Joyce Carol Oates – Think Again Podcast #94 – Oh, That's Socialism
Spontaneous talk on surprise topics. Joyce Carol Oates on America, idealism, and the shackles we can and can't shake off.
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In this episode:
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.
The writer Joyce Carol Oates grew up on a farm, tending chickens in what she describes as a very desolate part of upstate New York, and grew up to write around 90 (and counting) novels and collections of essays and short stories, many of them while teaching at Princeton University. She’s won many, many awards, including the National Book Award, the Pen/Malamud Award and the National Humanities Medal. Her powerful new novel, A Book of American Martyrs, begins with a terrible act of violence – and then deals with its complex aftermath.
Today's conversation starts there, weaving through the political and religious landscape of America, past and present. We also talk about whether writing, for Joyce, is as "effortless" as as critics have described the experience of reading her. Trump comes, up, inevitably but briefly, as do Jonathan Safran Foer, Lord Byron, and the problems early success can pose.
Surprise conversation starter interview clips:
About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: 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? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.
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A seismic shake-up at a venerable literary gatekeeper. Shallow and not-so-shallow consumerism. The Paris Review's new editor on old ghosts, new voices, and what's worth keeping.
Congo is one of the most culturally diverse, mineral rich, and beautiful places on Earth. But the “heart of darkness” colonizers dreamed into being still bleeds. Daniel McCabe’s documentary This is Congo lets this wounded nation speak for itself.
THIS IS CONGO, a new documentary film, attempts to wrap its mind around the incomprehensible realities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, almost 60 years after it was founded. At one point, commenting on one of the more incomprehensible recent events, a high-ranking military officer remarks:
In Egypt, comedy can be a matter of life and death. But life in America's no cakewalk either. Political satirist Bassem Youssef on reinventing yourself, crossing cultural lines, and the future of space exploration.
My grandmother used to tell a story about coming to America from Poland. How she sang God Bless America to cheer up all the grownups on the ship. She was 5 or 6 years old, traveling alone with her mom. For her, it must have been a big adventure. I can hardly imagine what it was like for her mom— my great grandmother — how bad things must have been for Jews in their home town of Bialystok for her to pick up and leave like that, without her husband, heading toward some distant cousin in the undiscovered country of Vineland, New Jersey.
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