Playboy: What’s the difference between the people who have insanely great ideas and the people who pull off those insanely great ideas?
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Jobs: Let me compare it with IBM. How come the Mac group produced Mac and the people at IBM produced the PCjr? We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
Q: How does an idea for one of your films come together?
David Lynch: I always say ideas drive the boat. Ideas are a huge, huge blessing. That’s the thing you try to catch – an idea that you fall in love with. Every time that I have made a film that’s not from a book or somebody else’s screenplay, it happens the same way. The whole thing doesn’t come at once, but fragments of things come and these fragments form themselves into a script. You write the idea down and save it until the next idea comes, and little by little the majority of ideas find themselves in a script – which is organized ideas. Then you go and shoot that script and edit it and you mix sounds and music. It’s a process. An idea can give a story that is more abstract and not so straight-ahead, and sometimes it gives you a story that is more straight-ahead.
How can a young poet know if his work is really worthwhile?
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You never know that. I don’t know it; Robert Lowell doesn’t know it; John Berryman didn’t know it; and Shakespeare probably didn’t know it. There’s never any final certainty about what you do. Your opinion of your own work fluctuates wildly. Under the right circumstances you can pick up something that you’ve written and approve of it; you’ll think it’s good and that nobody could have done exactly the same thing. Under different circumstances, you’ll look at exactly the same poem and say, “My Lord, isn’t that boring.” The most important thing is to be excited about what you are doing and to be working on something that you think will be the greatest thing that ever was. One of the difficulties in writing poetry is to maintain your sense of excitement and discovery about what you write. American literature is full of people who started off excited about poetry and their own contribution to it and their own relationship to poetry and have had, say, a modicum of success and have just gone on writing poetry as a kind of tic, a sort of reflex, when they’ve lost all their original excitement and enthusiasm for what they do. They do it because they have learned to do it, and that’s what they do. You have to find private stratagems to keep up your original enthusiasm, no matter what it takes. As you get older, that’s tougher and tougher to do. You want to try to avoid, if you possibly can, the feeling of doing it simply because you can do it.
But why would a novelist want to deprive himself of the right to express his philosophy overtly and assertively in his novel?
Because he has none! People often talk about Chekhov’s philosophy, or Kafka’s, or Musil’s. But just try to find a coherent philosophy in their writings! Even when they express their ideas in their notebooks, the ideas amount to intellectual exercises, playing with paradoxes, or improvisations rather than to assertions of a philosophy. And philosophers who write novels are nothing but pseudonovelists who use the form of the novel in order to illustrate their ideas. Neither Voltaire nor Camus ever discovered “that which the novel alone can discover.” I know of only one exception, and that is the Diderot of Jacques le fataliste. What a miracle! Having crossed over the boundary of the novel, the serious philosopher becomes a playful thinker. There is not one serious sentence in the novel—everything in it is play. That’s why this novel is outrageously underrated in France. Indeed, Jacques le fataliste contains everything that France has lost and refuses to recover. In France, ideas are preferred to works. Jacques le fatalistecannot be translated into the language of ideas, and therefore it cannot be understood in the homeland of ideas.