Category : Fiction
Oliver Sacks is most recently the author of Musicophilia.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Dwelling upon the rotten fruit that comes from musical relationships.
Author: Oliver Sacks
Subjects Discussed: Musicophilia, emotional responses in patients with dementia and Tourette’s, an amazing musical rendition from Alzheimer’s patient Woody Geist played by Dr. Sacks on his CD player, the relationship between music and the auditory cortex, the memory of performance, responding to rhythm, the overpotent stimulant qualities of music, earworms, music as “advertisements for toothpaste,” being bombarded with tunes in interior environments, the dangers of iPods, neurological speculation upon having a “soundtrack to one’s life,” musical hallucinations vs. brainworms, musical perception and “intercranial jukeboxes,” musical dreams and the hypnopompic state, the dangers of being oversaturated with sounds, pattern recognition, blind children and absolute pitch, famous blind musicians, septo-optic dysplasia, amnesia and the case of Clive Wearing, Chomsky and speculation upon a hypothetical innate musical theory, congenital amusia and those who sing out-of-tune, associating a song with a sound, and recent developments in melodic intonation therapy and the right hemisphere.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: Really, what’s the difference between, for example, this innate idea of music and the kind of cognition in Clive’s head?
Sacks: Say that again.
Correspondent: I’m sorry. The difference between the innate rules of music versus the cognitive processes that cause him to sing and perform quite well. What causes him to perform as well as he does?
Sacks: It is memory. It’s procedural memory. The memory of how to do things. And that — I don’t know if one needs to bring Chomsky into this.
Correspondent: You mentioned “anticipation is not possible with music from a very different culture or tradition.” So I didn’t know if you were making a comparison to Chomsky with this kind of proviso of…
Sacks: Listen, I think this Chomsky thing is a red herring. And I don’t know how to answer it properly.
Correspondent: Okay, no problem. We’ll…
Sacks: So let’s — and I think the business of Chomsky and implicit rules doesn’t have anything obvious to do with Clive’s memory.
Sacks: You know, otherwise we will get into a knot from which we cannot explicate ourselves.
David Michaelis is most recently the author of Schulz and Peanuts.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Heckled for peanuts.
Author: David Michaelis
Subjects Discussed: The connection between Charles Schulz’s emotional reticence and his Minnesota childhood, Peanuts characters who aren’t explicitly reflected through Schulz’s life, the connection between Lucy and Schulz’s first wife, names borrowed for Peanuts characters, balancing probing into Schulz’s life and examining the comic strip, the kite-eating tree and the psychiatric booth, Bill Watterson’s review, the difficulties of compressing biography, exploring happiness, the connection between Jefferson Airplane and Peanuts, Peanuts as a prism for all ideologies to see their messages represented, Robert Short’s The Gospel According to Peanuts, conditions set by United Media, Charlie Brown’s hurt stomach, Michaelis’s intuition and conjecture in drawing conclusions about Schulz, Charlie Brown’s head shaped like a baseball, deflating myths about Schulz, why Michaelis’s endnotes were not clear for the reader, the Tracey Claudius affair and Michaelis’s reliance upon Claudius’s subjective veracity, the Fantagraphic books, and Schulz’s late efforts to lay down a legacy.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Michaelis: This is a guy who was terrified of what’s happening, and happened, in the world. Baseballs aren’t baseballs anymore. Ice cream cones aren’t ice cream cones. There’s something wrong. And that’s a recapitulation to me of that whole period of Charles Schulz’s life in the early 1940s where his mother died and he went off to war. Is that Charles Schulz’s idea when he drew it? I can’t say. But I do know that when he talked about those strips and that particular sequence, he always identified it as being his favorite, and that came out of somewhere. He never would say where. But there was something important about it, and he indicated its significance.
Correspondent: All this is fair enough. But you were mentioning earlier about this being conjecture. And yet this has received a good deal — you’ve been actually on a lot of fire by the Schulz family. You told New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen, “Did I get the story right? Absolutely. No question.” And so what I’m wondering is is what is the difference between ferreting out or confirming a fact, and this kind of more speculative approach. I mean…
Michaelis: Well, I bring the speculative into an intuitive sense of what the art is saying, and sometimes one has to merely place dates beside the strips to see and recognize how they’re related to the life. I’m absolutely scrupulous about the facts as I can — near as I can get them. There’s going to be a mistake here and there. I have noticed one or two since the book was published, which pains me no end. A misspellings here, a misunderstanding there. There’s no question that a book will be corrected in its final months before. I tried very hard to make sure things were right. I do feel in a very strong sense that the story, and the point I was making to Patricia Cohen, of which there was only a quote that remained, was that a biography has two points at which accuracy are vital. It’s vital to be accurate about the facts, as close as you can be. It’s also vital to be accurate about the story. And that’s what I mean by “Did I get the story right?”
Naomi Wolf is most recently the author of The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Contemplating the end of The Bat Segundo Show.
Author: Naomi Wolf
Subjects Discussed: James Madison’s prescient statement about the American republic in 1829, the end of America, despotic blueprints, on the prospect of Americans taking up arms against the government, closed societies, the staging of “Mission Accomplished,” the efficacy of protesting, Nancy Pelosi’s ineptitude, the American Freedom Campaign’s failure to adopt impeachment as a position, Andrew Meyer and John Kerry’s failure to react, paramilitary forces crushing democracy, Blackwater, the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, the failure to restore habeas corpus, enemy combatants, what’s coming six months from now, the TSA watchlist and citizen intimidation at airports, Andrew Meyer remixes, the confiscation of cameras and laptops, fear and denial, Victor Klemperer, father metaphors for the President, the justification of torture, Page Six libel, Abu Ghraib, the PATRIOT Act and Barbara Lee, the possibilities of a transparent election in 2008, Hillary Clinton’s waffling, the assault on lawyers, whether progressives and the Daily Kos adequately question the Democratic Party, the abdication of paper ballots, and the Democrats raising the war debt ceiling.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Wolf: It is so important for us to look at this blueprint, because when we see all these pieces fitting together, we realize that we are in an extraordinary crisis point where we have to rise up. I would not say rise up with arms, but certainly take to the streets and press representatives and confront the abusers, like other democracy movements.
Correspondent: I suggest the rise up in arms with a certain degree of hyperbole. Because people are going to Washington. They’ve gone there to protest the last couple of weeks about the war. And there are people getting arrested for reading the Constitution on public property, on a place where they are supposed to have freedom of assembly. So given this, and given the fact that, well frankly, Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to proceed impeachment actions against Bush, so what then can we do?
Wolf: What can we do? You know, this is a very sad conversation in a way, although it will end hopefully. Because I’ll reach the answer in a minute. When I wrote this book, I thought it would be very controversial and that people would be saying, “Come on. Not America.” On the contrary. What I’m finding is that Americans across the political spectrum are already there. They know something very serious and dangerous is going on. And they’re saying what you’re saying, which is: We tried it all. We tried democracy already. We tried the marching. We tried emailing our Congress people. Things are shifting into overdrive. And you’re right to notice that. I mean, there’s this horrible phase in a closing democracy, when leaders and citizens still think it’s a democracy, but the people who have already started to close it are kind of drumming their fingers waiting for everybody to realize that that’s not the dance anymore.
Thanks to our loyal listeners, we’ve met the $800 goal. Thanks to all who were kind enough to contribute. A gaggle of fresh podcasts will be ungaggled quite soon.
In almost four years of running Reluctant and two years of running The Bat Segundo Show, I have never openly asked for money on this website. Sure, there’s been a donation bar on the side, and some of you have graciously pitched in. I thank those of you who have. There’s also been some advertising, which has likewise helped. But this website has largely been run on my own dime. I’ve done my best to stimulate conversation and to make this a place for the literary community to connect.
So it pains me to make the following announcement. I’ve always tried to be self-sufficient here, ensuring that I can provide you, the readers and the listeners, with free content about the literary news and developments of our time.
But here’s the cold hard truth: Due to an unforeseen development on the advertising front, I’m out $800 this month. I’ve made some calls and spoken to a few people, and it appears that this is $800 I may not see for a while. The specific individuals responsible for collecting these monies have as much interest in performing their duties or informing me of their progress as the CIA. While I’ll be all right next month for income that has nothing to do with advertising, in the meantime, I’m now facing a shortfall that I’ll have to make up in the forthcoming weeks.
Understand that I don’t believe that the world owes me a living. But what this means is that, if I do not find a way to make up this shortfall this week, about seven Segundo interviews with some of today’s leading contemporary authors I had set up for the next three weeks will have to be canceled while I find immediate work elsewhere. (There are two interviews scheduled for this week and I plan to go ahead with these. And there are also some exciting interviews in the can that I hope to release once this financial setback has been resolved, including a provocative conversation with Steven Pinker and a two-part interview with Tom McCarthy.)
Now I don’t want to have to cancel these interviews. Trust me on this: these are all extremely interesting people. But if I cannot get $800 by the end of this week, I’m going to have to.
Here’s where you come in. As an experiment, I’m seeing if you — the readers and listeners who have been coming here — can help make up this $800 shortfall through donations. I’m not asking for a yearly salary like Jason Kottke once did and I certainly don’t want to make a regular habit of asking readers for donations. Nevertheless, in the grand scheme of things, collectively speaking, this is not a lot of dough.
I’ve produced 145 of these podcasts so far and made them available over the past two years for free. And I would like to continue devoting my time and energies doing this. As we all know, the number of outlets for in-depth literary interviews is shrinking. And I’ve been doing my best to fill in the gap with questions not usually asked of authors, careful reading of the books, and vigorous research.
If at some point, you’ve enjoyed any of the podcasts or any of the content here, please take some time to click on the Donation button below. If even sixteen of you contribute $50, then we’re back in business. Even if you can contribute $10, $5, beer money, it all helps. Let’s see if we can’t conquer this shortfall together. When I’ve raised around $800, I’ll remove this post and continue with business as usual.
And, as an added incentive, for those who contribute $10 or more, I’ll throw in a homemade chapbook containing an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Humanity Unlimited, an excerpt from my play, Wrestling an Alligator, a brief history of Bat Segundo’s sordid past, along with a few other items. The chapbook is only available through a donation.
Thanks very much for your time.