There are so many wonderful things in this interview with Philip Pullman, it’s hard to know where to begin. But one part near the end struck me:
Previously, we’d talked about John Keats’s description of Shakespeare’s ‘negative capability’ — the ability to experience ‘uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’. Pullman had compared it to being in twilight and seeing things in shadows: if you turn on the light, you’ll miss the mystery and banish the shades. Then he tells me about the scientists who inadvertently killed the world’s oldest living creature, a 500-year-old clam, by analysing it, and I joke that this is what critics and academics do to writers. He chuckles again, maybe agreeing, maybe not quite.
There is something truly unfortunate about over-analysis.