New Year


I wrote an editorial for the science industry magazine that employs me in which I recount a moment of minor crisis during my job interview with the editor-in-chief and managing editor. It went like this:

MJ (the editor-in-chief) asked what I considered the best educational background for a journalist covering the chemical industry.

“History,” I said.

“Which,” she asked, “is the worst?”

“Any kind of science background,” was my answer.

I vaguely remember RB (managing editor) rising out of his seat at this juncture, and MJ touching his elbow. “Let him explain,” she said, smiling at me with a hint of nervous tension in her eyes.

Well, I ‘splained and I got the job. They even published my editorial, complete with my explanation–which I will spare you, other than to assure you I am not one of these “anti science” types. I will, however, for the second time in two days, lean on the Op Ed page of the New York Times to give you the views of a heavyweight on a topic dear to my heart. Here is Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. on better living through history, and the moral imperative of our “quest for an unobtainable objectivity.”

4 Responses to “New Year”

  1. mrschili Says:

    History, then, is very much like literature in that we reinterpret that which came before through the lenses of what we know now.

    Our take on a bit of writing (or a bit of history) – our own or that of others – changes when we move through experiences that shape our thinking and perceptions; we’re able to mine different parts of stories and texts for things that are meaningful to us NOW, even (especially?) if the same bits didn’t really stand out to us upon first reading. I think that may be why we keep going back to texts again and again, and why each of us is drawn to DIFFERENT texts for that kind of re-reading. It would be an interesting study to see which pieces people go to again and again – why do I keep coming back to Frankenstein, for example – to see what it is about these pieces that speaks, over and over, to the individual.

    I completely understand why you gave the answer you did in your interview- and I would be interested in your explanation to see if it comes close to what MY answer would be…..

  2. mrschili Says:

    Rick – I just came across this quote and thought it pertinent to our discussion here:

    In times of change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. -Eric Hoffer

  3. Rick Says:

    I love Eric Hoffer. And that’s a classic Hofferism that pretty much sums up the Times Op Ed piece. I forget my favorite Hoffer quote at present. It will be hard to find, because there are so many!

  4. mrschili Says:

    Do clue me in when it comes back to you – you know well how I LOVE to collect language!

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