Recently, I had the great privilege of interviewing C. Joybell C., a prolific thinker and influencer of our time. She has been a consultant to or quoted by various world leaders and celebrities over the years; she simply has a way with words that is able to strike people and shape their thinking in impactful ways.
Throughout the course of the interview, C. exhibited tremendous mental dexterity. With ease, she can speak deeply on topics, offering unique and thought-provoking insights. But she can also speak widely about a great variety of interest areas–a hallmark of a true polymath.
In fact, during the interview, we traversed a wide variety of topics, which will be covered herein. Indeed, this Renaissance woman can speak with command from subjects ranging from spirituality, artificial intelligence, philosophy, physics, and astronomy. Her interests are not related to one another and perhaps even contradict each other, on the surface. How can someone be so adept in multiple areas–and so able to defy conventions? Read on to learn more…
Dr. Cotellessa: Thanks for letting me interview you! My purpose is to understand your experience as a Renaissance woman in the 21st century.
JoyBell C.: I am excited to do this interview with you! Thank you very much for wanting to interview me!
Absolutely! The original interview would’ve been for my doctoral dissertation — which I finished. I would have had to keep your identity anonymous (university rules), but now that this is something different — and if it’s okay with you — I will do a write-up about the interview (I’ll share with you before posting anything publicly) and I will make sure folks know it’s about your experience, okay? This way you can get some coverage and your followers will get to know you a little bit better, and it’ll help me continue my efforts on my dissertation/research topic but in a new capacity.
Yes, sounds perfect.
I’ve been following you, as you know, for many years. I have become familiar with your interests ranging from astronomy to politics to psychology, AI, etc. Your interests and capabilities seem incredibly broad and varied.
Tell me a little bit more about your background and interests — anything that you feel might be helpful for folks to understand about your background, particularly the diversity of your interests and experiences.
Or — if this question is preferable– we can start with this: Do you consider yourself a Renaissance woman? If so, can you please explain why?
I was interested and eager to do this interview with you last year when you first proposed it, due to the fact that I, myself, have been questioning myself on how I ought to cope with all of my varied activities and interests which seem to take from my mind in equal amounts of energy. The areas that I give myself to are not related to one another and maybe even contradict one another.
I have asked myself if this has anything to do with my background, or if this is more of a result of an enlightenment of the mind, so, I am glad you’re asking this question so that you and I can both explore it together!
When I was in grade school, the very first grade school I ever went to, back in Florida, I remember my favourite school subject was Art, but also my favourite reason for going to school was to experience other people all around me. I thought that our music class could have offered more and I thought that our science class was too easy. When it was time to run, I ran fast as I could (at recess) and when it was time to sit and be quiet, I was usually extra quiet (bursts of sporadic laughter aside).
It seems that from grade school, whatever was going on, you were fully engaged in. Does that sound about right?
Yes, that sounds about right.
I was a Eurasian kid in a society where I happened to be the ONLY Eurasian kid around, for some reason. Nobody else around was biracial or multiracial, it was just me. I spent much time alone climbing trees or with my animals. My favourite pasttime was “thinking”.
I remember back then, friends would ask each other to fill out “autographs” where there were questions about each other and there would always be a “what’s your favourite pasttime?” and my answer would always be, “thinking”.
Wow, that’s interesting that even from a young age, you enjoyed thinking so much!
Oh, yes, I never considered another better thing to do, than thinking!
In fact, my mother tells me all the time, “When you were a little baby, you would just sit and think for such a long time! I would look at you and I would say, ‘what kind of a baby is this?’ And I would try to straighten out the wrinkles in between your eyebrows because your eyebrows were always wrinkled up from thinking all the time! I didn’t understand what kind of a baby you were!”
I do wonder if coming from a multi-cultural family sort of made it easier for you to be comfortable with having different/diverse aspects of yourself. I’ve wondered that too (since my mom is an immigrant from Cuba)… would I have been different if I didn’t come from a multicultural family? How do you think having a multi-cultural family (especially in an environment without any other multicultural families that you knew) affected you?
It sounds like even as an infant, you were just fascinated with life.
That is a great question. I believe it affected me profoundly in every area of my life. Of course, there is the more obvious area of impact, which is not considered a great positive, but is real nonetheless. When you grow up that way, it’s simply difficult. You don’t look like anyone in your family, really, and you grow up with a strong sense and need to belong to someone, or to somewhere. I suspect this could have a hand in the inner compass leading the soul and mind to search for a reason to say “I belong here” in many places; not just one!
Wow, that’s a deep insight!
Maybe your bi-cultural identity and appearance helped you feel comfortable belonging in multiple arenas. That makes sense!
I am not sure if that is it though… I don’t think “Comfort” was established easily… I think it is actually the discomfort that drives it, really. Also, there is something that burns on the inside… something that says, “A man can do all things if he will.” Which is a basic tenet of Renaissance Humanism, where the idea of the Polymath was born.
Can you tell me more about the discomfort that you mentioned a moment ago?
Yes, discomfort arisen from being in an environment where you alone are considered different, discomfort from not being able to truly relate to relatives when you look in the mirror, discomfort from hearing people talk about how you look, so on and so forth. These are discomforts particular to a biracial or multiracial person (especially back during my time when this wasn’t even a thing yet). But then there are the usual discomforts of growing up, which are not particular to anyone, really. Growing up, in itsel,f and trying to find out who you are, in this world, is a prelude to normal discomforts of the mind.
Some of the people I interviewed for my doctoral dissertation research shared with me that they would like the “surprise” element to tell someone some unexpected aspect of their personality or experiences or hobbies, etc. Do you ever have fun with telling people about your unexpected combinations that make up your personhood?
I cannot say I can relate to the other people whom you have interviewed. Not at all, actually. I can straightforwardly and honestly tell you, that when I pursue anything, it is never with other people in mind.
So you wouldn’t begin pursuing something based on what other people think — got it. But when telling someone new about yourself, do you feel any, I don’t know, pride, or a thrill in showcasing that you break the mold, don’t fit in a box, that you paved your own unique path?
Is it something that you’re proud of, that you have this unique combination of what makes you, you?
Do you think that diversity can exist within a single person? I use the term “intra-personal diversity” but I’m curious if you have any thoughts/reflections on that idea: intra-personal diversity.
First question: I cannot say I feel pride or thrill in showcasing my diversity. In fact, I think that it is the longing to find where I belong (that inner child who still wants to belong to someone and to something), which is at the root of my actions. The closer one drifts towards “diversity”, the further he/she is from “belonging”.
Second question: Yes, I can say today, that I am proud of being who I am, in the ways that I am it.
Third question: Yes, diversity can exist within a single person. I like what you’ve coined, ‘intra-personal diversity’; this is brilliant, actually! I believe that diversity, and even personal dimensions, can exist within a person.
What I’m most fascinated by, with the idea of intrapersonal diversity though, is different from what other researchers have looked at. First off, there is not much out there, but what is out there looks either at literal scientific intrapersonal diversity, in the gut microbiome, for instance, or in terms of their breadth of professional work experiences.
The part of intrapersonal diversity I am more interested in, are the parts that we have a lot of choice around: choosing to expose oneself to a broad array of experiences. There’s this term in the scholarly literature, a phrase, “openness to experience.” It’s been written about and researched a ton.
I agree that “experience” is the word.
To me, openness to experience is tantamount to being open to life itself.
I wish for everybody to be open to experience, open to life itself. But not everyone is. Why do you think that’s the case?
Indeed. What is life, if not a long opportunity to experience things?
Well, I think that comfort breeds an unopennes to experience. I think that discomfort (in the mind, in the emotions, in circumstances), are pivotal points that catapult an individual into the burning desire to experience something new, something more; if only to find answers, to make changes, to find comfort!
Back to the comfort/discomfort idea – I’m seeing the connection now!
I want to share something with you and it may not be at all applicable to you. And I didn’t feel right sharing this with my dissertation interviewees…
Sure, share it with me.
I have done a lot of soul searching on my own desire to be intrapersonally diverse. I aspired to be a Renaissance woman for many years. And it was very rooted in achieving. And after a lot of therapy and soul searching, I realized that my drive to achieve, coupled with that deep hunger for experience, was to some extent rooted in my own insecurity to prove something, like prove that I was capable, or smart enough or brave enough, or something. I don’t even know who I was trying to prove anything to!
But I’ve wondered — for people who are highly accomplished, who have lots of impressive experiences, why do they do it?
And this is why you chose to do this dissertation in the first place.
I’m sure! I traumatized myself getting a doctorate! Hahaha!
Are my answers helping you see deeper into the looking glass? I hope so!
Yes, this is super interesting!
A lot of polymaths are highly accomplished, successful people and I sometimes wonder if they are super secure and confident and that’s why they’re doing so well, or if they are just insecure underneath and that’s why they have to achieve so much, to make themselves feel big?
I know this is not the topic of our interview but I’m just curious what you think. I’m not saying this applies to you at all though! I’m just curious and wonder about that sort of thing sometimes.
I suppose it could be the case. When you asked me earlier about the “thrill of introducing myself to others”… I think that could be classified as so. I don’t mean to say that the other people you interviewed are insecure individuals. But I am just saying, that when you have a drive to do things in order to feel a thrill of looking at other people’s faces when they meet you, you are most likely trying to fill a void and you are trying to fill it with the approval of other people. I have always been aloof in this area… would you like me to expound a little bit more on this point?
Yes! I think a lot of polymaths might be trying to fill a void. But I’m sure not all polymaths are doing that. Maybe some are just so highly curious, they want to learn about everything and experience all they can.
Yes, that would be great!
Definitely. Leonardo Da Vinci is the archetype of a Renaissance man, because he was a person of “unquenchable curiosity” and a “feverishly inventive imagination.” But to expound on my little point above… I do feel there is definitely an aloof side to me. Maybe even a little bit hostile. If I feel like someone wants me to do something in order for them to approve of me– then I intentionally don’t do it! So, that’s me!
Like if someone wants you to fit into their box, you will refuse to squish in there, kind of thing?
Not even a box though. It’s not even that! It’s more like a hostility to approval, if that makes any sense? I think that when you want to feel approval, it’s because you esteem the other as being in a position where they ought to approve you. Which is giving another person too much power. But I give this power to very few people.
But I suppose that hostility you mentioned would be a helpful ingredient on the path to becoming a Renaissance woman, like you are. Because you were so determined to pave your own way.
I don’t care about meeting random people and they approving of me. Why would I give them that power over me? I care about very few people appreciating me.
Were you always like that? How did you get to value your own voice/opinion more than outside voices/opinions? I imagine as a public figure, this is a helpful way of being.
I think I am just a rebel without a cause, really, in this aspect. The New Age community would call me an “Indigo Child”. Not to bring New Age into this, but just to mention it. I do feel that rebel streak in me.
This isn’t the intent of my interview, but given your potential audience, I wonder if you have advice for people with public personas: celebrities, public figures; about caring what other people think of them. What would you say to a public figure who is being criticized by the masses or by the media or by mean people on social media, what would you suggest they shift in their thinking, so they are not bothered by the opinions of others?
This is a good question. It’s really easy to say, “Don’t care about the haters”, but that’s really easier said than done. And I think it can be a lazy response to a very real, palpable issue that another person is going through. First, I want to say that I deeply acknowledge the difficulty and the pain of other people’s criticisms. In fact, I think that it is the discovery of the treachery of the human nature, which causes one to become a rebel without a cause, from an early age. You perhaps become acquainted with the uglier side of the human nature earlier on and it leads you to say to yourself, “I won’t give these people power over me and I won’t need their approval.” But this is at a very root level…
Now, as we go higher and closer to the surface level…
…So, I am trying to express that at a very root level, I understand the pain of criticism and other people not liking or approving of you (or pretending not to like and approve of you because they are in fact envious of you.) And it is too easy and too lazy to tell another person going through that, “Just stop caring”, because we actually all DO care.
Maybe it’s like, we wish we didn’t care, but on some level, or at least sometimes, we do care. And it hurts when people criticize and judge us. And for public personas it is just magnified so much more.
As long as they care what other people think, they’re not free. Would you agree with that?
What I would tell people in the criteria that you mentioned, is that I understand how it feels, they are not alone, and that it’s difficult and it’s truly a very real issue. I would acknowledge the very real issue, and then I would tell them, that they are not alone; that they need to pull the molecules of themselves back into themselves. We scatter molecules of ourselves all over (onto other people, onto the things that we do), and that’s how we feel so much pain from the cruelty of others. There is a process to learn– to pull the pieces of yourself back into yourself, in order to really feel your place (as a substance of matter on this planet and in this universe), in space and time. This is called retaking back your power. The power that you’ve given to everyone and to everything else. It becomes not an issue of “not caring”; rather, it becomes an issue of quantum physics!
Wow – I love this connection to quantum physics!
Yes. It is quantum physics!
I believe it. This is really fascinating.
Not everything is just an issue of emotionality! I practice what I like to call “Emotional Minimalism”, which is, the acknowledgment that there is unnecessary utilization of emotions, every day. And let me tell you, that I see this all the time.
Emotional minimalism….can you tell me more?
I see this on social media all the time, everything is emotion-based. People look for videos and memes and stories and things on the iternet, on facebook, everyday, to give them an emotional hit. I am so surprised when people proudly exclaim: “This really made me cry so hard!” … why would you want to cry so hard every day? Or find something that would make you cry so hard every day?
People have become addicted to the idea of interacting with the world around them, entirely through emotionality! But the world, our planet, is a thing of science; not emotion! Molecules, atoms, neutrons… we live in a world and a universe held together by physics! And we are quantum physics + general physics combined.
When it comes to dealing with issues that cause pain, such as you have mentioned above, about public figures and haters, this is always approached from an emotional angle. But I believe many things should be approached from an angle of quantum physics.
Interesting point — why WOULD someone want to cry?
Do you believe human behavior is rooted to self-interest or is self-serving? Like, maybe the crying over something sad makes them feel like they’re a good person?
That is an interesting point you’ve brought up, I have not considered that yet. But now that I think about it… this could be so, for some people.
Along similar lines — you know when people say they just want to “help” other people? I usually think, okay, I wish they would acknowledge that they “help” people to feel better about themselves! To me, sometimes, there is a sort of ickiness in using someone else’s misfortune trying to “help” them, so that deep down, even if unconsciously, they can feel better about themselves. This is something I’ve noticed, do you have any opinion on this?
Give me a moment to reflect on this…
I think that many people who do need help, really just need help, and it wouldn’t matter how or where it’s coming from (whether it’s from a self-serving person, or from a truly helpful person), so I tend not to care who and what is helping another person. But after reflecting on your question… I do think that human beings like to appear as helpful, as possessors of many good qualities; but the true test of the nature of a person would reveal itself when push comes to shove. When a person has another person NEARBY THEM who needs help. Lots of people want to be generous and kind on social media, but they are not helping those closest to them, who are not on social media. So on and so forth.
Exactly! I feel like a lot of times, people love to feel BAD about some unfortunate situation far, far away that they can do almost nothing about – that’s not within their sphere of influence to impact, really. But it feels so good for them to feel bad, they get to feel like a good person, by feeling bad! I feel like if people just pick one cause, or one person they can positively impact, that is more powerful than all the “feeling bad” they can do for something far away that they do nothing about.
Basically, yes, I do think that human beings are innately selfish creatures. Consider the fact that there are millions of people in the world who believe that Angels were created by God to serve mankind! I think this idea is preposterous. But many believe this. Somehow, for some reason, the whole universe exists because one person wants it to work in his/ her favour. I think this is a bit much. And it also shows a lack of knowledge of what the universe actually is. The “universe” is not a metaphysical sub-reality. The universe is a physical and tangible reality consisting of dark matter, dark energy and normal matter. It is mostly dark energy and dark matter and then there are planets, stars, nebulae, solar systems, constellations, galaxies… I find it hard to believe that all of this exists at the perusal of a human being!
Or even if the way they “help” is by being a good mom, or a good friend, or something simple. I think that changes the world — even if it’s just one person. Do you agree with this sort of thinking or do you see it differently?
Yes, if all people were to exhaust their goodness on those closest to their sphere of influence (like, as you mentioned, a good mom, a good friend, etc.), then this whole entire world society would be completely different. We are given to the people whom we love, in order to love them. And vice versa.
How would the world be different if we all exhausted our goodness on the closest people within our sphere of influence? I’m just curious how you think the world would be different (I agree…)
The world would be a very different place, because, if each were to care for their own, to exhaust their goodness on producing actual outcomes with those things and people closest to them, then every little organism (unit of human interaction and closeness) would be receiving and giving the exhaustion of personal goodness. These personal goodness qualities of the mind and soul would be thriving within each human unit. And this would definitely spell out a completely different world, for all of us to live in.
So do you think a person can help to change the world by focusing on making a local impact on something or someone close to them? Is that how the world gets changed? (I think that’s what you’re saying — just want to confirm my understanding)
Yes, that is what I am saying. But more than that, I mean not even “local” in the sense of a neighborhood. But, I mean, please start with your mother, your father, your children, your cousins… at least try. Yes, there are toxic family members that you will never be able to connect with, but try first. And then move on later.
And as you move on, move on from that smaller circle, slowly expanding it to your relatives, community, neighborhood, university, city, nation. So on and so forth.
“Life is truly an experience.” This gets me back to the subject of polymathy. Because what polymathy is, is basically having lots of broad, varied, diverse experiences. Do you think that’s a good way of living life? Or do you think, to each his/her own… maybe narrower experiences are what’s best for them? Said differently, would you advise everyone to have broad/varied/diverse life experiences? Or not? I’m curious what you think.
I would encourage people to be insatiably curious, to never stop asking why and how. The most pure state of the human being is the small child. A small child, as we all know, never stops asking “Why? How? Where?” When we hold onto these qualities and never stop questioning, it is within this beautiful state of innocent purity that we flourish. Be a polymath = be a small child!
I love that. Another quotable quote!
What do you think happens when a human dies?
I believe that when a human being dies, the consciousness, or the soul, returns to where it came from. I don’t believe that the human soul begins its existence at the hour of fetal conception. I believe the human soul concepts within the fetus already carrying experience, age, qualities, history and memories. Life is truly an EXPERIENCE. An experience for the soul’s journey! I think the soul returns to whence it came, or, continues on in another new dimension in the universe. Many would call this “Heaven” or “Hell”. But I firmly believe that there are innumerable options aside from those two places.
You know, I have a quick observation. Earlier you said you were aloof/hostile sometimes. I wonder if being that way sometimes is part of what helps you to think the way you do. Part of why I think you have done so well, and you have a following, and have been able to influence noteworthy people, is because you think differently. You have insights. You are able to critically reflect and come up with something that is really an accurate assessment, as opposed to just re-hashing something someone else said that you heard before. I wonder if being aloof/hostile — or that sort of energy — is part of what made C. JoyBell C. successful?
Thank you for your kind observations. I have achieved more than I dreamt of achieving, really. People ask me all the time, “But how much money does this earn you?” and I am always taken aback by this question. How much money have I earned? How about, “Are you able to influence international affairs?” Which is more important? I feel very thankful when someone, like you, correctly assesses what it is that I do. So, thank you.
Now, this question is a great observation from you. I do think that my aloofness and hostility play a key role in what made me C. JoyBell C. It is the quality of being able to be there but to not be there, both at the same time. Allow me to explain. When you are fully “there”, you will not be able to see clearly. It is the age-old matter of looking at the pattern of a seashell. If you are inside the seashell pattern, walking around in it, you won’t see the whole seashell. But if you hold it in your hand, away from your face, then you see the beautiful pattern of the shell. It’s the Chaos Theory. Chaos is only chaos when you are too near it. Chaos becomes sensible, and even beautiful, when you are detached from it!
In Hebrew mysticism, there is a term called “Merachefet”, this is applied to the quality of being able to hover over a reality without fully touching it, but being there enough to experience it. It is the quality of the letter “Chet” in Aramaic. “Chet”, by the way, represents “Life”. It is also the quality of the letter “Aleph”, which, as we can see in its strokes, represents the union of the upper worlds and the lower worlds. We cannot be united with an upper world and a lower world at the same time, unless there is a level of aloofness enough to hold us in place somewhere in the middle.
I am spiritual and carnal at the same time. I am here, but I am also somewhere else. I am near you, watching you, but I am at a good distance enough to allow me to see the WHOLE of you, rather than to become sunken into your situation along with you.
So, yes, I believe this is a source of power, helping to mould me into who I am.
This sort of duality very much connects back to the idea of polymathy — being able to be contradictory. The cohabitation of unexpected things.
I think there’s a special power in duality, in the particle and the wave!
All power lies in duality, I believe. I actually believe that evil is the state of the imbalance of darkness and light.
Ohhh, interesting. Can you say more on that one?
You can have too much light and this becomes evil. You can have too much darkness and this becomes evil. Neither are good or bad in their own right.
The balance of the two is good. The imbalance of the two is evil.
I think even in the Christian tradition, Satan was an angel…
Satan (Lucifer) was not only “an Angel”, but he was the Angel wherein no darkness existed. He was created from light itself. A Seraph Angel of the Seraphim hierarchy of Angels. So, when you have this archetype of evil coming from pure light, you must question if darkness is in fact the source of evil. Maybe darkness is not the source of evil.
It seems like a key to living life well may have something to do with that duality you talked about, but also balance, or flexibility, to change depending on what’s needed at that time. Having realistic expectations for how you can help or make a difference (maybe this equates to choosing your battles wisely). Trying to live life based on what you will think of you, rather than what others might.
And even qualities that might come across as negative (i.e., “aloof” or “hostile”) can work in your favor, helping you be who you’re meant to be.
Also, I probably should have asked this earlier, but I am curious about your upbringing. What else besides your multi-cultural family made you who you are? What factors influenced you in your earlier life to be how you are now?
Well, I think there is so much… but I think that maybe a key point would be the extreme duality between my parents. My mother was a 35-year-old virgin when she married my father and my father was a recovering drug user who had been in and out of jail plenty of times! My mother was as holy as they come. And my daddy… well, let’s just say he knows what jail time looks like. Hahahha! There is something they did share in common though: they met each other at a school of ministry in California, where they were both studying to be Evangelical ministers.
You and I have so much in common! Hahaha! Maybe that’s part of why I’ve followed you all these years! I saw some parallels. But I also appreciate your unique take on things.
Now this is something I can say I am proud of! Strange, no? But it’s true. I feel like this extreme duality I have witnessed and inherited from my parents, gives me both street creds and church creds! HAHAHA!
Hahaha! “Street creds and church creds”! That made me laugh!
Click Here for part two of this interview.