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Podcast    H2'ed 2/11/15

Gregg Levoy; Opening the Window to A Science of Passion

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Broadcast 2/11/2015 at 16:25:07 (33 Listens, 19 Downloads, 2086 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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/div>Gregg Levoy, author of the bestseller, CALLINGS, one of my favorite books, has a new book, Vital Signs; The Nature and Nurture of Passion, and it's as brilliant, inspiring and hard to put down as Callings. To me, it's a book how to have more, amazing, intense, great experiences. We dive in deep.
Unlike 99% of my interviews, which I do by phone or skype, this one was done face-to-face. Wow, did it make a difference. I have to do live interviews more often.
Below, you will find two parts-- first, the rough notes that evolved from the interview, and next, the notes that I'd written with the intention of discussing. The interview went all over the place, in great directions, so I let go of the planned approach and just went with where the conversation flowed.
Rough Notes from the Interview

what is the goal of the book?

How is this book related to the Callings book?

Inhibition and top down bottom brain

heroism can be redefined as the ability retain pardox

learning the skill of paradox-- mitigates tyranny

YOu say, Neurosis is the price we pay for civilization

call of the wild

spotless life, triumphant death or vice versa

Where might it come from-- spotless light?


Attention span

TVs on urinals

Motorola's microboredom

Eyes Wide Open

talk about wonder

carries magnifying glass on hikes

why do people ignore the questions that are screaming in their faces?

Beginner's mind

children ask up to 100 questions a day.

NOt knowing is the beginning of discovery.

Mencius child's heart

stop learning, stop growing

Dying on the vine-- leaving a job

refusing the call

When people say I"m dying at this job, I take that literally.

Then I made my plan.

And what was the plan

I devoted every thursday night to becoming a student of the life I wanted to live.

Three hours a week for a year and three quarters.

I'm constitutionally wired to be a freelancer

Talk about follow-up and risk-taking

If you are not failing regularly, you are living below your potential and failing anyway.

Is there an approach you take to editors

It's more of an approach I take with people I am trying to get hire me to speak

you use reframing as a way to cross boundaries that they've created for themselves

Tiger in a cage story and protective frames


Call of the Wild

A Spark Needs a Gap

Freedoms of Expression

Passion IS In the Risk

LEt's talk about rejection and writing

try out new passions in small steps

Death and dying

we have a use-by date-- take that in and use it to grow

YEar to live workshops

based on Stephen Levine's book, A year to live

one example of practicing a mortality meditation

That relative position in the scheme of things-- you talk about that too.

Interviewed people who were told they had six months to live

cancer diagnosed-- best thing that happened to me.

connection, connection consciousness

we start out life utterly connected"

brene brown Daring greatly, talks about the power of vulnerability

Vulnerability in relationship builds strength

You have a major section of your book on relationships and passion

Both and-- both security AND passion

84 Cain builder of first city killed nomad Abel

first archaeological evidence of war-- is war began as theft

Robert Greenway civilization is four days deep

Call of the Wild

135 Jay Griffiths says, "Freedom" an intrinsic part of wildness. Freedom is not polite. it doesn't knock or telephone first. It slams its hand down on your desk and says Dance."

and she said, " Things now fall into two categories for me: those on the side of death and the wasteland and those on the side of life and the wild."

what is wild?

willfulness and spontaneity from within

wilderness act-- defined nature as untrammeled by man. means free-- a trammel is a fish net.

You talk about how native americans didn't have a word for wilderness

they had a connection to it, a relationship to it that is very different.

young people not working, playing games-- what do you have to say to them?

Don't just declare a major follow a calling.

education ought to create a passionate relationship to life and to learning" vs security

You talk about courage-- what about fear?

Figure out what you want to do and figure out a way to get people to pay you to do it

God's first word to Abraham was "Go!" With no more information that that Abraham was seventy-five years old, and God told him to get out of town, no destination, just go, and that by doing so, he'd be blessed. The blessing was simply in the going.

Riff on "go."

trust and the unconscious

talk about what you do

Here are the notes and questions that I'd written, based on pages of the book, as I went through the book.

XIII interconnected contagious passion map and person

Gabriel Garcia Marquez story

Eyes Wide Open

28 High register of wonder

29 prayer

30 commodified wonder

37 Museums

40 Rupturing

45 inclination to seek agency

47 wonder is an appeal to intimacy, as is religion (the word means to re-connect)

50 religion-- Connection to something greater than themselves

51 religion has taught that what is holy is taboo.

Jay sacrificed the supernatural for the natural


74 Genetic restlessness

84 Cain builder of first city killed nomad Abel

first archaeological evidence of war-- is war began as theft

You say you are in the caravan profession of freelance writing.

86- Leave taking/ separation-- the essential task

95- Cultivate and maintain a feel for what wants to emerge in our lives, what's trying to happen at any given point.

105- You CAN be bored to death-- study-- Boredom is a kind of hunger-- a signal that we're starved for stimulation and engagement, for novelty, for meaning. And if we don't use boredom as a tonic to catalyze our quests and our creativity, it can easily become a narcotic that paralyzes them, blocking our forward momentum and short circuiting our exploratory impulses.

107- Mastery 109- purpose and meaning

110 Ennui, boredom and rage

111 technologies of fixation substitutes for intimacy

113 Vallerand's harmonious passion vs obsessive passion

114 Boredom drives cultural advance

117 Antidote to loneliness

120 with cameras and cell phones have come push-button memory and a reduced intensity of presence

121 "too much aesthetics is anesthetic" there's even a medical condition known as hyperkulturemia.

123 "God's first word to Abraham was "Go!" With no more information that that Abraham was seventy-five years old, and God told him to get out of town, no destination, just go, and that by doing so, he'd be blessed. The blessing was simply in the going.

Definition of the religious experience, religare in Latin, meaning, "to repair a lost connection."

126 "Desire itself is the intoxicant, not the fulfillment of it."

127 Garden of Eden-- "Paradise is just a breather between quandaries, happiness an interval between the problem solved and the problem to come."


"Restlessness is the passion at the core of spiritual life, creative life, scientific life, and faith, but it can't be resolved once and for all. Longing is a human proclivity; quenching it is not. "

Call of the Wild

135 Jay Griffiths says, "Freedom" an intrinsic part of wildness. Freedom is not polite. it doesn't knock or telephone first. It slams its hand down on your desk and says Dance."

and she said, " Things now fall into two categories for me: those on the side of death and the wasteland and those on the side of life and the wild."

what is wild?

138 "Despite the implorings of the domesticated self, the indoor self, we want what's untamed in us, what scratches at the back door wanting out."

139 "What is wild is, by definition, willful. As in self-willed, self-regulating. And we love what is free, even as it defies us."

wild and tame

141 "Some say the inward equivalent of the wilderness is the unconscious, with all its willful and unkempt energies, all its suppressed desires and dreams"

143 "IN all the Abrahamic religions, the ancient image of paradise is the Garden of Eden, and a garden" is an expression of the will of the gardener, no t the garden. Our most cherished fantasy of paradise is one in which things are tame not wild."

""paradise isn't always conducive to growth.

Eve herself gave birth to nothing while in paradise, only afterward and outside the walls.

146 Daimons? The Greek word for happiness is eudamonia, meaning "a well pleased daimon."

161 Ecological self

"Time spent outdoors can vaccinate against nature-deficit disorder as well as, to some degree, narcissism, since your primary reference point is less likely to narrow down to you."

165 indigenous North Americans have no word for wilderness

"maybe the hunger for wildness is some measure of the hunger to recapture a bit of our own Paleolithic consciousness, the native intelligence by which subject and object are rolled back into one.

166 "As the writer Sark puts it, being tame is what we're taught-- put the crayons back, stay in line, don't talk too loud, keep your knees together-- but being wild is what we are."

167 Neurosis as one of the unavoidable prices we pay for membership in civilization.

171 Hercules and Antaeus the giant-- power lost and ground

172 Maybe it's not the freedom, after all, that we desire and envy about wildlife, but the harmony."

Bottom-up aspects of control

175 Control: "The problem is that control works often enough that it's hard to tell when it stops working and instead clamps its teeth down on our vitality.

180 "You may be the proverbial author of your own life, but as any author knows, the act of sending work out into the world is referred to as submission."

183 Studies of hospital and nursing home patients, prisoners and people living under totalitarian regimes all confirm that ring deprived of contral over one's l ice lowers morale and heightens mortality.

control is good medicine only in the right doses

186 Control is restraint on movement, and because complete control would be complete restraint, control itself has to be controlled if there's to be movement at all, certainly vitality.

190 Freud's three blows to narcissism-- copernican revolution, darwinian revolution and his discovery of the unconscious.

191 Our bodies were wired for the outdoors by millions upon millions of years of evolution"

192-- textbook says that ""human beings evolved over the course of some five million years" not".

197 Raising Cain-- compulsory education as single largest agent of childhood domestication--- Thoreau quote-- to make a straight cut ditch out of a free, meandering stream.

201 Nature has a word for those who are rigid and fail to improvise; extinct."

216 spider that turned your friend's life around

A Spark Needs a Gap

227 link between Vulnerability and passion

calculus of the heart

Vulnerability" is simply the capacity to be wounded.. if you reuse to ever be vulnerable, you deny yourself the experience of passion and compassion.

253 Bill McKibben-- one day of all TV channels-- message-- each of us is the center of the universe

Freedoms of Expression

299 Self expression-- the hunger is the same-- to get what's on the inside out, to make the unconscious conscious, the invisible visible, to let our cats out of the bag.

300 delivering the truth

304 Inhale, then exhale life

Appeal to and expand the human spirit." Carl Sagan

307 Force of inhibition

308 Robert Bly long bag we drag behind us.

315, 316 Geordano Bruno inhibition and the price we pay for

317 The dialectic between freedom and control isn't merely foisted on us by civilization. There's endless jockeying between self-expression and self-control within each individual.

Freud ". id is"a cauldron full of seething excitation," the repository of passion and pure desire in the human psyche" The ego is the herder of cats. -- the organizing principle in the psyche that takes all those seething excitations and hitches them to the plow.

318 I set out to bring down stars from the sky and then for fear of ridicule, I stop and pick little flowers of eloquence. Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac

321 "One of the special circles of writer-block hell is the one in which you refuse to let your character off their leashes, refuse to let them grown in their own clamorous and o organic way. "

323 "Where there's big light there's big shadow.

324 While delivering the truth has its risks, so does not delivering it"

354 Decentralizing of self, extending of awareness behind our own borders, into the spaces we share with others. (bottom up)

Buber I-it and I-thou relationships.

355 Language evolved as a substitute for the grooming behavior of our primate ancestors?

359 Silence

365 Iwannabefamous Fame-- the commodification of passion

379 Fame tends to encourage the false self and discourage the true. It can literally be self-destructive

380 Fame seeking is the materialistic urge applied to popularity, and like any materialistic urge, it's a focus on and a compulsion toward getting an external fix."

what's the opposite of materialism?

The Passion is in the Risk

390 Camus says a rebel is anyone who says no". a no that is also yes, a yes that is loyalty to ourselves.


"risk taking is just the name we give to the work of moving from where we are to where we want to be, the mechanic of making dreams come true even while they make us tremble."

"it's only by taking risks that whatever passion is in us truly comes alive."

"through the actor taking risks-- making decision, putting ourselves on the line-- we begin to discover our passions and bring them to fruition. If we have a passion for something but we're not acting on it, it's in a state of suspended animation. It's only potential energy, not kinetic energy. It's lifeless. it's only when we actually move toward it that it awakens. " The risk itself is the bugle at sunrise, the piper at the gates of dawn.

392 Adventure

397 Mach 1 experience

Edge Walking

407 Speed art vs quality art

TIger in a cage 423 reframing

408, 420, 421, 422 freelance writing, life, follow-up, query letters, rejection,

428, 432 Thrill seeking, DRD4 wilder gene ADHD, psychopaths

Exploration, biting the apple

3433 Break one rule a day

434 Google's 20% policy

435 Torah: no rebelling against your parents or trying God's patience

MLK quote

438 Jerry Wennstrom's thrown away paintings and possessions

439 living death

440 Annie Dillard's reading moth

441 Duende Dying by staying or dying and being reborn by leaving

444 yesses that are really saying no to yourself

best moments of our lives

448 Entrance cues

451 Practicing death, mortality meditation

453 Bigger picture focus

454 cemetery walk

457 Dead Philip

460 year to live workshops

461 ruin wandering

465 one hundred billion dead, dawkins visualization experiment

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

Check out his platform at

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity  

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)

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