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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  April 15, 2015 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, david brooks the "new york times" columnist and his new book "the road to character." >> the eulogy virtues are the things they talk about when you're dead -- were you passionate, honest, courageous, caring capable of deep love. and we all know the ewingy virtues are more important. we would all wrath very them. but the way we raise our kids, our culture is our resume. and a lot of us are more clearer on how to build a good career than character. so this book is an attempt to figure out how to build the eulogy virtues and how to become the eulogy we would like to have. >> rose: philip glass with his "words without music." >> these are great, enormous talents.
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but my idea is why would we do that? they've already done it. it never occurred to us. i think partly because i spent a lot of time with painters and sculptors and as you know the rate of change is every ten years, the music is every 75 years. much slower rate of change. my generation we just turned the apple cart over and started over someplace else. >> rose: david brooks and philip glass when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: david brooks is here. he san op-ed columnist for the "new york times." most of you know about that. he writes about politics culture and the social sciences and also teaches a class at yale university. his new book explores some of history's greatest leaders and the lessons their lives offer for achieving moral decht. the book is called "the road to character." i am pleased to have david brooks back at the table. welcome. to my parents low lois and michael brooks. have they read? >> they're my best critics. they have the highest intellectual standards of the family. >> rose: what did they say? they pick it apart. too long, shorten this, they're tough editors. >> rose: in the end the thesis they have to identify with and admire.
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ivment the book starts out with the basic distinction that there are two sets of virtues the resume and the eulogy virtues. the resume virtues, are you a good teacher journalist, good lawyer, the things we bring to the marketplace, and the eulogy virtues are things they talk about when you're dead, were you passionate honest, courageous, caring, capable of deep love. we all know the eulogy verses are more important. we'd all rather have them. but the way we raise our kids educational system most of our culture is in the resume. a lot of us including myself are more clear on how to build a good career than a good character so this book was an attempt to build the eulogy verses and how we become worth r worthy of the eulogy we'd like to have. so it's an exploration of ten lives who were great internally. >> rose: you came to this because it was about your life.i
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tell me about that. >> a couple of things. first, i achieved more career success i ever imagined. i felt if i could make my living writing, i would be happy. i learned the truth it doesn't make your happy. second, you have certain moments where your heart just opens up. i remember a moment driving home and my kids were then young, 12, 9 and 5, it's an afternoon there out in the backyard they're kicking ball up in the air and the sun is coming through the trees, the grass is green and they're laughing and running after this ball and it's one of those moments when time just stands still and reality sort of overspills its barriers and you just feel a wave of gratitude and your heart is just open and you become aware of a higher moral joy that's better than anything you get in career, but also you become aware of your insides and you think how am i inside? and you sort of begin to feel
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lack, at least i did. then i would meet people occasionally, and i would meet people occasionally who radiated from the inner light. i was visiting some women who do immigrant training and they teach immigrants to read and it's going to take years and years to do this and when i walked into the room, they were just not pretentious people, they're just patient and good. >> rose: not about them. they make you feel important and they're not thinking about what great work they're doing. they're not thinking about themselves at all. and you come in that room and you see a light, you feel a warm +*8warmth. you think i get to be on tv and write but i don't have that i would like to get that. i figured, how do you get that? that's the question we all go through. we have a moral responsibility to be better every day. so the book i wasn't in crisis, i wasn't in collapse but i wanted a shot at that. >> rose: between the time you discovered this idea and today how are you different in
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specific ways? >> the first thing to be said is reading and writing a book does not make you a good person. you've got to live it out. honestly, in some ways, i still believe i screw up massively every day. i can still be hard hearted, overly ambitious and desperately in need of love, the sins i'm aware of in myself. but my life has transformed in a way i'm more aware of the moral occasions in life. >> rose: doing the right thing? what are the moral occasions? >> they can come in many forms. one thing that i know has changed is people never used to confide in me. i was on the move. now i find people confide in me and sometimes i don't know what to say. a woman not long ago came up and said, i'm a mathematician, my son was killed in a car crash. i make sense of life. how do i make sense of that? of course, i didn't know what to say. i had no idea why her son died
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but i do know i'm supposed to hug her or just be present for her. >> rose: and to say i hear you. >> yeah. and so i wouldn't say -- i wouldn't want to presume i'm a better person, but i'm more aware of what sadness and suffering can do. there's a great quote from paul tillik, suffering carves a basement into your life and reveals you're not who you thought you were. it carves a whole in the floor where it reveals a cavity below and below and in suffering you become aware of yourself. you say how can i take moments of suffering and turn it into some radical self honesty. and the other thing i hope i'm a little better at is a capacity for vulnerability and love and the awareness that love decenters itself reminds you of riches. >> rose: do you care less about the resume?
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>> no. you know -- and i don't think it's about renouncing. it's about balancing. >> rose: you don't take from one to be the other. >> when i write a column and it's a bad column which happens about twice a week i still suffer for that. you still suffer from that. i still want to do well. i want my book to do well. >> rose: the only thing i object to here is somehow having a passion for the work that you do which ribts to the resume -- contributes to the resume, but having a passion believing in the excellence of things whether writing or other forms of journalism or whether it's being a research scientist, that has meaning and purpose, you know, and it's not about that as much as it is the wholeness of a life is to be open to and accepting of the other. >> so i'm a big dualist.
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somebody said the world are divided into two sorts of them, those who divide the world into two sorts of people. i quote from a rabbi that has the concept of adam one and adam two. adam one is the externally ambitious side and wants to create and build. adam two is the internal side, wants to be obedient to truth, wants to feel honor and good and righteousness. adam one asks how things work and adam two asks why things exist. adam one asks how do i go forth adam two wants to return home to hearth and family. the two are in balance but live by different logics. a.m. is output equals reward. adam two moral logic is not economic logic.
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it's tin verse. you have to give up what you want to get what you want, you have to loose yourself to find yourself, successful can lead to the greatest failure which is pride, failure can lead to the greatest success which is hue multiand learning. so the inverse of surrendering to find yourself is the adam two logic. you have to learn that. we're not naturally good if that way. you have to learn that about being around people who are and copying them. >> rose: that's the reason you list the people and we get that. someone said the two most important days in your life are the day you're born and the day you find out why. >> yeah. i have a:september of y call within a call in reference to a great woman, frances perkins. she was under frank lynn roosevelt, first woman in the cap net. she was as activist, good work for labor rights. she witness as factory fire and
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sees people hurling themselves instead of blaming. she sees a man helping a woman over and dropping her into space. a second, a third, a fourth, his girlfriend, he kisses her, drops her into space, she witnesses this and found out why she was born. her call was purified. it became not about her success or her status or money, it was about doing the job of being an activist excellently and she became an instrument of the cause and my favorite moment in her life she goes to albany trying to lobby, and they won't pay attention to her because she's a young woman in the 1920s. she keeps a folder of notes on the male mind. she says they won't take me seriously as a young woman but they all want to be loved by their mom. so she dresses like their mom and becomes an amazing activist and passes great legislation and
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goes to work for franklin roosevelt. >> rose: everyone wants to be loved by their mom and have their father think they're proud. >> george marshall at the end of his life said to a relative, do you think my father would be proud of me. he did not know. >> rose: take two -- abraham lincoln, lyndon johnson. >> there's a contrast. in my mind, lincoln was adam one, adam two. >> rose: i know. deeply humble good, had a tremendous capacity for rising above hatred. he was a terrible hater in the midst of war and is a moral example to beat all. the second inaugural is a beautiful testament to hue multi. lyndon johnson was something of a monster. johnson could say hey i achieved a lot. i would say a couple of things -- none of us -- >> rose: could you say it
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wasn't easily -- easily say it wasn't necessary to be how you define monster in order to achieve all those things? he may have benefited people as much as francis perkins. >> i would say someone like the people we cover who are involved in scandal, politics or business is because of something broken inside. the scandal never emerges out of nothing. it's because at a had something undeveloped inside and that they -- their watergate will come, if you ignore your adam two, your watergate will come and for johnson there were a lot of bad moments when that came. second we are endowed all of us with a moral imagination. we don't just want to have moments of happiness or success. that's great. i think all of us want to be good. it's part of our nature. >> rose: nobody sets out to be bad. >> right. even mass murderers even have rationalization why they're actually good. my students who are wonderful
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kids at yale but -- you know it's so hard to get into yale and succeed. they've had to work hard on the achievement side but they really want to be good. one said to me, we're so hungry, we're so hungry. >> rose: to -- to achieve the feeling of goodness and in my course i basically taught that book. the nicest compliment i got was a great kid, he said, you know since i've taken this class, i'm a little sadder. >> rose: that's good. we should not always be sad but sometimes confronting your weakness which is the core here you have to be sad, overcome it and transcending feeling is when you overcome that. character has this image of rigid victorian, but you build character by loving by being dependent. >> rose: by being dependent. yeah, this is a thing i discovered since the book. i used to think character was an iron figure inside, like rigid self discipline, but then i
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realized none of us can defeat our own self deception and self-centeredness on our own, we all need help from outside. so when you say someone has character, what you really mean is they're rooted in something outside themselves, that they have a philosophy about the world, they're enmeasured in a web of unconditional love, they're committed to a cause that can't be completed in a lifetime. and when you're looking for somebody who has great character you're talking about someone who can make amazing commitments outside themselves, to their family, faith, their country. so it's not in here. you're strong in here because you made these amazing, unshakeable, unconditional commitments. >> rose: made me think about kennedy's inaugural, not what youthe country can do far you but what you can do for the country. >> my hero on that was marshall. he was a very unimpressive young man like all the people in the
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book. he was afraid timid, his dad was ashamed of him but he decided, i will serve the institution, i'll serve the u.s. military, the institution will form my identity give me a code of excellence, i'll never put myself above the institution and my favorite marshall moment happens when roosevelt will assign to who will run the d-day invasion. everybody expects marshall to get it. he brings marshall in the oval office and says would you like to run it and marshall says i will not put my own ambition above the good of the country. he says, you do what's best for you, don't worry about my personal position. eisenhower got it and marshall was crushed. >> rose: he said that -- would it have been better, i ask, if marshall had led the invasion in
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any way? >> we don't know. we know he would not have been marshall. and he was one of these figures -- a lot of people are admired in history but not by the people around him. marshall was revered by the people around him. >> rose: because of his values. >> because he was consistent. there's no hint of scandal in marshall's life. a little too perfect sometimes. too much emotional control. but he was committed to the service of the institution. and you know we're supposed to think outside the box, be noninstitutional. marshall was an institutional mindset, i serve this institution, it's here before i was born and here after i'm dead. >> rose: did he go into battle? >> not really. he was in battle in world war i, around battle but mostly doing the non-glamorous work of transporting the troops, doing the infrastructure and supply chains. he was good at the nuts and
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bolts. he did it because that's what he was told. >> rose: eisenhower was on your list. >> his mom was an astounding woman, basically an indentured servant after the civil war and decided to get herself an education. she walks hundreds of miles enrolls in high school, graduates. enrolls herself in -- gets herself in a caravan, goes to kansas, goes to the university and teaches her son to control his own weakness. >> rose: was what she dead about resume? >> it was, but she also raised five sons to adulthood and they were all magnificent and and adored her with strong values. what she taught her son, especially dwight, is you have to conjure your weakness. >> rose: which was. age. he knew he needed to be chooferl
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and opt optimistic to lead in battle and as president, but that was false. inside at night, roiling anger, fever blood fresh spiking. but he knew he could not lead that way. he said i'm going to conquer my temper. some of the ways were shallow. if he hated someone, he would write their name on paper and tear it up. but he projected confidence and cheerfulness. he wanted his organization to feel good. to achieve adam one success, you want to build on strengths. character, your want to strain send your weaknesses. >> why did you choose to use these examples? was it a framework to hang the values to make them real? >> yeah. if i was an abstract author maybe i would write philosophy, but i'm a journalist, i learn from people. i have a great email in the book
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from a veterinarian named dave jolly in oregon. he wrote to me, what a wise person says is least of that which they give. what really gets communicated is the totality of their life, the small gestures of kindness, the small gestures of compassion. he wrote never forget the message of the person. >> rose: the message of the person. who you are. >> i was thinking about pope francis. i'm not catholic, i don't know what theology he is or not changing, but i have a sense of him as a person and that communicates in a thousand unconscious ways of what one would like to be. >> rose: what's your sense of him as a person? >> as a deeply humble man. the way christians are supposed to be. >> rose: and defined by actions too. >> and embracing the least among us living a life of giving and service, and not thinking of himself. and so when you see someone like that or the characters in the book are now like my friends. >> rose: how much of this is
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spiritual for you? >> you know, it is quite spiritual. some of it -- eisenhower is not that spiritual of a guy. he's good but not that spiritual. but there are some in the book that are so profoundly spiritual. awe gusties is one of my deepest souls you've ever meant. dorothy day was one of these people who couldn't just read books, she lived them out. unfortunately she she was drinking a lot smoking, sleeping around abortion, suicide attempt. then has a child. she writes of the birth of child if i had composed the greatest symphony, built the greatest sculpture, it doesn't compare to placing my child in my arms and the love of her daughter spilled
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now all directions and she became sometimes very self critical but radiating in joy and created a radical leftest newspaper, come communes, soup kitchens and built community all around hemplet it came from a spiritual flooding, her love for her daughter and god, and without that the joy wouldn't have created all that. >> rose: montane. montane is in contention with another great hero of mine samuel johnson. johnson is the east coast rapper, montane is the west coast. both are shallow political, but johnson is like, ernest. he says, what is my sin? sloth. cowardcowardice, i'll write about
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that. so he writes and becomes a great man. montane says i accept myself. i'm fine. i don't know how to die but nature will teach me. i look at myself and i'm always changing. if montane has some weak seases, the essence of humility is radical self honesty montane is an aristocrat and in some w proud, but he's so honest. if he has a bad memory, he'll tell you. if he has a small penis he'll tell you. he's radically honest. he says, you have to accept yourself at some point. i still like to be loved too much. what bad behavior does that lead to? attend of the day, i think -- at the end of the day, i would think, was i thinking about what
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people were saying or how i could be clever at the meeting. are you spending your time doing that? are you spending your time reading a spiritual book at all times, thinking about great spiritual figures? spending time in a group discussion thinking about things like how do you have a second love like you have when you're older in a long marriage or relationship that's different than the first love. if you're in a group of eight people you love and trust, you can talk through those problems. so have i devoted a few hours a week to that kind of conversation. i think in some ways it's a brute question of time. >> rose: so two things -- one, you once said to me, and i quoted it often, is that there's all this talk about introspection and understanding yourself. you said it's the opposite. what you have to do is lose
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yourself in something greater than self. >> here i'll say one thing. i took this column over 12 or 13 years, and for the first six months i was getting a lot of criticism and i kept asking myself how am i doing how am i doing, and that question was terrible for me because i was so self-aware, so self-conscious. once i stopped asking that i don't know if my column got better but i got happier. >> rose: once you stopped asking how am i doing. >> that concept. >> rose: maybe you reached a certain level of not asking the question because maybe there's a virtue of succeeding to a level where you don't worry about that thing. >> some of it is cultural. we live in a cultural that emphasizes the big me promoting yourself branding yourself on facebook, tweeting yourself. there is this culture around us that we're wonderful and we should be big. >> rose: the last two paragraphs of acknowledgements.
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my parents michael and lois brooks my best and toughest editors. my life has turns. my wife has done an amazing job of raising our three children. the children are spread around the globe and exemple exemplifies the traits of character any parent dreams of, courage, fortitude and loving kindness, they don't really need this book but i hope they profit from it. did this search have anything to do with the way you saw marriage? >> well, that's a good question. i guess, you know i'm now divorced and don't really want to talk about that. don't want to talk about what happened to the marriage. but it certainly made me more aware of the things love does and how you think about love, how you fall for love, how you let love like an army invade you
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and how you allow yourself to be conquered by it. then so there's that love. and then the decentering of the self where you realize your riches are in another. the longing for fusion of souls and where you -- montane said love eliminates the distinction of giving and receiving because you're so fused with another person that when you give them a gift you get more pleasure out of it. so i think what this book has done is made me reflect on things like love and hopefully i'll be better next time and hopefully we all become deeper in our capacity to love as we get older. i think the process of thinking about it and writing about it and learning how to love and what love is will make me a better lover as the days go on. >> rose: let me turn to the other job you have which is writing a column about current events and what's going on. just this past weekend we saw
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the announcement of hillary clinton. what's the test for her? >> i think the test is giving something new. if you look at the candidates who succeeded, they have given us something new. obama hope and change. that was a remarkable campaign. it was fresh and new. it was okay, we're looking to the future. george bush, compassion and conservatism. it's the quality of imagination and does she have a quality of imagination that can combine things in new ways, and that takes the imaginative quality which is much underappreciated in politics and the willingness to take risks. the natural thing in her point of view is she's so close to the presidency, don't take risks just coast in. that rarely works. you have to take the final risk. >> rose: do you develop that as late stage in life or is it something you have exhibited throughout your life? >> that's a good question. i think it's very hard to think
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of someone who got more imaginative as they got older burks at some point, in a life, you just say, what the heck i'm just going to take the risk. lincoln was the gettysburg address he just took a risk. i assume she's capable of doing it. since between john kennedy and barack obama, 60 senators ran for president and their record was 0 for 60, they all lost and they all lost for two reasons, they weren't willing to take the big risk because they thought they were close and just took baby steps and two they weren't willing to eat dirt. running for president is eating dirt or for two and a half years. you're running around begging money and -- >> rose: do you think she can pass the test? >> that i think she can do. she's a hard working. >> reporter: do you think it's an appropriate test. >> i think it's part of being president. it's a tough, tuff job. >> rose: do you approve of the iran nuclear agreement?
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>> i do not. to me the essence of the thing is what's the nature of the regime -- you can think of about a million question. centrifuges, this and that. to me the question is are they lenin or brezhnev. if they believe in the revolution they will always try to exploit the revolution and be a destabilizing. if they're brezhnev they will take the deal to enter the negotiations and community of nations. if obama is right it's a great thing. if they're lenin it's destructive because they will get a lot of money to support the revolution, have a nuclear weapon in 15 or 20 years to destabilize the region and a disaster. >> rose: is it worth a risk?
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i want to see evidence they're brezhnev. i don't see any. i see lenin. it was death to america speech, a speech of how americans are liars, a speech of a revolutionary. >> rose: what did you mean by this, you told the guardian, i've made a career out of self-hatred. >> that's half a joke. >> rose: half a joke? you were being flippant? >> well i hope we all made a career out of self-criticism, and so -- >> rose: self-hatred and self-criticism are very different. >> it was a bit of a joke. i wrote a book about upper middle class people and i lived that lifestyle so it was a bit of a geek about that. >> rose: there was something that went to the core of this. >> you know, what i do is i volley opinions and when you write a column or are appearing on tv you're throwing out your opinion and you know you can be wrong but you just throw it out there because you hope it will
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provoke something in the reader or viewer or listener. you're trying to provide people context in which they can do their own thinking. so you volley something out and you seem more self confident and smarter than you really are and you try to provoke a conversation. but you're in the glare of the lights, have a microphone and are aware that presents character challenges. certainly i've gone through moments of smugness. >> this is what oliver berkman said in that guardian piece, brooks has a self awareness more than any high profile columnist. he has used public writings to wrangle with his own doubts, am ambivalence and self-reproach. does that shoe fit? >> i hope so. i consider it a nice thing to say. i hope that's true. >> rose: you also said a vocation is a calling. people generally feel they have no choice in the matter.
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their life would be unrecognizable unless they pursued this line of activity. >> that does fit. i was seven when i said i wanted to become a writer. i didn't know what kind. i thought i was going to do broadway or a playwright. that didn't work out. i knew i would be a writer. i'll never stop. in high school i dated a woman named bernice and she wanted to date some other guy and i remember thinking what is she thinking? i write way better than that guy. she had other values, i think. but i've written every day of my life. >> rose: david brooks, "the road to character." you've said when you talk about things like this it gets much more response and resonance than if you write about the iranian nuclear deal or the iowa caucus. >> i think the country -- as i said, we have a moral
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imagination. we want to feel good and have a past where we can be our fullest and best selves. a lot of people would cater to that give advice or have knowledge throughout history but they're all gone and it's a void in our culture. we talk too much about politics and too little about the eulogy virtues. when i tip my toe in the water, the response is good because they feel hungry. that's what i feel most passionate about. it would be great if we could shift the conversation a little and talk about politics, of course. >> rose: and what i would add to that is there's knot morgue valuable if you have a positive character for people to see it. and to have people open themselves to the idea of speaking to these kinds of values that don't seem try to
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and seem real authentic and admiring, if you can do that you could have a conversation about the country both in terms of talking about its faults as well as its past and as well as its future and its promise. you could have a real conversation and that's what's wrong with the political culture. we can't do that. >> there's a great russian quote in the book where he says a lot of people can think and decide very few people can see the reality just as it actually is and that radical honesty is something great to aspire to and now reflecting back on our time here i feel embarrassed because i've spoken about myself a lot, but hopefully one can try to do it with a sense of honesty and even if you are trying to think about yourself, try to think about where your weaknesses are, if you do that with a sense of honesty and vulnerability, then there's some humanity in that even though i've probably spoken of myself too much. >> rose: i'm glad you did.
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the "on the road." david brooks is the author. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: phil philip glass is here one of the most influential composers of his generation. he changed the landscape of music along others like steve riker and terry riley. he prefers to call himself simply a composer of music with repetitive structures. for the past 40 years he created more than 20 operas, similar to thinks, chamber scores and film music. he new work takes a look at life without music called "words without music." welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: anything you want to disagree with with respect to that introduction. >> when people say what do you do i say i write theater music. >> rose: is that what you say? it changes but that's what i like now. >> rose: why? it has the virtue of being what i actually do. >> rose: what is theater
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music? >> it's open remarks it's film, it's theater itself. it can be dance. anything that involves collaboration, like any of the elements -- >> rose: collaboration and performance. >> and performance, but in this case, i'm talking about collaboration with movement, image, text and music, the four, earth, air, fire, water. that's what it is. and i've written these because i was asked to write them and so i've written similar to thinks but people read the other stuff. >> rose: and but now you decided to write another memoir and the reason is that you wand to look at the -- >> well, you know, i was asked to -- it was by accident in a certain way. i was going to do a different kind of book and they ended up doing it by myself and i began to say what did i really want the talk about? i wanted to talk about the people i know. >> rose: and you ended up with this opening sentence.
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quote, in quotes, if you go to new york city to study music, you will end up like your uncle henry, spending your life traveling from city to city and living in hotels ." you then say, "that was my mother ida class. when she heard of my plans, i was sitting with her at the kitchen table at her parents how to in baltimore ." >> that was a pretty good reading of how my mother felt. she was a school teacher librarian. everyone had to take music sliestsons but we weren't supposed to become musicians. there is a history of musicians in the family and that was considered not the best way. that wasn't what they had in mind for me. >> rose: wasn't the safest place to go. >> i was a young guy, had gone to the early entrance program, i
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was 19, graduated from university. i didn't go into medicine or law or anything reasonable, i decided to pursue what i really wanted to do which is music. >> rose: and god bless you for that. because everybody ought to do that. pursue what they really want to do. >> my mother lived long enough to see me at the metropolitan opera and, so, in a way -- we never referred to that conversation again. she was always concerned about what i was doing. my dad had a record a music store burks she was a literary person, really. she liked books was a librarian. >> rose: but she thought you had talent. >> i don't think she would have known. but my dad was the one who liked music. he didn't particularly like music, though when she was in the kitchen making dinner, i would practice in the kitchen. i didn't like playing alone. i was probably performing for my mother when i was 8 or 9 years old. performing became important for
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me eventually. >> rose: is it ability to be able to create music either as a composer or vocalist or as a player some different skill that people have that -- or is it something that you can develop? >> i think it's both, really. for some reason, at least in the world of concert or theater music which i'm involved with, we tend to start fairly young, but that's not always true. the beatles were finishing art school when they formed a band and they were in their 20s. that's very common in popular music. not the world of concert music or central european art music or whatever you call it. i think i was young i was six or seven years old. i was with people at a conservatory -- >> rose: but you began because you had an instinct --
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>> i wanted to do it and my parents also felt that this is -- this is the stage where everyone should have some music education. my sister and brother had piano lessons. i had flute lessons. but i was the only one -- i was the one who became a musician. but for me i would say i bonded with music very, very early. >> rose: you also said when someone asked you what does your music sound like? you said it sounds like new york city. >> it's true. you have to remember, i wasn't born here, so i discovered new york and i discovered the music. i talk about it in the book, my first overnight train ride to chicago in the old b&o railroad train, it was an all-night ride -- >> rose: baltimore to ohio. yeah, you remember that. but it's been gone a long time
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ivment heard the clicky clack of the tracks. in those days they turned out the lights. i couldn't go to sleep. i was so excited. i was 15 going away to school with a couple of friends. and i heard the sound of the train and i think i heard the sound of music in a lot of things. >> rose: what influence did richard sarah have on you? >> he was a great friend. i worked with him. we met in paris. i was there on a fulbright. i was there on a yale traveling fellowship. >> rose: right. so he was in paris and going to show me around. he was a very good drawer, which you might not know that. he developed those skills. and we became friends there and he got back in there before i did, and when i got back there this was some years later maybe by 69 or 70.
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'67 i was back in new york. and he met me -- i think i came on the boat because in those days we took the queen elizabeth -- >> rose: yeah, right, right. and he said don't worry, i got my truck waiting for you. i said what for? he said moving furniture. that's what i did. i moved furniture for a while. one day he called me up and said leo wants me to do a show up town. can you come and work for me? i had been helping him at night partly because he needed someone to move his stuff around. we were old friends. i did it for fun. also because i had the truck. i became his assistant for a number of years. >> rose: you both shared a passion for jackson pollack. >> for a lot of things. he found out i was a studio assistant. i was kind of ignorant.
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i had a lamen's knowledge of modern painting but he took me to museums, he gave me books to read. he basically educated me so he could talk to me. that's really true. >> rose: you want to talk to somebody that -- >> we became very -- we were always good friends but i got involved with his work up until and through the time he was working with -- >> rose: this is him talking about importance of modern life. >> the generation that comes after interprets the generation that comes before so it can either mock it or extend it. we had a history through data, surrealism, abstract expressionism. every generation challenges the generation before. it's true in language, also. >> rose: who challenged you the most? >> pollack.
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>> rose: he challenged you the most? >> he broke all the rules in a great way. the man breaking those rules produced great art and you can go upstairs and think about it now and it's still there and breath taking. we need that expression that we ourselves can't understand in ourselves, an artist opened the door to that feeling. i think great poetry does it, great music and great painting and sculpture does it. it's what makes society rich. >> amazing. >> rose: had the critics been good to you? >> i think they have been confused but some of them -- >> rose: confused? yeah. >> rose: confuse bid what you do? >> i wasn't doing -- my generation, we were not doing what we were supposed to do. we were supposed to follow in this great track of modernist music and -- oh, there were fabulous composers, these were
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big, great, enormous talents. but my generation said, well, why would we do that? they had already done it. it never occurred to us. i think partly because i spent a lot of time with painters and sculptors and they're, as you know, the rate of change is about every ten years and music is about every 75 years. it's a much slower rate of change. in my generation we just turned the apple cart over and started over someplace else. one of the people became a very good critic of mine burks when he first heard my music, i think the title of his review was glass invents new sound. >> rose: that gave birth to my question. >> he became interested in music and, in fact, he began help meg write a book -- helping me write a book about music some years
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later and robert jones. sometimes -- tin page was another fellow. he had a radio program on kcr at columbia university, one of these all-night radio guys and he played my music and became a writer of music. let's put it this way i cultivated critics who liked me and the ones i didn't like i didn't read. >> rose: what's the biggest misconception about the music you compose? >> you mean the needle stuck in the groove one? >> rose: yeah. you know, what's so interesting about that, in fact, it doesn't hardly ever repeat. if it repeated it would be unlistenable. what makes it interesting is it's always changing is that what makes people think it's repetitive? >> because it keeps repeating. (laughter)
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but it's about transformation and i did something which people in the art world were doing, we were working -- and many of muse the theater also, we were working towards a kind of non-narrative expression. with breckette he would take a piece and cut it off and put it back together again. >> rose: so you're akin to beckett in what you're doing? >> when i was a kid in paris, i was writing music for his plays. >> rose: you were doing what? i was writing music for his plays. we had a theater company. we were expatriates and i was studying music there. we were working with his material and he was very friendly. he didn't want to spend any time with us, but i wrote music for him, for about eight of his plays. >> rose: if for some reason you couldn't do music, what do you think you would do?
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>> i have no idea. i never -- it never occurred to me to do anything else. >> rose: how lucky are you? i was lucky for two ways also. in the age, i was in the generation just between the vietnam war and the korean war. the korean war and vietnam war when there was no draft. i just slipped through the little window there and didn't even have to go into the army. >> rose: alex ross in your early years said in his early years he was as austere and severe as anyone. his winds would focus with maddening fairness on the basis of repetition addition and subtraction. >> very good. >> rose: you like alex. well, i like it, i think that's a good description. what happened later on is i became, by the 1990s, i got interested in all the things i had repudiated. i began doing operas based on romantic stories.
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i decided, okay let's do that now and i got interested in the art of -- i began to be interested in the art of work. i was working with wilson at the time. we did other pieces together the civil war -- >> rose: did you meet in paris? >> no, in new york city. we took einstein to paris years later. but i was interested in -- i became interested in everything eventually. i started from a narrow place. i had a very good music education from. i had the technical equipment and i began with a very reductive place, and i began to expand from that. the music an opera or the ninth symphony, they're very rich in terms of the depth and thickness
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of the music and the weight of the music. they're not what people would call minimalist at all. >> rose: you don't like minimalist. >> i liked it when i did it but it was over by '75 or '76. einstein that was the first piece i did where i brought social issues into the opera. and i got interested. uh how do we as art -- how do we as artists talk about the world we live in? i got interested in social issues of nonviolence. much, much later it was here in new york at the met. one of the things i liked about the theater was that we could include other ideas. we could talk about working on
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movies. he's talking about impact of technology on traditional life, talk about the things that are threatening exhilarating maddening or revolutionary. and makes movies out of it. >> rose: are you interested in how technology can enhance music? >> yes, but, however, to do that, i still write with pencil and paper. in fact i've learned about the certain kind of paper i like. i have to have it printed myself now. there's only five places in work -- there used to be five places in new york to get it. i have to send away for it. >> rose: you can probably get it on amazon. >> it's easier for me to print it myself and that's what we're doing. that's the starting place. i have a music staff in my office and they take the music and put it into the computer and from there we can make parts, we can do -- a lot of the technology -- i don't need it for writing the music but it's
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very helpful in preparing the music for people to play. >> rose: i'm looking for the right word here. i want to go out on einstein and the beach. give me the right words to introduce it. >> that's a hard one. you know einstein was a surprise to everybody. i'd say it was a surprise for bob and myself. he came from the role of theater and i came from the world of music but we were in similar places. we put our talent together. we became great collaborators because we trusted each other. it's about how artists trust each other to make new work. other people were involved in it. it was a work of true collaboration in that sense. i think that what i would say the way to look at it, we were in our 30s, i consider that were young, i think i was 35
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36, bob was four or five years younger than me and we did a piece no one had seen before and we hadn't seen it before either. >> rose: the book is called "words without music" with annie leibowitz' photograph which athink is sensational. thank you. take a look at einstein on the beach. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> i think that people have heard about it. they reflected on einstein. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> we've kind of -- we kind of would listen to it and overtime we began towns it. -- we began to understand it.
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>> you don't have to understand anything. you go and you can get lost. and that's the idea. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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this is "nighlty business " with tyler and sue herera. >> some of the most widely owned stocked issues cards to investors. too nice? larry finch tells some to stop being so generous with shareholders. crunch time for those who still haven't filed taxes. all of that and more tonight on "nighlty busin for tuesday, april 14th. >> good evening and welcome. it was report card time for three douf components and the results weren't so bad. jp morgan chase bea components


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