Yeah, I know, right? I wonder how I snuck into that ultra-august lineup too, but if the wave's there — to use a metaphor tailored to my city of residence — I'm sure as hell gonna ride it. In his brief comment on my show, Pierce dropped a line I found resonant indeed. While I've thought this and have to some extent even written it, hearing someone else put it in their own words makes me consider it in a more sustained way than I had before:
The more I consume information, the more I realize that what’s interesting are not theories or events; what’s really interesting are the people behind those things.Thus far, I've consciously steered The Marketplace of Ideas by a bright but hard-to-locate star: "What stuff is interesting, and who's associated with it?" If I'm intrigued by a book, album, blog, film or wrought thing of most any kind, I find out who's behind it and invite them on the program. But I've taken it as less a mandate than a helpful tip that I should, in time, get behind the boilerplate to the real person and their real thoughts, opinions, reactions. Should promote that bit to raison d'être? Should the whole shebang be "a show about the people behind the ideas"? How much is it already that?
This adds another impossibility to my interviewing task. The first impossibility, which I believe I laid out on Twitter — and various e-mails to people, which are my crackpot ideas' proving ground — is that the ideal interviewer must speak directly and one-on-one to the guest, and directly and one-on-one to the listener. The trick is holding a genuine human conversation with the guest without making the audience shouldn't feel like a lousy pack of eavesdroppers. This, of course, can't be done.
The freshly-minted impossibility is that of holding conversations that are both idea-oriented and people oriented. I touched on this in my list of tips as follows:
Whenever possible, interface with your guest as a human being, with all the complications that entails, rather than as a mere vehicle for ideas. The danger here, of course, is that you might lose sight of the value of ideas and turn into StoryCorps. The trick, to the extent that I've figured it out so far, is to conduct ideas-oriented conversations on a human level. And not, you know, to make Eastern Europeans weep in a bus.But I didn't realize that this was just the same form of impossibility as speaking straight to both guest and listener. Naturally, twice as many impossibilities makes interviewing twice as fascinating, and I want to accomplish its goals twice as much as a result. If you can think of a third axis of interviewing impossibility, I'd appreciate it.