Sustenance from Improv Storytelling, Modern Fiction, Music, and Fan Mail

Saturday, November 17, 2012 - 4:57 pm

Sustenance from Improv Storytelling, Modern Fiction, Music, and Fan Mail

The alchemy of listening – something humanizing and elevating at once in a true story told and received. Thanks for the reminder, @TheMoth.

Krista Tippett Stands with Fellow Storytellers at The MothKrista recently joined the likes of New Yorker staffer Adam Gopnik, Andrew Zimmern, and Kemp Powers on The Moth stage at the Fitzgerald Theater for a rousing evening of live storytelling. The theme of the night was “Saints and Sinners” featuring “outlaws and angels on the cusp of darkness.”
Krista Tippett Performs at The MothKrista expressed pure delight when talking about “The Moth” experience. Taking joy in improvisational storytelling like this picks up on something Bobby McFerrin said about the word “mystery”:

“I use it quite a bit. I love the mystery of improvisation — you never know what’s going to happen, you know. I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight; I’m looking forward to finding out.

And to extend that storytelling idea… If you’re looking for some quality historical fiction in television and book form, how about this fine pairing of a Showtime series with two-time Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel’s book about 16th-century English rule:

I highly recommend watching a few seasons of The Tudors, then (or while) reading Wolf Hall. A lush immersive experience.

This whetted the appetite, so to speak. If there’s one thing we know about our audiences, they are voracious readers. Danny Gross (@DannyGross), a self-professed coffee addict and music lover, reached out to Krista (@KristaTippett) on Twitter and asked:

What books are you reading these days? I would love some recommendations.

Krista Tippett's Twitter Conversation on Books
She replied, in kind, with a question:

Sacred or profane?

To which he responded:

Well I’m working on “The Quantum and The Lotus,” so let’s go with something profane to balance it out.

Krista is reading a bounty of literature in her free time (when?) and recommended novels by Maria Semple, Gillian Flynn, and Justin Cronin too:

Good idea. Funny: Where’d You Go, Bernadette” and “Gone Girl” | Literary/sci-fi epic: “The Passage” | Mystery: Tana French’s latest.

Looks like Danny has a trip to the bookstore in his future…
"A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination." -Caitlin Moran, photo by Peter DavisBooks and literary references abound this week. Our Instagram of Peter Davis’ photograph of children in a library in India coupled with this passage from Caitlin Moran’s Libraries: Cathedrals of Our Souls elicited some lovely comments on Facebook:

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.

On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen, instead. A human with a brain and a heart and a desire to be uplifted, rather than a customer with a credit card and an inchoate ‘need’ for ‘stuff.’ A mall—the shops—are places where your money makes the wealthy wealthier. But a library is where the wealthy’s taxes pay for you to become a little more extraordinary, instead. A satisfying reversal. A balancing of the power.”

Questlove and Henry WeingerIf you have a chance —and are a fan of Marvin Gaye, definitely check out this fascinating breakdown of the original multitrack studio recordings of “What’s Going On” by Questlove:

“What’s so cool about it is that this is one of the most undefined drum songs of soul music. I don’t think of drums when I think of ‘What’s Going On.’ I think of the conga, but I always felt like it was a ritual syncopated….”

And, I’d like to leave with you this moving letter from a 25-year-old American woman living in southern Israel. With all that’s currently transpiring in the Middle East, she reminds us of why we must breathe new hope into our dialogues and bring our fullest selves to our conversations:

The Future of Marriage“I am a huge fan of On Being and especially “The Civil Conversations Project.” I am a big believer in the healing power of conversation and the coming together of two opposing sides to recognize the humanity in the other. The four conversations from this season have reinforced that belief very strongly and have given me hope for the future of the issues discussed.

And so, believing in the power of what you are doing, I have a related comment and request.
Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-DialogueAt this moment, I am sitting in my apartment as violence escalates around me. Four sirens indicating rocket-fire have sounded in the past 90 minutes, telling the entire city to move quickly to shelters and multiple explosions have followed.
This is not the first time I have had to seek shelter from rockets. It has happened more times than I can remember during the time I have lived here.
And every time I hear the siren sound, I wonder, ‘How is it that the people who shoot them, and the people who commit the actions that motivate their shooting from the opposing side, think these violent actions will ultimately lead to the kind of world that they would want their children to live in?’
No More Taking SidesI know that On Being has addressed the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict before, but I wonder if it could do so within the context of The Civil Conversations Project. This issue is in desperate need of a new direction. Each side needs to see the humanity of the other. It is so much easier to try to eliminate the other side, when you keep it at a distance and continue to define it in a way that justifies violence against them. In the CCP episodes I have listened to, the humanity of each side comes out so palpably, and so I wonder if you could try to bring the CCP approach to this issue.
The realist in me is aware that this may be impossible. But the optimist in me, which On Being has nourished, is asking anyway.
Whether this is possible or not, I would like to express my appreciation for the existence of On Being and The Civil Conversations Project. They have added meaning and substance to my life and one of my favorite things to do these days is share my playlist of favorite episodes with friends.

So thank you for doing what you do! With much gratitude.”

We will try our best. All of you, please keep pushing us and asking us to stretch ourselves in this project. It’s life-sustaining for all of us.
As always, please send us your feedback about our work and this newsletter. Contact us any way you like: contact us on our website, share your suggestions and critiques on Facebook or Twitter (@beingtweets, @KristaTippett, @TrentGilliss).

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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