Yourself, Only Better – Ayelet Waldman – Think Again Podcast #86
Spontaneous talk on surprise topics. Author Ayelet Waldman on parenting, identity, and how LSD microdosing changed her life for the better.
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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.
Ayelet Waldman is a novelist and essayist, a former federal public defender who taught at Loyola and UC Berkeley schools of Law. Her latest book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life is an honest, funny, informative account of her month-long experience “microdosing” on LSD – after a ton of research into the practice and potential psychological benefits of taking subperceptual doses of the chemical. Spoiler: overall it helped her. The book also digs into the history and ramifications of the criminalization of psychoactive drugs, and the philosophy of "harm reduction" in parenting.
In a funny, free-ranging, rapid-fire dialogue, Ayelet and Jason dive into topics as diverse as the split between art and science, how not to mess up your kids too badly, and the benefits of neuroplasticity.
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.
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.
When you’re a Hasidic woman in Borough Park, Brooklyn, starting an ambulance corps is a radical act. Documentary filmmaker Paula Eiselt on the push-pull of identity and cultural change in her film 93Queen.
When I started college at New York University in 1990, nobody lived in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was the dark side of the moon. At least that's how we NYU students thought about it. Lots of people lived in Brooklyn, of course. Just not us. It's 2018, and Brooklyn has become an international brand, synonymous with artisanal pickles, gastropubs, and luxury condos. It's the place even former NYU students can't afford to live anymore.
On hallucinating a teensy Virgin Mary in a water fountain, our weird relationship to fame, her stint as an elf-hunting camp counselor, and more in what feels like a 4 am college conversation with the inimitable Parker Posey.
The impulse to make art is with us from childhood. It's the desire to play. To say “hey! Look what I made!" It's the wild fun of making a big mess that's nobody else's but your own—and not having to clean it up. Above all else, art is wild. It's independent. It's free. And that's one reason why the art industry is a very weird thing. In order to make money “at scale" as the Silicon Valley kids like to say, movie studios, fancy galleries, and concert promoters have to quantify, systematize, and package that sense of freedom. If it sounds like a paradox, that's because it is. I'm just gonna say it: the more money at stake, the less breathing space for everything that draws us to art in the first place.
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