The modern assumption that writers and artists are dreamy, impractical people is both odd and quite insulting to creative people. Sophocles was a general, Goethe a scientist and statesman. Shakespeare was the most successful entertainment entrepreneur of Renaissance England. I had no particular interest in business, but I had to make a living, and I realized that I had a talent for managing enterprises such as literary magazines and films series. So I took the plunge and went to business school. I found the business world very demanding but also a good place for hard-working and talented people—better, I think, than the university.
I let absolutely no one at General Foods know that I was a poet. I kept my two lives entirely separate. It wasn’t until years later when Esquire featured me in a special issue of “Men and Women Under Forty Who Are Changing America” that my secret life was revealed to my colleagues. I didn’t enjoy the sudden celebrity. It only complicated my life. Never underestimate the advantages of anonymity.
Dana’s brother Ted Gioia:
If you asked me to sum up my view of music in one sentence, I could do it: music is a change agent and a source of enchantment. When people start understanding the arts in those terms, you don’t need to sell them on culture. They come out of curiosity, desire, and self-interest. Teachers can help spur this process, but it’s a different kind of teaching than you find in most classrooms