If you’re in or near London, you’re in luck, for Steve Pinker is going to discuss his latest book, and the difficulty of good writing, with noted author Ian McEwan. Those are two smart and eloquent guys, and if I was anywhere near there I’d go to this Intelligence-Squared event, to be held at the Royal Geographical Society on Thursday, September 24, 2014, at 7 p.m. That’s plenty of advance warning, but I’d buy tickets now, as it’s a sure sell-out. You can book tickets at the site, although it isn’t cheap at £30 a pop.
And here’s the description of the event:
Steven Pinker is one of the world’s leading authorities on language, mind and human nature. A professor of psychology at Harvard, he is the bestselling author of eight books and regularly appears in lists of the world’s top 100 thinkers.
On September 25th he returns to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his latest publication The Sense of Style, a short and entertaining writing guide for the 21st century. Pinker will argue that bad writing can’t be blamed on the internet, or on “the kids today”. Good writing has always been hard: a performance requiring pretence, empathy, and a drive for coherence. He will answer questions such as: how can we overcome the “curse of knowledge”, the difficulty in imagining what it’s like not to know something we do? And how can we distinguish the myths and superstitions about language from helpful rules that enhance clarity and grace? Pinker will show how everyone can improve their mastery of writing and their appreciation of the art.
Professor Pinker will be in conversation with Ian McEwan, one of Britain’s most acclaimed novelists, who has frequently explored the common ground between art and science.
You can see a 77-minute video of Pinker giving a talk at MIT with the same title as his upcoming book at this site. It may very well mirror the structure of that book.
I’m deeply acquainted at the moment with the difficulty of writing, as I’m spending most of my days struggling to put ideas across in a clear and engaging way. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done—next to testifying against the state in cases involving forensic DNA.