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Esperanza Spalding

Singer, Songwriter and Jazz Bassist

Esperanza Spalding: Where does the creative spark come from? You know, it can be the residue of working consistently towards something you haven't been struck by yet. You may be a poet that doesn't feel inspired. But by going through the motions, so to speak, of the tools of your craft, this other -- like "dark matter" -- is generated that starts to take on a density and a form and a reality of its own. Then there's the type of creative spark that is literally just a spark in the dark, and you don't know what caused it and you go searching for it. And the process of searching for it usually reveals a piece or a project or an idea. I think of it like excavating ruins or fossils. And I think even that can be intuitive. Like, what if we dug here, or you can do the research to discover, "Oh, if I dig here, there's going to be something." I know in my case -- this feels really silly to talk about, because it's so vast and nebulous and sort of globular at times. The feeling of an idea hitting you? It's really hard to grab the tail of a cloud, and like,"It looks like this!" That being said, a title will come -- and then it's like a chain reaction, like buh-da-da-da!. And then a whole song develops. Like a slip of the tongue, the other day. We were joking about hardened criminals and we said "hardened subliminals." And then we kept spinning off -- I kept -- Lee and me and all the ones inside my head kept spinning off of what that could mean. Hardened subliminals. What would that mean? Then it starts to bring up this imagery of like the prison of your mind, where these subliminals that you haven't even been realizing were in there -- you don't even know why they're in there in the first place, or who sent them there, or where they came from. It's like they're in there so long they just get hardened and then they can't change. And you don't know where to send them. Anyways. And then that -- it just can go on forever. But many times a little thing over there turns on a whole world, kind of. It's like you didn't know that there was a switch that was connected to all this, and now it all starts to come alive and you just want to tell people what you saw in that toy store.
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Esperanza Spalding

Singer, Songwriter and Jazz Bassist

It's like an editor, you know. You don't just hand out the 16 or, let's say -- I don't know, it's way more -- 300 hours of footage. You edit it, and you re-edit it and you re-edit it, and you check with your editor and you check with other viewers to see how your original idea is being translated. And I think that can be a really scary process for artists, because it's like birthing this thing that nobody knew existed in the first place. So, how can you tell me if it's not good enough? But there's also this inner viewer, this inner more objective viewer that, if we're willing to give it a voice, helps us become better editors and better refiners. And that, to me, is part of follow-through. Part of follow-through is taking it as far as you can take it and saying, "Ooh. Is that what it wants to be?" and sometimes it's yes. Sometimes it's no. Knowing the difference, and being willing to do the next stage of work, the next level of work. And it's really annoying, but it's the -- I feel like -- the most rewarding part of being an "artist." It's like nobody can tell you it's done or it's over. It's never over. The process is never over. Art is never over. And you're never over, because through your art you're continually reinventing yourself and regenerating yourself. I mean, "What is an idea? What is the creative spark?" Well, either you can take the approach that it's something out there in the universe that we capture, or it comes from the residue of what we are and our experiences. Either way, it's a piece of yourself. So we get this luxury of having permission to constantly refine and redefine ourselves, which is a luxury that actually everybody's afforded, but I think most people don't give themselves room to do that, you know.
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Esperanza Spalding

Singer, Songwriter and Jazz Bassist

I had this idea to bring musicians who are important to me, and put them in this album that was sort of like -- the mission was to get the songs played on the radio so people would be, whether they knew it or not, hearing Joe Lovano and hearing Jack DeJohnette. And I feel like their spirit is translated through the vibrations of what they play. I thought that would be so cool if like some little kid in Arkansas who had never heard of jazz before hears this song that's kind of grooving, and then they end up hearing Joe Lovano. That was like a little story that played out in my head. I thought it would be cool if it could happen. And I thought, "Well, maybe with the Grammy now, people will give it more opportunity." But I want to say that opportunity is wonderful, and doesn't necessarily make better art. So when opportunity and exposure align with great art, that's awesome. And sometimes great art ends up happening under the radar for decades. And it's just as crucial. It has to be in the planet. It has to be in the planet. It's not like -- "because one day it will be known." You never know where that art is going to arrive, and who's going to touch it and who needs it. You just never freaking know.
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Thomas Starzl

Father of Modern Transplantation

Thomas Starzl: Transplantation overall was a field that grew slowly at first, but then achieved monumental stature, actually changed the philosophy by which medicine is practiced, without knowing what was being accomplished. What were the mechanisms? What is the explanation? What finally brought some peace of mind, with the insight of knowledge, that transplantation actually could be -- and frequently was -- a curative operation. That that downhill slope of a graft being under constant attack and slowly, slowly losing ground until you were going to get a phone call. When it was finally discovered what the mechanisms were -- and they all surrounded the chimerism discoveries -- you realized that that was not an inevitable downhill slope. That transplantation was inherently a curative procedure that you could do on a child, like my grandson or a baby, and expect the child to grow up and go to college and have their own children. And that happened actually. Many of the transplant patients have had children who have had children. That early group of kidney patients that I did in 1962 and 1963, a group of 45 or 46, there are some still -- nine or ten of those patients -- still going with that original graft. That means that they're approaching 50 years now. In fact, they're in their 48th or 49th year right now. Those are the longest. Not a single case, but they are the longest patients in the world. And many of them have gotten off of (immunosuppressant) drugs. That is another unique observation. The longest surviving liver recipient in the world is in her 41st or 42nd year. And there are many following behind, you know. Like 35 to 40 years.
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Thomas Starzl

Father of Modern Transplantation

In 1992 we set out to try to find out what the hell was going on. What were in fact the mechanisms by which it had been possible to successfully transplant organs and have them stick? Not only stay functioning, but to be able in the long run to get off drugs, in some cases. So that question was what drove the search for chimerism. And we found it in every surviving patient. Now if you had made the observation that we did in 1992, in isolation, it would have been dismissed as an artifact, perhaps even as an error, or as some kind of an epiphenomenon. You know, nothing. But armed with this memory bank of nearly a half century, the minute we found tumors, we found the chimeric cells. I was able to put every damn thing together that had been a mystery before, because transplantation in the conventional way that immunologists were viewing it was not only unsound, it was totally inexplicable. And the observations that were being made in the clinic about rejection, its reversal, and all the various complications and phenomenon, never could be explained. But suddenly with that discovery, you take all those little pieces, and just like magic, as if a magnet had pulled them together in exactly the right position, filled the whole picture out. And that piece of magic took place after I wrote The Puzzle People. It's one of the later printings, which you may not have, has the story, briefly summarized in four or five pages. I'll get that for you if you don't have it.
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Martha Stewart

Multi-Media Lifestyle Entrepreneur

Martha Stewart: I have a lot of energy. I have a great desire to absorb information. I'm not a sponge exactly, but I find that something I look at -- just walking around Williamsburg, for example -- is a great opportunity for ideas. I've been here before, I've seen things before, but now my eye gets keener and keener. So I can pick up little things: just the pattern of a brick walk, or the way they've attached a light to a house.
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