Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Interviewer and interviewee

Interviewer and interviewee: opponents, competitors, adversaries. The interview: a childhood game of tug-of-war, played out not by physical strength, but by mental. That's how I see it anyway - something to win, or to at least not lose. One step misplaced, and I could end up face-down in the pit of mud. And nobody wants to see that. Or everybody does. Whichever.

There is a certain weighty finality felt during the interviewing process. The interviewer sits across from me in my own living room; he's on the couch, I'm on the armchair. He commends me on my taste in furniture - I immediately wonder if these words are on the record. They are. Each of our words from this point forward are dripping into the digital recorder which teeters on the edge of my coffee table. I can't take my eyes off of it. Maybe I'm trying to move it with my mind, make it fall onto the floor. Maybe I'm waiting for our words to weigh it down so completely that it falls off the edge on its own accord. At any rate, I completely miss the next question, but answer anyway - just some nonsense about the latest book I'm reading. It appeases him.

When all is said and done, I can't remember a thing. Not a single question. Not a single answer. I think about all of my words trapped forever on that recorder, fighting with his for eternity, trying desperately to escape. I'm temporarily blinded by the flash of his camera. My image, stolen from me. Then he's shaking my hand, and I'm walking him to the door.

The next day, I buy the newspaper, not out of vanity but a genuine concern that my thoughts were represented accurately. A cursory run-through reveals that, for the most part, they were. That is, until I take a step backwards, and put myself in the shoes of another who might not know me as intimately as I do. How do the words read then? I marvel at how ambiguously I word everything. My words could be pulled apart by whoever reads them, interpreted any which way, spun into something completely different. I toss the paper in the nearest trashcan, and smile as I walk back to my flat. Ambiguity: my safety net. Why say something, when you can say nothing at all.

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