Arthur Zajonc: A Twitterscript

Friday, June 25, 2010 - 11:43 am

Arthur Zajonc: A Twitterscript

Arthur Zajonc and His Holiness the Dalai Lama“ReTweets By Others,” “ReTweets by You,” “Your Tweets, Retweeted” — try saying it ten times in a row! After live-tweeting (@softweets) our interview with Arthur Zajonc, we wondered what you found interesting enough to retweet. The top vote-getter:

Zajonc – If science is born from epiphanies, then reflection and contemplation (from meditation) is useful as a mode of inquiry

And here’s the complete Twitter transcript:

  1. About to listen to an interview between Krista and Arthur Zajonc ( quantum physics, mindfulness, science…
  2. Zajonc – dad’s Polish family illiterate, mom’s Southern family very literate… both have influenced me
  3. Zajonc – Went into college excited that science would be able to answer the Truth with a capital T
  4. Zajonc – So I decided to flunk out! A bit dangerous during Vietnamese war era..if not in school then you’d have to join the army
  5. Zajonc – Before he flunked out, a professor got him interested in ways of thinking, meditation & introducing him to Goethe
  6. Zajonc- ppl think you calculate your way towards a discovery but..insight comes in a flash-Newton seeing apple fall & saying same as moon
  7. Zajonc – then after the insight you begin the calculations to see if that’s true. Goethe was interested in the first part
  8. Zajonc-one can have that epiphanal moment in science, art, AND faith..this is common ground between these areas-sourced from common well
  9. A brief web exhibit highlighting Newton and Goethe’s color theories:
  10. Zajonc-theory of relativity made us realize even most basic thing-size-is not absolute and is based on relative to other things
  11. Zajonc-Even in classical physics observer effects experience, just like trying to see if a baby is can try tiptoing
  12. Zajonc-Difference is in classical you can reduce your impact on experiment, but in quantum it’s irreducibly participatory
  13. Wikipedia’s brief overview of this observer effect:
  14. FYI: Zajonc blogs about meditation and mindfulness for @PsychToday at
  15. Zajonc – He has been a meditator for a long time. Thought he was alone but then found 35 courses in his college that including meditation
  16. Zajonc – Contemplative traditions very effective in cultivating attention which is the best thing we have to offer world, esp in education
  17. Zajonc-Contemplative tradition separated from spirituality has HUGE place in education for attention reasons and as a way of reasoning
  18. Zajonc-If science is born from epiphanies, then reflection and contemplation (from meditation) is useful as a mode of inquiry
  19. Ricard is example of highly trained scientist who went to live with Dalai Lama & bridges both side
  20. Zajonc-teachers can do a competent job of posing technical theories with questions-what it means to know, exist, etc
  21. Zajonc-Discovered Steiner and his path of inquiry. Known now for his Waldorf School
  22. Zajonc – the paradox of light is that it makes everything visible and yet it itself is invisible
  23. Zajonc-For Steiner that wasn’t a metaphor, but pointed to something spiritual
  24. Behind the glass we hear Zajonc’s squeaky chair. Technical director Chris will be able to clean some-not all-of it in post-production
  25. Zajonc says that the word technology comes from the word “techne” which means “art.”
  26. Zajonc says the clarity that comes from a reflective life brings clarity… you see things you didn’t see before…a responsibility/burden
  27. Zajonc says the clarity that comes from a reflective life brings clarity… you see things you didn’t see before…a responsibility/burden
  28. Zajonc was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a year ago. KT asks how his contemplative practice has overlapped with this.
  29. Zajonc has had family members with Parkinsons. He’s seen its progression in others. “learn to hold your life even more consciously.”
  30. Zajonc quotes Mary Oliver – “What are you going to do with this one wild precious life?”
  31. Zajonc speaks about his friends-not just how he’s holding his Parkinsons but how they hold it too.
  32. When Zajonc sleeps, his Parkinson’s tremors disappear.
  33. Zajonc: “The question I pose to myself is it possible to be alive…and have such calm…that one can lead a life…”
  34. Zajonc: “…expression of that quality of meditative quiescence…alert and at rest. Bringing sleeping life into day life.”
  35. KT’s last question is about mystery and Zajonc’s take on it.
  36. Zajonc says that mind/body/spirit – each requires cultivation. “Bring all of who we are to what the world is.”
  37. Zajonc ends w/favorite William James quote 1909. “Let empiricism once become associated with religion…”

Share Post


is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as chief content officer and executive editor. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

Share Your Reflection