you should illustrate your next book on Buddhism seems to be where the MONEY is. Just being honest here.
The adventures of…another ‘adventures of’ book. Oyeee. NOOOO!!!
Please make them stop.



report abuse
 

Emily N.

posted May 12, 2009 at 6:37 pm


I hope Larsen can use his (probably shortlived) influence and cash to even an eighth of the positive effect Eggers has through the network of free tutoring centers he’s established in needy communities- the man is all about exertion in the best Buddhist sense:
http://826national.org/
These centers put wannabe McSweeneyites where they can do the most good- not just writing their own graphic novels etc. but tutoring kids.
I am jealous of the tireless energy that can simultaneously write novels, movies, edit magazines and establish brand new nonprofit organizations, for sure.



report abuse
 

Ethan

posted May 13, 2009 at 8:36 am


@Emily: Agreed. Although I didn’t like Eggers first book, the work he has done in the world is pretty cool. And all joking about jealousy aside, if a million dollars has to go to writers (and it should – we only scoff at that sum because it’s a lot for WRITERS, who don’t make anything, but it is certainly not a lot for bankers, who routinely see that kind of bonus), then I love the fact that it’s going to someone young with a meditation practice. Here’s hoping he puts it to good use and enjoys a long career. Why do we assume, when someone has a huge landing on the scene, that it’ll be short-lived? Eggers stayed around a while so far, and has only gotten better, as a writer and in his nonprofit work.



report abuse
 

Judy

posted May 13, 2009 at 1:18 pm


Thanks. This was exactly what I needed today, hit the target.



report abuse
 

GWEN18xv

posted February 21, 2010 at 8:58 am


People that would like to get high grades search for a trustworthy paper writing service to purchase their term paper from. The same actions I do also.



report abuse
 

realadultdatingsites.wordpress.com

posted June 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm


I do agree with all the concepts you have introduced on your post.
They’re really convincing and will certainly
work. Still, the posts are too brief for starters.

Could you please extend them a little from next time?
Thanks for the post.



report abuse
 

casino online

posted July 2, 2014 at 11:54 am


Wow! After all I got a web site from where I be capable of
in fact take helpful data regarding my study
and knowledge.



report abuse
 

Jasmin

posted July 16, 2014 at 6:13 pm


So I advise investing a little cash on a good set of wood work project plans.

Things just went contrary to plans, and what you thought would be the easiest
of your task, turned out to be one of the most difficult.
Working within this width, a standard version of
the roll-top desk is 53 inches wide and the wide version at 63 inches has more leg space.



report abuse
 

muscle building workouts for men

posted July 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm


Hi there to all, the contents existing at this site are
actually remarkable for people experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows.



report abuse
 

face by julia park steele rd west hartford ct

posted August 7, 2014 at 4:08 am


Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future.
Numerous people will be benefited from your writing.
Cheers!



report abuse
 

best skin care products for women

posted August 21, 2014 at 4:20 am


Hello, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.

When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some
overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that,
terrific blog!



report abuse
 

how to slim down my face

posted August 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm


I quite like reading through a post that will make men and women think.
Also, many thanks for allowing for me to
comment!



report abuse
 

401k to gold

posted August 23, 2014 at 4:07 pm


I’m not sure why but this blog is loading incredibly slow for me.
Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end?
I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.



report abuse
 

toy s r

posted August 31, 2014 at 8:55 am


Although it’s the best toy that will essentially offer you value for your money, always be prepared to cough
more when opting for this toy box. s Handbook, was writing on behalf of The Handpicked Collection, a website and catalogue featuring a
selection of unique kids. There are some parents
who really enjoy playing with Thomas, almost more than his child.



report abuse
 

diet plan for weight loss

posted September 3, 2014 at 12:47 am


You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the article you write.
The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid
to mention how they believe. All the time go after your heart.



report abuse
 

olga-medium.Ru

posted October 5, 2014 at 9:20 am


Its so tough finding good personal blogs nowadays, looks like everybody run them for a financial reason
Posted this to FB wall, very useful



report abuse
 

แว่นกันแดด

posted October 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm


Hello! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask.
Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa?
My website addresses a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we
could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested
feel free to send me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
Wonderful blog by the way!



report abuse
 

raspberry leaf

posted October 9, 2014 at 12:12 pm


Because the admin of this site is working, no doubt very quickly it will be
famous, due to its feature contents.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting One City. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Buddhist Story By Beliefnet Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!

posted 2:29:05pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mixing technology and practice
There were many more good sessions at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this weekend. The intention of the organizers is to post videos. I'll let you know when. Here are some of my notes from a second panel. How do we use modern, social media technologies — such as this blog — to both further o

posted 3:54:40pm May. 02, 2010 | read full post »

Wisdom 2.0
If a zen master were sitting next to the chief technical officer of Twitter, what would they talk about? That sounds like a hypothetical overheared at a bar in San Francisco. But this weekend I saw the very thing at Soren Gordhamer's Wisdom 2.0 conference — named after his book of the same nam

posted 1:43:19pm May. 01, 2010 | read full post »

The Buddha at Work - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
"The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing." - Alex Winter, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"That's us, dude!" - Keanu Reeves, as Ted "Theodore" LoganWhoa! Excellent! I've had impermanence on my mind recently. I've talked about it her

posted 2:20:00pm Jan. 28, 2010 | read full post »

Sometimes You Find Enlightenment by Punching People in the Face
This week I'm curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others.  To quote from Jonathan's own site, Illuminated Mind: "The reason for everything: To create a revolution based on authentic action. A social movemen

posted 12:32:23pm Jan. 27, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.