Interview with the Author: Part 3

Interviewer (I): Hello, all. Today, we’ll be interviewing Caitlin Cacciatore again on the projects she’s working on, and hopefully we’ll learn a little bit about the author as well.

 

Caitlin Cacciatore (CC): Ah, I see. Should I begin, or should you?

 

I: I do believe we’ve already started.

 

CC: Go ahead, then. Ask me anything.

 

I: So, Miss Cacciatore, what are you writing these days?

 

CC: Mostly poetry, to be honest. I find poetry wherever I go – case in point, just yesterday morning, I was walking my dog when I found an apple looking lonely by the side of the road. I went home and wrote a poem about it.

 

I: Let’s change characters for a moment. CC’s mother (M) has kindly agreed to interview her for part of this post.

 

CC: Brilliant.

 

M: What do you think is your worst quality?

 

CC: I believe my worst quality is my inability to let go of the past.

 

M: Fascinating. Tell me what you are interested in doing in the future.

 

CC: Well, I plan to keep writing. I also have a mission – to code empathy into Artificial Intelligence by combining deep learning with advances in neuroscience and quantum computing. I believe that this goal is vital in light of the upcoming Singularity.

 

M: I agree. What is your favorite book?

 

CC: The Picture of Dorian Grey moved me.

 

M: Why?

 

CC: I felt I could relate to Dorian’s quest for immortality. Though I know it ended badly for him, I do believe that my moral compass would protect me to a greater degree if I were to live beyond the average human lifespan.

 

M: Hmm. Let’s move on to education. What is the one subject everyone should study in school and why?

 

CC: I think that  the study of Artificial Intelligence should be essential to any university curriculum. I believe that it will be a huge part of our lives in the future, and that everyone should be well-informed about its potential dangers, advances, and ethical dilemmas.

 

M: Explain your philosophy of life in three sentences.

 

CC: Life doesn’t last, but it’s beautiful while it does. I fiercely believe in having a purpose, a mission, a goal in this life, in making a difference and living as boldly and as wildly and as audaciously as possible. Also – never, never give up, but do know when to lay down your arms and make your separate peace with the war you are waging, whatever that might be.

 

M: Well, I hope you’ve all learned a little bit about Miss Cacciatore through this interview. We’re just about finished.

 

CC: Yes, indeed. Thank you for tuning in. And thank you, mum, for interviewing me.

 

M: Anytime, love. Want to finish with something poetic?

 

CC: Isn’t the question mark at the end of this sentence poetry enough?

 

See also:

Interview with the Author: Part One

 

Interview with the Author: Part Two

 

Ode to a Stranger

You – watching me, watching you, our eyes meeting for a split second in the darkened window of the speeding train before I gaze away, blushing, ashamed of having been caught watching. You, with your separate, parallel life, our paths crossing just for one commute, never destined to meet again. You, reminding me in your silence about the improbability of finding love, or peace, or happiness, here in this chaotic world; you, out of everyone I’ve met, and I almost turn to you and say, “You look so familiar,” but that is unacceptable in our world, or at least in the place from which we hail, and besides, once our paths are entangled, snake-shifting and twisting around each other, well, there’s no going back – it’s a small world, after all.

 

You – with your story, untold, unknown by me, hidden in plain sight behind your eyes, shrouded in some sort of mystery that I will never uncover. You, with your home and your life, your family and your plans, your future, your hopes, your dreams. You, and the feeling I’ve lost something by not asking your story, oh stranger on the train, watching me – watching you.

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit Review

615-2z6glwl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit is a devastating, poignant story of a hermit who lived alone in the woods for twenty-seven years. His story is beautifully touching, and utterly heart-breaking. There is deep tragedy within the pages of this book, deep sorrow, and a deep longing for something different, something better than the daily grind of modern life. Christopher Knight, the man whom The Stranger in the Woods is about, found peace in solitude in the woods and in leaving the world behind.

 

“I’ll speak to you when the lilacs bloom,” Knight says to the author, Michael Finkel. These are the words of a man who has returned to our ancestral roots, who has made his separate peace with nature and who will never be truly happy imprisoned by the trappings of society.

 

There is something strongly compelling about Knight’s story, something that will stick with the reader for a long time to come. Read it for its gentle wisdom, hard-won by a man who went to the ultimate extreme to escape this world for an altogether different one.

 

 

Of Songs Unsung

Beauty went unsung

For a billion years,

Then a billion more,

And finally,

Before the chasm of the ages

Was at last crossed,

Before adoring eyes

Ever fell upon a work of art,

Before endeavoring hands

Ever sought to bring life

To stone,

Another billion cycles

Of light and dark,

Chaos and order,

Frigid winter, and glorious spring,

Hazy summer and hallowed autumn,

Went by,

All of history on this planet

Condensed into the first sentences

Of a book on the philosophy of the aesthetic

That you never read;

Beauty, in all her finery,

Weeping, at last,

As man enters the stage

In the final half

Of the last third,

To sing her praises,

To say,

In tones muted against the spectacular thunder

Of the cosmic noir,

That he had found her

In all of his sunrises,

That he had spotted her

In the flowers growing wild,

That he had seen her

Bathing in the Garden,

That he had spied her

In golden, soaring song,

That he had known her

In the poetry of ages,

And that he had found her

Pure, and entire,

Within all that was

And all that will ever be.

Review: The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe

This book promises a great deal, but, for the most part, fails to deliver. The glimpse Wolfe offers into age-old feuds is titillating at first, but quickly becomes trite. In focusing on the details of the lives of the people that pioneered evolution and speech theory, The Kingdom of Speech removes itself from the bigger picture. When Wolfe finally decides to get on with explaining his ultimate point, he spends a sad few pages at the end describing how speech sets us apart. There is nothing new, nothing fresh, nothing exciting about that observation, nor is Wolfe the first to speculate that we owe much of humanity’s success to speech.

 

Putting aside those admittedly major flaws, Wolfe does manage to bring historical figures such as Darwin and Wallace into full color, and speaks about both with a frankness and freshness that few texts dare to. Wolfe is undoubtedly a talented writer, and while he missed the mark on the majority of this book, there is still value to be found within its pages.

 

Overall, I would not recommend this book, but I would not warn you to stay away either. This fast-paced read is largely hit or miss, and just a little dry at times, but consider it nevertheless.

 

 

Book Review: Sapiens and Homo Deus

Nothing is flawless, but Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and its companion Homo Deus, come close. This review focuses on both books, or dare I say, masterpieces.

 

Sapiens immediately draws the reader in and sets a swift but not brutal pace. Harari jumps from adventure to adventure, and the intrigue never relents. Though it has no traditional fictional plot, the reader is always left craving more of the beautiful language Sapiens uses to bring the history of our species – and those human species who did not make it to the modern era – into vivid color.

 

Sapiens is the story of humanity. It’s the no-holds-barred tale of where we’ve come from, just as Homo Deus is a exhilarating glance into where we’re going. In both works, Harari invites us to reflect upon ourselves, the creeds we’ve bought into, the future we’re creating, our responsibilities not only to our kind but also to the world we inhabit, and our place in the history of living beings. Both hold up a looking glass and demand we take a good, long look, all the while warning us of our cosmic insignificance and the immense danger we pose to ourselves.

 

Sapiens and Homo Deus guide us through the revolutions of the past and those of the future, painting a startling picture of the human animal as a whole. Both judge us rather harshly, but still fairly, I believe. Both serve to remind us of our brief, violent past, and speak of our uncertain future.

 

Read this duo to see the tapestry humanity is still hard at its loom weaving in full technicolor. Read it for hindsight, and for foresight. Read it because it is artful; no matter the reason, read it – you won’t regret it.