Interviews with authors of books about psychology, science, productivity, weird phenomena, true stories, adventure, how-to, and more.
Incredibly Interesting Authors 012: Gary Lachman, author of Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump
How did Trump manage to become president of the United States? There's no simple answer. It involves fear, racism, nationalism, populism, hatred, dirty tricks, and manipulation, and more. But the one thing I never suspected was that occult beliefs and practices played in Trump's surprising victory. In Gary Lachman's new book, Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, I learned that occult and esoteric thinking permeates the alt-right, Putin's inner circle, and even Trump himself. Before I read Dark Star Rising, I had no idea that Trump was a devoted follower of the New Thought movement, which has it roots in 19th century mysticism. Trump's family attended Marble Collegiate Church in New York, which was ministered by a pro-Christian nationalist named Norman Vincent Peale, who promulgated a doctrine of "positive thinking" -- the idea that you can use your mind to cure yourself of disease, get rich, or even become president. I also didn't know that the alt-right bases much of its ideology on an Italian philosopher and mystic born in 1889 named Julius Evola, who thought the problem with Mussolini was that he wasn't a big enough fascist. And then there's Aleksandr Dugin, a very influential Russian fascist philosopher who is a kind of Rasputin figure for Putin and who pushes the idea that the only way to return Russia to greatness is by wiping liberal democracy off the face of the earth. Dugin is relatively unknown in the West, except among members of the alt-right and the dark enlightenment, who would love to install the kind of fascist regime Dugin is advocating in their own countries. Dark Star Rising introduced me to all of these phenomena, along with many other related concepts, such as using Pepe memes as a form of chaos magick - a postmodern magical practice that stresses achieving desired outcomes through applied experimentation as opposed to rituals and symbols of traditional mystic practices.Lachman is an erudite scholar of occult history, and he combines his encyclopedic knowledge of esotericism with his ability to clearly explain complex ideas to good use in Dark Star Rising. He wisely avoids ascribing any kind of paranormal efficacy to occult practices, and instead presents what can, and often does, happen when zealous people apply occult-influenced ideologies to the real world.
Incredibly Interesting Authors 011: Marina Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game
Maria Konnikova’s new book, The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time, takes a deep dive into the psychology of con artists and the psychology of the trusting people they take advantage of. It’s a scary and fascinating book that reveals the methods and motives of con artists like Bernie Madoff, Jim Bakker, and Lance Armstrong, and explains why everyone is vulnerable to the con artist’s game, even other con artists.
Incredibly Interesting Authors 005: Alex Stone, author of Fooling Houdini
In his book Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind (reviewed here), Alex Stone starts by recounting his tragically humiliating disqualification at an international magic competition. So ashamed was he by the unceremonious ejection from the stage that he gave up magic and pursued a post-grad degree in physics. Eventually the lure of the conjuring arts called him back, but this time around, Stone got serious. He sought mentors, practiced incessantly, researched magic history, and read up on the psychology of deception and the limits of human perception.
Incredibly Interesting Authors 004: Greg Ross of Futility Closet
For nine years the popular website Futility Closet has collected arresting curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics. This book presents the best of them: pipe-smoking robots, clairvoyant pennies, zoo jailbreaks, literary cannibals, corned beef in space, revolving squirrels, disappearing Scottish lighthouse keepers, reincarnated pussycats, dueling Churchills, horse spectacles, onrushing molasses, and hundreds more. Plus the obscure words, odd inventions, puzzles and paradoxes that have made the website a quirky favorite with millions of readers — hundreds of examples of the marvelous, the diverting, and the strange, now in a portable format to occupy your idle hours. Here’s my interview with Greg about his new book and his new career as a full-time curator of curiosities. Buy a copy of the Futility Closet book on Amazon.
Incredibly Interesting Authors 003: Paleo Manifesto author John Durant
John Durant is a leader of the growing ancestral health movement. Durant study evolutionary psychology at Harvard prior to founding Paleo NYC and Barefoot Runners NYC, the largest Paleo and barefoot running groups in the world. In his new book The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health, Durant argues for an evolutionary – and revolutionary – approach to health. Blending science and culture, anthropology and philosophy, Durant distills the lessons from his adventures and shows how apply them to day-to-day life. He blogs at HunterGatherer.com
Incredibly Interesting Authors 002: Jony Ive biographer Leander Kahney
Leander Kahney has covered Apple for more than a dozen years and has written three popular books about Apple, including Inside Steve’s Brain and The Cult of Mac. His newest book is a biography of Apple’s senior VP of design, called Jony Ive: The Genius behind Apple’s Greatest Products Millions are familiar with Apple’s legendary aesthetic. It’s what makes their products instantly recognizable, and is synonymous with craft, care, and quality. And though the design is iconic, few are familiar with the man behind the design: Jonathan Ive, chief designer. Not only has Ive made Apple one of the most valuable companies in the world — his design has overturned entire industries, from music and mobile phones to PCs and tablets. Unlike his former boss and creative partner Steve Jobs, Ive shuns the spotlight. Naturally shy and soft-spoken, he lets his work speak for itself. In Jony Ive: The Genius behind Apple’s Greatest Products, Kahney offers a gripping and thorough examination of a remarkably creative career and provides insight into the principles underlying Ive’s success. Here’s my interview with Leander in the second episode of my new podcast, Incredibly Interesting Authors.
was skeptical but now I'm impressed
It's early days yet but I have been impressed with the authors and the interviewer. These really are interesting people. I bought two of the mentioned books after listening to the interviews.
The main thing is that I generally don't know who these people are and why I should listen to them, but each one has proven worth the time and attention. Good job!