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ideas interviews Podcasts Poems Thinkers writer's inspiration

Pete Doctor’s advice to his younger self? DRAW!

Pete Doctor is Pixar’s chief creative officer. Recently he sat down for an interview with economist Steven Levitt. On his People I (Mostly) Admire podcast, Steve asked Pete one of my favorite, but ridiculous interview questions. What live advice would you give the 20 year old Pete Doctor, knowing what you know now?

Pete’s response:

I’d probably tell myself draw more. Just get outside and draw, cause your draftsmanship skills are always handy. But more importantly I think, drawing for me, really connects me to stuff. It forces me to see things. I can walk past a house everyday, but then if I stop and draw it I suddenly notice details and things about it that I’d never payed attention to before. So I feel like drawing is a way to slow me down and really connect me to the world that I’m inhabiting that I’m not always fully paying attention to.

An excellent interview for all you drawers out there. Listen in full here.

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ideas interviews Podcasts Poems Thinkers writer's inspiration

Poet Dana Gioia nails it.

Every not-so-often, a person can distill a complex idea into one sentence.

It’s a rare event. But when it happens the idea snaps into your mind forever.

Today’s Econ Talk podcast episode was one such occasion.

Dana Gioia snapped my synapses when he shared this definition of the novel:

Now, the great thing of literature–and this is literature as distinct from film and other theater, which are forms of storytelling–but the beauty of the novel and poetry is that they essentially are our cultural machinery for articulating the inner lives of people. In effect, the novel is based on–the very definition of the novel, although people never talk about this–is based on irony. Which is to say, somebody’s outer life is doing this and their inner life is doing that.

It’s hard to think of a novel that doesn’t follow this idea. I’m sure there’s some experimental four hundred pager out there, but the novels I truly know all exhibit this tension between the characters inner and outer life.

In Tolkien’s The Hobbit – Bilbo duels between his craving for comfortable Shire life and his Took instincts for adventure.

In Jeff Smith’s Bone – Fone Bone longs to return to Boneville, but harbors a secret love for Thorn who could never follow him there (Graphic novels count too right?).

Or in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake – Gogol’s divided between the need to honor his parents and his traditional Indian heritage, and the allure of American success.

Irony threads through all of them. And novels will no longer read the same to me.

Russ Roberts and Dana Gioia’s conversation was inspiring throughout.

Listen in full below:

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Poems

November Jack-O-Lanterns

Abandoned. Lost. Rot

on cobwebbed doorsteps. Their joy,

crumbles to sadness.

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Poems

Olive Eyes

You’re full of questions,

I can’t answer. My daughter,

I will let you down.

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Poems

Early Autumn

No season’s cold bites

my flesh as sweet as Autumn’s

does in September.

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Poems

Bodega

Fresh baked Cuban pan.

Raw pork loin chopped on request.

Dinner in thirty.

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Poems

Texas

We’re at odds on all

things, but one. I concede. Your

fall sunsets are best.

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Poems

Thirty Percent Chance

Thunder knocks against

the drywall. Rain taps against

the flue. Silence waits.

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Poems

Sand and Time


The hour glass flips.

Each grain precious. Each grain a

choice. How do we choose?

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Poems

68′ VW Beetle


June’s afternoon heat

burns the egg shell leather of

his two door coffin.