Saturday, August 05, 2017

Can Writers Reveal People With Better Insight Than Psychologists Can?

“The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “The Path of the Law” ... read more

Can Writers Reveal People With Better Insight Than Psychologists Can?

“Everyone from pop-psych authors to business-school professors to astrologers has come up with her own system for sizing up people. If it were possible, wouldn’t one method have prevailed by now? In fact, two recent paradigm-breaking studies suggest that personality traits can shift slowly yet drastically over time, and quite quickly after therapeutic interventions. This is a legitimate question for theoretical mathematicians, but in the science of personality (unlike mathematics) perception trumps precision most of the time. This fluid state of affairs is often captured best by writers, who tend to have an agenda when delineating characters.”

It Is A Truth Universally Acknowledged, That Jane Austen’s Most Famous Sentence Is Perfect For Riffing On

Geoff Nunberg: “If you’re looking to add a literary touch to your article on pension schemes or emergency contraceptives, you’re not going to get very far with ‘Call me Ishmael.’ But ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged’ is always available as an elegant replacement for ‘As everybody knows’ when you want to introduce some banal truism.”

Nobel Winner Svetlana Alexievich On Why She Writes About Women At War

“Everything we know about war we know with ‘a man’s voice.’ We are all captives of ‘men’s’ notions and ‘men’s’ sense of war. ‘Men’s’ words. Women are silent. No one but me ever questioned my grandmother. My mother. Even those who were at the front say nothing. If they suddenly begin to remember, they don’t talk about the ‘women’s’ war, but about the ‘men’s.'”