JB: But you're an artist. Why are we talking about Darwin?
ENO: Most of the questions I'm interested in about art and culture really are based on trying to look at them with some kind of big theory of that kind, which is not oblique, not mysterious, is quite easily graspable, and would allow a real discussion about culture. It's partly because I think most art writing is absolutely appallingly bad.
My first mother-in-law, that's to say the mother of my first wife, was a very interesting woman who lived in Cambridge, and had a salon, at which quite a lot of very good scientists would appear, Francis Crick, John Kendrew, Herman Bondi, among others. Her name was Joan Harvey and she ran a thing called the Cambridge Humanists. She's a very bright and interesting woman. I met her daughter, and was taken home, and got along very well with Joan. I was 17 at the time. One day Joan said to me, it's all very well what you do, but I just don't understand why someone with a brain as good as yours wants to waste it being an artist. This question cut me to the quick in a way. I came from was working-class where nobody particularly cared what you did. It was the first time that anyone had ever cared. Then I fell in with a lot of arty people, who of course assumed that being an artist was a wonderful thing, and never bothered to ask the question about why - about what the point of it might be, or what it actually did for anybody. Joan asked that question, and I never stopped thinking about it. That was the beginning of an interesting double life, because part of my life of course is being an artist, but the other part, and just as interesting to me, is wondering what it is I'm doing, or what everybody else is doing - asking what it's for.