I’m more than a little surprised to find myself in this box: my idea of NEWS is something that happened in 1848, and I think there are better things to advertise and take notice of than my tiny doings or scribbles.
But now that DDB Singapore has brought me into the 20th century – with every sign of coaxing me into the 21st – I’m happy to welcome anyone who’s interested to this space, where we may now and then post something that’s not easily found elsewhere, a video clip from our recent journeys or something that might be of interest to anyone who’s traveled as far as this unexpected corner.
Thank you for your time and attention, and if you’re irritated by something here, please blame the brilliant designers of these pages. Without them, I’d still be in some black hole!
VIEW BY CATEGORY
THE NEWS ARCHIVES
“Chi ha dimenticato vuole transcinarci in un mondo di muri”–An interview with La Repubblica on the 75th anniversary of the dropping of a bomb on Hiroshima—August 6, 2020
“The Best Reason to Go to College”—an Op-Ed on the beginning of the new school year, for The New York Times, September 7, 2020
“The Power of the Everyday”–an introduction to In Search of Elsewhere, a fresh collection of works by the photographer Steve McCurry, September 2020.
“The Best Conversations of my Life”–a long essay on the sharing and receiving of books, in the anthology, The Gifts of Reading, September 2020 (excerpted in The Australian).
“A City Built on Books”–a long essay on the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, for The Los Angeles Times, October 11, 2020
“Making a Life, Not Just a Living:–an Op-Ed for The Times of India on the coronavirus season, October 16, 2020
“The Playboy Philosopher”–a review of Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights, in Air Mail, October 24, 2020
“Spirituality, Wisdom and What Sustains us”—an interview with Patheos, October 29, 2020.
“Empathy”—a discussion on an essential virtue with Pravrika Vrajaprana, Vedanta nun, on “Life Examined” on KCRW-FM radio, October 31, 2020.
“The Holding Pattern”—an essay on being a traveler in a world without travel, Conde Nast Traveler, November 2020
“Solitude”—a brief, musical essay for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and its current season of virtual concerts, SOUND/STAGE, November 6, 2020
“All I have is this moment right now, and I need to do deepest justice to it”—the first part of a long interview with The Times of India, run on the Op-Ed page, November 9, 2020
“In Praise of Jan Morris”—a short essay remembering a mighty writer, The Guardian, November 23, 2020
“From Babbling to Listening”—an interview for the Op-Ed page of The Times of India, December 12, 2020
A tiny piece on Antarctica, for the annual collection of Travel Writers’ Discoveries of the year—Financial Times, December 12, 2020
“Absent Foreigners, Kyoto Carries On”—a short piece on Kyoto in November, mid-pandemic, for The Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2020.
“Still Life”—a short essay on traveling around my neighborhood, for Kyoto Journal, Issue 99, December 2020.
“Sacred Place”—an essay on the work of photographer Balarama Heller, in Aperture, Winter 2020.
A remembrance of writer and friend Barry Lopez, Orion, January 11, 2021.
‘The Wonders Close to Home”–a long essay on the joys of traveling close to home, for Westways, January 2020.
“Kyoto”–a love-letter to Japan’s ancient capital, for Vanity Fair (U.K.) March 2021.
“Beneath Us, Beyond Us, Inside Us”—a long introductory essay to the book Masks, by National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier, October 2019
“The Shock of the Old”—an essay on the Naoshima project for the Benesse Art Site Naoshima newsletter, October 2019
“Relative Values”–an essay on Japan and its different relation to reality, for the Times Literary Supplement, November 22, 2019.
“The Newest New, The Oldest Old”—an essay on Koyasan and Koshien, Silver Kris, December 2019
“The Calm Before the Storm”—a letter from Hong Kong in Air Mail, December 7, 2019
“It’s Almost 2020. Have We Really Gotten Wiser?”—an Op-Ed piece for The New York Times, December 23, 2019
“The Dead Prime Ministers’ Society”—an essay on Eton in Air Mail, January 4, 2020
“How to be Cool and Warm At Once”—a tribute to the late Sonny Mehta, for Air Mail January 11, 2020
“The Light All Around Us”–a short essay on the photographic work of Robert Adams—Aperture, February 2020
An interview on the Virus moment for the Sunday Times of India, April 5, 2020– Read here
An interview with Mint, April 15, 2020– Read here
“Joyful participation in a world of sorrow”–A conversation with Cheryl Strayed for the Sugar Calling podcast hosted by The New York Times, April 15, 2020
“Contemplation in isolation”—A conversation with Jonathan Bastian on the pilot episode of “Foxhole” on KCRW radio station, April 25, 2020
“On Returning”–An essay on how and why travel is more important than ever, in Conde Nast Traveler, May/June 2020
“How a stopover at Tokyo Airport changed my life:”—an essay for The Guardian, May 16, 2020
“We cannot function without travel—an Op-Ed for the Globe & Mail, May 30, 2020
“Pico Iyer on the secret of immersive travel”—an essay for BBC.com, June 12, 2020
“The Origin of Paradise”—an essay on Iran for Bloomberg Business Week, June 29, 2020
For an unusually rich, searching and fresh interview, please read “A Friend Afar,” by the exceptional Austrian writer and journalist, Simon Schreyer: – Read here
“Japan still inhabits its own ancestral universe”–An essay on Japan for TIME magazine, April 22, 2019
“With New Emperor, Japan Enters the Era of `Joyful Harmony’ “—An Op-Ed on the ascent of a new Emperor in Japan, World Post, Berggruen Institute—April 26, 2019
“The beautiful art-filled Japanese islands left behind by the modern world”—An essay on Naoshima and Teshima for the Daily Telegraph, April 28, 2019
“Does California’s commitment to happiness end up leaving us bereft”—An Op-Ed piece on California and Japan for the Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2019
“The Best of Who We Are”–A long essay on the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his 84th birthday for Lion’s Roar, July 2019
Introduction to “Pyongyang: Model City”—The preface to a book about the architecture of North Korea’s showpiece capital, published by Thames & Hudson in London, July 2019
This Could be Home—a short book-length essay on Raffles Hotel and Singapore for Epigram Books in Singapore and London, July 2019. Excerpted in Air-Mail, August 3, 2019.
“What Ping-Pong taught me about life”—the opening talk at the second TED Summit, on July 21, 2019, in Edinburgh, posted on TED.com on August 23, 2019.
A Beginner’s Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations: a new book from Alfred A. Knopf in New York and Toronto, Bloomsbury in London and Penguin India in New Delhi, September 2019
“How To Travel”—a short film made for CNN’s Great Big Story series, airing on September 15, 2019.
Inventory—an interview with the Financial Times magazine, September 6, 2019
“The Beauty of the Ordinary”—an Op-Ed essay in The New York Times on the coming of autumn, September 22, 2019
“Rituals of the Fast-Moving World”—a long essay on rituals in the age of cross-planetary movement, for En Route, October 2019
“Archaeology of the Future”–an essay on Hiroshi Sugimoto for the White Light Festival in New York, October 2019
“Stillness”—a long interview in the magazine Shawati, October 2019.
“A Land Apart”—a short essay on why Japan is the Destination of 2019, in Travel & Leisure, December 2018.
“Home, Sweet, Temporary Home”—an essay on Tenzing Dakpa’s series of photographs, “The Hotel,” for Aperture magazine, Winter 2018.
“The Reel World”—a short essay on seeing movies around the world for Airbnb Magazine, January 2019.
“In the Realm of the Gods”—an essay on traveling around Greece for the New York Times T Magazine, April 2019
“The Restless, Furious, Quietly Abiding Friend of us All”—an essay on my longtime, unmet friend, Thomas Merton, for the book, What I am Living For, a collection of essays on Merton.
“Japan’s Enchanted Islands”—an account of a trip around Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima, for WSJ, the Wall Street Journal Magazine, May 5, 2018
“The Future of Travel,”–a short essay in a special anniversary issue on The Future, for The Walrus, June 2018.
“A Full Life in the Emptiness,”–an essay on a trip around Namibia for The Australian, June 16 2018
–“Past Perfect,” an essay on what makes Japan distinctive for Airbnbmag Summer 2018
An interview with Sam Benjamin at Esalen, July 20, 2018, to be found on the Voices of Esalen podcast– https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pico-iyer-on-esalen-big-sur-the-dalai-lama-and-global-soul/id1084621605?i=1000417047152&mt=2
“The Humanity We Can’t Relinquish”–an Opinion piece on what makes us human, for The New York Times, August 12, 2018.
“Why We Must See the World for Ourselves”–an Opinion piece on travel in the age of the Internet, for The Globe & Mail, August 12, 2018.
“Troubled Waters”-a review of Richard Lloyd Parry’s Ghosts of the Tsunami, for the New York Times Book Review, December 31, 2017.
“The River”-a short essay on the meaning of change, for the great young British magazine Satori, December 2017
“Why I’m an Optimist”-an essay for Elle India, January 2018.
“Damaraland, Namibia-Where `Each Day Lasts 100 Hours’ “-The Observer, January 20, 2018
“The Kiss”-a short piece about Damascus in the anthology, The Kiss, published by W.W. Norton February 14, 2018.
“The Hero: Depths and Surfaces”-an essay on Satyajit Ray’s film Nayak, written for the Criterion Collection DVD released on February 20, 2018, and appearing (in very different form) in NYR Daily, the blog of The New York Review of Books, as “Satyajit Ray’s Hero Revisited” on February 27, 2018
“Under Mongolian Skies”-an essay on Mongolia, for WSJ, the magazine of the Wall Street Journal, March 2018.
“The Mysterious Man who Gave me Japan”—a short essay on a friend I met in Kyoto for the “Chance Encounter” section of BBC Travel—April 19, 2017
“Journey into Terror”—an essay on a trip to Yemen, for the debut issue of Anastomas, Chapman University’s interdisciplinary journal—April 2017
“Nymphets in the New Japan”—a long essay on the novels of Junichiro Tanizaki, New York Review of Books, June 8, 2017.
“As the Spirits Move You”—an essay on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage course in Japan and the holy shrines at Ise in Travel & Leisure, June 2017.
“Destination Nowhere”—a short essay on the beauty of missing one’s flight, in National Geographic Traveler, June/July 2017.
A chat on the phone with Paul Holdengraber, director of New York Public Library Live, on LitHub, posted July 13, 2017
A podcast with Christopher Lydon of Radio Open Source, celebrating Thoreau’s 200th birthday—posted July 16, 2017
An introduction to the record AWAKENING BEYOND, released in August 2017.
“Killers in Saffron Robes”—an essay on Barbet Schroeder’s new film The Venerable W. for Film Watch, the Telluride Film Festival paper, September 1, 2017.
“Why There’s More to Travel than your Instagram Feed”—A long answer to a short question—“How has travel changed in the past 30 years?”—posted on cntraveler.com, September 6, 2017.
“My Latest Passage to India”—an essay describing a virtual journey around India, accompanied by Ingrid Schaffner, Curator of Carnegie International 2018, and Doryun Chang, Chief Curator of the coming Hong Kong Museum M+, for the Carnegie International 2018 website, and the catalogue that appears next year, posted September 2017
“Out of the Cell”—an essay on the limits of the Mind, for granta.com, posted September 18, 2017.
“The Beauty of What We’ll Never Know” —a talk for ted..com (originally delivered as the closing talk at the TED Summit in Banff, June 30, 2016), posted October 11, 2016
“How the Light Goes Out”—an essay on Leonard Cohen’s new album, “You Want it Darker,” on Walrus.com, October 20, 2016, updated and revised in The Walrus magazine, January/February 2017 issue.
“Cohen lived in the thick of it”—a short tribute to Cohen the man that appeared in Canada an hour or two after his death was announced—The Globe & Mail, November 11, 2016.
“Inside Fidel Castro’s Cuba and his Legacy”—an essay on Castro’s Cuba, as seen over 26 years on the island—Time.com, November 26, 2016
An interview on the meaning of home in a post-Trump world, Macleans.com December 9, 2016.
“The Country Full of Contradictions”—an interview on Cuba for BBC Travel, December 19, 2016.
“The Talk That Changed My Life”—an essay on Brazilian C.E.O. Ricardo Semler’s TED Talk—ted.com December 29, 2016.
“What Do we Know?”—an essay on the limits of knowledge and the year just past —The New York Times, January 1, 2017
“The remote Alaskan town that’s big in Japan”—an essay on the Japanese fascination with the Northern Lights—Financial Times, March 4-5, 2017
“Storms threaten their monastic way of life”—an Op-Ed piece on rains and monks in the Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2017
Guest Editor, debut issue of the new magazine, Satori, launched March 16, 2017.
An essay on Bucket-Lists, Travel & Leisure, April 207
“Yesterday”—a piece on The Beatles and their famous ballad in the anthology, In Their Lives, published May 23, 2017, and excerpted in the special Met Issue of Vogue, May 2017.
“A Valentine Day’s treat from Japan”—a short essay on how to savor the romantic’s holiday on a single short street in Kyoto, in Sweet, February 14, 2016.
A long essay on a new biography of film-maker Terrence Malick—The Australian, May 28, 2016.
“The Great Wide Open”—a travel-essay on a recent trip to Mongolia, in Travel & Leisure, June 2016.
“The Man Who Told Futures”—a reminiscence of a moment in Kathmandu, 1985, in Lion’s Roar, October 2016, excerpted from a slightly different essay to appear in The Lonely Planet Anthology in November 2016.
“Empty Cities”—a meditation on Las Vegas and Pyongyang, NYR Daily, the New York Review of Books blog, August 13, 2015.
“History Has no Place’”—a mistitled essay on Japan’s unsentimental taking care of sentiment—New York Times T Magazine, August 23, 2015.
“The Disappearance of Self in Japan”—an essay for the Berggruen Institute of Philosophy and Culture—Huffnington (World) Post, October 13, 2015.
“From Silence, Clarity”—a brief essay on the New Camaldoli Hermitage, appearing in Coast (The Orange Country Register magazine), October 25, 2015 and in The Orange County Register itself on December 20, 2015.
“The Unreal World”—an essay on authenticity in travel, New York Times T Magazine, November 15, 2015
Ikiru Many Autumns Later—an essay for Criterion DVD’s reissue of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru on November 23, 2015, which appeared, under a different title, on NYR Daily, the New York Review of Books blog, on December 30, 2015.