In order to be successful in any undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself; that is, to lose himself in a great cause. In proportion as one loses himself in this way, in the same degree does he get the highest happiness out of his work.
If you examine the history of any playwright of the past twenty - five or thirty years - I'm not talking about the comedy boys, I'm talking about the more serious writers - it seems inevitable that almost every one has been encouraged until the critics feel that they have built them up beyond the point where they can control them; then it's time to knock them down again.
There are two threats to reason, the opinion that one knows the truth about the most important things and the opinion that there is no truth about them. Both of these opinions are fatal to philosophy; the first asserts that the quest for truth is unnecessary, while the second asserts that it is impossible. The Socratic knowledge of ignorance, which I take to be the beginning point of all philosophy, defines the sensible middle ground between two extremes.
On the surface, Wonder Boys seemed like such a departure from L. A. Confidential - it's funny, it's contemporary, and so on - and yet at a certain point, I had a feeling that reminded me how I felt when I was shooting L. A. Confidential. I analyzed it for a while, and thought about how emotionally involved I was with the characters. Then I realized that in both movies, there are three main male characters and one female, and all of them are struggling to figure out what they're doing with their lives, independent of each other.
The primordial blessing, 'increase and multiply', has suddenly become a hemorrhage of terror. We are numbered in billions, and massed together, marshalled, numbered, marched here and there, taxed, drilled, armed, worked to the point of insensibility, dazed by information, drugged by entertainment, surfeited with everything, nauseated with the human race and with ourselves, nauseated with life.
I think people get scared that they're not going to be able to do it perfectly, they're going to be criticized, they're going to be like, "Well, I'm not totally green. " Well, you know what? At this point, we don't care. Just a shade of green is enough right now. Move a little bit closer toward this. Because the more people start moving closer and closer to it, that's something that collectively makes a difference.