Mark Twain on the Art of the Interview

8:30 AM -- PBS News Hour reports on a newly published Mark Twain essay, previously only available to scholars.

"It was written in either 1889 or 1890," PBS tells us, "a time that coincided with the rise of 'yellow journalism.' " (Has that fallen yet?) It seems our hero had suffered at the hands of the press...

    No one likes to be interviewed, and yet no one likes to say no; for interviewers are courteous and gentle-mannered, even when they come to destroy. I must not be understood to mean that they ever come consciously to destroy or are aware afterward that they have destroyed; no, I think their attitude is more that of the cyclone, which comes with the gracious purpose of cooling off a sweltering village, and is not aware, afterward, that it has done that village anything but a favor. The interviewer scatters you all over creation, but he does not conceive that you can look upon that as a disadvantage. People who blame a cyclone, do it because they do not reflect that compact masses are not a cyclone's idea of symmetry. People who find fault with the interviewer, do it because they do not reflect that he is but a cyclone, after all, though disguised in the image of God, like the rest of us; that he is not conscious of harm even when he is dusting a continent with your remains, but only thinks he is making things pleasant for you; and that therefore the just way to judge him is by his intentions, not his works.
There's much more. I share it, not because of any application it may have to the gentle-as-lambswool technique of Light Reading's own, but rather in the belief that one either enjoys Twain or one is an inert lump of flesh.

— Larry, Attack Monkey, Light Reading

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