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Wherever you are right now, take a look around you. Let your eyes rest on the first thing that catches your attention. For me, while writing this, it’s a bowl in Big Think’s offices. Highly polished, assembled, it seems, from curved, stained strips of wood. If I kept going, I might get to a particular wooden coffee table of my childhood. Its reassuring warmth and sturdiness. How I turned it into a fort and camped out under there, watching Saturday Night Live. All the abuse it took over the years from me and my sister, without complaint. And how unaware and ungrateful we were for its patient suffering. 

My guest today, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, has taken this kind of unflinching observation, association, and  insight to a level few of us can imagine doing, writing a six-volume series about his life and world called MY STRUGGLE. He followed this 2500 page, addictively readable masterpiece with a seasonal series of vignettes. The newest book, WINTER, has short meditations on everything from toothbrushes to Owls to alcoholism, and it’s one of the wisest, saddest, and most beautiful things I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. 

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Eric Kandel on “The Beholder’s Response”, Steven Kotler on Mind Uploading

Karl Ove Knausgaard, From WINTER (2018): The owl is nothing other than this: A soundless and  highly effective bird of prey. If the true task of poetry  is revelation, this is what it should reveal:  that reality is what it is.   That the forest, with its dense spruces and its  snow-covered floor is real. That the falling dusk  is real. That the owl taking off from the branch  and flying across the field is real . . . That the mouse  that the claws dig into is real. That the red of the blood  against the grey-white of the mouse’s pelt is real, as  the wings beat and the owl rises through the  darkness and in between the tree trunks, which a  moment later it vanishes among.


About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.