An infinite number of things happen; we bring structure and meaning to the world by making art and telling stories about it. Every work of literature created by human beings comes out of an historical and cultural context, and drawing connections between art and its context can be illuminating for both. Today’s guest, Stephen Greenblatt, is one of the world’s most celebrated literary scholars, famous for helping to establish the New Historicism school of criticism, which he also refers to as “cultural poetics.” We talk about how art becomes entangled with the politics of its day, and how we can learn about ourselves and other cultures by engaging with stories and their milieu.
From a Wall Street Journal Magazine online interview:
“The script is about questioning the nature of existence. I think about that every day of life. What is the purpose of life? As I get older, I look back on my own life as if it’s a novel written by someone else. To me it’s all a mystery. I started out over 60 years ago. My first job was, my God, 62 years ago and here I am. I don’t understand any of it. They gave me work, and I continued to work. It’s only just recently looking back, I thought, ‘My goodness, who designed this life? I certainly didn’t.’ I don’t know what’s life or destiny or kismet or God. I don’t want to get too philosophical about it. I’m fascinated about the mystery of life, about how we get through it, how we survive. I have no answers and I can’t take credit for any of it.”
Anthony Hopkins, who plays Pope Benedict XVI in this month’s Netflix movie The Two Popes, has a personal philosophy of not taking anything too seriously. “When I was younger, I was much more intense,” he says. “I got to a certain age, maybe 10 years ago, and thought, ‘Come on, just relax. Have some fun with it. Let’s have a ball!’” Hopkins’s surprising approach to playing the pope was to be as laid back as the actor, 81, appears on his lively Instagram account: He captures himself singing, dancing in his Thor costume and playing the piano with his cat perched on his lap.
In 1965, James Baldwin, by then internationally famous, faced off against William F. Buckley Jr., one of the leading voices of American conservatism, in a debate hosted by the Cambridge Union in England. The debate proposition before the house was: “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”
Nicholas Buccola’s “The Fire Is Upon Us” tells the story of that intellectual prizefight as well as the larger story of Buckley’s and Baldwin’s lives.
From a Harvard Gazette online article:
“When you live paycheck to paycheck, there are times you fall behind. There was a healthy dose of fear, but I knew that my business would grow if I kept pushing.” Getting an M.B.A. felt superfluous. “I would rather be paid to learn,” he said. “There’s not a lot you can learn in an M.B.A. program that you can’t learn online or through other mechanisms. I’m not a big fan of taking those years and spending money that you could put to better use.”
Billionaire tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban discusses value of real-world education, Trump, Warren, and sexual harassment on his NBA team.
(The) former high-tech executive and celebrity entrepreneur… may be one of the few people who can get away with telling a packed auditorium of Harvard Business School (HBS) students that getting an M.B.A. is a “mistake these days” — and get a round of applause in response.
From a November 10, 2019 “60 Minutes” program: In an interview with Lesley Stahl, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase talks about Elizabeth Warren and the state of the global economy.
Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Graham Nash has hits aplenty spanning his nearly six-decade career. But the 77-year-old singer-songwriter recently chose to perform a special run of shows featuring his lesser-known first two solo albums in their entirety, which together describe a crucial chapter in his personal and artistic life. Tom Casciato recently spoke to Nash to learn more.