Rumored to be the Earthly alter ego and online pen name of An Alien With Extraordinary Ability (US immigration forms certainly deem it seem so), Amir Ahmad Nasr is an artist, author, former journalist and digital media entrepreneur. He is the host and executive producer of the Business Of Storytelling Series – a new 5-season audio documentary and narrative podcast series exploring the future of creative work and truthful expression in the age of AI, click-bait and “fake news.”
Since 2013, after the release of his first book, his work gained a small but influential readership and audience that includes Hollywood personalities, former White House officials, Ivy League academics, Silicon Valley technologists and celebrated journalists. Ken Wilber, the philosopher of consciousness featured in The Matrix Trilogy set, described the debut memoir as “an important and significant book, especially at this time in our history.” Now, in his new podcast series, exploring dystopian cyberpunk visions of the future, (and depending on who you ask, “the coming robot apocalypse that will claim over 800 million jobs in the next 12 years”) Amir returns with a new body of work influenced by his experience of exile and asylum in Canada, post travel ban America. At its heart, it is a story and series about how to overcome the trials and tribulations of reinvention in a time of uncertainty and chaotic change. Produced in the constructive spirit of solution-journalism.
Amir has shared the stage with Nobel Peace Laureates and former presidents, and spoken at events in North America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as at YPO, Afest, Google, Cato Institute and the Oslo Freedom Forum, among others. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Esquire and dozens of media outlets in over 13 languages, as well as in the Emmy-nominated documentary film Live Your Quest.
He is the founder and creative director of Assertive & Company, and a nocturnal artist, audiophile, musician and Japanese anime junkie by night. He is currently at work on a forthcoming graphic novel and trilogy of visual concept albums, set in a fictionalized world on a distant planet called The Nubiana. Valued advisors thus far have included Juno and Grammy award winning producers as well as Emmy and Academy award winning filmmakers, whose encouragement has been instrumental. A proud Kosmopolitan, on most months, he can be found together with his wife somewhere in Vancouver, Canada – British Columbia, “The Best Place on Earth.”
In the beginning of this conversation you can hear my inadequacies of being able to navigate some of the more sensitive areas in the culture of Arab men and women. Amir was gracious in his ability to pull me back from going down a potential land mine.
Show Notes – the areas we covered in our conversation
Northern Sudan, Nubian Culture – lived in 6 countries
Never ever seen a man from his culture cry unless at a funeral
How do cultures repress certain things but are expressive about other things?
God forbid you cry at age thirteen
An addiction to busyness as an antidote to emotion
As long as people are happy with the roles assigned to them the status quo is good but now when the roles are breaking down things are becoming more difficult
Conversations like this (that we are having on this podcast) can be fraught with cultural fault lines that can create tectonic earthquakes in today’s social media
Which culture is my own?
Nubian Arab, raised Muslim grew up in a liberal ultra secular environment
Who am I?
Can we look at happiness and fulfilment in a more rational humanistic way?
Do we have individual autonomy to live the life we want?
Its segregation if it is completely enforced
What does it feel like to be stateless
I can stop constantly negotiating with my identity
If I can figure how to be better in my relationships with the women close to me (wife, sister etc)
How did you become more comfortable with vulnerability?
I didn’t make space to feel
Jay Z going from Mr Gangster Rap to doing therapy, we need more love, kindness and compassion (NY times article)
We need a new paradigm of what it means to be healthy and happy because playing the tough man is not working
Coddling of young boys – things can go the other way. (see Jonathan Haidt the Coddling of the American Mind.)
We don’t really know what they boundaries are, what the rules are.
We need to create critical thinking spaces where good honest discussion can happen in good faith
Prioritize learning above ego or identity or wanting to be right
Digital divices are designed to hook us and make us more impulse communicators
A lot of this seems to come down to confrontation
Distinction between destructive confrontation vs constructive confrontation
Key to have more conversations about how to have constructive confrontation
I belong to no one, no particular culture, religion
I belong to the whole world
Cyber punk like Altered Carbon
I love humanity