September 27, 2019 • cara.cea
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PURCHASE, NY – Novelist and political columnist Richard North Patterson was the featured guest this week at the latest Castle Conversations event at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.
The event was a discussion facilitated by columnist and political commentator, Bret Stephens. The discussion title, “Politics Today: When Reality is Stranger Than Fiction,” sums up the sentiments of the speakers on the current political climate and acknowledges the themes of Patterson’s books that have come closer to truth than he could have imagined they would when he was writing them.
Manhattanville President Michael Geisler delivered the welcome remarks and introduced the guest speakers. His remarks set the tone and intent for the evening.
“Despite their very different political viewpoints and positions Richard North Patterson and Bret Stephens have managed to continue speaking with each other, to reach across the gulf that is threatening to split this society down the middle,” said Geisler. “I strongly believe that, as a college community, we need to both engender and facilitate that sort of dialogue, and I also believe that Manhattanville’s values and traditions, inclusivity, our focus on the intellectual and personal development of all our students, our strong emphasis on social justice, but above all, the stress we put on empathy are important contributions we at Manhattanville can make to American society at a time when these values are most urgently needed.”
Patterson is a “New York Times” best-selling author who has written 22 books dealing with complex political topics such as gun control (“Balance of Power”), the plight of U.S. veterans (“In the Name of Honor”), and the Israeli/Palestinian conundrum (“Exile”), as well as a literary trilogy centering on Martha’s Vineyard (“Eden in Winter, Fall from Grace, Loss of Innocence”). Patterson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently a regular contributor to “The Bulwark.”
Offering advice for keeping plot lines moving when writing fiction, Patterson said, “The key to a good plot is throwing out the boring parts.” Commenting on the synergies between his writing and the current reality in Washington, D.C., Patterson said, “In today’s political climate you can’t make this stuff up. The current administration has rendered fiction redundant.”
But despite political differences with those more to the right of center such as Stephens, Patterson stressed an urgent need for tolerance of those with beliefs other than one’s own. “I think the terrible thing that has happened in America is the people you disagree with become the people you hate. One thing that the age of Trump has taught us is there are common values many of us hold dear such as the idea that there are limits of what a President should do, that there are values we all admire in a leader.”
Both Patterson and Stephens agreed that there needs to be a return to a set of principles that represent the best of who we can be.
“The business of a great college like this one is cultivating the quality of critical thinking,” said Stephens. “You can’t think clearly unless you can speak freely.”
The event was attended by Manhattanville students, faculty, staff and members of the College Board of Trustees as well as members of the local community. Manhattanville students asked questions during the second half of the program giving them a chance to learn from and engage with Patterson and Stephens. The program was presented by the President’s Office and co-sponsored by the Center for Global and International Studies and the MFA Creative Writing Program at Manhattanville. The next Castle Conversations event will be held in the spring.
About Manhattanville College
Manhattanville College is a small, private liberal arts institution dedicated to academic excellence, purposeful education, and social justice. Located 30 miles from New York City on a 100-acre suburban campus in the heart of bustling Westchester County, Manhattanville enables easy access to robust entertainment offerings, educational resources, and business opportunities for its primarily residential and diverse student body. The College serves approximately 1,600 undergraduate students and 900 graduate students from more than 44 countries and 33 states. Founded in 1841, the College offers more than 75 undergraduate and graduate areas of study in the arts and sciences, education, business, and creative writing, as well as continuing and executive education programs. Graduate students can choose from over 70 graduate and certificate programs. Extracurricular offerings include more than 45 clubs and 20 NCAA Division III teams. To learn more, visit www.mville.edu.
Press ReleaseOffice of the President
President GeislerCastle Conversations