A Word or Two on Psychobiography, and my Diane Arbus Book

A Word or Two on Psychobiography, and my Diane Arbus Book

My Arbus book is out today (“An Emergency in Slow Motion:  The Inner LIfe of Diane Arbus,” Bloomsbury).  There is an amazon link to the right, and info about the book, including many reviews, to the left.  Yesterday was the first day of my class on Psychobiography, which I teach at Pacific University.  One thing we talked about was this:  the study of lives begins and ends in mystery.  What I try to accomplish in my work is a fractional understanding, a partial illumination.  As I say on page 8-9 of the Arbus book itself:  “It would be foolish and more than misleading to assert that psychobiography answers every question there is about a person. It doesn’t and can’t. Nothing can. Lives aren’t experiments, variables can’t be controlled and pitted against one another post hoc. No causal model emerges. Complete objectivity, if such a thing even exists in the world, is patently unachievable. But setting all such facts aside, it is possible to know Arbus better, to understand some of what she was up to and who she was, to investigate reasons behind her actions, especially her need to take pictures, and to arrive at an image—perhaps a little grainy or blurred here and there—of the whole of her psychological life. My aim in all this is to be as accurate as I possibly can be, and to show an Arbus no one has ever seen before. And if a photograph is a ‘secret about a secret,’ as Arbus famously put it, then this book is a password. It opens up secrets. It gets you in.”

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7 thoughts on “A Word or Two on Psychobiography, and my Diane Arbus Book

  1. Good luck with the new book (and with your course load). I can’t wait to read it. Your students are so lucky. I can just see them waiting around after class because they don’t want to leave.

  2. Dr. Schultz!

    I just yesterday came across your book on Diane Arbus
    at the bookstore and am so eager to read it. Her work has
    always been a favorite of mine, as has her life. Also a lifelong
    admirer of Capote and am thrilled to hear about “Tiny Terror”.
    I am always on the lookout for new works about him so this
    is a real treat! Best of luck to you with the Arbus and your
    own fascinating work. Leo P.S. I am a poet/essayist/memoirist
    based here in Lowell, Massachusetts.

  3. P.S. If you will send me an email address, I can share two
    stories about Truman with you, also other creative spirits
    I have known including M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, Allen
    Ginsberg, etc. Would rather not post them on here!
    LeoRacicot@gmail.com Thanks!

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