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?
Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...
a Think Again mixtape for 2019
When I was a teenager and music was still on cassettes, a mixtape was an act of love. In this episode, I'm putting together some of my favorite moments of 2019, strung together with minimal interruption from me.
When I was a teenager and music was still on cassettes, a mixtape was an act of love. The selection and sequence of songs were a kind of message to the listener that left plenty of space for their own thoughts and feelings. Back in June Think Again hit its fourth year and its 200th show and it feels like the right time to take a step back and revisit some of the places the conversation has gone this past year. I'm intuitive rather than strategic about choosing guests for the show and books to read—when it works, it's an art rather than a science. And as with any art, themes emerge and recur in different guises. In this episode, I'm putting together some of my favorite moments of 2019, strung together with minimal interruption from me. So kick back and enjoy this eclectic collection, and feel free to write me through my website jasongots.com and let me know your thoughts, feelings, and insights. Or send me a mixtape of your own!
Featuring: Joseph Goldstein, Benjamin Dreyer, Anaïs Mitchell, Martin Hägglund, Aml Ameen, Marlon James, Terry Gilliam, Jeff Israel, Eve Ensler, Tracy Edwards, Frans De Waal, Edith Hall, Lama Rod Owens, Elif Shafak, Robert MacFarlane
ABOUT THE GUESTS:
Joseph Goldstein is a legendary American Buddhist teacher whose dharma talks and guided meditations I've been a fan of for over a decade. He's also the author of the wonderful book MINDFULNESS: a Practical Guide to Awakening.
Benjamin Dreyer is a funny, funny man. He's the copy chief of Random House and the author of DREYER'S ENGLISH. We nerded out with great delight on the joys of the English language.
Anaïs Mitchell is a devastatingly brilliant singer songwriter and the creator of HADESTOWN, a musical based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, which won 14 Tony Awards this past year.
Martin Haaglund's book THIS LIFE is a visionary work of social philosophy and one of the best books I read this past year.
Born in London, actor Aml Ameen went back to his family's Jamaican roots in a deep way for Idris Elba's film directorial debut, Yardie. I loved this conversation for reasons that I hope will be obvious.
And continuing with our theme, Jamaican writer Marlon James won the Man Booker Prize for his book A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS. This year, he published BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF, the first in a trilogy of hallucinatory, epic fantasy novels anchored in African mythology.
Terry Gilliam started out as the cartoonist for Monty Python and has gone on to become the beloved director of films including Time Bandits, Twelve Monkeys, and his latest: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
Jeffrey Israel is an old friend of mine, a professor of religious studies at Williams College, and the author of the book LIVING WITH HATE IN AMERICAN POLITICS AND RELIGION. He's trying to help us live better together with the freedom to be ourselves.
Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, is a warrior for the liberation and well being of women. Her latest book The Apology takes on the soul-restoring task of apologizing to herself in the voice of her dead father for his years of horrific abuse.
Tracy Edwards is just an all around inspiring human being. She was the captain of Maiden, the first all-female-crewed yacht to race around the world, and the star of the beautiful documentary MAIDEN that came out this year from Sony Pictures Classics.
Edith Hall is a classicist whose book Aristotle's Way makes Aristotle's approach to a life well lived accessible to a modern audience.
Frans De Waal is a primatologist and one of the foremost researchers into the emotions of animals other than humans.
Lama Rod Owens is a spiritual teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He's one of the co-authors of the book RADICAL DHARMA, which considers Buddhist teachings in the context of social justice struggles around race and gender.
Elif Shafak is the most widely read female novelist in Turkey and a brilliant chronicler of the tensions at the crossroads of the spirit and society.
Robert MacFarlane's book UNDERGROUND is one of the most beautiful, moving, intellectually rich pieces of writing I have ever read. Nuff said?
How do you do justice to the truth in a headline-driven world?
- The internet is parasitic on traditional media sources, says Keith Whittington. Traditional news outlets do the hard reporting to generate the facts and notable opinions that other outlets respond to.
- The greatest challenge to truth in journalism is that social media presents news stories out of context; we no longer see news among other news articles, and we may only ever see the headline without the detail and nuance required.
- Media institutions are working to tackle these challenges, but until then it is our responsibility as citizens and consumers to get smarter about how we navigate news feeds and the hyper-partisan press.
Should all speech be free? How much intolerance should society tolerate?
- For society to stay open and free, you don't need to eliminate prejudice. You need the opposite: All kinds of prejudice pitted against each other.
- Intellectual diversity helps society as a whole learn the truth. And as long as society has rules that force ideas to be openly tested, the intolerant will not gain the upper hand.
- "In America it's legal to be intolerant. It may not be right. It may not get you accepted or respected. But absolutely it's legal and it should be legal," says Jonathan Rauch.
How do you write away the personal hole in your heart when that hole was left by a man half the world idolizes? Steve Jobs' daughter, the writer Lisa Brennan-Jobs, on the process and effects of writing her beautiful memoir SMALL FRY.
- "If I hadn't gone back with a fine-toothed-comb, a lot of these assumptions I had would have just been the air I breathed into my future."
- "There is something like theft in a memoir. If you want to write about yourself you have to write about other people who are unwitting and don't want to be written about…"
Artist, "bird noticer", and concerned citizen of the digital state of the world Jenny Odell looks at many different ways of resisting the attention economy, sinking into the reality of our lives, and finding solidarity and agency with others.
- "Someone is defining the terms already by asking the question. And if you're not attentive, you will accept those terms."
- "It's really hard to draw a hard line around an entity in any ecological system. And I think this is a great description of the self, too."
Picking up the thread of a conversation they started two decades ago in Jerusalem, with some help from Lenny Bruce, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, and other influences along the way, host Jason Gots and Williams College professor Jeffrey Israel go deep on private grievances, public life, and where the two overlap.
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