Michael Ondaatje:”The decision to be a poet was that I thought it would save my life”

Could you talk about the decision to be a poet?

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Michael Ondaatje: The decision to be a poet was that I thought it would save my life. I was 18. I was in a new country. I was in Canada. I had a great teacher and I didn’t know who I was really. I was meeting poets my age. When I was in England the idea of becoming a writer seemed ludicrous and presumptuous. I wrote poetry for six or seven years, and gradually became interested in prose. I wrote The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, and began this odd monster of poems and weird photographs and prose, and the next book was Coming Through Slaughter, and I wanted to take whatever there was I loved in poetry into prose, which was essentially not saying everything. You put 70% down and then leave a lot of space for the reader to participate, and I wanted to have that sense in a novel as well.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/books/michael-ondaatje-in-coversation-with-tishani-doshi-about-his-novels-especially-warlight/article24228381.ece

David Cain: “we’re given bad answers by both nature and society”

Do you think people know what it is that makes them happy in the first place?

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David Cain: That is a great question, and I think the answer is generally no. What amazes me most about human beings is that we all want exactly the same thing — happiness — and there is so little frank discussion on how to achieve it. Part of the problem is that we’re given bad answers by both nature and society. Nature tells us we’ll be happy if we just eat something or have sex, and society tells us we’ll be happy if we just bump up our salary or buy certain things. Mother Nature just wants us to pass our genes along and couldn’t care less about our happiness, not unlike marketers who just want us to pass our money along to them. So there is widespread confusion between gratification and happiness in human societies.

Source :  https://lifedonewrite.com/2013/11/20/an-interview-with-raptitude-creator-david-cain/

Rita Levi-Montalcini “What you do you should do well”

Q: So I am also wondering what advice would you give young people now. Many young people are not interested in science, and it’s a very exciting time, as you mentioned.

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Levi-Montalcini: I’d say, as I always say, that nothing is beautiful as to work on something scientific or social, to be very invested in what you do. I mean, not [to] be afraid, but knowing that you never will go ahead if you don’t do it very seriously and then, as you say, the important [thing] is to be very engaged. What you do you should do well. I will say that it is not as important as scientific or social [work] because I’m also working on social problems, as you know, in Africa. So it is important to know what it is important in life, not just only very simple and stupid things, like being beautiful and successful, this is nonsense.

I always say so, and I have many followers you know. I work here, and I am delighted because excellent people work here, Antonino Cattaneo, Pietro Calissano, I mean, many people, not too many, but some people still understand the importance of being invested in important problems, not in futility.

Source :

https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-physiol-021909-135857

Rita Levi-Montalcini won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1986 with Stanley Cohen, decades after her groundbreaking work in Italy and the United States. The theory she developed was quite elegant and simple. Competition of nerve cells early in development for limited amounts of growth factors produces winners and losers. The winners are nerve cells that made the correct connections with their targets, and the losers undergo death, which explains the massive amount of programmed cell death that occurs in the peripheral nervous system.

Lynsey Addario:”One reason we stayed alive is that we stayed calm”

How do you mentally prepare for the risk of a war zone, and what about when a situation turns dangerous? When you’re being forced to lie facedown at gunpoint?

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Lynsey Addario: At least a week before I go on any assignment in a conflict zone, I begin mental preparation. I speak with local journalists and fixers about the situation on the ground, with colleagues who have worked in that specific area recently, and try to update myself on the potential risks. The situation is often fluid during war, and I need to ensure I am aware of all the potential issues that may arise. Familiarizing myself with these things helps with mental preparation. As far as being held at gunpoint or kidnapped, I think there’s a survival mode that kicks in. My mind slows down into an almost catatonic state, where it’s all about enduring whatever I need to endure at that moment. In Libya, I was with very experienced colleagues, and we all knew not to panic. One reason we stayed alive is that we stayed calm.

Source : https://theliteratelens.com/2015/07/06/in-love-and-war-an-interview-with-lynsey-addario/

Bruce Ginsberg: “I have been on a path to deepen my experience of everything”

Why have you followed this path of Zen and tea?

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Bruce Ginsberg: I have been on a path to deepen my experience of everything, to understand the moment before you think when the brain has already made the decision for nine tenths of all the things we do. We have an existence which doesn’t need thinking when we hand ourselves over to the moment.

Source :  http://www.alainelkanninterviews.com/bruce-ginsberg/

Bruce Ginsberg is a South African farmer’s son and a Zen practitioner for 50 years who has immersed himself in Asian cultures and made a life journey through tea. He was Chairman of the Buddhist Society Trust from 1991-2012 and served on the United Nations Association Religious Advisory Committee alongside imams, rabbis, Hindu priests, and Christian bishops and academics in the interfaith field. He runs Dragonfly Tea, a family-owned, British tea company with a hundred year heritage of making artisanal teas.

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

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

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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.

Source : https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/16/charlie-kaufman-anomalisa-interview-donald-trump

Orhan Pamuk:”I think that fiction teaches us something essential about life”

Interviewer  : A year ago, a very famous Dutch art critic came into my house and saw all my books and said, “What a waste of time to read all those novels.” For him literature is something that is really dead.

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Orhan Pamuk: I would say that his kind of understanding of reading literature, which implies that one could have done something more useful with one’s time, is very utilitarian. I think it is very premodern to look at books as objects that will educate you, or benefit you, or to consider reading as an intellectual investment you could somehow rely on in the future. With his statement, this art critic implies that, unfortunately, reading literature is a wrong investment. Right?

Interviewer: Yes.

Orhan Pamuk: Well, I think that fiction teaches us something essential about life. I have learned a lot about life from fiction — from Dostoyevsky, from Tolstoy. My understanding of major categories of life comes from fiction rather than the laws of psychology. But I will tell you something. For me, the urge to write and read fiction is not utilitarian. Instead it is like playing with toys. When I was a kid, I just wanted to play with my brother, or with this toy or that toy, without knowing why. The instinct to write fiction has that aspect, and the instinct to read fiction has that aspect.

Source : http://bidoun.org/articles/orhan-pamuk