In the first essay of his Eating the Dinosaur collection, Chuck Klosterman interviews documentary filmmaker Errol Morris about the art of, well, the interview. Having enjoyed his work for years (1997’s Fast Cheap & Out of Control being my favorite, though 2003’s The Fog of War and 2010’s Tabloid are close behind), I should have known that Morris would have a lot to say and that a lot of it would be fascinating. They very quickly go beyond the nature of journalism, into some of the relevant issues of underlying human expression. Here are a couple highlights.

Why do people talk? Why do people answer the questions you ask them? Is there a unifying force that prompts people to respond?

Probably not, except possibly that people feel this need to give an account of themselves. And not just to other people, but to themselves. Just yesterday, I was being interviewed by a reporter from the New York Observer, and we were talking about whether or not people have privileged access to their own minds.

Privileged access?

My mind resides somewhere inside of myself. That being the case, one would assume I have privileged access to it. In theory, I should be able to ask myself questions and get different answers than I would from other people, such as you. But I’m not sure we truly have privileged access to our own minds. I don’t think we have any idea who we are. I think we’re engaged in a constant battle to figure out who we are…

Do you feel like you know the people that you interview? Because I feel as though I never do. It seems like a totally fake relationship.

I don’t feel like I know myself, let along the people I interview. I might actually know the people I interview better than i know myself.

……

I’m a great believer in self-deception. If you asked me what makes the world go round, I would say self-deception. Self-deception allows us to create a consistent narrative for ourselves that we actually believe. I’m not saying that the truth doesn’t matter. It does. But self-deception is how we survive.


FAST CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL by VideoDetective