Part of my difference with him was what I saw as youth versus age. I did an interview with him for the Williams Record in which we discussed confrontation with otherness and uncomfortable learning, his concepts. And what he felt was that you went into an environment that was different from your own — and a book could be that, or it could be meeting different people or going to India – and you learned about yourself. You learned your values. You saw yourself in contrast. And I think that was true, but I sensed that he thought there was some sort of fundamental “you” that you just were discovering. And I was a person who wanted to believe that we were inventing ourselves. You weren’t just finding your fundamental self, you changed. You confronted something else in the world and became a different person. As I saw it, this view that you just discover some self that’s there–this was the stance of an old person who’s given up on change. I thought he was taking the old man’s position, “You just discover yourself.” I thought you confronted otherness and got to invent yourself.

Now I think he was more right than I. I was a young person who had this view that somehow you do mold yourself and become someone different. Now I see that certain rhythms have always been in my writing, for instance. It’s like a songwriter whose songs we instantly recognize or someone who dances in a distinct way. It’s their innate vocabulary. I almost think it’s genetically encoded. And we do sort of discover some self that we don’t invent. So he was right and I was wrong.