Friday, October 14, 2011

Science and Spirituality

The first speaker on Thursday morning was Alan Lightman. I mentioned that he read from his book "Mr. g," on Wednesday afternoon. He talked about science as part of our cultural heritage. It produces new ideas and artists them jump on them. Scientists are interesting people with a different worldview from artists. He talked about how to have good nonfiction scientific writing:  just like fiction, it needs clarity, emotional pacing, and meaningful language. Use good metaphors and numerical analogies (comparing the nucleus of an atom to a grain of sand and the Taj Mahal).

Scientific information is often incorporated into fiction. He suggested a limit of no more than 150 words on technical topics before returning to the main story. He read a passage from "The English Patient" where the bomb disposal expert is defusing a live bomb. There is a lot of technical information in the passage but it is written in a way that doesn't detract from the story the author is telling.

Bill Aitken is a very interesting man. He hitch-hiked from Scotland to India in 1959 and stayed. His most popular book is "Footloose in the Himalaya." He also wrote "The Nanda Devi Affair." He said that English is a very limited language when it comes to spirituality, which is the inmost part of ours selves.

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, who read the poems of Kabir on Wednesday, believes that spirituality and established religion are very separate things. He talked about several different poets and how they approach spiritual topics in their poetry.

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