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...
with 'Hadestown' creator Anaïs Mitchell - sometimes the god speaks through you
With 14 Tony nominations, HADESTOWN is redefining what a Broadway musical can be. Its creator, songwriter/singer Anaïs Mitchell sits down with Jason Gots to talk about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, making old things new, and leaving her songwriting cave (temporarily) for the theater.
- The creative process, from hacking away at rhymes in a windowless, concrete box to unpredictably transcendent moments on stage.
- A song can't change the world on its own, but it maybe can change the people who hear it.
Anaïs Mitchell and host Jason Gots, at Big Think's studios
Among other things, music can be medicine. Like a vaccine, it sometimes works by giving your body a little taste of the disease. Other times, of course, you just wanna dance, and James Brown might be just what you need. But the medicine songs I'm talking about are the ones that break your heart open no matter many times you hear them. And you want them to—because that's what it feels like to be alive.
Nobody knows this better than my guest today, singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. Like the centuries of blues and folk songs that echo through it, transubstantiated by her voice and guitar into something almost too beautiful to bear, her music is powerful medicine.
Anaïs wrote all the songs, lyrics and the book of the new (14x Tony-nominated!) Broadway musical, HADESTOWN, directed by Rachel Chavkin. It makes new again the ancient story of the singer-songwriter Orpheus and his lover Eurydice, who he follows all the way to hell, and leads most of the way back.
These effective strategies can minimize harmful moral grandstanding – in yourself and in others.
- What is moral grandstanding? Here's a comprehensive explanation of the psychology that drives this disruptive and divisive online behavior.
- Moral grandstanding may have very serious consequences for social discourse, but calling it out and shaming moral grandstanders is unproductive, says Brandon Warmke.
- To defeat moral grandstanding, you can do several things. Before posting anything online, ask yourself: 'Am I doing this to do good or am I doing this to look good?'. You can deny attention and praise to moral grandstanders, and you can redirect your own impulse to signal morality into actual volunteer work instead of online posts.
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.
Picking up where we left off a year ago, a conversation about the homeostatic imperative as it plays out in everything from bacteria to pharmaceutical companies—and how the marvelous apparatus of the human mind also gets us into all kinds of trouble.
- "Prior to nervous systems: no mind, no consciousness, no intention in the full sense of the term. After nervous systems, gradually we ascend to this possibility of having to this possibility of having minds, having consciousness, and having reasoning that allows us to arrive at some of these very interesting decisions."
- "We are fragile culturally and socially…but life is fragile to begin with. All that it takes is a little bit of bad luck in the management of those supports, and you're cooked…you can actually be cooked—with global warming!"
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."
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