The idea for this interview derived not from wanting to understand how Annie is so creative, innovative or intuitive, but rather something that is characteristic of her - humor. The idea was to find out how she used humor in her work in nonprofits, but as we interviewed her it became obvious that humor was a tool she used in all of her life, not just on a volunteer team or classroom. Humor permeates her life.
We got something unexpected, as you often do with Annie, and absolutely wonderful - the elevation of spirit. The resurrection of the spirit out of the dust. This explains why people love to be with Annie. No matter what her situation is, you leave with an elevated spirit after an interaction.
After the interview, I mused over whether I could find four causes of the reality she creates. Aristotle suggested that for every reality there were four causes that brought that reality into existence - material, formal, efficient and final.
The material cause is the building blocks of the new reality. The formal cause shapes the new reality. The efficient cause is what brings the parts together into a form described in the formal cause. The final cause is the purpose of the new reality.
Starting with the final cause that is raising the spirit, her elevator humor.
The efficient or productive cause leading to this type of humor is the fact that she has the seven forms of humor running in her brain as an operating system - plays on words, reverses, triples, incongruent paired elements, exaggeration, understatement and realism.
The formal cause, what shapes the humor and allows it to lift the spirit, is the situation. It's topical and temporal. She talked a lot about the flow - establishing it or reversing it if it's going in the wrong direction. The humor is not directed at someone, but with or for. It's shaped by her intuition.
The material cause is her facile brain and a lifetime of experiences, stories, anecdotes and facts that are the building blocks of what she does. Annie is a master, a guru, a wise sage, a Delphic oracle, Yoda. And, as such her messages are in the stories she tells and the humor. She always gives you a lot to think about and she's always given you more than you realize.
Read the complete interview and you will see how she used humor to teach us how she uses humor to lift the spirit.
"Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of high courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence coupled with the greatest possible freedom for self determination."
Mike Bown, Tom Carroll, and Paul Schumann
Note: This interview was conducted in 2004 before Anne's death in 2005. Read more about her here. It really applies to life now.