By Kate Gavino
Photo courtesy the author

Photo courtesy the author

How, in this world that you describe, in which our brains and brain chemistry control our mood and our personalities, and in a world in which you don't find a spiritual element, how do you find consolation in life?

I in no sense downplay the importance of given experience in various sorts. For me, for example, music is tremendously important; music transports me. I regard Mozart's music as coming from heaven. That is only a way of speaking, but I can't help speaking that way. I find my joys in nature and in human art and culture. And sometimes in science. There's a lovely book by a great physicist called The Joy of Insight, and he describes epiphanies and ecstasies and feelings of revelation quite as intense as any religious person. But I personally have no taste for immortality. I think it would be a disaster for the species if any prominent way of averting death was found. I'd like a few more years of relative health to enjoy life and write and I will be happy to bill it in.