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...
Wesley Yang - The Souls of Yellow Folk
What do the "seduction movement," the Virginia Tech shooter, and the Asian-American experience have in common? Wesley Yang thinks and writes with devastating clarity about loneliness, invisibility, and the incoherence of American life.
- What if Asian American cultural "invisibility" is the key to saving America?
- Are liberalism and democracy too tame to survive identity politics?
- "One risks being a pariah...just by saying the things that need to be said."
Such and such "doesn't suffer fools gladly". That phrase has always bugged me a bit. It's like someone has just squeezed a pillow infused with an admiration-scented vapor that then hangs in the air for just a second, leaving you to wonder: Who is this remarkable personage? And who are these fools, so unworthy of his regard that he doesn't even have to suffer them? Well maybe he suffers them. But not gladly. And yeah, it's usually a "he".
I don't suffer that phrase gladly. But it's trying to get at something. It's asserting that the world is divided between affable idiots and those whose intellectual rigor leaves no time for idle chit chat. Or that the shared social—and now social media—space is mediocre, coercive, and corrupting. That clear thinking is independent and often lonely. When you put it that way, it's harder to argue with.
My guest today doesn't suffer fools gladly. His pen is sharp and uncompromising, even when he turns it on himself. Wesley Yang writes essays mostly about outsiders and outliers. Some try to fit in. Some try not to. Some succeed. Some fail by succeeding. His new book of essays, which contains some of the best writing I've ever read, is called THE SOULS OF YELLOW FOLK. It was just justly named one of NY Times 100 notable books of the year. And I'm so glad it's brought him to Think Again.
The catacombs of Paris. Secret graffiti beneath NYC. The hidden cities of Cappadocia. Writer and explorer Will Hunt is your philosophical tour guide to what lies beneath.
- "The surface of the earth is where we're rational . . . Part of us dreads the chaos, and part of us is always attracted to it."
- "There were these things hanging from the ceiling…long strands of bacteria called "snotsicles"… But at our feet was a natural stream that had been running through Brooklyn forever."
- "It's…about death. Undergoing a death. We're going into the other world and then retreating to the surface… changed in some way."
The 8th century AD was a tough time to be a genius from a poor family in China. Poet and novelist Ha Jin on the tortured life of the legendary drunken poet Li Bai. Also: panpsychism, the value of idleness, and humanities education in America today.
- "I knew in the case of Li Bai, I should follow the poems. Every masterpiece by him would be kind of a small crisis…a center for drama in his life."
- "There are people who want a different kind of fulfillment. Society should be open to that. In the long run, you don't know—maybe those idlers can produce more for the society."
Man-Booker prizewinning author Marlon James in a freewheeling game of verbal ping-pong on African mythology, '80's hip hop, heavy metal, tattoos, and billionaire philanthropy.
- "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" has been compared to "Lord of the Rings" and "Game of Thrones", but it's something entirely different.
- Growing up gay in a deeply religious Jamaica and writing his way out of there.
- Trickster narrators, truths you have to sort out for yourself.
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