Jen Bradford was born in Portland, Maine, in 1966. She lived in Scotland for four years, where she earned an MA in Art History from St Andrews University in 1988. She later studied painting at Maine College of Art. Jen currently lives and exhibits in Beacon, NY. She keeps a (mostly visual) blog at studio*blog.
Why do you blog? > It's a good way to direct my attention to things that interest me visually. These days I lurk on blogs with political content but wanted to create an antidote to that for myself and hopefully others.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Hearing from people I would never have expected to stumble upon it.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > George Kennan, Hannah Arendt, George Orwell, Paul Berman, Primo Levi.
What are you reading at the moment? > The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Saul Bellow, Eva Hesse, Jim Henson.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Clown by Heinrich Böll.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Best Society' by Philip Larkin.
What is your favourite movie? > All About Eve; The Ice Storm.
What is your favourite song? > 'Waterloo Sunset' (The Kinks).
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I visited Eastern Europe in 1988, at which point I began to rethink a lot of liberal platitudes about the Cold War and much else.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The idea that one's 'true identity' exists apart from one's behaviour in the world, or has principally to do with race, sexual orientation or other forms of modern-day tribalism.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Didion's Slouching toward Bethlehem (read as a teenager) de-romanticized the 60s sooner rather than later. Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Periodic Table are also high on the list.
Who are your political heroes? > Anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan willing to risk his or her neck by running for office. Iranian and Egyptian bloggers. King Christian X of Denmark.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > End draconian sentences for non-violent drug offences, end tenure for elementary and high school teachers, create a health care safety net.
What would you do with the UN? > Make membership contingent upon basic democratic principles or simply direct its mandate to humanitarian relief.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The use of natural resources as political weapons.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > When people talk about how marvellous things were back in the day, I picture children working in textile mills and mental hospital wards. I believe in a better future.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Be as intellectually rigorous about discovering things to admire as you would to critique.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > My first impulse is to say no (imagining some extremist/ideologue), but given that many people I love have very different views from myself, I can't rule it out.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Attentiveness and humour.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Glibness.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > When the truth would do unnecessary harm.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Societies where my life as a single woman would be impossible or illegal.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'There is such a thing as overcapitalizing the A in artist' - Saul Bellow. It's not a proverb, but a good line.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > With apologies to my entire family: puzzles.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'd be quicker to cut my losses and move on.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Toni Colette - not that we look alike.
What talent would you most like to have? > I'd love to be a great cook.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Dickens.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > A gallery to show my work regularly, run by someone tough and honest.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd set up a scholarship for kids in foster care, and hire a cook.
What animal would you most like to be? > My cocker spaniel Louise has it pretty good. Any well-loved dog.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]