William Poundstone is a bestselling author and the blogger behind “Los Angeles County Museum on Fire.” Before moderating a Zócalo/Getty “Open Art” panel discussion entitled “What Did Robert Mapplethorpe Teach Us?” he talked in the Zócalo green room about Werner Heisenberg, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and how the internet has made us stupid.
Q: Your blog, “Los Angeles County Museum on Fire,” is named for an Ed Ruscha painting, which is seen as a rejection of museums. What word or phrase best describes your take on museums?
Q: What camera do you use to take pictures?
A: Mostly my iPhone 6.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I’m reading several things: The Inman Diaries about Arthur Crew Inman. He was this wealthy hypochondriac who believed he was allergic to light. He would put ads in the newspaper and hire people to come in and talk to him. I’m also reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer of the first time.
Q: What is hanging on the walls in your living room?
A: I’ve got a Lari Pittman print. That’s basically it at the moment.
Q: You studied physics at MIT. What physicist, living or dead, do you most admire?
A: Werner Heisenberg.
Q: What would your friends be surprised to learn about you?
A: Some of them are surprised that I studied physics. Other than that, I suppose that I’m the least picky eater I know.
Q: What’s your guilty TV-watching pleasure?
A: I have no guilt whatsoever about watching TV.
Q: If you could be any animal, what animal would you like to be?
A: Are you counting humans? Humans are animals.
Q: You’re the author of 14 books. What’s your next project?
A: I’m working on a book on how the internet has made us stupid. It’s called Head in the Cloud. More seriously, it deals with the issue of whether it’s even important anymore to know stuff, when it’s all online.
Q: What superpower would you most like to have?
A: To make sure the right people get elected in our national election. That certainly would qualify as a superpower, and one worth having.
*Photo by Aaron Salcido.