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A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Jason Silva: To be totally and completely honest, to me, you know, to create any kind of art, to immortalize an inspired moment and hold it in stasis is, again, what mankind has always done. You know, I’m not a religious person.  But, when I look at a beautiful cathedral, what brings awe, what induces awe is the idea that architecture, you know, a beautiful cathedral, a beautiful building.  A jet engine as an attempt to hold a transcendent moment in stasis, to immortalize a fleeting moment of insight and turn it into something that can be enjoyed and perceived and shared and consumed by other people.  

So I make the videos as an antidote to existential malaise.  Like ever since I read Ernest Becker’s book, The Denial of Death, which was the Pulitzer Prize-winning book from 1974 that says mankind has a collective neurosis not because of sexual repression, which is what Freud used to say, but because of the anxiety about our mortality, this creature that can sort of predict its own death.  We’re the only species that can look into the future and know that we’re going to die one day and it causes all sorts of cognitive stress on your system.  So we find diversions to transcend that feeling of being ultimately food for worms and our diversions have led to the religious impulse, the romantic impulse and the creative impulse.  

And I think what we do when we’re at our most creative is we transcend death temporarily. You know, we get off on awe.  We get consumed by something greater than ourselves, seemingly, you know, the Dionysian ****, the intoxication of creation.  And that feeling, I find, temporarily, gets rid of my anxiety about being mortal, you know, being naked and feeling like no matter what I do, no matter what we all do, we’re still kind of on that moving walkway that's carrying everyone else towards death.  But, in the meantime, to be beheld by awe, you know, aesthetic arrest, wonder, inspiration, these things are - this is how we defy entropy, by creating beauty and order and complexity.

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