I bring to you a few gems from a recent interview with Garrison Keillor with Tom Peters (more like ghost interview really, apparently Tom was too busy to talk to Garrison but that's Ok it's what Mr. Minnesota says that's important here).
Thoughts on post college life yesterday vs. today:
When I started out writing for the New Yorker I was living in a farmhouse in central Minnesota, because it was so cheap. It really removed a lot of the pressure of having to sell-sell-sell. I loved it there. I was desperately lonely, but that's not a bad thing.
I was sitting in a room upstairs at a desk that was a sheet of three-quarter-inch plywood across two used file cabinets, looking at an Underwood typewriter, and typing on yellow paper. It was a contemplative life that had great, deep pleasure. I wouldn't know how to recover it today.
This, for me, is how the world has changed, that a man sits at a desk in utter silence, and the phone line is simply the phone line. Somebody calls, and you don't have to answer it. You sit in silence, and hours pass and you tap-tap-tap-tap at a typewriter. I will never, ever recover that life. It's gone forever. And the college students I know will never know that life.
On direction (and potentially management):
[Bob] Altman had the courage to remove himself a little bit, distance himself from the people in the scene, and to be a sort of reassuring, paternal presence. He gave them that freedom. You knew that all of those performers had an internal critic. He didn't need to add his own critical persona to it.
On acting in the movie A Prairie Home Companion:
When you're on the screen with Meryl Streep, you are furniture and you might as well just accept that fact.
Regarding U.S. Senators:
He was a U.S. Senator. You cannot tell these people what to do. They all see themselves as the future President of the United States.
As you get older, you learn how to throw it out without much thought, without much pity. You look at a piece that you've written, and you take those first three paragraphs, and you dump them. You just rip them out. Usually, that's the part that needs to be thrown out, the big windup, the big introduction. The first page almost always can go. You learn to do that without regret. I edit myself much more quickly and mercilessly now than I ever could have 20, 30 years ago.
On becoming a nation of individuals as a brand (which is a notion and product line that Tom Peters created and promotes):
I think that the decline within manufacturing in this country is a terrible loss, and a cultural loss. I don't want us to become a nation of authors, humorists, and writers of sonnets. For one thing, I don't encourage the competition. But I just think that it's a terrible cultural loss for the country, as well as an economic loss, to lose the ethics of physical work.
My father was a carpenter. He worked with his hands. He was gifted with his hands. This was a life for him that had great dignity and meaning. This should be fostered. I hope that people don't follow my lead. I am a man who, in many ways, leads the life of a ten-year-old child. It's a very immature life. You have adults around you who are steering the ship.
Of course to really appreciate these quotes you should sit down and read the entire piece.
21 December 09