AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. ROBERT BURTON
If you could visit any time, place, or person, when, where or who would you visit?
I’d like to be able to report back from a front row seat at the Big Bang.
If you could be any other person, animal, plant, etc… for a day, who or what would you be and why?
Imagine being a giant redwood deep in a redwood grove, with a thousand year perspective on the daily comings and goings of what we smugly think of as history.
What music, food, drink, toys, etc… do you keep by your side when you're writing?
On my writing desk, directly beneath the flat panel monitor, are three small figures--a small stone copy of a 4500 year old Cycladian statue of a man thinking, Buddha meditating, and an obsidian Mayan head. On a side table, watching me, is an original phrenology head by R.F. Freda. When not working in silence, Glen Gould is humming in the background, and Bach is singing in the foreground.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? How?
Samuel Beckett--for his breathtaking ability to elegantly portray the exhausting, incomprehensible, yet hilarious tour de farce of a mind circling around itself. Once academia realizes that our knowledge of the mind ultimately is constructed from subjective and unreliable reports from the battlefield of human experience, Beckett will be admitted into the pantheon of the truly great neuroscientists.
What do you enjoy doing the most with your free time?
Playing poker. After all, what’s better than an art form that rewards intentional cunning, lying, deceit, and manipulation. Or, as Walter Mathau once said, “Poker combines all the worst aspects of capitalism that made America great.”