Mar 30, 2021 • 2HR 12M

#52: Benjamin Moser on the Performance of Everyday Life

Cognitive Revolution | How Ben turned his egregious literary ambitions as a young man into a Pulitzer Prize

 
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Welcome to Against Habit. My name is Cody Kommers, and in this show I talk to experts, authors, and scientists about the ways we can rethink the habits, ideas, and assumptions we take with us through daily life. Mainstream productivity culture tells us that optimal habits are the best way to solve any behavioral problem. But I think in our veneration of habits, we've overlooked something crucial. Many of our deepest experiences of creativity, connection, and meaning come from breaking out of our habitual rug and engaging in life in a new way. Exploring that idea is what this show is all about. (Note: This show was previously "Cognitive Revolution")

This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.


Ben Moser is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the recent biography of Susan Sontag, innovatively entitled "Sontag." This is one of the most fun and wide ranging conversation I'd had on the show. I stewed over whether or not to release the whole two hour conversation. But I loved how so many of the themes that we began early in the conversation—which sounded inconsequential in the moment—came full circle later on. If you want to skip straight to Ben's story, the meat of that begins the around the 30 minute mark. If, instead, you're interested in the full scope of nominal determinism, powerful women, gay men, whether Ben is good looking, whether Cody is good looking, and beginning things before you're good at them, then this conversation will definitely have something to offer. You will also enjoy this conversation if, like me, you want to be like Ben Moser when you grow up.

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Like this episode? Here’s another one to check out:

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#7: Bradley Voytek on Being a F**k up with Potential
Listen now (78 min) | Bradley Voytek is a professor of cognitive science, neuroscience, and data science at UC San Diego. He is the author of Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? and was the first data scientist at Uber. In this episode, Cody talks to Brad about the neuroscience of zombies, community building, being an insanely good mentor, overcoming low grades or initial setb…
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