Monday, May 16, 2016

From Star Trek to Schopenhauer...

I was profiled by the The Age Sydney Morning Herald this weekend.

In 'Damon Young: From Star Trek to Schopenhauer, with love and enthusiasm', Jane Sullivan discusses my childhood, authorial motives, and more. A sample:
Some of his inspiration is autobiographical. Young clearly owes a lot to his father, a psychologist, and his mother, a teacher and musician. They introduced him to reading: "They'd go through books and change the American spelling and words to English. They expected me to figure it out, and that if I wasn't old enough I wouldn't understand the sex and violence. There were so many books, just like food. Kids snack, and I think I read like that." He lies down on his chair to imitate his son Nikos on the couch, the way he picks up one book after another and devours it. 
Young taught himself to read with the Asterix comics, which his parents refused to read to him because it was too hard to do the speech bubbles. When he was 11, Sherlock Holmes loomed huge in his psyche: "He was sort of debonair in a weird, crusty, drug-addled way. He had an extremely charismatic mind combined with social distance and awkwardness. That left me proud of what my own mind could do. And it was then that I felt I'm a reader, I'm in charge, I'm responsible for bringing this into existence." 
A little later, his hero was Batman in the DC comics, a figure he still reveres. "It was the classic teenage power fantasy, but it was also that sense of being psychologically broken in some way. The best thing to do was to take all these extreme impulses and sublimate them, make them beautiful. You're not going to be well-integrated and happy, but you can give your life precision, take care of yourself. You can have style." 
All of which suggests that when young Damon felt isolated and unhappy, he sought consolation in the heroes of his reading. This was why he became a philosopher, he says. "There was social estrangement and awkwardness, and bafflement at the world. I felt at a distance from ordinary life, not knowing what it was all about and where I fitted in."

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