Cities Rise and Fall; Stories Are Forever

Paul Auster is associated with two things, both in constant flux: the novel and New York City. The author of "The New York Trilogy," "The Brooklyn Follies," and the new "Invisible" estimates in his Big Think interview that he's spent at least 55 total years in the Big Apple, during which he has witnessed countless changes to the "gracious place" of his childhood. Yet while he remains unsure as to whether the city is ascending or declining, he has no doubts about the future of his other passion: people, he says, will never stop telling stories.

On this last point he disagrees "strenuously" with his fellow novelist Philip Roth, who has gone on record as believing the book will be dead in 25 years. At the same time, the advice he gives youngsters aspiring to write is: "Don't do it!"—unless, of course, they have a taste for "poverty and obscurity and solitude."


Auster hasn't spent his whole life writing in New York: he also lived abroad in France for a few years in the 1970s, translating French poetry. He reminisced about that period and suggested that it helped him as a writer, liberating him from the claustrophobic self-regard of his home country and affording him "space to breathe."

Stress is contagious–but resilience can be too

The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.

Big Think Edge
  • Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
  • Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
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5 short podcasts to boost your creativity and success

These quick bursts of inspiration will brighten your day in 10 minutes or less.

Personal Growth

Podcasts can educate us on a variety of topics, but they don't have to last an hour or more to have an impact on the way you perceive the world. Here are five podcasts that will boost your creativity and well-being in 10 minutes or less.

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Philosopher Alan Watts: 'Why modern education is a hoax'

Explore a legendary philosopher's take on how society fails to prepare us for education and progress.

Alan Watts.
Personal Growth
  • Alan Watts was an instrumental figure in the 1960s counterculture revolution.
  • He believed that we put too much of a focus on intangible goals for our educational and professional careers.
  • Watts believed that the whole educational enterprise is a farce compared to how we should be truly living our lives.
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Mining the Moon

How can we use the resources that are already on the Moon to make human exploration of the satellite as economical as possible?

The All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer (ATHLETE), a prototype heavy-lift utility vehicle to support future human exploration of extraterrestrial surfaces, at right, is parked beside the Habitat Demonstration Unit - Pressurized Excursion Module (HDU-PEM), at left, a concept off-Earth living and work quarters for astronauts stationed on asteroids, the moon or Mars, 15 September 2010. Photo by: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

If you were transported to the Moon this very instant, you would surely and rapidly die. That's because there's no atmosphere, the surface temperature varies from a roasting 130 degrees Celsius (266 F) to a bone-chilling minus 170 C (minus 274 F). If the lack of air or horrific heat or cold don't kill you then micrometeorite bombardment or solar radiation will. By all accounts, the Moon is not a hospitable place to be.

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