Freeman Dyson Interview

From the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_1145 Apr. 19 02.08What books are currently on your night stand?

“The Left Side of History,” by Kristen Ghodsee, and “The Parthenon Enigma,” by Joan Connelly. Two wonderful new books by friends of mine. Kristen is an anthropologist at Bowdoin College, writing about the history of the last hundred years as it is seen through the eyes of her informants in Bulgaria. History looks very different if you fought for national liberation and human progress under the banner of Communism. Joan is an archaeologist at New York University. She writes about the archaic Greek myths and rituals that became embodied in the statuary of the Parthenon. She has a startlingly new interpretation of the Parthenon as the centerpiece of the religious life of ancient Athens. Kristen and Joan are kindred spirits, working with different tools in different millennia, and finding a similar illumination. To understand either modern Bulgarians or ancient Greeks, you must enter their world of human self-sacrifice.

Who is your favorite novelist of all time?

Octavia Butler, a tall black lady who died in 2006. She wrote “Parable of the Sower” and “Parable of the Talents,” two books that are normally classified as science fiction but are more concerned with theology than with science. The main character in both stories is a black woman who survives apocalyptic disasters and becomes the founder of a new religion in California. The character is in many ways a self-portrait of Octavia. I once spent a day with her entertaining a crowd of Chicago inner-city schoolchildren. I answered the science questions. She answered all the others. She was the star of the show.

More here.