Charlie Kaufman:”It’s hard to be human”

Q: As Michael asks in the film: what is it to be human, to ache?


Charlie Kaufman : I don’t know. It’s hard to be human. I get angry at being human and at humans and I wish there was more kindness and I could be more kind and other people could be more kind. I get very rattled just in traffic. On the road, a certain combination of selfishness and aggression exists. I think it’s analogous to look at people in cars and people online because it is an anonymous situation where you get to act on these impulses without repercussions – unless you’re in an accident – and just to be mean. I just find it so upsetting.

I was driving last night on this quiet road and this person was driving towards me and had their lights on. I flashed them to let him know, not in a rude way, that I couldn’t see. And he or she turned her brights off immediately and then turned them right back on. It was like: ‘Screw you. Don’t tell me what to do. Fuck you.’ I can’t really figure out any other version that makes sense. It just puts all of my cortisol or some sort of adrenalin nightmare stuff coursing through my veins.

The converse is true too. When I see something that’s just kind, I find it the most incredibly moving thing. It just makes me relax and tear up. When someone looks at you warmly for a second as you pass them on the street – rather than just an obligatory nod – it gives you some sort of renewed faith.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson:”if people learn something that empowers their decision making or their outlook on life, you can reignite the flames of curiosity”

Q: You talk a lot about the importance of curiosity. What’s the best way to promote it, especially in adults who may have lost some of the innate curiosity they had as children?


Neil : I think that if people learn something that empowers their decision making or their outlook on life, you can reignite the flames of curiosity. I try to do that in my Twitter stream. No one wants to be lectured to. Nobody wants to hear you dumb something down. So I toss out little biscuits of knowledge or wisdom or perspective. Just yesterday I tweeted, “The irresistible force beats the immovable object every time.” People asked why. The follow-up was, “Because a strong enough force will simply obliterate the immovable object, and you will no longer care about whether or not it moves.” That common philosophical conundrum has a physics answer. Another one is, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” The answer is based in biology: The egg came first, but it was laid by a bird that was not a chicken. I try to make sure that the best of my tweets have you thinking in a new way.

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Bruce Lee:”To me, ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself.”

Q: It’s interesting, we don’t in our world, and haven’t since the days of the Greeks who did, combined philosophy and art with sport. But quite clearly the oriental attitude is that the three are facets of the same thing.


Bruce Lee: Man, listen to me, ok? To me, ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself. Now it is very difficult to do. I mean it is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky and be flooded with a cocky feeling and then feel, then, like pretty cool and all that. Or I can make all kinds of phony things, you see what I mean? And be blinded by it. Or I can show you some really fancy movement, but, to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself….and to express myself honestly, that, my friend is very hard to do. And you have to train. You have to keep your reflexes so that when you want it…it’s there! When you want to move, you are moving and when you move you are determined to move. Not taking one inch, not anything less than that! If I want to punch, I’m going to do it man, and I’m going to do it! So that is the type of thing you gave to train yourself into it; to become one with it. You think….(snaps his fingers) ….it is.

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Jagjit singh:”I make sure that the words used in the ghazal are simple and understandable for common audience”

Q: What qualities do you look for in the poetry before choosing a ghazal for a musical composition?


Jagjit singh : Apart from the technical specifications to qualify as a ghazal, I am looking for a new thought in the poetry. Beauty, romance, social satire, spiritualism, religion- the subject matters may vary but there should always be a surprise element in a ghazal. I also make sure that the words used in the ghazal are simple and understandable for common audience. I have studied and learnt Urdu in detail but even now, I don’t feel awkward to ask an expert about the meaning of a difficult Urdu expression.

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Baba Ram Dass:”If you want oneness in society, you have to teach people to go inside instead of going outside”

Q: You have been exploring consciousness for at least fifty years. And that search has taken you down several different paths including LSD and Bhakti yoga. How can we touch this universal love that you espouse that can unite us?


Ram Dass: Do you know sadhana [spiritual discipline or practice]? I feel sadhana comes from the real self. Sadhana goes from here [points to his head] which is the ego, to this [hand on his heart], which is the real self. And this is the soul. In the depth of the soul is the atman, the oversoul. And that oversoul is really love and compassion, peace, joy, and wisdom. [He says these words carefully, with reverence]. But that isn’t just knowledge; it’s much more. If you want to get to know a tree, the head would merely say, “That’s a tree.” If you go into the heart, you meldwith the tree. If you meld, and I meld, we’re melding into something, into oneness. And this is bhakti—giving from here to here, the head to the heart. This is loving awareness, that’s the soul. And you go down to the heart. You say, “I am loving aware ness.” In the middle of the chest: “I am loving awareness. I am loving awareness, I am loving awareness,” and you get moving down.

The soul is not ruled by time and space. The soul is infinite. It blends with the One in infinity. I’m talking to you, but that’s only one level, and you and I are one, so one is talking to self; it’s another level. These are planes of consciousness, and I think human beings exist on two planes of consciousness, the soul and the ego.

The soul is not part of the incarnation. It comes into the incarnation. And the soul is not afraid of death because it has done it so many times. And now the ego is individual, and the world at this moment is ruled by nations which are egos. And I find, for example, that the United Nations is very ineffective. But then what would we substitute? We could substitute wise beings from different religions or different states—philosopher kings, if you will.

If you want oneness in society, you have to teach people to go inside instead of going outside, because if they want peace, they need to find it within. I remember being at a peace rally. Everybody was yelling, [He shouts loudly, angrily.] “PEACE PEACE!” That isn’t peace! [Laughter.] Peace is inside, in me and in everybody else. If you want peace, you go down in.

When I was a psychologist, this [points to his head] was my preeminent instrument. This was what I thought I was. And when I went here [into the heart], I said, “I’m home.” Because it was so familiar and yet it was something I had not really experienced. None of my psychology got down to [the heart] before mushrooms and my guru. Those were the two major things

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Ai Weiwei :”I believe that all these crises are man-made, so man has to find a solution now”

Q:  What can each and every one of us do to stop this human crisis, as you call it?


Ai Weiwei :We’ve always hoped and thought that in the 21st century, we would have better conditions through globalization and greater tolerance regarding political situations. But today there are more borders than ever and it seems as if we’re strongly divided. We have to start really dealing with this situation instead of repressing it.

I believe that all these crises are man-made, so man has to find a solution now. We all have to believe that we have the power to bring about change. If we lose that faith, we will also lose our hope, our trust, and our humanity.

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Quentin Tarantino:”Carbon copies give me headaches”

Q: How do you answer critics who think that your generation, with Tim Burton, the Coen brothers, or even an older person like David Lynch is just mak­ing borrowed, post-modern, self-reflexive art with no connection to reality, just a kind of formalist game?


Quentin Tarantino: I’m never bothered that people say I don’t make films “from life” and that I have “nothing to say.” I don’t try to say anything but to create char­acters and to tell stories out of which meaning can appear. What’s more, I think I make films about life since I make films about me, about what interests me.

The only artistic training I had was as an actor. An actor has a very dif­ferent aesthetic conception from a director or a writer. He uses what works. Without betraying the truth of my style, my rhythm or voice, when I saw something I liked in Marlon Brando or Michael Caine, I’d use it in my own acting. Actors work like this: they steal from others and make it part of themselves.

I don’t consider myself just as a director, but as a movie man who has the whole treasure of the movies to choose from and can take whatever gems I like, twist them around, give them new form, bring things together that have never been matched up before. But that should never become referential to the point of stopping the movement of the film. My first concern is to tell a story that will be dramatically captivating. What counts is that the story works and that viewers will be caught up in my film. Then movie buffs can find additional pleasure in getting whatever allusions there are.

But I never try for an exact copy or a precise quote or a specific refer­ence. Carbon copies give me headaches. I like mixing things up: for example that golden watch story begins in the spirit of Body and Soul and then unexpectedly ends up in the climate of Deliverance. What I most enjoy are space-time distortions, jumps from one world to another. You don’t need to know the two films to appreciate the story of the watch, but if you know them it’s even more surprising and fun.

Sometimes I have an idea for a film which I carry around in my head for five or six years, without writing the scenario, since the right moment hasn’t hit. But when I sit down to write, everything that’s going on in my personal life finds a place in the film. When I’ve finished a scenario, I’m always astonished by what it reveals about me. It’s as if I were disclosing a bunch of personal secrets, even though people don’t notice, and I don’t really care if they notice or not!

Again, if an actor is driving to the theater or to a film set and hits a dog, like Irene Jacob did in Red, well, it’s going to affect the acting, no matter how well the scene has been prepared. What happened is going to show up on stage or on the screen. Anyone able to keep strictly to what had been planned isn’t really creative. At least that’s how I think about my work. Whatever happens to me, even if it’s completely unrelated to the subject I’m doing, will find its way into the scenes I’m shooting, because I want my characters’ hearts to really beat.

If you really knew me, you would be surprised by how much my films talk about me.

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