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  • I'm going to first tell you something that in my grandmother

  • would've elicited a five-oy alarm:

  • "Oy-oy-oy-oy-oy."

  • (Laughter)

  • And here it is ... are you ready?

  • OK.

  • I have stage IV lung cancer.

  • Oh, I know, "poor me."

  • I don't feel that way.

  • I'm so OK with it.

  • And granted, I have certain advantages --

  • not everybody can take so cavalier an attitude.

  • I don't have young children.

  • I have a grown daughter who's brilliant and happy and wonderful.

  • I don't have huge financial stress.

  • My cancer isn't that aggressive.

  • It's kind of like the Democratic leadership --

  • (Laughter)

  • not convinced it can win.

  • It's basically just sitting there,

  • waiting for Goldman Sachs to give it some money.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • Oh, and the best thing of all --

  • I have a major accomplishment under my belt.

  • Yes.

  • I didn't even know it until someone tweeted me a year ago.

  • And here's what they said:

  • "You are responsible

  • for the pussification of the American male."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • Not that I can take all the credit, but ...

  • (Laughter)

  • But what if you don't have my advantages?

  • The only advice I can give you is to do what I did:

  • make friends with reality.

  • You couldn't have a worse relationship with reality than I did.

  • From the get-go,

  • I wasn't even attracted to reality.

  • If they'd had Tinder when I met reality,

  • I would have swiped left

  • and the whole thing would have been over.

  • (Laughter)

  • And reality and I --

  • we don't share the same values, the same goals --

  • (Laughter)

  • To be honest, I don't have goals;

  • I have fantasies.

  • They're exactly like goals but without the hard work.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • I'm not a big fan of hard work,

  • but you know reality --

  • it's either push, push, push, push, push

  • through its agent, the executive brain function --

  • one of the "yays" of dying:

  • my executive brain function won't have me to kick around anymore.

  • (Laughter)

  • But something happened

  • that made me realize

  • that reality may not be reality.

  • So what happened was,

  • because I basically wanted reality to leave me alone --

  • but I wanted to be left alone in a nice house

  • with a Wolf range and Sub-Zero refrigerator ...

  • private yoga lessons --

  • I ended up with a development deal at Disney.

  • And one day I found myself in my new office

  • on Two Dopey Drive --

  • (Laughter)

  • which reality thought I should be proud of ...

  • (Laughter)

  • And I'm staring at the present they sent me to celebrate my arrival --

  • not the Lalique vase or the grand piano I've heard of other people getting,

  • but a three-foot-tall, stuffed Mickey Mouse

  • (Laughter)

  • with a catalog, in case I wanted to order some more stuff

  • that didn't jive with my aesthetic.

  • (Laughter)

  • And when I looked up in the catalog

  • to see how much this three-foot-high mouse cost,

  • here's how it was described ...

  • "Life-sized."

  • (Laughter)

  • And that's when I knew.

  • Reality wasn't "reality."

  • Reality was an imposter.

  • So I dived into quantum physics and chaos theory

  • to try to find actual reality,

  • and I've just finished a movie --

  • yes, finally finished --

  • about all that,

  • so I won't go into it here,

  • and anyway, it wasn't until after we shot the movie,

  • when I broke my leg and then it didn't heal,

  • so then they had to do another surgery a year later,

  • and then that took a year --

  • two years in a wheelchair,

  • and that's when I came into contact with actual reality:

  • limits.

  • Those very limits I'd spent my whole life denying

  • and pushing past and ignoring

  • were real,

  • and I had to deal with them,

  • and they took imagination, creativity and my entire skill set.

  • It turned out I was great at actual reality.

  • I didn't just come to terms with it,

  • I fell in love.

  • And I should've known,

  • given my equally shaky relationship with the zeitgeist ...

  • I'll just say, if anyone is in the market for a Betamax --

  • (Laughter)

  • I should have known that the moment I fell in love with reality,

  • the rest of the country would decide to go in the opposite direction.

  • (Laughter)

  • But I'm not here to talk about Trump or the alt-right or climate-change deniers

  • or even the makers of this thing,

  • which I would have called a box,

  • except that right here, it says,

  • "This is not a box."

  • (Laughter)

  • They're gaslighting me.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • But what I do want to talk about

  • is a personal challenge to reality

  • that I take personally,

  • and I want to preface it by saying that I absolutely love science.

  • I have this --

  • not a scientist myself --

  • but an uncanny ability to understand everything about science,

  • except the actual science --

  • (Laughter)

  • which is math.

  • But the most outlandish concepts make sense to me.

  • The string theory;

  • the idea that all of reality emanates from the vibrations of these teeny --

  • I call it "The Big Twang."

  • (Laughter)

  • Wave-particle duality:

  • the idea that one thing can manifest as two things ...

  • you know?

  • That a photon can manifest as a wave and a particle

  • coincided with my deepest intuitions

  • that people are good and bad,

  • ideas are right and wrong.

  • Freud was right about penis envy

  • and he was wrong about who has it.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • And then there's this slight variation on that,

  • which is reality looks like two things,

  • but it turns out to be the interaction of those two things,

  • like space -- time,

  • mass -- energy

  • and life and death.

  • So I don't I understand --

  • I simply just don't understand

  • the mindset of people who are out to "defeat death" and "overcome death."

  • How do you do that?

  • How do you defeat death without killing off life?

  • It doesn't make sense to me.

  • I also have to say,

  • I find it incredibly ungrateful.

  • I mean, you're given this extraordinary gift --

  • life --

  • but it's as if you had asked Santa for a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

  • and you had gotten a salad spinner instead.

  • You know, it's the beef --

  • the beef with it is that it comes with an expiration date.

  • Death is the deal breaker.

  • I don't get that.

  • I don't understand --

  • to me, it's disrespectful.

  • It's disrespectful to nature.

  • The idea that we're going to dominate nature,

  • we're going to master nature,

  • nature is too weak to withstand our intellect --

  • no, I don't think so.

  • I think if you've actually read quantum physics as I have --

  • well, I read an email from someone who'd read it, but --

  • (Laughter)

  • You have to understand

  • that we don't live in Newton's clockwork universe anymore.

  • We live in a banana peel universe,

  • and we won't ever be able to know everything

  • or control everything

  • or predict everything.

  • Nature is like a self-driving car.

  • The best we can be is like the old woman in that joke --

  • I don't know if you've heard it.

  • An old woman is driving

  • with her middle-aged daughter in the passenger seat,

  • and the mother goes right through a red light.

  • And the daughter doesn't want to say anything that makes it sound like,

  • "You're too old to drive,"

  • so she didn't say anything.

  • And then the mother goes through a second red light,

  • and the daughter, as tactfully as possible,

  • says, "Mom, are you aware

  • that you just went through two red lights?"

  • And the mother says, "Oh, am I driving?"

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • So ...

  • and now, I'm going to take a mental leap,

  • which is easy for me because I'm the Evel Knievel of mental leaps;

  • my license plate says,

  • "Cogito, ergo zoom."

  • I hope you're willing to come with me on this,

  • but my real problem with the mindset that is so out to defeat death

  • is if you're anti-death,

  • which to me translates as anti-life,

  • which to me translates as anti-nature,

  • it also translates to me as anti-woman,

  • because women have long been identified with nature.

  • And my source on this is Hannah Arendt,

  • the German philosopher who wrote a book called "The Human Condition."

  • And in it, she says that classically,

  • work is associated with men.

  • Work is what comes out of the head;

  • it's what we invent,

  • it's what we create,

  • it's how we leave our mark upon the world.

  • Whereas labor is associated with the body.

  • It's associated with the people who perform labor

  • or undergo labor.

  • So to me,

  • the mindset that denies that,

  • that denies that we're in sync with the biorhythms,

  • the cyclical rhythms of the universe,

  • does not create a hospitable environment for women

  • or for people associated with labor,

  • which is to say,

  • people that we associate as descendants of slaves,

  • or people who perform manual labor.

  • So here's how it looks from a banana-peel-universe point of view,

  • from my mindset which I call "Emily's universe."

  • First of all,

  • I am incredibly grateful for life,

  • but I don't want to be immortal.

  • I have no interest in having my name live on after me.

  • In fact, I don't want it to,

  • because it's been my observation

  • that no matter how nice and how brilliant

  • or how talented you are,

  • 50 years after you die, they turn on you.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I have actual proof of that.

  • A headline from the Los Angeles Times:

  • "Anne Frank: Not so nice after all."

  • (Laughter)

  • Plus, I love being in sync

  • with the cyclical rhythms of the universe.

  • That's what's so extraordinary about life:

  • it's a cycle of generation,

  • degeneration,

  • regeneration.

  • "I" am just a collection of particles

  • that is arranged into this pattern,

  • then will decompose and be available,