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Interview With "The Crooked Timber Of Democracy In Israel" Author And Haaretz Columnist Dahlia Scheindlin; Interview With "In Restless Dreams: The Music Of Paul Simon" Director Alex Gibney; Interview With Singer Paul Simon; Interview With "Look Again" Co-Author Cass Sunstein. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The Netanyahu coalition no longer fits the needs of Israel after October 7th.


GOLODRYGA: Israel's leadership faces criticism from abroad and protests at home. Political analyst Dahlia Scheindlin joins me to discuss.

Then --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to go and follow the music, but you never know what you're going to find along the way.


GOLODRYGA: -- "The music of Paul Simon," a new documentary charts the career of the acclaimed singer-songwriter all the way up to his latest

album "Seven Psalms." Christiane speaks to the film's director Alex Gibney and the man himself.

Plus --


CASS SUNSTEIN, CO-AUTHOR, "LOOK AGAIN": It's really important for us to be able to see things with brightness and light.


GOLODRYGA: -- "Look Again: The Power of Noticing What Was Always There." Author Cass Sunstein tells Walter Isaacson about his new book exploring how

gratitude can make us happier.

Welcome to the program everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Israel's government is facing growing calls for change on several fronts. In the U S., President Biden has reacted to a call for a change in the

Israeli government made by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, America's highest-ranking Jewish elected official. Take a listen.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: At this critical juncture, I believe a new election is the only way to allow for a healthy

and open decision-making process about the future of Israel. At a time when so many Israelis have lost their confidence in the vision and direction of

their government.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: He made a good speech, and I think he expressed a serious concern, shared not only by him but by many Americans.


GOLODRYGA: Meantime in Tel Aviv today, relatives of hostages gathered outside military headquarters. As Israel considers the latest Hamas

response to a hostage release deal. The protesters called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to "make a decision" that will save our beloved ones.

Meanwhile, the first batch of humanitarian aid by sea has reached Gaza, where UNICEF today reported a doubling in acute malnutrition rates among

children in the north of the enclave within one month.

My first guest tonight reports that most Israelis want early elections. Dahlia Scheindlin is a political analyst and author of "The Crooked Timber

of Democracy in Israel: Promise Unfulfilled," A Hard look at the challenges to and flaws in Israeli Democracy. And she joins me now from Tel Aviv.

Dahlia, thanks so much for joining us. Let me first get you to respond to the very blunt message from the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

yesterday, not some fringe leftist, progressive member of the Democratic caucus, but a stalwart supporter of the State of Israel and has been so

since October 7th, nonetheless coming out yesterday on the Senate floor calling for an early election in Israel.

And the response from the Republicans has been that this is not the time nor the place for American politicians to be intervening or speaking out

against another democracy, especially a close ally. I'm just curious how this has all fallen in Israel, what the response has been there.


there is a high expectation that the Israeli public will, you know, be devastated by this and somehow rise up. And I think that's a mistake. The

question is how it's landing with the political elites, because the Israeli public is too busy, for example, demonstrating on behalf of the hostages.

And the political elites have no illusions about who Chuck Schumer is. He's not only a stalwart ally of Israel since October 7th, he's been a stalwart

ally of Israel for decades. He's really a fixture in the pro-Israel community, especially among Democrats. And I think that there is concern

about it.

And he also -- you know, Schumer used language that was very strong. And it wasn't just about that one particular aspect of calling for elections, he

was saying American Jews -- he represents American Jews in terms of his critique of where Israel's going. He said the Israeli government is -- has

bigots in it. He said Israel was at risk of becoming a pariah state. He supported a two-state solution.


I mean, these are things that are really, you know, unmistakably tough language, and they are strong signals to the Israel political elite.

Now, I think that we wouldn't necessarily have known if that was going to have an incredible impact, but there has been a raging debate ever since

yesterday about whether President Biden knew or coordinated this, and now we hear that President, in his own words, has said he thought it was a good

speech. So, these are very strong signals.

The question still remains whether American rhetoric will be backed by policy. We're starting to see the beginnings of American policies that are

putting some pressure on Israel, but they're very small and incremental at this stage. For example, sanctioning of settlers, pressure to taking some

lead on humanitarian aid. And, you know, I think that's the real question, is whether these signals will turn into policy shifts on the part of the U

S. But I think there is certainly some concern in the Israeli political elite that that's the direction it will go.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, the immediate reaction to those comments in Israel, the Likud Party reacted by saying Israel is not a banana republic, Netanyahu

leads policy that has wide public support court. Even war cabinet member Benny Gantz, who many view as his most dangerous opponent and likely

opponent if there were early elections and someone who, at least according to the polls today, would beat Netanyahu, said that Schumer aired in his

remarks and that any external interference on the matter is counterproductive and unacceptable.

Is there, do you think, the possibility that these words could have the reverse effect that they were intended to deliver, that instead of Israelis

sort of being awakened and frightened by comments like this from one of its stalwart supporters, that, instead, there may be a rally around the flag,

and if not the flag, then around the prime minister, kind of a moment in response to another country, suggesting that a smaller ally should go to

the election polls?

SCHEINDLIN: Yes. I mean, surely Netanyahu would hope that that's the reaction. Netanyahu loves to position himself as Israel's top global

statesman, the only one capable to standing up to pressure from the United States.

He has often in the past, or certainly at very particular moments, picked kind of fights with the U.S., particularly in 2015 when he spoke before

Congress going around behind the back of President Obama. And that was a controversy that he tried to leverage to his advantage.

But let me just say Netanyahu would have to go a very long way to rallying the Israeli public behind him. First of all, in 2015, it didn't help him to

go to Congress. We were in an election cycle, and it did not help his poll numbers. At present, Netanyahu is suffering in the polls.

You know, he is not incorrect to say that the Israeli public is supportive of the war. That's already a rally-around-the-flag effect and it's a

reality. But the Israel public, interestingly, by contrast to most other countries where the public rallies around their leaders behind the war has

expressed scathing attitudes in all surveys with relations in Netanyahu.

His personal ratings -- in his personal ratings, he's trailing Benny Gantz by double digits and has been since the beginning of the war. Only about a

third of Israelis prefer him as prime minister, whereas over close to 50 percent, 47 percent prefer Mr. Gantz. His party is losing over 40 percent

to up to 50 percent of its support in surveys. And his original coalition has lost about a third of his votes.

These are very significant indictments of Netanyahu for his responsibility on October 7th, but of course leading up to October 7th, and the Israeli

public is not going to turn around for him so fast. And I should say that Schumer was quite right to say that it may be worth going towards elections

soon because over 60 - at -- in certain polls, up to 70 percent of the Israeli public also supports going into elections either when the war is

over or right now. That's a very significant and strong rebuke for the government during a time of war.

GOLODRYGA: Has there ever been a situation -- and fully acknowledging that this is an acute shock to the country, one of its worst tragedies and

attacks in its history on October 7th in its aftermath, has there ever been a situation where you had sort of a lopsided result? On the one hand, you

have the majority of people surveyed supporting an administration's policies, but on the other hand not supporting the prime minister himself?

SCHEINDLIN: I can't think of particular situation that mirrors these precise poll numbers, but I can tell you that the Israeli public knows how

to get pretty angry at their leaders when they feel that they have not succeeded in a war or when there was a failure leading up to the war. And

of course, we have precedence for that, certainly after 1973 when masses of Israelis came out to demonstrate against the top leadership, ultimately

leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir after the war.


We also saw major demonstrations in 2006 after the Lebanon War. This was Israel's second Lebanon War with -- because of perceived failures and poor

preparation for the war, and that was a contributing factor, I would say, towards deep unpopularity of Ehud Olmert's governments at time.

So, Israelis know how to take action. And including mass demonstrations. Whether this particular situation is unprecedented or not, I mean,

everything here, in a way, is unprecedented. I think the most unprecedented element here is that Israelis are facing a situation where they perceive --

I think that they are internalizing that Israel is in the losing position here. October 7th was a tremendous loss that can never be regained.

And no matter -- you know, as long as -- the longer the war goes on, what we see in survey research is that Israelis are expressing growing doubts

that there can be such a thing as the total victory that Netanyahu has been promising. We see those numbers rising over time and we support -- or

confidence, I should say, that Israel can achieve all of its aims slipping over time because it's been, you know, around five months and Hamas is

still there.

Hamas is still the decisive figure who will decide the fate of the hostages. And Israelis are internalizing that they cannot have what they

want, which is the total victory they've been promised by a government that has already failed them. And I think that situation is unprecedented in


GOLODRYGA: Yes. And I would imagine that a total victory from Prime Minister Netanyahu would not just see all of the hostages return home,

which is obviously the ultimate goal here. Everyone wants these hostages returned home and a ceasefire, but perhaps even acknowledging that they had

taken out or killed Yahya Sinwar or something along those lines.

Dahlia, it's very easy for Netanyahu to hide behind the I have the support or my policies have to support of the Israeli public. In terms of your

research, do you sense that there's a change there, that the support for the war itself is waning at all or no?

SCHEINDLIN: Well, that's what I was getting at before. I don't think you can talk about a decline in support for the war itself, but there is a

decline in confidence that the war aims can be achieved, because, frankly, they haven't been achieved.

And, of course, you know, the most unifying aim of the war is the release of hostages. And that is already not going to happen. The tragic reality is

that many of the hostages have already died in captivity. The army has already admitted that they assess that around 30 have died. Many assess

that they are probably more than 30 out of the 134 or so remaining who are probably no longer alive.

And every -- you know, at every phase of the of indirect negotiations to try to release the hostages and reach a ceasefire to -- in return for a

ceasefire, they're -- the hopes of the families are raised and then dashed. And this is a tortuous process.

And so, Israelis -- again, I think that they would certainly continue to support the aim of destroying Hamas. There's very little doubt that the

vast majority of Israelis support that, no matter how the question is asked, Israelis supports the use -- the amounts of force that have been

used despite the catastrophic situation in Gaza. They even justify the number of civilian casualties, according to Tel Aviv University's polling,

but they are increasingly aware. How could they not be? That the hostages are not home, and for the majority Israelis, that has been the higher

priority for them.

I don't think they're going to go out into the streets calling for a ceasefire, because for Israelis there is no such thing as a cease-fire in

isolation of the hostage release.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and it's worth noting, as has been noted on this show, what Israelis are seeing and reading is not necessarily what the rest of

world is seeing in reading when you're asking why so much pressure from the West on Israel to put in and implement a ceasefire given the humanitarian

crisis in Gaza. It's a bit like two different realities from what Israelis, for the most part, are shown and what the rest of the world sees.

Another potential crisis that is looming for Netanyahu and definitely headwind he's facing is the controversy over drafting of the Orthodox in

Israel for -- they've been exempt from conscription. That may be changing. And of course, this really would impact his coalition. How do you see that

playing out?

SCHEINDLIN: First of all, I wouldn't hold your breath for a mass draft of the ultra-Orthodox, and I should distinguish that this is a matter of

drafting the ultra-Orthodox, which is different from the Orthodox. These are distinct communities.

The Orthodox community is essentially integrated into Israeli life. It's the isolationist ultra-Orthodox communities who've enjoyed a historic

exemption from universal draft in Israel, at least for Jewish citizens, going back to the beginning of statehood.


And since the beginning of statehood, the government has been unable to resolve this, largely because many -- I would say most coalitions in

history of Israel depend on the parties representing those ultra-Orthodox communities. And if they force, you know, some sort of change in the policy

that would involve widespread draft of the ultra-Orthodox, those small parties could leave the coalition and topple the government.

And they're not even so small. The fact is that the two parties that represent the ultra-Orthodox communities in Netanyahu's government right

now total 18 seats out of his original 64 before the coalition was expanded.


SCHEINDLIN: Now, one of those parties, the one that has 11 seats, were not sure exactly what they would do. But this can always cause a coalition

crisis when there is a debate over the draft bill. I would say at this point, there are two factors that make it much more intense and emotional

and urgent in Israel.

One is simply the need for more manpower. I mean, the draft bill right now for conscription for reform would involve much more extensive service from

reserve duty Israelis and longer regular service, and that's causing a huge uproar.


SCHEINDLIN: The other problem is that the Supreme Court has ordered the government to explain why it will not -- why it cannot draft the ultra-

Orthodox at this point by the end of March. And so, if the government doesn't do that, it will be in violation of a court order.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Dahlia, sorry to wrap you there. We're very tight on time. But love having you on, and always love hearing your analysis. Thank you so

much for joining us. I'm looking forward to the next time we have you.

SCHEINDLIN: Thank for having me.

GOLODRYGA: Well, next, to a musical legend. Few American artists have a body of work comparable to Paul Simon, and few make as many impactful

documentaries as director Alex Gibney. Quite a partnership now.

The two creative forces have come together to produce a new docuseries, "In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon." Here's a clip from the trailer.


PAUL SIMON, SINGER: What I've learned is that when you find a thing that produces a feeling of peace or joy, try and hold onto it. It's like bliss.

That's music for me.

Thank you so much.


GOLODRYGA: It brings viewers from early days of Simon and Garfunkel to the dreams that became the inspiration for Simon's latest album, "Seven

Psalms." Christiane spoke with Paul Simon and Alex Gibney about the singer's unending journey to what he calls the edge of what you can hear.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Paul Simon and Alix Gibney, welcome to the program.


SIMON: Nice to see you again.

AMANPOUR: Paul, it was your idea, I understand, to invite this documentary filmmaker into your process of your latest albums, "Seven Psalm."

GIBNEY: Well --

SIMON: It was -- maybe it was an idea that --

AMANPOUR: You both had.

SIMON: -- we both said.

GIBNEY: Yes, yes, yes.

SIMON: Yes, we both --

GIBNEY: We met in a small cafe in Austin, Texas and started talking about the possibility of doing something that would encompass Paul's career. But,

you know, it was when Paul called me one day, he said, hey, you know, I'm working on this new record, "Seven Psalms," would you be interested in

watching me make it? And I was like, yes.

AMANPOUR: In terms of process, certain things really fascinated me. For instance, the footage that you found, and Alex, you obviously made a deal

about this because it was so remarkable, of Paul sitting in the bathroom and, you know, way back when, in the '60s, and doing the sounds and

figuring out how that sounded in an echoey bathroom with the tiled walls.

Paul, do you remember that? Go back to that and what song it was?

SIMON: Oh, of course, I remember it. The song was "The Sound of Silence." And yes, I remember. I was still living at home in my parents' house. And I

could sit in the tired bathroom and hear a little bit of an echo and everything sounded good.


SIMON: Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again.


SIMON: When we sang in doo-wop groups, we used to sing in the subway because it was a great echo. We're singing in the boys' room because there

was a good echo. I remember it. You remember stuff as if it were yesterday, it's really one of the cliches of getting older.

GIBNEY: That's right.

SIMON: But why it's just was absolutely a vivid memory.

AMANPOUR: It's so interesting to see that process. And Alex, I assumed that really sort of grabbed you as well. And also "The Boxer" with the drum

that was recorded in the elevator shaft. I mean, these things kind of blow my mind.

SIMON: That wasn't the engineer's idea. We were recording in a building that was seven or eight stories high and it was late at night. And when the

elevator wasn't working, we could put the drum in the elevator shaft and hit it and you would hear this huge, huge sound.





SIMON: It was a brilliant engineer named Roy Halee.

GIBNEY: Yes, we were lucky. I mean, Paul gave as access to his archive and there had been a -- there was a film which we show part of in the doc

called "Songs of America," but there are all these outtakes in cans, unlabeled mostly, that we went through and restored, and we found all this

beautiful footage of Paul working with Roy and Artie, you know, in the studio trying to make the album "Bridge Over Troubled Water." And it was

really revelatory, because than -- then that was a kind of a harmony to the process that I was observing in the present.

AMANPOUR: I assume, like most of us, you know, Simon and Garfunkel were part of your lived experience. I mean, these -- you are the soundtrack of

so many generations. And I want to ask you about meeting Paul to make this film when he's -- you know, I don't want to say at the end of his career,

but definitely in the very latter part of his career, particularly showing the struggles about, you know, singing, hitting the notes, the idea about

the hearing loss.

I just want to -- you know, you lost the hearing in one ear, Paul, you say you fell into a depression, you know that you can't sing like you used to

and yet, in this film, you're showing the world how --



SIMON: No, not that. My voice is fine. In some ways, I like my voice -- I like the way I sing now more than I liked it when I was young. But the

hearing, that really did affect my ability to sing with other musicians. Like, I can't play with drums or electric guitar anymore because the sound

is overwhelming. It becomes a cacophony, you know?

But my voice is fine and flexible. I'm very lucky about it. And the aging process, that's fine. I get a lot of pleasure out of singing.

AMANPOUR: And it shows. But I still want to ask you, Alex, then, because in your film, you have Wynton Marsalis, who, you know, is talking to Paul

in the film, and he's explaining that it took Beethoven 10 years to figure it out. Beethoven went deaf. And Wynton urged Paul to keep this struggle in

the film.

What about that struggle was interesting for you? And did you have to persuade him to keep it in the film?

GIBNEY: No. I mean, Paul, you know, pretty much gave me freedom to do what I was going to do. But Wynton's point is well taken. I mean, obviously, if

you're a filmmaker, you're interested in drama. And in struggle, there is always drama. And to watch and listen to Paul as he tried to reckon with

his hearing loss, and try to find a way forward, that was really powerful. It was very powerful emotionally.

It was also very interesting to see how he was navigating the way it seemed like he was hearing sounds differently. So, it became a kind of essential

part of the soul of the film. And also -- and I think, you know, in "Seven Psalms," the record, you know, you can hear the struggle.


SIMON: The Lord is my engineer. The Lord is the earth I rattle. The Lord is the face and the atmosphere.


GIBNEY: And it's about -- and it's also about spirituality, it's about mortality, and it's about time and memory. And so, all of that kind of then

comes together in a way, but it comes out of that struggle. And then, Paul faces the dilemma of like, how much of that struggle do you leave in?

Because, of course, Paul's a perfectionist and wants to make sure that you're going to -- you know, you don't want to hear the mistakes.

SIMON: Well, Wynton always says to me, leave those mistakes in.


SIMON: But I say to Wynton, yes, but you wouldn't. And I also say -- I always say to -- the ear goes to the irritant. So, when you're singing

live, if you sing a little out of tune or you make a mistake, it doesn't matter, but if it's recorded, and I listen back, I say, that note's flat,

you know? I mean, I have to sing it again. Or I could play that part. The ear goes to the irritant.

First you say, that's OK. Leave it. It's OK. And eventually you get to, I can't stand on this part of the song. So --


SIMON: You know, it's not --


AMANPOUR: -- I found it really interesting. I also find it quite brave, to be honest, and quite naked. I mean, you're really showing, you know, what

it's like. At the age of 22 you wrote "Sound of Silence." Who was the 22- year-old?

SIMON: I have no idea who -- the connection between "Sound of Silence" and who I was at that age.


SIMON: Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again.


SIMON: I think it's one of those experiences that I've noticed now in looking at my career where you're just a conduit. That's kind of a cliche,

but it is true. It's just, you know, something that becomes an effortless piece of writing and you think -- at the time I thought, oh, that's

probably my best song. I never thought, oh, this song will last for 60 years. And people will sing. I've never though that at all.

But in my career, I mean, it happened again when I wrote "Bridge Over Trouble Water." I though, that's better than I usually write.


SIMON: When you're weary, feeling small.


SIMON: You know, and the same with "Graceland," or "Still Crazy After All These Years."


SIMON: I met my old my lover on the street last night. She seems so glad to see me. I just smiled.


SIMON: Well, this is a jump that I -- but it's something akin to a mysterious inspiration. I don't know what it is. It's a delight. It is

great when it happens. And mostly, it doesn't happen.

AMANPOUR: Well look, it obviously has happened enough. And I want to -- you talked about "Graceland." I want to play a clip from the film. You say

the song almost wrote itself. Here's how you talk about it in the film.


SIMON: When I brought it home and I was trying to write to it, I would sing these lines about Graceland. Graceland. And I would say, I guess I'm

going to get rid of the Graceland part because, I mean, what's Graceland got to do with South Africa or anything like that?


AMANPOUR: What did it have to with South Africa? I know from the film that Elvis Presley was one of your heroes. You list about four heroes and he was

one of you heroes. So, what made you stay with Gracelin?

SIMON: Well, here's what happened, I kept singing this as I was improvising and thinking, I have to change that, I have to change that, and

it just wouldn't change. And so, I said, I better go to Graceland and see what's going on.

So, as I drove there, I was coming up from Louisiana driving through Mississippi and up to the Mississippi Delta, that was the beginning of the

song, the Mississippi Delta, was shining like a national guitar.


SIMON: The Mississippi Delta was shining like a national guitar. I am following the river down the highway through the cradle of the Civil War.

I'm in Graceland, Graceland, the Memphis Tennessee. I'm on Graceland.


SIMON: And when I went to Graceland, I thought, as I walked through the house -- and it's -- you know, it is much smaller than you think it's going

to be, you think it's going to be this big mansion, but it isn't. It's OK. It's a little house and -- compared to a mansion.

And he has all his awards and his costumes and all of this stuff. And I thought, oh, OK. I'm not terribly -- I'm not moved or anything. And then

you come into out and into the backyard, whatever, and there's his grave and it says Elvis Aaron Presley, whose music touched people all over the

world. I'm paraphrasing, but that's what it said.

Anyway, I just start to cry. And I thought, that is the truth, his music. And then I though Graceland becomes a metaphor for a state of grace. And

that applies to what happened to me with the experience of making Graceland in South Africa.

AMANPOUR: I want to bring back and talk to both of you about American tune and the way it's featured in this film.


One of your best loved songs apparently is "American Tune" from your album "There Goes Rhymin' Simon." About 50 years after you wrote it, you played

it with the musician, Rhiannon Giddens at the Newport Folk Festival.

Now, your original lyric went, we come on a ship they call The Mayflower. Here's the way Rhiannon sang it.


RHIANNON GIDDENS, SINGER: We didn't come here on The Mayflower. We came on a ship in a blood-red moon. We come in the ages most uncertain and how. And

sing what America can do.


AMANPOUR: It's really dramatic, you know, she's got the African-American experience there. No, they didn't come on the Mayflower. So, Paul Simon,

was that her idea or your idea? How were those words changed?

SIMON: I rewrote them. When she sang that song on a television show that the Grammys put on that celebrated my music and she was going to sing

"American Tune" and I thought, that'll be very interesting to hear "American Tune" with a female voice.

But then I said, for an African-American, that lyric doesn't work. And I called her and I said, what do you think if I changed the lyric to, we

didn't come here on The Mayflower? We came on a ship in a blood-red moon? And she said, yes, that's really -- that's powerful for me. So, that's how

that came about.

And as a songwriter, it's lovely when your song gets reinvented. And she did that, you know, both by being the female performer and the African

perspective on "American Tunes." So, that's how it came about.

And a big thanks to her because she's a very powerful performer, as you can see.


SIMON: You know --

AMANPOUR: It's a really great combination. Alex, I want to ask you about Simon and Garfunkel. The whole world loves Simon and Garfunkel. And I know

that it's now Paul Simon. He's a soloist and he has had this incredible multi-decade career on his own. But you do address it. The relationship is

addressed. And I find certain things really interesting. For instance, Paul, you say, that my mother said, Paul, you have a good voice, but Arthur

has a fine voice.

GIBNEY: Well, I mean, to me, it was about a relationship between two people. And, you know, we -- Paul says it in the film in terms of, you

know, he had a relationship with somebody who really got him, which was Art Garfunkel. But then at a certain point, and a lot of rock groups don't last

for that long, there was tremendous pressure for them to stay together, but they were moving apart in terms of their personal lives and musically.

And I think that, you know, Paul was writing all the songs and doing a lot of the arrangements. And Art Garfunkel, you know, started to have a movie

career, thanks to Mike Nichols, who directed "The Graduate."

So, in a way, it was kind of a natural split, but still, there was so much pressure because of the beautiful sound that those two voices made together

to stay together. So, both seeing it as a personal thing and also as a musical thing, because most of the doc is really about the music, that was

potent. And we ended part one with them, you know, with a sense of the enormous tension and the breakup cut against them sitting on a bed, just

scat singing really over, feeling groovy.

AMANPOUR: I know. It is very, very nostalgic. So, let's bring this right back to the present. From both of you, I want to hear about "Seven Psalms."

First of all, it's incredible that it came to you in a dream, as you recount.

SIMON: Yes, it wasn't the first time, but this was the first time that the entire concept came. The dream said, oh, you're -- I wasn't thinking about

writing or doing any writing at the time. And the dream said, oh, you're meant to write or you are writing a piece called "Seven Psalms." And I woke

up from the dream and I wrote it down, which is not the way I usually do it.

And the next day when I looked at it, I thought, what could that be, "Seven Psalms"? I actually went to the dictionary and looked up Psalm. And then I

thought, oh, I suppose I should go to Psalms in the bible. And then I went there and I said, no, that's not what I'm -- I don't know what this is. I

said, but it wasn't my idea anyway, it came from a dream. So, I'll just wait. And it started to come in the form of guitar pieces.



SIMON: The lord is the music I hear. Deep in the valley, elusive. The Lord is my engineer. The Lord is the train that I ride on.


SIMON: That was for about six, eight months, and then lyrics would come in a dream too. Always between 3:00 and 5:00 in the morning on two or three

days a week. And if -- I would get up and write down whatever was in my dream, and if I thought, oh, that's a good verse, I'll write, I could say

this in a second verse. As soon as I did that, boom, everything stopped.

So, it was a very interesting thing to observe of what was happening to me. And I said, this is a great trip. All I'm doing is following instructions.

And everything went just great until the hearing issue came. And then I had to, you know, bring it home through that.

GIBNEY: What interested me about the music was that it's about so much. You know, it's about a debate about the spirit. It's reckoning with

mortality. It's also about the present and the past. Trail of volcanoes is one of my favorite lines.

And -- but what impressed me about watching Paul work it out was his kind of generous spirit as an explorer. Like, I'm going to follow this wherever

it takes me. And it was that idea of exploration and curiosity. determination to get to wherever this song was taking him, that's what

really impressed me, and I think that comes through in the movie.

AMANPOUR: So, Alex Gibney, Paul Simon, thank you both so much.

SIMON: Oh, thanks.

GIBNEY: Thank you.

SIMON: Bye-bye. It's good to talk to you again.


GOLODRYGA: Now, if that conversation doesn't get you to watch the two-part docuseries, I don't know what will. "In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul

Simon" premieres March 17th on MGM+.

Well, now, Paul Simon's music is a reminder of how important it is to not fall into old habits and to keep our lives fresh. That subject tackled in a

new book by Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, looking at why we become complacent and how to reset our thinking. He joins Walter Isaacson to

discuss the keys to living a happier life.


WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you. And Cass Sunstein, thank you for joining us.

CASS SUNSTEIN, CO-AUTHOR, "LOOK AGAIN": Great pleasure to be here.

ISAACSON: In your latest book written with Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist, it's called "Look Again," and it talks about the role -- you use a big

word, maybe one of those Cambridge words, habituation in our lives. Tell me what you mean by that.

SUNSTEIN: Habituation just means that the more we do something, the less affected we are by it typically. So, if you go swimming and it's really

cold, the first minute you might be freezing and terrible, but five minutes in, you're thinking the water's fine. You go on a hot bath, the same thing.

You enter a room where there's a not very good odor, maybe people are smoking, and after maybe 20 minutes, most people aren't going to notice it

so much. Diminishing sensitivity to whatever we're exposed to.

ISAACSON: And so, what does that mean in our daily lives? I mean, that seems like a pretty good thing, being able to swim in cold water.

SUNSTEIN: It has some virtues. If you're surrounded by something that's unpleasant, if your boss is kind of mean, if your neighborhood is a little

terrible, you won't notice it so much after a while. We do get used to things, and that's a blessing.

What's not so good about it is if there's something fantastic in our life. Let's say we have children, which is really lucky, and they're incredible,

though maybe sometimes a little trouble. And it may be that our job is paying us what we need. And if we thought 10 years ago, we could have this

job, we think that's a dream. But after a while, we're thinking, OK, I have to go into work.

So, things get a little gray. That's how the human mind works that used to be full of color. And it's really important for us to be able to see things

with brightness and light. And there are ways to get things to re-sparkle. Midlife crisis, for example, is frequently a product of omnipresent

grayness for people whose lives are pretty amazing.

ISAACSON: I've always thought you could divide people who are really happy versus those who are unhappy or bored, not by so much as what good things

or bad things have happened to them, but whether they feel gratitude every morning. Even if bad things have happened, they wake up and say, man, I'm a

lucky camper. I'm living here in in this place and whatever.

How do you inject gratitude, which is a theme in this book, into our lives so that we, as you put it in the title, look again and revitalize



SUNSTEIN: OK. So, working with a neuroscientist got me to understand why gratitude works. I hadn't gotten that before. And the reason is that with

gratitude you're distancing yourself from something that you would otherwise be kind of right in. So, you might be distancing yourself with

gratitude from, let's say, you have friends who are amazing. And ordinarily in the day, you're enjoying your friends. You're not thinking how amazing

they are.

When you are grateful, you're dishabituating. You are creating a little dishabituation machinery in your head, and you see them from a distance as

someone, boy, how did I get so lucky as to friends like that? Or if you were grateful, let's say, that you've a spouse who can stand you and is

maybe fun and amazing, if you have a gratitude, you're not just saying, this is the person I live with, you're instead saying, how did I get so

lucky as to have that?

ISAACSON: You say that you work with Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist, and you often do your books with somebody else. Why did you pick a

neuroscientist? I mean, what did learn about the science of our brain that helped inform this book?

SUNSTEIN: OK. So, there's a thousand books on human behavior in the mind. This is a very kind of intriguing aspect of current culture. A real

neuroscientist knows things that people like me who aren't real neuroscientists don't know.

And one thing she elicited is that if people are telling things that aren't true, they will get used to that and accommodate to that, if they're

incentivized to lie. And what happens in the brain is extremely interesting. If ordinary people are incentivized to lie, there's a part of

the brain that's called the amygdala that is basically the non-technical term on fire, that people hate their own lying.

But as they lie more and more and more, the amygdala quiets down until in the course of a day, the amygdala isn't even noticing that they're lying.

And that gives you a very vivid picture about how the brain habituates to one's own wrongdoing. It also explains how we might habituate, let's say,

to something wonderful, our brain quiets down.

And it also is literally true that if there are colors all around and you stare kind of at the middle of an image that has colors, it will literally

turn gray. And neuroscience can give examples like that.

ISAACSON: Explain to me the type of studies you do, because this book is filled with somebody did this study. I often thought that those were kind

anecdotal, but in your book, I realized there's pretty rigorous studies on how this works.

SUNSTEIN: OK. So, there are anecdotes and there are anecdotal studies and they're pretty rigorous studies where you really get data and maybe you

randomize. So, here's something that is a study which is trying to figure out how much people like their vacations and when do they like them the


This was done by Tali, co-author of the book, and she found that 43 hours into a vacation tends to be the time when people are most upbeat about the

vacation. The first maybe 24 hours, they're really liking it, but they are kind of figuring it out. After the 43 hours they tend to like it a lot, not

as much as right then.

And if you ask people what they like best about a vacation, this is a scientific study that doesn't involve the brain, it involves self-reports,

people keep saying the first. It was the first time I saw the beach, first time I sell the hotel, the first time I went in the water. And that is a

strong clue about the power of dishabituation to get us to smile and jump, maybe sing, and the power of habituation to get us to start to like things

a little bit less.

ISAACSON: But in this case, you know, we could say, OK, let's take a lot more vacations, but much shorter ones. But let's take something different.

You and I have both been married for a very long time to very wonderful women. How do you prevent that sort of 43 hours after the marriage I'm no

longer quite as interested?

SUNSTEIN: Yes. Well, I think for both of us, we're so lucky that we don't need to think about how to make things even better because they're perfect

and amazing now. But let's say for the median person who's very lucky, but who has been married for a long time, there's a therapist name Esther

Perel, who's really great on this. And she says, fire needs air. That's, I think, a brilliant phrase, fire needs air.


Therefore, couples to spend, you know, some time apart, not a long time, but maybe a night, or maybe someone goes away for a weekend can be really

energizing actually for people. And that feeling even imaginatively to dishabituate a little bit, to think what would it be like if I just met

this person and then I got to marry them, that can be a mental exercise that causes less taking for granted.

ISAACSON: Well, you've been talking about the both positive habituations where -- and negative. And I'll take the negative one now, which is we get

used to bad things. We get used to a neighborhood that's become filled with potholes of trash. And we get used to problems in our society, and we no

longer rise up against them. Isn't that a real problem for both people and for society?

SUNSTEIN: Completely. So, if you look at how people rate their countries or things in their countries, people who are in countries that aren't very

free, care less about freedom than people do in countries that are free, people in countries that don't have particularly good healthcare, don't

focus on the importance of healthcare much, that you can get used to cruelty, you can get used to corruption, you can get used to

authoritarianism, you can get used to discrimination, you can get used to oppression. And that is the evil side, let's say, of habituation.

And it's very important to think of ways to have a critical distance from something that's not very good so that we can struggle to change it.

ISAACSON: How does social media, using social media too much, exacerbate either the problems or get us a solution out of these problems?

SUNSTEIN: Here's one thing that's a problem, I think, for all of us. If something is repeated a lot, we tend to think it's true. It's just how the

mind works. Familiar, truthier. So, if you hear something five times, you tend to think it's true. And the reason, the technical reason, if

something's easy to process in the brain, we tend to think it's probably right and that means the brain is going to be credulous with respect to

things that are false but repeated. That's a challenge for all nations.

It's also the case that if people are used to using social media, let's say a lot, checking it all the time, it's as if there's a little thing in their

mouth that hurts a little bit or is emitting some noise that they're used to, they could habituate to it and they won't feel its annoying presence

until they take it out of their mouth.

So, we have data suggesting if people take a break from social media, it might be, you know, a full-scale cold turkey for a month or more modest

breaks, their well-being tends to increase.

ISAACSON: You say that it can cause dishonesty to escalate social media. And you did a study dealing with that. Explain that.

SUNSTEIN: OK. So, there are two reasons why dishonesty can escalate in social media. One is that if someone tells you something like, here's how

you get to the gas station in a strange neighborhood, you typically believe it. And the other is if someone tells you, let's say twice, that Tom Brady

is the greatest quarterback in the history of the National Football League, that happens to be true. But if you hear it twice, you're more likely to

think it's true.

So, the second is called the illusory truth effect. Repetition increases a belief in the truth of the statement. The other is truth bias. On social

media, these are evil twins, truth bias and the illusory truth effect. They tend to get people who are believing something that's false.

What we did was we had a study where people could say not like, but trust. So, you don't press a like button, you can press a trust button. And that

was effective in increasing people's belief in what was true and increasing the spread of things that were true. Because people knew before the fact

that to get something other than the trust button wasn't a very happy moment. People wanted the trust button.

ISAACSON: You write about Germany in the 1920s, 1930s in particular, being habituated towards Nazism. Tell me how that could apply today to us trying

to protect our democracy?

SUNSTEIN: Here's some very concerning and vivid work on the rise of Nazism. People who were there at the time said it was a little like a field

that had corn in it. It kept growing and growing and growing. And eventually it was over your head. And you didn't know it was going to get


So, the idea was the way Hitler worked was by increments. Things were getting worse and worse, but it wasn't like complete horror on day one or

two or three. And typically, the rise of fascism and terrible things is in increments. Day one isn't good but the true horror emerges over time.


I think it's fair to say that both in Europe and the United States there has been some let's call it democratic backsliding in which certain norms

of respect for processes, respect for one another, a commitment to truth, a commitment to treating people who disagree with you as participants in a

shared endeavor, that's essential for mutual, let's say, cooperation, that all of those have been under pressure and now looks very different from

eight, nine, 10 years ago. And it may be that the field is getting populated by taller and taller stocks of corn.

ISAACSON: Is that also true like gun violence? Last year we had 656 mass shootings. Have we become habituated to that?

SUNSTEIN: I think there's no question that if we had the first mass shooting of gun violence where children were being gunned down, the level

of outrage and disbelief would be far higher than it is. So, this is a case where the repetition of the underlying horror reduces people's reaction to


ISAACSON: Let me get specific on like racial and gender discrimination that comes along. And you say that we can, as a society, maybe get

habituated to that, but that the people involved aren't so habituated. Explain how we can build on that.

SUNSTEIN: So, with respect to gender, it's often the case that in a community people are just used to something. It might be comments that are

demeaning. It might be an allocation of labor that's unfair. It might be something worse. It might be sexual harassment or something.

To get a purchase on our own practices, I remember a time when there wasn't a term sexual harassment, it just wasn't a term. Sexual harassment existed

as a practice, but there wasn't a word for it. Catharine MacKinnon, more than any other, made public the term. I'm not sure if it's actually her

term, but she wrote a brilliant book called "Sexual Harassment of Working Women." And that book was full of legal analysis, but also tales of sexual


And gosh, was that a dishabituating book for men in particular, but also for many women who thought, what world am in such that these practices

exist? And that can be done with respect to race also, where there's, let's say, egregious discrimination that maybe even the people who are engaged in

the egregious discrimination or the comments they're not dishabituated from their own practice sufficiently. It's not that they're bad people, it's

that this is what they know.

ISAACSON: Yes, but the people who are the victims of the, say, racial discrimination, they don't get habituated as easily. I mean, I remember

talking about Robert E. Lee being a statue, talking to Wynton Marsalis from a hometown. I said, man, I'm used to that. I don't even pay -- he says, I

pay attention. So, tell me how that works.

SUNSTEIN: OK. So, let's suppose there's a discriminatory practice. Let's just say it's discriminatory against Catholics. It may be that non-

Catholics think this is life and, you know, that's how it is. But for someone who's Catholic, it's going to be like a slap in the face. And they

might habituate to it in the sense that they see it as part of their culture, but it's not something that doesn't sting when you get slapped in

the face.

And for a person of color, there are places and maybe states or months where you get slapped in the face a lot, and getting slapped in the face

always hurts. And even if there's no particular white person who's done the slap, or even if no white person in the vicinity intended the slap, the

slap is there. It might be built into a practice. It might be built into some kind of language.

ISAACSON: And so, as a society, give us sort of one or two pieces of advice you would give right now, given our current situation for us to look

again as a society.

SUNSTEIN: Take a critical distance from practices that are in our society. Imagine that this was the first time you saw them, or imagine it was the

last time you were ever going to see them. If you do that exercise, then some things will seem like, gosh, we don't have to live with this. And

other things, will make us think, how do we get so lucky as to leave with that?


ISAACSON: Cass Sunstein, once again, thank you so much for joining us.

SUNSTEIN: Thank you. A great pleasure.


GOLODRYGA: And finally, we leave you now with these beautiful pictures of cherry blossoms adorning the streets of Tokyo, marking the beginning of the

infamous Sakura season, which brings millions of tourists into Japan every spring. Gorgeous photos.

Well, that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you can

always catch us online, on the website, and all-over social media.

Thank you so much for watching, and goodbye from New York.