Robert Levine, Who Studied Kindness, Identity and Time, Dies at 73

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“The idea of what you think of as wasted time is very interesting culturally, I think, and religiously,” he explained on the podcast “Inside Personal Growth” in 2010.

“Sometimes,” he added, “the most productive thing that you can do is nothing — even if you’re thinking of achievement; even if your concept of wasted time means time that you’re not achieving, a big if.”

Andy Levine said the recent trip to Nepal was, in retrospect, a fitting sort of final journey for his father. They had been hosted there by the family of a Fresno State colleague, Gyanesh Lama, and while there they brainstormed ideas about how to rebuild the village, which had been damaged by an earthquake.

“For him, traveling was a spiritual experience and the best way he knew how to make sense of the world, one place and person at a time,” Andy Levine said by email. “It also represented how he so seamlessly integrated enjoying all the beauty the world has to offer while at the same time constantly trying to repair pieces of the brokenness all around.”

In addition to his son Andy, Professor Levine is survived by his wife, Trudi Jean Thom, whom he married in 1983; another son, Zach; a sister, Alice Levine; and a brother, Dan.

Professor Levine’s most recent book was “Stranger in the Mirror: The Scientific Search for the Self” (2016), which examined whether we really have one fixed “self” or whether a fluid version of identity is more the norm. In the introduction, he turned the mirror on himself.

“How will I be remembered when I die?” he wrote. “Will there be an iconic Bob Levine — the guy who looked the way I did at some flattering moment when I was twenty-one, or when I was forty-one — who somehow stood out in people’s memories? Or will it be some kind of average me, as if all the people I’ve been were thrown into a blender?”


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