The Paris Review Interview With Janet Malcolm
Janet Malcolm is a careful writer. The new Paris Review has an interview with her. The Review still publishes the best interviews on code-cracking the art of writing. This exchange—which interviewer Katie Roiphe notes in her introduction took place primarily via email—is a little Master class in artful phrases, and an insightful analysis of journalism, at a time when what journalists do and why they do it is much in the news.
Roiphe describes Malcolm’s books as “simultaneously beloved, demanding, scholarly, flashy, careful, bold highbrow, and controversial.” When she asks if Malcolm’s style is informed by psychoanalysis, this is the answer:
“Although psychoanalysis has influenced me personally, it has had curiously little influence on my writing. This may be because writers learn from other writers, not from theories. But there are parallels between journalism and clinical psychoanalysis. Both pan the surface—yes, surface—for the gold of insight. The metaphor of depth—as in depth psychology—in wrong, as the psychologist Roy Shafer helpfully pointed out. The unconscious is right there on the surface, as in “The Purloined Letter.” Journalism, with its mandate to notice small things, was always congenial to me. I might also have liked being an analyst. But I never would have gotten into medical school, because I couldn’t do math, so it wasn’t an option. I never went to journalism school, either. When I started doing journalism, a degree from a journalism school wasn’t considered necessary. In fact, it was considered a little tacky.”
Malcolm’s style cannot be imitated; it is indivisible from her nature. Yet can you mine her work for rules? Some might be: be self-deprecating, even if in doing so you slyly draw attention to the fact you are doing so (“surface—yes, surface—for the gold . . .”). Be subtle, but specific, in your condemnations (“tacky.”). Know your stuff (“as in The Purloined Letter.”)
Malcolm tells Roiphe that “writing for me is a process of constantly throwing out stuff that doesn’t seem interesting enough. I grew up in a family of big interrupters.” Another rule: edit.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, Lama Rod grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life's work based on compassion for self and others.
- "What I'm interested in is deep, systematic change. What I understand now is that real change doesn't happen until change on the inside begins to happen."
- "Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Patriarchy is toxic. We have to let that energy go so we can stop forcing other people to do emotional labor for us."
We were gaining three IQ points per decade for many, many years. Now, that's going backward. Could this explain some of our choices lately?
There's a new study out of Norway that indicates our—well, technically, their—IQs are shrinking, to the tune of about seven IQ points per generation.
Here's why generalists triumph over specialists in the new era of innovation.
- Since the explosion of the knowledge economy in the 1990s, generalist inventors have been making larger and more important contributions than specialists.
- One theory is that the rise of rapid communication technologies allowed the information created by specialists to be rapidly disseminated, meaning generalists can combine information across disciplines to invent something new.
- Here, David Epstein explains how Nintendo's Game Boy was a case of "lateral thinking with withered technology." He also relays the findings of a fascinating study that found the common factor of success among comic book authors.
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