Notebook

As with my psoriasis, the affliction is not entirely unfortunate. It makes me think twice about going on stage and appearing in classrooms and at conferences – all the socially approved yet spiritually corrupting public talking that writers of even modest note are asked to do. Being obliging by nature and anxious for social approval, I would never say no if I weren’t afraid of stuttering. Also, as I judge from my own reactions, people who talk too easily and comfortably, with too much happy rolling of the vowels and satisfied curling of the lips around the grammatical rhythms, rouse distrust in some atavistic, pre-speech part of ourselves. We turn off… I am afraid of the audiences I discomfit and embarrass, to my own embarrassment and discomfiture. I am afraid of New York audiences, especially; they are too smart and left-wing for me.

John Updike, “Self-Consciousness: Memoirs”.

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