What do you believe?
Question: Do you have a personal philosophy?
Anna Deavere Smith: What I had was a question that occupied me for a very long time. So I can tell you what the question was, and I can tell you that even as I still practice around that question, it’s led me to another question that I don’t even know how to work on.
But the question I’ve been trying to answer since the first time I ever picked up a Shakespearean text to speak it under the gaze of an authority on Shakespeare. I had spoken some Shakespearean words in other informal ways; but the first time anybody was sort of ever listening to me attempt to speak in Shakespeare was in 1972, or something like that.
And so the question that came from that was, “What is the relationship of language to identity?” And that’s what you and I have been talking about. And that question has occupied me for a long time.
And now I have a new question, which is, “What is the gap between understanding and action? And what does it take to bridge that gap?” And I don’t know the answer to it. That’s the question that I suspect will occupy me now for some years.
Questions: What might the answers be?
Anna Deavere Smith: Well, I think some of the answers have to do with what I was talking about before, which is that all of us see reality through the lens of our experience. So that means if we would like to do something new, we have a problem because we can’t even see clearly how to do it. We can only see how we did it before.
So we’d like to do something now perhaps more challenging and more interesting and do it in a new way; but we only have our old eyes. And I think when you have our old eyes, we have our old tools. So that’s on a personal level.
And then you know, on a social level it’s the same thing. And our leaders often have those old tools, and we look to them to tell us how to change our lenses. They can’t always. Sometimes they can, but they can’t always.
Recorded on: Aug 22, 2007
Anna Deavere Smith wants to know: what is the gap between understanding and action?
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.
- The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
- The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
- People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.
- Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
- Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
- All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.