What is your question?
Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 on NPR, is a journalist and the author of the novels Hey Day, Turn of the Century, The Real Thing, and his latest non-fiction book Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History. He has written and produced prime-time network television programs and pilots for NBC and ABC, and co-authored Loose Lips, an off-Broadway theatrical revue that had long runs in New York and Los Angeles. He is a regular columnist for New York Magazine, and contributes frequently to Vanity Fair. He is also a founder of Very Short List.
Andersen began his career in journalism at NBC's Today program and at Time, where he was an award-winning writer on politics and criminal justice and for eight years the magazine's architecture and design critic. Returning to Time in 1993 as editor-at-large, he wrote a weekly column on culture. And from 1996 through 1999 he was a staff writer and columnist for The New Yorker. He was a co-founder of Inside.com, editorial director of Colors magazine, and editor-in-chief of both New York and Spy magazines, the latter of which he also co-founded.
From 2004 through 2008 he wrote a column called "The Imperial City" for New York (one of which is included in The Best American Magazine Writing 2008). In 2008 Forbes. com named him one of The 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media. Anderson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, and is a member of the boards of trustees of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Pratt Institute, and is currently Visionary in Residence at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He lives with his family in New York City.
Kurt Andersen: It's too preachy for me to suggest what everybody should be asking ourselves. What I ask myself increasingly, as I get closer to the end of my life, than the beginning, is the sense of what do I want to do in these minutes and hours and days remaining to bring pleasure, joy, excitement, entertainment, illumination into the world? Which is a decent thing for everybody to be asking themselves.
But when you're 52 as opposed to 32, the ticking clock of the end is louder. And therefore I think that the question needs to be asked more squarely and forthrightly to one's self; not every hour, not every day necessarily, but regularly. How are you making your little corner of the world a more civilized, decent, interesting place?
Recorded On: July 5, 2007
When you're 52, the clock ticks louder.