William Gibson is the author of ten books, including, most recently, the New York Times-bestselling trilogy Zero History, Spook Country and Pattern Recognition. Gibson’s 1984 debut novel, Neuromancer, was the first novel to win the three top science fiction prizes—the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award. Gibson is credited with coining the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome,” and with popularizing the concept of the Internet while it was still largely unknown. He is also a co-author of the novel The Difference Engine, written with Bruce Sterling.
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The Robert B. Silvers Lecture. Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks examines how the normal brain, if deprived of perceptual input, may generate illusory sensations—as with the visual hallucinations of the blind, or the musical hallucinations of the deaf.
Adam Gopnik, author of Angels & Ages, A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln and Modern Life and Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate and many other works, will discuss a fundamental question: How far can Darwin take us as a guide to why we are the way we are?
Both outspoken appreciators of Darwin, Adam Gopnik and Steven Pinker will compare their visions—perhaps complementary, perhaps contrasting—of what Darwin’s legacy is on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth.
Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig, Shepard Fairey and Steven Johnson
What is the future for art and ideas in an age when practically anything can be copied, pasted, downloaded, sampled, and re-imagined?
LIVE from the NYPL and WIRED Magazine kick off the Spring 2009 season with a spirited discussion of the emerging remix culture. Our guides through this new world—who will take us from Jefferson’s Bible to André the Giant to Wikipedia—will be Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix, founder of Creative Commons, and one of the leading legal scholars on intellectual property issues in the Internet age; acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey, whose iconic Obama "HOPE" poster was recently acquired by the National Portrait Gallery; and cultural historian Steven Johnson, whose new book, The Invention of Air, argues that remix culture has deep roots in the Enlightenment and among the American founding fathers.
On Ugliness is an extraordinary road map to the perception of the grotesque over the centuries. Following on the heels of the book, History of Beauty, writer and scholar Umberto Eco considers how we perceive and define the corollary—the depiction of ugliness—the complete absence of beauty—from Ancient Greece to the present day.
Eco begins his fascinating discussion with the observation that the aesthetics of beauty have been defined and documented through the ages by philosophers, artists, and writers, while the same cannot be said for ugliness. Though ostensibly opposites, one thing beauty and ugliness share is the fact that they are defined by the culture and by the times—what is ugly in Paris may be beautiful in Papua, and what was beautiful in the 19th century, may be considered ugly in the 21st. Quoting from Hegel and Nietzsche, Plutarch, Aristotle and Darwin, Eco identifies three different phenomena: ugliness in itself, formal ugliness, and the artistic portrayal of both. As Eco states, “…we can almost always infer what the first two types of ugliness were [in a given time in history, and a particular society] solely based on the evidence of the third type.”
In Turning Back The Clock, Hot Wars and Media Populism, the time is 2000 to 2005, the years of neoconservatism, terrorism, the twenty-four-hour news cycle, the ascension of Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Umberto Eco’s response is a provocative, passionate, and witty series of essays—which originally appeared in the Italian newspapers La Repubblica and L’Espresso—that leaves no slogan unexamined, no innovation unexposed. What led us into this age of hot wars and media populism, and how was it sold to us as progress? Eco discusses such topics as racism, mythology, the European Union, rhetoric, the Middle East, technology, September 11, medieval Latin, television ads, globalization, Harry Potter, anti-Semitism, logic, the Tower of Babel, intelligent design, Italian street demonstrations, fundamentalism, The Da Vinci Code, and magic and magical thinking.