Interviewed by Steven Pressfield

Ahem…cough….hopefully Jonathan and the rest of the Chicago Boyz cast will not mind a brief moment of self-promotion.

In an unusual turn of events, I was the subject of an interview by novelist and historian Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire and The War of Art. Pressfield was also a participant here last year in our Xenophon Roundtable .

Steve has an interview section on his newly redesigned site and I join a series of bloggers and authors like Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, Tim O’Brien and Seth Godin who have sat down, in a virtual sense, with Steve for a discussion about writing and creativity. Having done such interviews of others in the past, it was a good experience to be on the receiving end of questions, for which I thank Steve:

The Creative Process: Mark Safranski

SP: Mark, what is the ZenPundit philosophy? How do you decide which stories or posts (or even guest bloggers) you want to include? What criteria do you use?

MS: Good question. My philosophy is something I also try to impart in my teaching.

Marcus Aurelius said “Look beneath the surface; let not the several qualities of a thing nor its worth escape you.” Most phenomena have many dimensions, multiple causes and second and third order effects. To deal with all of this complexity, we simplify matters by looking at life through an organizing frame, which we might call a worldview, a schema, a paradigm or a discipline. Whatever we call our mental model, we tend to become wedded to it because it “works.” It helps us understand some of what we are looking at-and in getting good at applying our model, advances us professionally and brings prestige or material rewards. So we will defend it to the death, from all challengers!

That’s getting carried away. Our mental model is just a tool or, more precisely, a cognitive lens. We need to be less attached to our habitual and lazy ways of looking at the world, put down our magnifying glass and pick up a telescope. Or, bifocals. Or, a microscope. Stepping back and applying different perspectives to a problem or an issue will give us new information, help us extrapolate, identify unintended consequences or spot connections and opportunities. When I do analytical pieces, I try to take that approach….

Read the rest here.