These are interviews were conducted between 2006 and the present, and were published in The Believer magazine, where for several years I was Interviews Editor.

 

Tamar Adler (writer), "We have this whole idea that to be anti-materialist is somehow to be reverent, and to materialist is to be fallen. Meanwhile, if we were just genuinely materialist, that would make us reverent. I guess that’s why I like cooking. That is reverence, as far as I can tell. So is how you treat people; it’s all the same stuff." 

 

Sophie Calle (artist), "He's not going to ask me to sign with my blood. He knows life. Life is, "Okay, I agree, and then what? If I change my mind..." I said yes at the time. I think yes so far. And then... who knows?"

 

John Currin (artist), "When you’re young and you make mistakes in public, it’s almost like a gift to everybody around you. When you’re old and you make mistakes, it’s just sad and depressing for everyone around you."

 

Joan Didion (writer), "I remember my husband saying, when Play It as It Lays was about to come out, “This isn’t going to—you’re never going to—this book isn’t going to make it.” And I didn’t think it was going to make it, either. And suddenly it did make it, in a minor way. And from that time on I had more confidence."

 

John Gall (book designer), "A book cover is such a small space that you need to have real clarity with your idea. Even if it's a messy idea, there still has to be a clear notion of what's going on."

 

Mary Gaitskill (writer), "I’ve noticed that when I’m writing longhand, sometimes I’ll write something and I’ll go, Oh, that’s awful, and I’ll cross it out and I’ll write something over it. And frequently when I go back, I decide that what I crossed out was actually better. When you’re writing on the computer, you don’t cross it out, you just delete it. But now, if I’m not sure, I don’t delete it."

 

Hilary Harkness (painter), "I think a dynamic developed where Gertrude was extremely gregarious and her energies were very scattered in many ways, and Alice was stuck in the position of being the wife of a famous person, so she became a guard dog of sorts, controlling access to Gertrude in some ways."

 

Dave Hickey (art critic), "The principal function of human reason is to rationalize what your lizard brain demands of you. That's my idea. And art and writing come from somewhere down around the lizard brain."

 

Chris Kraus (writer), "As soon as we’re concerned with “the political” as opposed to “politics,” we’re dealing with an abstraction. Politics is topical—it’s what’s happening now, and we can either respond in the present or avoid it."

 

Micah Lexier (artist), "There was a questionnaire that I filled out recently that asked,What is your favorite occupation? And my answer was: putting things in places so that I can find them later when I’m looking for them. I’m good at organizing things. This is my cardboard-box collection."

 

Mary Midgley (moral philosopher), "You’ll see these solemn arguments to prove that computers will shortly succeed us, and it seems a point on which people don’t think very clearly because their imaginations get excited. So machines become a kind of magic which will remedy the ills of human culture, and the fantasy is that the mess humans make can be avoided once these robots get here."

 

Darren O'Donnell (theatre and relational artist), "Things can be very different if we allow for the participation of kids in a different way. The feeling of kids running around and having a good time at a family gathering—that vibe can be much more present in the culture if we want it to be."

 

Alison Pill (actress), "That’s like when you’re leading man and woman and you’re playing romantically, and then you’re like, “Oh man, I want to fuck this person.” But instead of just leaving it at that and saying, “I think we should probably just fuck for the entirety of this run,” you say, “I’m going to be your girlfriend!” And then to yourself you’re like, I’m going to marry this person!"

 

Frank Stella (painter), "There should be photography museums. There should be video art museums. I don’t need to go to a museum that has painting and great art in it to look at videos. They should have their own place."

 

Agnes Varda (filmmaker), "When I started my first film, there were three women directors in France. Their films were OK, but I was different."

 

Charlene Yi (comedian), "Sometimes I'll think something is funny and I'll go on stage and it doesn't work, and it's like, Oh my god—I think I lost my funny! It's frustrating cause I don't understand it. I'll do the same material with a different audience and it'll work, and it'll be like, How come it worked this time? It's so unpredictable."

 

What Would Twitter Do? is a series for The Believer detailing the Twitter philosophies and strategies of a dozen of my favourite people on Twitter, including Kenneth Goldsmith, Roxane Gay, Teju Cole, Patricia Lockwood, Christian Lorentzen, Tao Lin, Kimmy Walters, Crylenol, Mira Gonzales, Kate Zambreno and Melville House.

 

Other interviews for other venues include conversations with Harmony Korine, Lena Dunham, Tavi Gevinson, Peaches, Margaret Atwood, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Eileen Myles, Deepa Mehta, Sophie Fontanel, the band Haim, Alanis Obomsawin, Shary Boyle, Miranda July, Robert McKee (author of "Story"), Laurie Simmons and Stevie Nicks.