exclusives | September 24, 2015

Lavin Weekly #8: Sarah Lewis, Kal Penn, Molly Crabapple, & Ta-Nehisi Coates

1. Embrace Privacy to Cultivate “Killer Ideas,” Says Sarah Lewis

You can now read an online version of Sarah Lewis’s article on the importance of privacy for creativity, decision-making, and innovation from the April 2015 edition of WIRED. While writing The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, Lewis discovered what she calls “the paradox of the process of invention—releasing something new to the world requires a temporary removal from it.” With today’s world of instant (and over) sharing, we can reach audiences quicker than ever. But this can also work against our intentions. “Showing your work too early may help you find an audience,” Lewis says, “but being too conscious of your audience can unhinge you from yourself.” She goes on to say that “Private domains are not only about physical space; they are also about a space within us where we can shield ourselves from our inner critics. Private domains permit the bravery required for decision-making. It’s about time that we honour the stage at which these private domains are as important as networking and putting your work out there.”

2. Kal Penn Takes on the Confederate Flag in a New VICE News Documentary

Kal Penn—world-famous actor, television host, and former Associate Director at the White House Office of Public Engagement—is the host of a new VICE News documentary on America’s most controversial state flag: the Mississippi Confederate battle flag. After the tragic Charleston church shootings, many Mississippians and Americans called for its removal, revision, or retirement. Now, “VICE News and Kal Penn travel to the Magnolia State for a lesson on race relations, barbecue, and the meaning of southern heritage for black and white residents of Mississippi.” For now, there’s just a trailer, but we can expect Heritage and Hate: Mississippi’s State Flag to be released soon.

3. Molly Crabapple Reports on Illustrating the Syrian Civil War

Molly Crabapple spoke with PBS Newshour about illustrating war-torn landscapes in some of the world’s most ravaged, yet most unreported, areas. Regions under ISIS control are sealed off from journalists, so Crabapple works in collaboration with the pseudonymous writer Marwan Hisham, who sends her images of daily life from places like Aleppo and Mosul—“child fighters, migrant workers, prisoners, bombed out buildings,” and so forth—which she transforms into stunning, vibrant, and moving works of art. Currently, Crabapple—artist, VICE editor, and author of Drawing Blood—can be found in Domeez, Iraq, working with Doctors Without Borders to document life in a refugee camp, where she’s producing art that depicts the reality of protest, conflict, and devastation. “People live lives, even in war zones,” she says. “Sometimes, when we just see photos of atrocity, we forget that these are humans in that atrocity, who scam and love and watch satellite TV and buy vegetables at the market and love their kids.”

4. Marvel Comics Grabs Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write New Black Panther Series

Turns out Ta-Nehisi Coates is not only the author of the NYT bestseller Between the World and Me (nominated for a National Book Award!) and national correspondent at The Atlantic, but also a major fan of Marvel Comics. Coates has been tapped to write a new Marvel series for Black Panther: “the first black superhero” (NYT). As a whole, the world of comics is ever more trying to mirror the actual world—and that means incorporating much more diversity and more accurate cultural representations. Luckily, non-white and gay superheroes are getting their own lines at both Marvel and DC; Black Panther will also be featured in the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War and his own movie, set for release in 2018. Speaking with The New York Times, Coates claims that Marvel was “an intimate part of my childhood and, at this point, part of my adulthood. It was mostly through pop culture, through hip-hop, through Dungeons & Dragons and comic books that I acquired much of my vocabulary.”

To hire Sarah Lewis, Kal Penn, Molly Crabapple, or Ta-Nehisi Coates as the keynote speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

Up Next

science | September 23, 2015