Talks / Performances

TEDGlobal 2009

Oxford, UK
July, 2009

 

Metaphorically Speaking

Aphorism enthusiast and author James Geary waxes on a fascinating fixture of human language: the metaphor.


Ram Readers

Cambridge, MA
January 30, 2016

 

Where Words, Wit and Juggling Meet

Suffolk University student Amanda Zarni's review of my Grolier Bookshop gig


SBS Seoul Digital Forum

Seoul, South Korea
May 20, 2016

 

Journalism and the Ancient Korean Poetic Form Sijo

 

The Evolution of Digital Storytelling in Journalism


Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors Series

University of Michigan School of Art and Design
Ann Arbor, MI
Feb. 11, 2010

 

Juggling Aphorisms

As part of my 'Juggling Aphorisms and Mixing Metaphors' show, I invite audience members to name a theme, in response to which I must immediately come up with an aphorism. If I fail, he / she gets a free copy of my book. During this exchange at the University of Michigan, the challenge began with 'monkeys' and quickly escalated to 'Zimbabwe', 'birth control' and 'lust'...


The Sun Valley Writers' Conference

Sun Valley, Idaho
August, 2008

 

Why I love aphorisms, and how they can change your life

 

Me, aphorisms and my 'Henry David Thoreau moment'

 

How I discovered that my late father also collected aphorisms


Philosophy and the Aphorism

London, England
March 14, 2008

 

Together with Tim Crane, director of the Institute of Philosophy, and aphorist Simon May, I organized a one-day symposium on aphorisms and philosophy at Goodenough College, University of London. Poets, professors, philosophers, psychologists and comedians—all of them aphorists—from Europe and the United States gathered to discuss the aphorism as a bright, incisive way of grappling with the big questions of life—and to celebrate the form as just the thing if you hate ideologies but love ideas.

 

Participants included Stephen Clucas, reader in Early Modern Intellectual History at Birkbeck, University of London; Friedemann Spicker and Jurgen Wilbert, co-founders of the German Aphorism Convention and the German Aphorism Archive; Philippe Moret, author of Tradition et modernité de l’aphorisme; Sami Feiring, chairman of the Aphorism Association of Finland; film-maker Boris Mitic, who chronicled the Belgrade Aphoristic Circle in his documentary Goodbye, How Are You?; Don Paterson, Scottish poet and aphorist; James Richardson, American poet, aphorist, and professor of English and Creative Writing, Princeton University; Fulvio Fiori, Italian author, playwright and aphorist; and German psychologist and aphorist Bert Hellinger.

 

The folks at fora.tv recorded some of the other talks, which are linked below...

 

Sara Levine, associate professor, MFA in Writing Program, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, explored the pleasures and dangers of using the aphorism to write “the great American novel.”

 

Philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, explained why aphorisms are like stock cubes.

 

Simon May, college research fellow in Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London and author of The Little Book of Big Thoughts, highlighted the need for aphoristic wisdom in an age of declining religion.

 

This is the final session in full, including a Q&A at the end...

 

James Geary on why aphorists are pessimists—and why that's optimistic
(0:25-21:07)

 

A.C. Grayling, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, on the optimal moments for aphorisms
(21:30-34:00)

 

British TV comedy legend John Lloyd on jokes and aphorisms
(34:00-46:35)

 

Waterstone's Bookshop

London, England
March 13, 2008

 

The night before the aphorism symposium, I did my 'Juggling Aphorisms' gig at Waterstone's, from which is extracted this clip, also courtesy of the folks at fora.tv...

 

Ambrose Bierce and his fiendish definitions from The Devil's Dictionary (17:30-21:47)


The New York Public Library

Live from the NYPL
October 9, 2007

 

The aphorisms of Josh Billings and the rise of stand-up comedy

 

Another think-of-an-aphorism-on-the-spot challenge, this time about 'illness' and 'salad'...

 

Mae West and the question of chiasmus


The Ilkley Literature Festival

Ilkley, UK
October 1, 2006

 

The aphorisms of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, plus some of my aphorisms and a brief history of my foray into fortune cookies.

 

For an example of how I deployed my fortune cookies at poetry readings, see my 1987 appearance at Larry Blake's.


BBC 4

The Talk Show

2002

 

In 2002, I was one of the regular hosts of BBC 4’s short-lived The Talk Show, a live arts, culture, and science discussion program.

 

November 2, 2001

The 'theory of everything' and the popularization of science, with cosmologist Martin Rees, astrophysicist Janna Levin and philosopher John Dupre

 

April 11, 2002

Poetry and memory, with poets Jo Shapcott, Mimi Khalvati and Tom Paulin

 

April 16, 2002

Performance art, with artists Laura Godfrey-Isaacs and Hermann Nitsch, plus Aldous Huxley and psychedelia, with biographer Nicholas Murray, author Sadie Plant and cultural historian Jonathan Green


The Institute of Contemporary Arts

London
Feb. 26, 2002

 

The Body Electric

A panel discussion focused on some of the themes addressed in my earlier book The Body Electric: An Anatomy of the New Bionic Senses, with artificial life researcher Steve Grand and artist Brian Eno.