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About Pico Iyer
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Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.
In The Art of Stillness—a TED Books release—Iyer investigate the lives of people who have made a life seeking stillness: from Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman with a PhD in molecular biology who left a promising scientific career to become a Tibetan monk, to revered singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who traded the pleasures of the senses for several years of living the near-silent life of meditation as a Zen monk. Iyer also draws on his own experiences as a travel writer to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. He reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people—even those with no religious commitment—seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or seeking silent retreats. These aren't New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. Growing trends like observing an “Internet Sabbath”—turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning—highlight how increasingly desperate many of us are to unplug and bring stillness into our lives.
The Art of Stillness paints a picture of why so many—from Marcel Proust to Mahatma Gandhi to Emily Dickinson—have found richness in stillness. Ultimately, Iyer shows that, in this age of constant movement and connectedness, perhaps staying in one place is a more exciting prospect, and a greater necessity than ever before.
In 2013, Pico Iyer gave a blockbuster TED Talk. This lyrical and inspiring book expands on a new idea, offering a way forward for all those feeling affected by the frenetic pace of our modern world.
pique the interest and curiosity of those who don’t know Japan—and to remind those who do of its myriad fascinations.
In the transnational village that our world has become, travel and technology fuel each other and us. As Iyer points out, "everywhere is so made up of everywhere else," and our very souls have been put into circulation. Yet even global beings need a home.
Using his own multicultural upbringing (Indian, American, British) as a point of departure, Iyer sets out on a quest, both physical and psychological, to find what remains constant in a world gone mobile. He begins in Los Angeles International Airport, where town life — shops, services, sociability — is available without a town, and in Hong Kong, where people actually live in self-contained hotels. He moves on to Toronto, which has been given new life and a new literature by its immigrant population, and to Atlanta, where the Olympic Village inadvertently commemorates the corporate universalism that is the Olympics' secret face. And, finally, he returns to England, where the effects of empire-as-global-village are still being sorted out, and to Japan, where in the midst of alien surfaces, Iyer unexpectedly finds a home.
"As a guide to far-flung places, Pico Iyer can hardly be surpassed," The New Yorker has written. In The Global Soul, he extends the meaning of far-flung to places within and all around us.
All this he did. And then he met Sachiko.
Vivacious, attractive, thoroughly educated, speaking English enthusiastically if eccentrically, the wife of a Japanese "salaryman" who seldom left the office before 10 P.M., Sachiko was as conversant with tea ceremony and classical Japanese literature as with rock music, Goethe, and Vivaldi. With the lightness of touch that made Video Night in Kathmandu so captivating, Pico Iyer fashions from their relationship a marvelously ironic yet heartfelt book that is at once a portrait of cross-cultural infatuation -- and misunderstanding -- and a delightfully fresh way of seeing both the old Japan and the very new.
For over three decades, Pico Iyer, one of our most cherished travel writers, has been a friend to the Dalai Lama. Over these years through intimate conversations, he has come to know him in a way that few can claim. Here he paints an unprecedented portrait of one of the most singular figures of our time, explaining the Dalai Lama's work and ideas about politics, science, technology, and religion. For Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike, The Open Road illuminates the hidden life and the daily challenges of this global icon.
In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene; he examines Greene’s obsessions, his elusiveness, his penchant for mystery. Iyer follows Greene’s trail from his first novel, The Man Within, to such later classics as The Quiet American and begins to unpack all he has in common with Greene: an English public school education, a lifelong restlessness and refusal to make a home anywhere, a fascination with the complications of faith. The deeper Iyer plunges into their haunted kinship, the more he begins to wonder whether the man within his head is not Greene but his own father, or perhaps some more shadowy aspect of himself.
Drawing upon experiences across the globe, from Cuba to Bhutan, and moving, as Greene would, from Sri Lanka in war to intimate moments of introspection; trying to make sense of his own past, commuting between the cloisters of a fifteenth-century boarding school and California in the 1960s, one of our most resourceful explorers of crossing cultures gives us his most personal and revelatory book.
John Macmillan, a classically reticent Englishman who has moved to California to study the poems of the Sufi mystic Rumi, unexpectedly becomes involved in two equally absorbing quests. The first is for a mysterious Rumi manuscript that may have been smuggled out of Iran; the second for the elusive Camilla Jensen, who continually offers herself to him only to repeatedly slip from his grasp. Are these quests somehow related? And can Macmillan give himself over to them without losing his career and identity?
Moving deftly from California academia to the mosques of Iran, filled with insights into the minds of Islam and the modern West, Abandon is a magic carpet-ride of a book.
But the true subject of Sun After Dark is the dislocations of the mind in transit. And so Iyer takes us along to meditate with Leonard Cohen and talk geopolitics with the Dalai Lama. He navigates the Magritte-like landscape of jet lag, “a place that no human had ever been until forty or so years ago.” And on every page of this poetic and provocative book, he compels us to redraw our map of the world.
Iyer chats with the Dalai Lama and assesses the books of Salman Rushdie and Cormac McCarthy. And he brings his perceptive eye and unflappable wit to bear on the postmodern vogues for literary puffery, sexual gamesmanship, and frequent-flier miles. Glittering with aphorisms, overflowing with insight, and often hilarious, Tropical Classical represents some of Iyer's finest work.