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...

Deborah Levy – it's those thoughts that are slightly awkward that need an airing

Playwright and novelist Deborah Levy on chaos and order in creative work. Also: marvelous digressions on the caterpillar and the octopus.

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While reading Deborah Levy's novel THE MAN WHO SAW EVERYTHING and her recent "working autobiography" THE COST OF LIVING I often found myself pausing and kind of sinking into a passage I'd just read. Going back and rereading it not because my attention had wandered nor exactly to unpack an idea but because I felt the need to experience it over again. To have it happen to me.

Levy started her career writing plays that have been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company and broadcast by the BBC. She is the author of multiple novels, several of which have been Man Booker Prize finalists, the short story collection Black Vodka, and two of the aforementioned "working autobiographies".

The two books of hers I've read are packed with ideas, but like great theater, they treat ideas as verbs. They're thought in action. In a sense they defy you to talk about them. But let's try to, anyway.

Academic freedom: What it is, what it isn’t and why there’s confusion

Academics are often attacked for having the audacity to pursue their research wherever it leads. But engaging with difficult, challenging ideas is a large part of what academia is about.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Academic expression is neither free expression nor political, though it is connected to both. Because of this misunderstanding, academic expression is often attacked, not because of the quality of scholars' ideas, but because of scholars' audacity in sharing them.
  • The Scholars at Risk network is working to ensure that academics of all stripes have the academic freedom they need to pursue their work. In this video, Robert Quinn stresses that this is not a left/right issue, nor is it something that's only happening halfway across the world, and he explains why it's so important to defend academic freedom.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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Journeys of discovery and wonder in the inner and outer world.

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Ibram X Kendi – Antiracism 101

For too long, we've treated racism as a personality trait or a vague systemic menace rather than the result of policies and ideas created deliberately to benefit some groups at the expense of others. As a result, too many anti-racist efforts have collapsed into name-calling sessions, failing to achieve their goals. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist, sees a better way.

Think Again Podcasts


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Gail Collins (NY Times columnist) – The brief social media life of Glam-ma

Though what constitutes "getting old" for women in America has been a moving target throughout US history, it has rarely been a picnic. But our history's also full of women who have raised hell and pushed back in a hundred different ways against the cultural and literal corsets America keeps trying to stuff them into.

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In 1972, the year I was born, there was apparently a famous TV ad for Geritol. My guest today describes it thus:

"…a husband spoke to the camera while his wife draped herself over his shoulder, smiling like something between a model and the brainwashed resident of a creepy commune…"My wife's incredible. She took care of the baby all day, cooked a great dinner and even went to a school meeting—and look at her!"

Her potion of eternal youth, of course, is Geritol. It's got all the vitamins and iron she needs. This perfect woman grins silently at the camera as her husband concludes: "My wife: I think I'll keep her."

Though what constitutes "getting old" for women in America has been a moving target throughout US history, it has rarely been a picnic. But our history's also full of women who have raised hell and pushed back in a hundred different ways against the cultural and literal corsets America keeps trying to stuff them into.

My guest today is New York Times columnist and celebrated author Gail Collins. Her new book is No Stopping Us Now: the Adventures of Older Women in American History. It's a bumpy, often exhilarating ride through the lives of older women in America from colonial times up to the present day. And Gail's good company as our wise, wisecracking stagecoach driver. We're headed West, and there's hope on the horizon.

Conversation starters in this episode:

Liz Plank on masculinity from Think Again, episode #214

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