Thursday, November 1, 2007

Show #2: J. Daniel Sawyer Part 1 of 2: Author, Filmmaker, and Photographer Discusses Curiosity, Mythology, Religion, and Philosophy


Click to listen to The Curious Minds Podcast Show #2 with J. Daniel Sawyer

Enjoy this wide-ranging discussion with author J. Daniel (Dan) Sawyer about everything from theology to blackholes to film-making!

Guest Bio

From his web site at

"James Daniel Sawyer is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author seeking to further destabilize the universe by building a cult in his own honor. Although not quite as crazy as Philip K. Dick or as bloody-minded as Robert A. Heinlein, he does share certain delusional qualities with both, such as a prominent initial, and propensity to imagine the future as it could be if it conformed to the warped view of reality protected by his fragile skull.

Lest the fragility of his skull give you any ideas, be warned he has a killer fedora hat and isn't afraid to use it. He also watched too many Bond films as a child. And now, this twisted individual intends to subject you to podcasts of his fiction! If you don't have the good sense to run away now, click here to learn more."

More than an author, Dan is also a filmmaker, 3D animation artist, and photographer. He lives in California and has many projects going on right now. I caught up with him over Skype recently to get him to discuss his self-described insatiable curiosity and productivity.

Show Overview

During this encompassing interview with Dan we begin by discussing:

  • His natural curiosity, which his parents discovered quickly when as an infant he hated to have the lights turned off because he wanted to look around at everything around him
  • Growing up as the son of a theologian and how competing for his father's attention with graduate students lit his creative fires that have never ceased and lead his high level of productivity
  • The art of story-telling, J.R.R. Tolkien's words of wisdom, heroism, rites of passage in the west, and strong women of world mythology

Next we discuss the nature of "belief" and the need for scientific evidence and peer review. In this section, we:

  • Discuss the concept of a "world-view" and what importance it has in forming opinions and basing our daily actions upon it, and the role that scientific evidence and peer-review should play in critical thinking
  • Describe the insularity and irrationality of the world-views presented by dogmatic positions like fundamentalist Islam and many forms of evangelical Christianity
  • Champion the intentions of the founding fathers of the United States in their intentions to protect freedom of thought, speech, and religious expression for all people

Finally, we discuss modern day mythologists and scientists like Joseph Campbell, James Burke, and Carl Sagan to describe the contributions they have made to a properly nuanced modern understanding of religion and science. The understanding created by these thinkers and others similar to them is an understanding that, while based upon empirical scientific evidence, does not denigrate the role of traditional religion, but rather embraces the symbolic and figurative wisdom embodied therein without requiring supernaturalistic explanations.

Enjoy the program!

Stay Tuned for Part 2 About Blender 3D, Filmmaking, and Photography

Dan will appear again soon to discuss technical details about his work with Linux, Blender 3D and filmmaking, and photography.

Visit Dan's web sites to enjoy his work and learn more about his business at the following URLs:

Resources From the Show

Show Intro Music

For each show I select a bit of Intro and Outro music with help from the guest.

U2 - Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me from the Batman Forever Soundtrack.

The line "And your turning tricks, with your crucifix, you're a star!" reminded Dan of his experience in a Christian bookstore seeing all the popularization of Jesus as a superhero, causing him to observe, "Jesus is NOT a rock star!"

Oh, but he is Dan, oh but he is. He is a SUPERSTAR

You don't know how you took it
You just know what you got
Oh Lordy you've been stealing
From the theives and you got caught
In the headlights
Of a stretch car
You're a star
Dressing like your sister
Living like a tart
They don't know what you're doing
Babe, it must be art
You're a headache
In a suitcase
You're a star
Oh no, don't be shy
You don't have to go blind
Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me
You don't know how you got here
You just know you want out
Believing in yourself
Almost as much as you doubt
You're a big smash
You wear it like a rash
Oh no, don't be shy
There's a crowd to cry
Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me
They want you to be Jesus
They'll go down on one knee
But they'll want their money back
If you're alive at thirty-three
And you're turning tricks
With your crucifix
You're a star
(Oh child)
Of course you're not shy
You don't have to deny love
Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me

Show Outro Music

U2 - Acrobat

My favorite line from this song is:

"In dreams begin responsibilities..." A line Bono says is taken from a title of a poem by American author Charles Bukowksi.

A close runner up is "So don't let the bastards grind you down"

Don't believe what you hear
Don't believe what you see
If you just close your eyes
You can feel the enemy
When I first met you girl
You had fire in your soul
What happened your face
Of melting in snow
Now it looks like this
And you can swallow
Or you can spit
You can throw it up
Or choke on it
And you can dream
So dream out loud
You know that your time is coming 'round
So don't let the bastards grind you down
No, nothing makes sense
Nothing seems to fit
I know you'd hit out
If you only knew who to hit
And I'd join the movement
If there was one I could believe in
Yeah I'd break bread and wine
If there was a church I could receive in
'cause I need it now
To take a cup
To fill it up
To drink it slow
I can't let you go
I must be an acrobat
To talk like this
And act like that
And you can dream
So dream out loud
And don't let the bastards grind you down
Oh, it hurts baby
(What are we going to do now it's all been said)
(No new ideas in the house and every book has been read)
And I must be an acrobat
To talk like this
And act like that
And you can dream
So dream out loud
And you can find
Your own way out
You can build
And I can will
And you can call
I can't wait until
You can stash
And you can seize
In dreams begin
And I can love
And I can love
And I know that the tide is turning 'round
So don't let the bastards grind you down

No comments: