The Literary Mind

Life, literature, and politics, from the inside out.

In Defense of Chewing Fat

A video in defense of killing time, chewing fat, and making small talk

A few weeks ago, I published a video here about small talk. I wanted the video to be a defense of small talk: In my mind, the video's main character was a highly defended guy: He considered himself too important for small talk, so he cut himself off from a world of conversations in the name of his seriousness. His detachment darkened his life.  If only the guy were only more laid back, he’d dare to kill more time, to chew fat, with other people.

But I got feverishly close to the drawings, to the work I was doing, as sometimes happens, and then my words, like wobbling arrows, shot in unintended directions (screw conversation!) and the video finally sounded more like a critique of, than a defense of, small talk. So here's my revision: I’ve expanded my defense of chewing fat. Click on this image below for the video:

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"During the Samuel Johnson days they had big men enjoying small talk; today we have small men enjoying big talk.” —Fred Allen

“A man's character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”—Mark Twain

“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.” —Marcus Tullius Cicero

I am the editor of short films at Tin House Magazine.



Ilana Simons, Ph.D., is a literature professor at The New School as well as a practicing therapist.


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