In the September issue of Esquire, Woody Allen coughs up some “What I’ve Learned” material. I love these articles. I buy Esquire because of them. I wrote one myself a year or two ago. Here are my fave excerpts from the Allen piece:
“What people who don’t write don’t understand is that they think you make up the line consciously…but you don’t. It proceeds from your unconscious. So it’s the same surprise to you when it emerges as it is to the audience when the comic says it. I don’t think of the joke and then say it. I say it and then realize what I’ve said. And I laugh at it, because I’m hearing it for the first time myself.
“My mother taught me a value — rigid discipline. My father didn’t earn enough, and my mother took care of the money and the family, and she had no time for lightness. She always saw the glass a third full. She taught me to work and not to waste time.
“In the shower, with the hot water coming down, you’ve left the real world behind, and very frequently things open up for you. It’s the change of venue, the unblocking the attempt to force the ideas that’s crippling you when you’re trying to write.” Wells insertion: The only excuse for taking a long shower is if you’re in the middle of major creative awakening and you have to stay with it.
“If you’re born with a gift, to behave like it’s an achievement is not right.
“It’s been said about marriage ‘You have to know how to fight.’ And I think there’s some wisdom to that. People who live together get into arguments. When you’re younger, those arguments tend to escalate, or there’s not any wisdom that overrides the argument to keep in perspective. It tends to get out of hand. When you’re older, you realize, ‘Well, this argument will pass. We don’t agree, but this is not the end of the world.’ Experience comes into play.
“It’s just an accident that we happen to be on earth, enjoying our silly little moments, distracting ourselves as often as possible so we don’t have to really face up to the fact that, you know, we’re just temporary people with a very short time in a universe that will eventually be completely gone. And everything that you value, whether it’s Shakespeare, Beethoven, da Vinci, or whatever, will be gone. The earth will be gone. The sun will be gone. There’ll be nothing. The best you can do to get through life is distraction. Love works as a distraction. And work works as a distraction. You can distract yourself a billion different ways. But the key is to distract yourself.”