Editor’s note: This poem kicks off a new “Question Worth Asking” series: “How weird will the future be?” First up: a piece from poet and TED Fellow Ben Burke.
[Dear Helen- So sorry. Didn’t have time to write that poem. But my future self sent me one yesterday. So we’re good. Crazy, right? It’s totally legit and actually from the future, so no need to double-check, you’re probably too busy anyway. Happy New Year! – Ben Burke]
THE TRANSHUMANIST’S LAMENT
TOO MANY RIVERS, NOT ENOUGH LAKES
OH, FUTURE — YOU SO CRAZY
I arrived in the basket that was weaved here before me
And I stayed in any place with a roof that would store me
I have lots of belongings
But didn’t pack for the trip
I got here, they put pants on me
And then the world gave me the slip
I’ve lived as slowly as…
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In the first-season 30 Rock episode “Fireworks,” Liz Lemon and would-be beau Floyd fall asleep watching Tootsie. In their morning discomfort, Floyd awkwardly announces, “I, uh, I think Tootsie’s a very well-crafted movie.” Liz, equally uncomfortable, replies, “Yeah, they use it as an example in all the screenplay books.” As with the best of that show, it’s a moment that’s funny because it’s true — in this case, it’s literally true, Tootsie is a very well-crafted movie. But praising it solely for craft also shortchanges it a bit. The further we get from Tootsie — which is available for fresh consumption via Criterion’s recent DVD and Blu-ray special edition — the more it seems clear that it may, in fact, be the single finest comedy of all time.
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I recently stumbled on a Quora question in which the writer was thinking about quitting his job and selling his possessions to travel the world. He gave a brief description of himself (single, in his 20s, a job but no career), and asked whether he should go for it.
The resounding answer was yes, but not necessarily because it was a respectable lifestyle. Rather, because he was young enough to get away with it. Because he still had time to build a career, a family, and a real life. Because now was the time to get the travel bug out of his system.
I was glad to read the encouragement and travel tips he received, but couldn’t help wonder: what if a 40-something man with three young children also wanted to become a nomad?
A nomad is someone who travels extensively, with no real home to speak of other than…
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A few months ago, in a foreign city I’d never visited before, I found myself fondling raw steak in a pitch-black room. Despite the disconcerting situation, all I could focus on was the conversation taking place several tables away: an argument between two men over a friendly bet. It sounded like they were wearing lapel mics. When one or more of the five senses is impaired, our remaining abilities overcompensate — a fact that sits at the heart of Montreal restaurant O.Noir’s light-free concept — but I hadn’t imagined my hearing would be the sense to take over when I sat down to dinner.
With all due respect to my dining companion — my oldest friend — I can’t remember a word he said that night. I do, however, remember the smug tone taken by one of the men arguing at the table to…
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