Ideas are Buzzing Around in Aspen
Last week, while you and I were at our desks working, the cool kids were in Aspen at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which continues through tomorrow. There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting around brainstorming with creative folks, so I was glad to at least have fly-on-the-wall access to the festival through the videos and other materials posted on its website.
For sixty years, the festival “has been the nation's premier gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times.” It covers world politics, the environment, technology, science, health, education, the economy, arts, and society—something for everyone.
I focused on the Literature offerings. Here’s a quick overview of what happened in Aspen that’s publishing-related:
Katie Couric talked to Anne-Marie Slaughter about her controversial article in this month’s issue of Atlantic magazine, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All;”
Kay Ryan, the new US Poet Laureate, read from her poems about why she is anti-great thoughts and pro-failure;
Tobias Wolff, John Guare, Jane Hirshfield and Dana Gioia discussed what the Internet has done to authors—exponential growth in reach, shorter attention spans in readers, to name a few things;
Walter Isaacson talked about Einstein’s creativity, Jeremy Schaap about Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics, Jennifer Homans about her book Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet and Kurt Andersen on humor in American writing;
Anna Deavere Smith talked, which is always an occasion to watch (I saw her recently perform her show “Let Me Down Easy” about death and dying, in which she quoted ailing Texas Governor Ann Richard’s advice, given to her by a holistic therapist, on what to tell people who are sapping your time: “I can’t talk to you right now, you’re using up my chi.”)