Interview with Janna Malamud Smith on CarolineLeavittville


Why call art an errand? Can you talk about that?

Actually, it’s not simply an errand, but an absorbing errand. isn’t that a great phrase? It’s from an early Henry James novel. Here’s the quotation: “True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one’s self, but the point is not only to get out – you must stay out and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand”  In my book I suggest  that life is more meaningful for many of us when we pursue an absorbing errand – like writing, painting, playing an instrument, or mastering some complex craft; and I explore the emotions that interfere with people’s ability to stay with the process long enough to get good at what they do. While we think of art making as introspective, and it certainly is, it also pulls us outside ourselves toward the world. It gives us a way to possess the world – thus it becomes an absorbing errand.”
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