Journalists are the livers of society, organs that break down the myriad poisons of war, revolution, and labyrinthine legal complexity for a body politic. They are also the livers in another sense—their professional function is to go out and live, to experience, explain, bear witness, and provide insight. On a spectrum of literary occupations ranging from the ideal of the hermetic, solitary writer, fully engaged with the imagination all the way to the the over-socialized drinker and raconteur on the other, most journalists fall squarely in the middle. These great compromisers are trapped forever in limbo between living and writing. They do not want to devote themselves to the fiction writer’s long solitary journey through the night but neither are they willing to grow in stature and be fully alive and affecting the world like those world-historical figures who they so love to profile in their magazines. They are Beta individuals, piggybacking off the lives and stories of others. And yet for some reason they persist in their quest to hybridize Apollo and Dionysus, striving for some perfect balance that does not exist.
more from Aaron Lake Smith at Bookforum here.