Janet Malcolm quotes

  • Writing cannot be done in a state of desirelessness,
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Writing #Done #States

  • Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Loneliness #Stupid #Ignorance

  • All analyses end badly. Each 'termination' leaves the participants with the taste of ashes in their mouths; each is absurd; each is a small, pointless death. Psychoanalysis cannot tolerate happy endings; it casts them off the way the body's immunological system casts off transplanted organs.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Ashes #Analysis #Mouths

  • Biography is the medium through which the remaining secrets of the famous dead are taken from them and dumped out in full view of the world. The biographer at work, indeed, is like the professional burglar, breaking into a house, rifling through certain drawers that he has good reason to think contain the jewelry and money, and triumphantly bearing his loot away.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Taken #Thinking #Views

  • A lawsuit is to ordinary life what war is to peacetime. In a lawsuit, everybody on the other side is bad. A trial transcript is a discourse in malevolence.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #War #Law #Ordinary

  • Society mediates between the extremes of, on the one hand, intolerably strict morality and, on the other, dangerously anarchic permissiveness through an unspoken agreement whereby we are given leave to bend the rules of the strictest morality, provided we do so quietly and discreetly. Hypocrisy is the grease that keeps society functioning in an agreeable way, by allowing for human fallibility and reconciling the seemingly irreconcilable human needs for order and pleasure.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Agreement #Hands #Order

  • [Y]ou never come right out and admit you have stretched the rules for your own benefit. You do it and shut up about it, and hope you don't get caught, because if you are caught no one or no one who has any sense will come forward and say he has done the same thing himself.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Hypocrisy #Done #Benefits

  • Analysts keep having to pick away at the scab that the patient tries to form between himself and the analyst to cover over his wounds. The analyst keeps the surface raw, so that the wound will heal properly.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Trying #Patient #Analysts

  • Fidelity to the subject's thought and to his characteristic way of expressing himself is the sine qua non of journalistic quotation.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Way #Fidelity #Characteristics

  • The dominant and most deep-dyed trait of the journalist is his timorousness. Where the novelist fearlessly plunges into the water of self-exposure, the journalist stands trembling on the shore in his beach robe. The journalist confines himself to the clean, gentlemanly work of exposing the grieves and shames of others.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Beach #Grieving #Self

  • If you scratch a great photograph, you find two things; a painting and a photograph.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Photography #Two #Scratches

  • The ‘I’ character in journalism is almost pure invention. Unlike the ‘I’ of autobiography, who is meant to be seen as a representation of the writer, the ‘I’ of journalism is connected to the writer only in a tenuous way—the way, say, that Superman is connected to Clark Kent. The journalistic ‘I’ is an overreliable narrator, a functionary to whom crucial tasks of narration and argument and tone have been entrusted, an ad hoc creation, like the chorus of Greek tragedy. He is an emblematic figure, an embodiment of the idea of the dispassionate observer of life.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Character #Ideas #Greek

  • The writer, like the murderer, needs a motive,
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Needs #Motive #Murderer

  • Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and ‘the public’s right to know’; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Art #Freedom Of Speech #Way

  • Malice remains its animating impulse.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Impulse #Malice #Remains

  • Poets and novelists and playwrights make themselves, against terrible resistances, give over what the rest of us keep safely locked within our hearts.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Heart #Giving #Novelists

  • This is what it is the business of the artist to do. Art is theft, art is armed robbery, art is not pleasing your mother.
    -- Janet Malcolm

    #Mother #Art #Theft