Over the past few days, I've been picking away at this interview with Steven Pinker, one of my favourite contemporary thinkers and writers. It's frigging long and could've used a severe edit, but as the interviewer seems inordinately fond of pointing out, the internets are full of assclowns who just throw content up willy-nilly. The interview shows Pinker not only to be keenly intelligent and well-informed in many areas, but extraordinarily patient and good-humoured, as, for the most part, he gives good answers to bad questions. There are points at which he seems to be taking the piss a bit, as when he thanks the interviewer for "teaching me the useful word sciolism"--after the unintentionally hilarious interviewer had used it four times. Sciolism is, funnily enough, making a superficial show of learning. Perhaps in this case, more like making a show of superficial learning. The interviewer's preening, self-congratulatory questions are larded with $10 words and he often uses them slightly incorrectly, giving the impression that he yanks them from one of those word-a-day vocabulary-building calendars and actively seeks opportunities to trot them out. Which is awfully sciolistic, ain't it? But, given that the interviewer seems to see himself as a "great writer" who is reforging the language (by spelling "a lot" "alot," apparently), he would no doubt see this as a pedantic quibble.
At any rate, I've got to get my hands on Pinker's new book (did I mention that my birthday's coming up?). I've read three of his books now and he's greatly informed and clarified my thinking on a number of topics. Anyone who writes should read The Language Instinct at the very least. The Blank Slate is probably my favourite of his books overall.