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Janet Malcolm

  • Analysts keep having to pick away at the scab that the patient tries to form between himself and the analyst to cover over his wound. ... The analyst ... keeps the surface raw, so that the wound will heal properly.

  • All analyses end badly. Each 'termination' leaves the participants with the taste of ashes in their mouths; each is absurd; each is a small, pointless death. Psychoanalysis cannot tolerate happy endings; it casts them off the way the body's immunological system casts off transplanted organs.

  • Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.

  • Fidelity to the subject's thought and to his characteristic way of expressing himself is the sine qua non of journalistic quotation.

  • A lawsuit is to ordinary life what war is to peacetime. In a lawsuit, everybody on the other side is bad. A trial transcript is a discourse in malevolence.

  • Biography is the medium through which the remaining secrets of the famous dead are taken from them and dumped out in full view of the world. The biographer at work, indeed, is like the professional burglar, breaking into a house, rifling through certain drawers that he has good reason to think contain the jewelry and money, and triumphantly bearing his loot away.

  • If you scratch a great photograph, you will find two things: a painting and a photograph.

Janet Malcolm, Czechoslovakian-born U.S. writer, journalist

(1934)