Jenny Odell on nature, art, and burnout in quarantine from The Ezra Klein Show
Listen to The Ezra Klein Show episodes free, on demand. One of my favorite episodes of this show was my conversation with Jenny Odell, just under a year ago. Odell, a visual artist, writer, and Stanford lecturer, had just released her book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy and we had a fascinating conversation about the importance of maintenance work, the problem with ceaseless productivity, the forces vying for our attention, the comforts of nature, and so much more. A lot has changed since then. Odell’s book became a sensation: it captured a cultural moment, made it onto Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2019 list and became, for many, a touchstone. And then, a global pandemic hit, radically altering the world in ways that made the core themes of Odell’s work more prescient, and more difficult. What happens when, instead of choosing to “do nothing,” doing nothing is forced upon you? What happens when all you have access to is nature? What happens when the work of maintenance becomes not just essential, but also dangerous?So I asked Odell back, for a very different conversation in a very different time. This isn’t a conversation, really, about fixing the world right now. It’s about living in it, and what that feels like. It’s about the role of art in this moment, why we undervalue the most important work in our society, how to have collective sympathy in a moment of fractured suffering, where to find beauty right now, the tensions of productivity, the melting of time, our reckoning with interdependence, and much more. And, at the end, Odell offers literally my favorite book recommendation ever on this show. And no, it’s not for my book. References: My previous conversation with Jenny Odell on the art of attention "The Myth of Self-Reliance" by Jenny Odell, The Paris Review"I tried to write an essay about productivity in quarantine. It took me a month to do it." by Constance Grady, VoxThe Genius of Birds by Jennifer AckermanBook recommendations: Give People Money by Annie LowreyLurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeilWhat It's Like to Be a Bird by David Allen SibleyWant to contact the show? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.orgPlease consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at https://bit.ly/TEKS-webbyNew to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)Credits:Producer/Editor - Jeff GeldResearcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices. The easiest way to listen to podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, smart speaker – and even in your car. For free. Bonus and ad-free content available with Stitcher Premium.