I Think You're Totally Wrong: A Quarrel
David Shields, Caleb Powell
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
An impassioned, funny, probing, fiercely inconclusive, nearly-to-the-death debate about life and art—beers included.
Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he’s a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he overcommitted to art (he has five books coming out in the next year and a half). Shields and Powell spend four days together at a cabin in the Cascade Mountains, playing chess, shooting hoops, hiking to lakes and an abandoned mine; they rewatch My Dinner with André and The Trip, relax in a hot tub, and talk about everything they can think of in the name of exploring and debating their central question (life and/or art?): marriage, family, sports, sex, happiness, drugs, death, betrayal—and, of course, writers and writing.
The relationship—the balance of power—between Shields and Powell is in constant flux, as two egos try to undermine each other, two personalities overlap and collapse. This book seeks to deconstruct the Q&A format, which has roots as deep as Plato and Socrates and as wide as Laurel and Hardy, Beckett’s Didi and Gogo, and Car Talk’s Magliozzi brothers. I Think You’re Totally Wrong also seeks to confound, as much as possible, the divisions between “reality” and “fiction,” between “life” and “art.” There are no teachers or students here, no interviewers or interviewees, no masters in the universe—only a chasm of uncertainty, in a dialogue that remains dazzlingly provocative and entertaining from start to finish.
James Franco's adaptation of I Think You're Totally Wrong into a film, with Shields and Powell striving mightily to play themselves and Franco in a supporting role, will be released later this year.
Why not? TERRY: You’re having a beer? CALEB: One for the road. TERRY: You excited? CALEB: I’m ready. TERRY: What if he makes a move on you? CALEB: Ha ha. CALEB: (showing David his shelf of books about Cambodia) Did you read The Road of Lost Innocence? DAVID: Was I supposed to? CALEB: It wasn’t a coaster. You’ve had me read, what, fifty books over the last few years, and I give you one? DAVID: I spent an hour with it, thumbing back and forth. It’s not very well written. What’s the point?
After a couple hours I went to bed. I mean, it was okay, but I didn’t get it, either. I woke up in the morning and they were in the same place, loving every minute of it. They went through two hundred dollars’ worth in one night and then passed out. DAVID: Laurie smoked pot in high school, did some coke in college, tried acid a couple of times. You might think I’d be the more— CALEB: Experimental? DAVID: Maybe, but she’s a little out there in a good way. CALEB: I did LSD with my two closest
like to say, “turns the arrow back upon himself.” And he’s gotten progressively worse. After they killed Osama, Chomsky said, “Bin Laden’s ‘confession’ is like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon.” Talk about a perpendicular analogy. In 1967 Chomsky wrote “The Responsibility of Intellectuals.” He has failed to answer his own call. DAVID: I’m mainly fascinated by him as a presence. CALEB: “A presence”? That’s it? DAVID: Listen, Caleb. You’ve done more things out in the world than I
Paul? DAVID: I didn’t say that. I like his desire to reduce the military. As with Chomsky, I have a lot of problems with him, but I like backbench flamethrowers. CALEB: Too much or too little frequency harms a relationship, especially in a marriage. DAVID: Tell me about it. CALEB: I call it being Wapatoed. We’ve stayed at vacation rentals in Wapato Point at Lake Chelan three times. Terry likes it because it’s child-friendly, has outdoor and indoor pools, a hot tub, decent price, cheap boat
but the kitchen closes at around nine. You might meet Billy, town drunk, single father who bitches about his ex-wife and how he never sees his kids. DAVID: Fun! RADIO: (static) CALEB: What station, 950? RADIO ANNOUNCER ONE: Washington has scored on their first possession of the third quarter. 12:13 to go, 17–7, Dawgs, on the Washington Husky Sports Network. CALEB: That’s a surprise. DAVID: That they’re winning? CALEB: That. And we get reception. Two years ago, radio and cell phone were