Conversation Pieces: 5 New Articles Worth Discussing This Weekend

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Welcome to Conversation Pieces, where Flavorpill curates five articles from the past week that you should read. Some are long, others are short. Some are from major publications, others aren’t. The only thing all these articles have in common is that they’re interesting. This week we examine cures for writer’s block, what being a Luddite originally meant, robots that think they’re human, the virtues of solitude, and more. After the jump, find something exciting to discuss this weekend in the home, at the bar, or on the street.

1. Therapy for Hollywood Writers

Writer’s block is a problem everyone who puts words on a page hopes to avoid, yet will most likely confront at some point. If you write for a living, that’s not a comforting thought. Luckily for those in L.A., there’s Barry Michels, a therapist for the stars. He helps the following people unclog their creative flow: a “writer, director, entertainment attorney, actor, investment banker, agent, writer, writer-director-producer, guy who works peripherally in Hollywood— let’s say catering.” Read about Michels and his techniques below.

The New Yorker: “Hollywood Shadows: A Cure for Blocked Screenwriters”

2. Who Were the Luddites?

Chances are you’ve either been called a Luddite or called someone else a Luddite. And when this label was used, those involved probably felt pretty clear about what message was being conveyed. This article will muddle that clarity. Hint: Luddites were more opposed to inequality than technology.

Smithsonian: “What the Luddites Really Fought Against”

3. The Humanity of Robots

What follows is a Q&A with Brian Christian, author of The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive . His book has a long title, and judging from Christian’s responses to the interviewer, it has a lot of insightful thoughts into the whole machines-will-one-day-be-humans debate.

The Paris Review: “Brian Christian on ‘The Most Human Human’”

4. New York City’s Last Dance Explosion

“New York City in the seventies was its own circle of hell. A deep recession came in like a night tide.” That’s how the article begins, but not how it ends. Join journalist Laura Jacobs on a trip back in time, through the rich history of dance in 1970s New York. Find out how the art form blossomed in an era of “beggars and junkies and pimps and runaways.”

City Journal: “Dancing the Body Electric”

5. On Being Alone

Philip Connors spends April through August each year sitting in a lookout tower located in Gila National Forest, New Mexico. He has no electricity or running water. Connors’ job is to look for smoke, and notify authorities of potential wildfire. Sometimes weeks go by without a sign of smoke. He’s been doing this for almost ten years. Read about what that’s like.

Lapham’s Quarterly: “A Talent for Sloth”