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Author Pico Iyer speaking at TEDGlobal 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: <a href="">TED Conference</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Author Pico Iyer speaking at TEDGlobal 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: TED Conference, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Pico Iyer: The man who is becoming a voice inside my head

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I had a chance to chat with author and world traveler Pico Iyer prior to his visit to the St. Lawrence University campus as the first speaker in this year's Writer's Series. He will speak on Thursday, September 12 at 8 pm in the Sykes Common Room.

No matter what subject Iyer is working on, whether it is the spiritual and political journey of the Dalai Lama, meeting his wife in Kyoto, or travelling to the far reaches of the earth to try the MacDonalds there, I perceive in his quirky voice a deep message about how we should live.

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Reported by

Chris Robinson
Readers & Writers co-host

This might sound a bit odd.  We read travel writers for a taste of the exotic and adventurous.  We want to get outside ourselves. But Iyer, the son of two philosophers, uses his experiences as a tourist to delve into what it means to be an occasionally jetlagged human. 

This often turns out to be an unnecessarily complex question.  For Iyer, there is an integral tie between our humanity and a simple, uncluttered existence. Travel allows you to escape complication and distraction. More importantly, it is an opportunity to confront the noise of your daily life with relative silence, recognize the racket as an obstacle to flourishing as a thinking and feeling being, and create a quieter environment wherever you call home.

Iyer’s most recent book is The Man Within My Head. It is an often moving account of the way Graham Greene’s books and lifestyle have influenced Iyer’s own life.  In Iyer’s adolescent rebellion against his father, it was Graham Greene who became his guide and surrogate father. Greene became the path back to his real father too. Think of the voices that prevail in the cacophony of your own head.  Who are these constant companions that rise up at critical moments to keep you on the path of sanity or righteousness?  Now think of all noise that blunts the sonority of those voices. What can you do to eliminate them to attend to what is truly important?

Listen to Chris Robinson's full interview with Pico Iyer at the Listen link above.

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