nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,
nancylebov
nancylebov

Reality shock

http://www.stanford.edu/group/howiwrite/Transcripts/Sapolsky_transcript.html

A cut-and-paste from an interview with Robert Sapolsky:
The only time I’ve ever worked heavily with an editor was this piece I had in The New Yorker, like, five years ago which wound up being on why we get less and less interested in novelty as we get older, we’re less open to certain cultural experience, and it was prompted by this guy that I working as a secretary who just graduated as an English major and needed to make money for a couple years before going off to English grad school and starving, so he hung out for a couple years, and he was irritating the crap out of me because he was great at his work, but he was, like, pathologically open to new experience. He was sitting out in the office out there, and everyday he’s listening to a different style of music each day, like radically, like contemporary rock and then Gregorian chants and these irritating wedding songs and stuff like that. And he would come in, one day—he like a beard and long hair—and one Monday morning he comes in, he’s shaved everything off because he wants to see if people would relate to him differently that way. Like, he would just like spend the whole weekend at, like, a festival of, like, twenty back-to-back Indian movie musicals just because he had never seen one and thought that would be interesting. And he was just like totally depressing me, because I was sitting there having, like, not done anything new in about fifteen years, and this prompted this whole thing. So I started off the piece basically with he had prompted this and how irritating this was, and this editor at the New Yorker who was, like, the most frightening thing I had ever dealt with, because this is the image of the most knowledgeable, scholarly person on earth. In any subject that comes up, he’s read four books on it, including all of my areas of science, which he knows much better than me and we would have these, like two hour phone conversations about, like, three sentences in there, and this was completely, like, novel for me, and I realized at some point, this guy who was working for me—his name was Paul—and at some point I was making some reference back to him at the beginning and something with the tone was wrong and I had this two hour conversation and like three-quarters of the way through, he says, “The trouble is, the thing that’s the core here, is Paul doesn't want to grow up and be you, and you know that and it hurts you.” This is like, I almost burst into tears. It was like I was having these therapy sessions. And he was right. Paul had betrayed me because he didn’t want to grow up and be like me. And I like immediately had to call up Paul and, like, relate this to him, and this was the case, that in fact he had no desire to ever be, like, this narrow. And, it immediately cleared up this one sentence. And this was like the only I've ever had the agonizing over, the editor keeping me from becoming an alcoholic by telling me the unresolved issue. So like that one time, and I’ve been scared of this guy ever since and never have dealt with him again.


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