Tag: Pico Iyer

Video: Interview with Pico Iyer on the Joy of Quiet

Pico Iyer’s December 2011 New York Times essay The Joy of Quiet became an instant classic, making the site’s “most e-mailed” list, prompting debates and discussions and generally, well, making a lot of noise.

The author and World Hum contributor sat down with “Radio Shangri-La” author Lisa Napoli last winter in Los Angeles for Live Talks discussion on the topic. This video of their conversation was just published.

Pico Iyer Can’t Get Graham Greene Out of his Head

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, World Hum contributor Pico Iyer writes about a string of odd coincidences, eerie overlaps and echoes between Graham Greene’s writing and traveling life and his own. Iyer writes:

Not long thereafter, I began working on a book on the 14th Dalai Lama, and as I was sitting in Hiroshima one fall afternoon, listening to one of his general addresses, I realized that the perfect way of summarizing his teachings—for non-Buddhists at least—was by quoting Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” A little later, I was staying in a convent on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem and, needing something to read, picked up a book from the library shelves. It was Greene’s late novel Monsignor Quixote, and when I turned to the title page, there was an epigraph, from Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

On and on this went… Perhaps—a skeptic might have said—these were no more than surface coincidences; but when there are so many correspondences, across such a wide canvas, you start to imagine that they might speak for connections of a deeper kind.

So often these days we read of travelers taking off “in the footsteps” of Marco Polo or Genghis Khan or many another distinguished forebear, even Graham Greene. But in this case, I didn’t feel I had to pursue Greene, because he was so busy pursuing me.

Iyer’s latest book, The Man Within My Head, was released last week. It explores his strange relationship with Graham Greene in depth, and The Globe and Mail’s Ronald Wright describes it, in a thoughtful review, as “biography, memoir, travelogue, literary criticism and personal meditation.” I can’t wait to check it out.

(Via @iainmanley)

Pico Iyer’s ‘10 Best Travel Books for Your Second Act’

Over at Second Act, a site aimed at the over-40 crowd, the author of “Video Night in Kathmandu” shares his “wildly subjective list of the books that have moved me to think about life in new ways and transported me to the farthest corners of possibility.” Four of his picks—along with two of his own books—appeared on our list of the 100 most celebrated travel books of all time.

The Photographer and the Philosopher

The Photographer and the Philosopher Jan Morris (REUTERS)

Pico Iyer explores the lives and work of writers Jan Morris and V.S. Naipaul, two "master portraitists" of place

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Not a Tourist

On the evolving role of the travel writer in the age of mass tourism and YouTube

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Lover’s Moon

Lover’s Moon iStockPhoto

Pico Iyer on the power of travel to make a forgettable Glenn Frey song last forever

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World Hum’s 21 Most Read Features of 2009

backpacker with map iStockphoto

A recap of the most-clicked feature stories we published during the last year

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Finding Leonard Cohen in Montreal and California

In the latest issue of Geist, Ann Diamond tells the story of her series of near-encounters with Leonard Cohen—with 1970 Montreal, in the midst of the October Crisis, as the grimly compelling backdrop. And if that’s not enough Cohen-related, travel-esque writing for you, check out Pico Iyer’s 1998 essay about visiting the poet/rocker at a Zen Center in the San Gabriel Mountains, outside L.A.

Pico Iyer on the ‘Romance of Civilizations’

Pico Iyer at the 2007 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.

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Living Among Incompatibles

Torii in Japan Photo by tiseb via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Why Japan has the best mind Pico Iyer has encountered in a lifetime of traveling

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Things I Didn’t Know About the Dalai Lama

Things I Didn’t Know About the Dalai Lama Photo by reurinkjan via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by reurinkjan via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I dropped by a lively discussion last night on all things Dalai Lama, by World Hum contributors Eric Weiner and Pico Iyer, and learned a few things about His Holiness’s travel habits: he always flies business class; is addicted to the BBC World service and feels out of sorts when he can’t tune in; and prefers to spend his downtime on trips visiting local high schools. 

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Why We Travel

Why We Travel iStockPhoto

In a classic essay, Pico Iyer explores the reasons we leave our beliefs and certainties at home to see the world with open eyes

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Morning Links: Flushing the French Quarter, Car-Rental Madness and More

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Pico Iyer in Japan

Kurt Andersen spoke with the writer about Buddhism and his life as an "outside man"

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Honolulu Overheard

Honolulu Overheard iStockPhoto

Pico Iyer takes in the Hawaiian city through its sounds

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Pico Iyer: On ‘The Open Road’ and 30 Years With the Dalai Lama

The iconic travel writer's new book taps into his personal experiences with the Dalai Lama. Kevin Capp asks him about the exiled spiritual leader's "global journey."

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Blog to Watch: Jet Lagged

The New York Times has just launched Jet Lagged: Navigating the Unfriendly Skies, a group-written blog boasting some contributors familiar to World Hum readers. Among them: Wayne Curtis, Elliot Hester, Patrick Smith and Pico Iyer. Iyer kicked off the proceedings yesterday with a contrarian idea: “Air travel is in fact as comfortable and reasonable today as it’s ever been.”

Pico Iyer: On Travel and Travel Writing

Two decades after boarding a plane for the trip that would yield "Video Night in Kathmandu," Pico Iyer talks to Matthew Davis about fact and fiction, books he wishes he hadn't written and his humble beginnings as a travel writer.

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World Hum’s Top 30 Travel Books

We recently counted down the best travel books of all time. Here's the entire list -- and loads of picks from World Hum readers.

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No. 8: “Video Night in Kathmandu” by Pico Iyer

To mark our five-year anniversary, we’re counting down the top 30 travel books of all time, adding a new title each day this month.
Published: 1988
Territory covered: East and South Asia

A collection of 11 essays chronicling the cultural fusion of East and West in the 1980s, Iyer’s literary debut is an answer to all those critics who claim that great travel writing died once the terra incognita was mapped. As this Asia-themed collection shows, the final frontier of adventure isn’t located on some distant mountain or impenetrable jungle, but in the intimate (and often comical) cross-cultural fascinations and discoveries that arise from an ever-shrinking world.

Amid his sharp reportage and analysis, Video Night in Kathmandu‘s greatest strength is Iyer’s refusal to draw prim moral conclusions as Western popular culture bumps up against the traditions of the East. Instead, he casts things in terms of a tenuous romance.

“When Westerner meets Easterner,” Iyer writes, “each finds himself often drawn to the other, yet mystified; each projects his romantic hopes on the stranger, as well as his designs; and each pursues both his illusions and his vested interests with a curious mix of innocence and calculation that shifts with every step.” Moreover, the author’s eye for ironic juxtapositions—Rambo-inspired musicals in India, baseball fever in Japan, Mowhawk haircuts in Bali—proves so keen that he practically inaugurates the now-common “cultural-contradiction” travel-story template. Even if the specific cross-cultural obsessions of “Video Night” (Michael Jackson, Rambo) seem a bit dated, the ensuing rise of globalization and reach of the Internet have only underscored how relevant Iyer’s observations were.

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