Our topic for Chattering Class this week: Psychology's infamous Rorschach test. And our teacher is author Damion Searls. His new book, "The Inkblots," is all about Hermann Rorschach, an artistically-inclined Swiss psychiatrist who in the 1910s learned he could diagnose patients just by asking them to describe what they saw in abstract blots on paper. He talks with Rico about Hermann's history and what made the Rorschach's blots so effective and unique.
Viet Thanh Nguyen Tackles Issues of Race, Immigration, and Identity in ‘The Refugees’
Viet Thanh Nguyen's first novel "The Sympathizer" won a raft of awards -- including the Pulitzer Prize. He's just published his second book to great acclaim. It's a collection of short stories called, "The Refugees." He tells us the true story that inspired his new collection and shares a few thoughts on why refugees can make Americans uncomfortable.
Raoul Peck on Translating the Work of James Baldwin for the Silver Screen
In his latest documentary, the filmmaker examines the prose of the late, great author James Baldwin and uses Baldwin's unfinished manuscript as a springboard to start a discussion about the racial divide in America.
‘Gleason’ Offers a Glimpse at the Real Struggles of Living With ALS
NFL star Steve Gleason was a safety for the New Orleans Saints. But not long after retiring from the NFL, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. He began recording video diaries for his son, which has been assembled into a documentary by director Clay Tweel. Clay shares candid moments from making the doc and explains the decision behind its honest portrayal of life with the disease.
Examining the Secret Life of George Herriman: the Crazy Cat Behind ‘Krazy Kat’
This week's party-worthy topic: New Orleans cartoonist George Herriman. Find out how his early 20th century cartoon influenced some of the greatest comic strips of all time and learn about Herriman's complicated racial identity, which he kept secret all his life.
Gael García Bernal Waxes Poetic on ‘Neruda’
Mexican-born movie star Gael García Bernal won last year's Golden Globe for his starring role on Amazon's "Mozart In The Jungle." This week you can catch him in "Neruda" -- Chile's entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. The actor talks to us about the movie’s surreal take on poet Pablo Neruda's life... and explains why art and politics *do* mix.
Looking Back at Toshiro Mifune’s Legendary Career
From the 1940s and into the ‘80s, Toshiro Mifune was known world around as Japan's answer to John Wayne. He starred in almost 200 movies, including a slew of classics directed by the great Akira Kurosawa. His life is now the subject of a new film called, "Mifune: The Last Samurai." Oscar-winning documentarian Steven Okazaki explores the actor’s origins and looks at how Mifune left his mark on cinema, despite being thousands of miles away from Hollywood.
Emily Witt Takes a Closer (and Personal) Look at Dating in the Modern World
When the investigative journalist was 30, she found herself single and questioning whether she'd soon find love. So she decided to explore the modern state of sexual relationships in her latest book, “Future Sex.” It details her experiences dating online, on the set of a porn shoot, embedded with a polyamorous couple, and beyond.
Mark Greif Lays Out his Case Against Everything
Author, educator, and cultural critic Mark Greif is co-founder of the journal n+1, and his new book is a collection of essays, wherein he critiques foodies, talks about the death of the hipster, and has no less than three pieces on the meaning of life.
The Myths and Miseries of Saké-Making
This week on Chattering Class, we're learning about saké. And our expert is Erik Shirai. His debut film is a gorgeously shot, quietly meditative documentary called, "The Birth of Saké." It debuts this Monday, Sept. 5 on PBS. And it details the painstaking, traditional method of saké making at a single Japanese brewery.