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Editor's note: How scientists, writers and artists craft their work

The centrepiece of this week’s issue is a conversation between Siddhartha Mukherjee and Pranay Lal, as they discuss life, science, writing and more

Pranay Lal and (right) Siddhartha Mukherjee

By Shalini Umachandran

LAST PUBLISHED 21.01.2023  |  07:30 AM IST

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The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth. And that, I take it, is the aim of literature, whether biography or history or fiction; it seems to me, then, that there can be no separate literature of science.

The words of American conservationist and poet Rachel Carson capture the spirit that drives the work of the two scientist-authors, Siddhartha Mukherjee and Pranay Lal, who form the centrepiece of this week’s issue of Lounge. The two discuss life, science, writing and more, their conversation reminding us that our history runs far longer than we realise—not just a few centuries to fuel debates about who conquered whom. 

Also read: Siddhartha Mukherjee: Cell biology is like a thousand flowers blooming

The pandemic has shown us, more acutely than anything else, the interrelatedness of forces of which we understand so little. It’s why anti-science, which really is part of the larger epidemic of misinformation we live with, dominated much of their conversation, as did the future of vaccines. Their scientifically sound and imaginatively creative voices prompt us to ask better questions about where we are headed.

Continuing with the theme of literature that tells us about process and creation, we review Quentin Tarantino’s Cinema Speculation, part memoir, part work of film criticism, as well as Bob Dylan’s The Philosophy Of Modern Song, in which he “turns his songs inside-out, trying to get a measure of their power and their hold over him".

We have done walkthroughs that provide a sense of the intent and process behind artists’ creations—one of the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and another of the soon-to-be-opened showcase of designer Bhanu Athaiya’s repertoire. Athaiya, who won an Academy Award for her costumes for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, worked in Bollywood when fashion was seen in black and white and went on to dress some of the industry’s biggest stars of today in a career spanning six decades. Her creativity, as the exhibition shows, is the kind that forms the backdrop for more artistry.

And, as always, we have many excellent recommendations on what to do, buy, watch and read this weekend.

Write to the Lounge editor at shalini.umachandran@htlive.com


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