Keith Gessen: I want to move us into life choices. Does anybody regret the profession they have chosen?

Mark Greif: I have no profession. Whatever profession I do, I regret it.

Benjamin Kunkel: What do you . . . mean? What are you talking about?

Mark Greif: I regret it!

Benjamin Kunkel: What?

Mark Greif: Whatever it is that I’ve become.

Keith Gessen: You’ve become a philosopher.

Mark Greif: No philosopher would think so.

Keith Gessen: You’ve become an editor.

Mark Greif: But that’s something to be ashamed of.

Benjamin Kunkel: An essayist? A critic?

Mark Greif: Essayist! That’s interesting. You know, you go through life not really knowing who you are, and one day, somebody calls you an essayist. Out of all the pathetic categories that I read growing up, I knew there was no bigger joke than an essayist. Someone who couldn’t write something long enough to actually grab hold of anyone, someone without the imagination to write fiction, someone without the romantic inspiration to write poetry, and someone who would never make any money or be published. I’m an essayist!

— from n+1’s fabulous What We Should Have Known: Two Discussions.


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