Pico Iyer in Conversation: The Art of Stillness

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Pico Iyer is a writer whose TED Talk, The Art of Stillness, has been viewed over 2 million times, and was later published under the TED Books series. Most recently, he was head faculty of our interdisciplinary residency of the same name—The Art of Stillness—which invited musicians, writers, visual artists and dancers to explore stillness and its relationship to the creative process. During the residency's public weekend, Pico joined Laurie Brown, host of CBC Radio's The Signal, in a conversation about the digital age and how to live within it. Listen to the full talk below, and check out some quotable moments. 

On the digital age...

“It’s the age where we know less and less about more and more”

On moving to a monastery in Japan...

“Whatever happened would open the door to a radically different universe and take me somewhere that New York City never did.”

On the value of unplugging...

“I quickly found that many, many people in Silicon Valley...maintain Internet sabbaths, and they go completely offline from Friday night to Monday morning every week so that they’ll have something useful and fresh to offer when they go online again. And they know that technology can give us everything except the sense of how to make the wisest use of technology and for that we have to take a walk, hike, meditate, go into ourselves.”

On how writing is like meditation...

“It’s a training in attention and it’s a training in seeing through yourself. And, in fact, it’s a training in getting yourself to try to disappear, because a writer’s job is not to look at the tree, it’s to become the tree, more or less.”

On the importance of silence...

“I think the best part of us is beyond language...words by definition can’t express the essential things of life, because the essential things of life, by definition, are beyond words.”