“There’s the whole notion that you need to persist in the illusion of immortality,” Tyson director James Toback recently said to Roger Ebert. “Because we say, well, yeah, but I’m not really dying because I’m going on to the next life. I don’t mean just to be cute about it, but people like that need to look at the Hubble telescope photographs and say, this is where we live.

“We are in an invisible speck of dust. ‘We’ meaning our whole solar system but if you wanna narrow it down further, our planet, and if you wanna narrow it down further, ourselves. We are almost invisible specks of dust in this great huge, vast, expanding cosmos. And once you actually say, that is what’s real, that’s where we are, then you can say, well, then what purpose is there in life?

“Well, you’re here so you make the best of it; you do what you can. You enjoy what you can, you create what you can and then when it’s time you don’t whine and you go. [Except] we’re never conditioned to think that way. It’s never taught. I mean, parents don’t teach it, schools don’t teach it, religions don’t teach it. It’s a kind of warped need to mythologize death into everything but what it actually is.”

After speaking with Toback on 4.11, I wrote that “he’s one of the most sage observers I’ve ever known, and hands down the greatest gabber — not in a blah-blah, listen-to-me-talk sense but in the vein of a guy who just knows and doesn’t believe in trimming his sails. Intimidation never seems to affect him. He doesn’t seem to know from hesitancy either. Which is why his discussions with Mike Tyson went so well, which is the main reason, I feel, why Tyson connects.”