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...
Think Again Podcast's 200th episode! Robert MacFarlane (writer) – deep time rising
The wonder and the ethics of deep time. The "wood-wide-web". The claustrophobia of the Anthropocene. In our 200th episode, UNDERLAND author Robert MacFarlane takes us on a journey deep into the Earth and ourselves.
- "We think of ourselves as this surface species. Of builders. But we are a species of burrowers and borers. And we are leaving warrens behind us that dwarf any ant's nest…"
- "That handprint on the cave wall is testimony to that urge to move into darkness in search of meaning—in search of different orders of time."
I'm underground as I write this, one day before taping the conversation you're about to hear, speeding through New York City subway tunnels that aren't all that ancient but whose darkness, and rats, and crumbling, esoteric infrastructure holds fear and fascination enough for anyone who contemplates them. Waking up this morning—notice how you wake up, not down—I felt my already barely remembered dreams sliding off of me in layers, like leaves, or hands. And the longing to submit to those hands and slide back down, underground, into the caverns of sleep.
My guest today, Robert MacFarlane, has dug deeper than I could ever hope to into the meanings and magnetism of the underworld —tunnels, caves, sinkholes, and the living, fungal earth of our world and our imaginations. At one point in his new book UNDERLAND he brings up the fact that to a neutrino, our solid physical world is just a a mesh—Mount Everest is a wide-gauge net it can pass easily through. In MacFarlane's writing, the layers of the world are transparent, overlapping, always already present. He's often called a "nature writer", but that's a poor proxy for what he actually is: a philosopher poet with the gift of sight in the darkness, whose penetrating vision turns the world inside out.
Surprise conversation starters in this episode:
In this episode master teacher Sharon Salzberg considers whether it's ok to teach mindfulness to the armed forces, how practitioners of meditation and mindfulness should balance openness with discipline, and so much more.
Since 1974, Sharon Salzberg has been sharing ancient meditation and mindfulness practices in a voice the contemporary West can understand. Her warm, funny, down-to-earth books, dharma talks, and guided meditations have helped struggling meditators worldwide establish a strong practice and reduce the suffering in their lives. In this episode Sharon sits down with Jason to consider whether it's ok to teach mindfulness to the armed forces, how western practitioners should deal with the almost militant tone of some eastern teachers when it comes to discipline and "right effort", and so much more. Sharon's latest book is Real Happiness: a 28 day program for realizing the power of meditation, now thoroughly updated and revised for its 10th anniversary.
The New Yorker-based comedy team on never exercising or going outside, and so much more.
Thelma and Louise, Ponch and John, Pancho and Lefty, Quixote and Sancho Panza, Marx and Engels, Marx and Chast…history and literature are full of magical buddy stories. Every now and then, for reasons no one can explain, Two people come together and produce something greater, or at least very different, from the sum of their parts.
I'm here today with one such team: the writer-cartoonist duo of Patricia Marx and Roz Chast. They're both longtime contributors to the New Yorker and fearsome humorists in their own rights. But together they form a third fearsome thing, a thing which has created books such as Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct it: A Mother's Suggestions, And their latest: You Can Only Yell At Me For One Thing At A Time: Rules for Couples. They're also the enigmatic figures behind yet a fourth thing, the legendary ukulele band Ukelear Meltdown.
In this first episode of 2020, beloved dharma teacher Joseph Goldstein is back for a conversation about struggle, doubt, and growth on the spiritual path.
Freedom. Everyone wants it, but knowing where to look for it is another matter. And to make matters worse, the world is full of things that feel like freedom but might just get us more tangled up in everything we're trying to escape. How much freedom can money buy? How much money? How free are you on a tropical vacation? Would uploading your consciousness into the cloud and downloading it into a robot avatar on Alpha Centauri make you more free? How about falling in love again? How about three margaritas with friends? Or six? How about falling in love again? A better government? Less government? No government at all?
I'm here today with Joseph Goldstein, a beloved teacher of Buddhist ideas and practice in the West and a personal inspiration to me, to talk about freedom of the mind and spirit—and the kinds of effort and insight that can lead there. Joseph is the co-founder of Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and the author, most recently, of Mindfulness: a Practical Guide to Awakening.
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