Political Feelings: Silicon Soirée


Patrick Blanchfield in The Revealer:

When I finally see Deepak Chopra, I am confused, because the only thing he has in common with the enormous portrait photograph in front of which he stands are the rhinestones. In the photo, Chopra’s wearing something between a Nehru jacket and an unbuttoned leisure suit with a clerical collar; here, he’s sporting an untucked blue shirt and jeans, and floats above the ground in a pair of expensive basketball sneakers with translucent red outsoles that look like they’ve been hewn from solid garnet. Chopra in the photo is ageless and well-coiffed, the scleras of his eyes distressingly luminous in a way that suggests some serious Photoshop. Chopra on the red carpet looks as haggard, bleary, and unimpressed as I feel.

But then I see the diamonds.

Scanning the crowd in the YouTube event space, Chopra moves his head, and the dozens of gems that stud the rims of his glasses refract the overhead lights and camera flashes. He’s wearing the same glasses in the photo, where their luster suggests a kind of halo emanating from his temples. Amid the weird pastels and earth tones of Silicon Valley corporate décor their gleam is mesmerizing. Are the diamonds real? It is impossible to tell. Chopra ducks backstage. Perhaps he must prepare. Soon, it has been promised, he will re-emerge to debate Skepticism itself.

The event in question has been billed many ways. It has been billed as a stand against “fake news” on the one hand and as a concerned response to supposed campus intolerance toward “free speech” on the other. It is also a celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of an organization of self-professed skeptics, which publishes a quarterly magazine. And, finally, it is a “live variety science show” featuring sundry celebrities and a white Canadian hip-hop artist who will rap about the wonders of evolutionary psychology.

More here.