Roberto Benigni, Cormac Mccarthy, Ulysses discussed on Minnie Questions with Minnie Driver


What relationship real or fictionalized defines love for you? I think there are two ways to think about that. One is how we feel about the love for our children. So if you think about cormac McCarthy's the road, for example, it's a post apocalyptic world after nuclear war. And this father does everything in his power just to save his son just to do everything he can to protect his son and keep him alive. And of course, there are many stories like this life is beautiful, Roberto benigni. Am I giving the title right of that one? Yeah, when he puts him in the bin at the end, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, he's in a concentration camp with his son, and he does everything he can to protect his son. So that's the kind of love that now that I'm a father is very meaningful to me as for romantic love, I think that would change each year of my life for me, which is to say, when we're younger, we all take these great romance fantasies to represent love. And as you get older, more realism seeps in. So I've been married for 12 years now, and I appreciate now the way that real relationships are complex and people change over different time scales as life changes in his career opportunities change and I just recently resaw rewatched fiddler on the roof. You know, and he says, have you asked? So do you love me? And she says, do I what? And so they realized that the romantic notions can't capture it, but other notions, you know, what they do for each other, how they demonstrate their bond to one another. This does capture something important. Do you think that the romantic love, the faith based love, service based love, the love of our children? Do you think that the route that it's erroneous that we have the same word for it? Because there are myriad ways to love. Right. Yeah, Raymond Carver has a short story called what we talk about when we talk about love. And I've always, it's a great short story, but I've always loved the title as well because it's about the complexity of it. And so many words in our language, there's just too much semantic weight that that word is trying to hold because in fact it is composed of many different things. Yeah, exactly. It's composed of so many things and which of those things matters to us. That changes through the years. You know, my father before he died was in one of these care homes. So I met some of the other people on his hallway, much older men and women who were there. And I think they still cared about love, but it was something so different for them. It wasn't about the sort of young sexy thing. It was about something else. Yeah, definitely. It's really I'm fascinated by the different permutations of it of devotion and of the way in which people love differently when the love that they have with their version of God or with animals or with something that they do, how they love romantically changes directly depending on what their relationship with that sort of outsourced love as it were. The love that we don't really talk about. I always think of lovers romantic. I think lots of people do, but yeah, that's right. And the other thing about love is obviously it goes in two directions. So we all want to get love. We want to receive love and various ways, including from our dogs, and so on. But we want to be good to the people that we care about and love them well, but it's hard, right? Because we're made up of all these different neural networks that all have different drives and care about different things. And so sometimes you're feeling hangry and sometimes you're feeling distracted by work and sometimes you're feeling whatever. And so we're constantly finding ourselves in situations where we don't behave the way that we would like to. One of the books that I'm writing right now has to do with something called the Ulysses contract, which is how you can make a deal with yourself in time to constrain your behavior by doing something right now that essentially puts you in a contract so that you'll behave better in some future situation. This is what Ulysses did when he lashed himself to the mask. He knew that the siren song would tempt him just like any mortal man and he crashed into the rocks. So what he did is the Ulysses of sound mind lashed himself to the mast so that the future Ulysses couldn't behave badly. And I find this a really interesting concept about the things that we do to make sure that we don't behave badly if you call this absolutely fascinating carry on carry on. Well, you know, one example is if you're trying to get over some addiction, alcoholism, what you do is you clear all the alcohol out of your house, so that on a festive Saturday night or a lonely Sunday Night or something, you're not going to go in there. Even if you think, oh, I'm sure I won't drink this anymore. You get rid of it. That's the Ulysses contract, or for drug addicts, one of the first things they're taught when they're trying to break. This is never walked around with more than $20 in your pocket because at some point someone's going to come up to you and offer to sell you drugs and you'll be tempted. And then you'll give in. So there are many things that we do to make sure that we can make a choice now that will pay off to keep us acting consistently with our long-term decision making. I mean, I think I could definitely just put a big piece of tape over my mouth. And that would be my Ulysses contract sorted. Future me is never going to say the stuff that I am thinking that I know is going to cause trouble because I've got a massive piece of tape and maybe you could TM your name. It could be like, David eagleman Ulysses tape. I would buy that shit. Okay. Good. But that requires a modicum of self knowledge that most people are not interested in interrogating because they don't want to think that there is something fundamentally wrong with them that's going to affect their situation now much less in the future when the mermaid is singing and calling you into the ocean. We're so tender and we're so lost. As people, I mean, I love that you write these books that really do act as guideposts because that's what I think they are. And I'm constantly looking for signs and sign posts because it is so fragile and tender. And that you know that you're writing a book for that, but I feel for all of us myself included going, I just I wonder how deep I can go into who I am to know how I could save myself from myself. Yes, exactly. So when it comes to this issue about self interrogation and really trying to understand who we are. One of the hardest things to see is the way that we come off to other people because, in fact, this is what one of my other books is that I'm writing right now. It's called empire of the invisible, and it's all about what's going on in politics right now. Specifically, it's asking why we each believe that we have the truth and we see the truth so clearly. And everyone else is misinformed or they're a troll or whatever it is. And if I can only shout in all caps loud enough on Twitter, I could convince everyone that I am right. It's crazy to me that everybody believes this, whatever part of the political spectrum, and by the way, in terms of relationships, we tend to all believe this as well, which is, okay, well, I already know how to do relationships. I'm saying the right things all the time. Do you think that that kind of, the surety of that empiricism that is so pervasive? Is that human or is that learned? Is that a hard wired into our brains? Is that something that was useful once when we were discovering fire? Yeah, it couldn't actually be any other way because the way we build a model of the world. Remember, your brain is locked in silence and darkness inside your skull. And all it's trying to do is put together an internal model of what is going on out there, which includes other people and how other people behave and how they'll react to what you say. And the thing is that this internal model is inherently limited. It's only built up from the little dribbles of data that you get in during your years. And so the way the brain works is it says, okay, look, I've got this data. I've collected all this data. I know what is true. And it's just built up from what we've taken in. Now, by the way, I will say, we're probably better off than we were historically, because now we have, for example, the printing press. And so we have movies and things like that. And so you put all this together and we're exposed to literature and to stories that are much broader than our own experience. So that helps. But still, I'm only read a finite number of books in my lifetime. I've only met a finite number of people, and that has shaped my experience just like your experiences have shaped your brain. And so that's why, given that data, you say, okay, I know what is true. This is what is true. It's very, very interesting.

Coming up next