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Walt Whitman on the Self and the Paradox of Identity


“There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal.

David Ogilvy on the True Value of Education: A Brilliant Letter of Advice to His 18-Year-Old Nephew


“Don’t judge the value of higher education in terms of careermanship. Judge it for what it is — a priceless opportunity to furnish your mind and enrich the quality of your life.” “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” Nietzsche wrote in his 1873 reflection on the true value of education.

Thin Slices of Anxiety: An Illustrated Meditation on What It’s Like to Live Enslaved by Worry and How to Break Free


A guided tour of this pernicious prison of the psyche, honest and assuring in its honesty. Kierkegaard called anxiety “the dizziness of freedom” and believed that it serves to power rather than hinder creativity.

The Emperor of Time: A Dreamlike Short Film About Motion Picture Pioneer Eadweard Muybridge

A foundational story of modern culture, told from the point of view of an abandoned son and viewed through an antiquated device.

Abraham Lincoln’s Tough-Love Letter to His Step-Brother About Laziness and Work Ethic


“You say you would almost give your place in Heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in Heaven very cheaply.” Boredom is one of the most essential yet endangered human capacities, a seedbed of sanity the creative benefits of which have been championed by some of humanity’s most fertile minds.

Mary McCarthy on Human Nature, Moral Choice, and How We Decide Whether Evil Is Forgivable


“One has to assume that every man is a thinking reed and a noble nature, even if only part-time.” “A true friend of mankind whose heart has but once quivered in compassion over the sufferings of the people,” Dostoyevsky wrote in his spirited case for why there are no bad people, “will understand and forgive all the impassable alluvial filth in which they are submerged.” But there are instances of evil so incomprehensible in their injustice that even the largest heart is emptied of forgiveness.

Solstice, Seasonality, and the Human Spirit: A Beautiful 1948 Meditation


“As never before, our world needs warmth in its cold, metallic heart, warmth to go on and face what has been made of human life, warmth to remain humane and kind.” “All true culture … is an effusion of light and warmth,” Nietzsche wrote in his beautiful meditation on how to find yourself.

Patternicity: Dreamy Diagrams and Lyrical Visualizations of the Eccentric Details of Daily Life in the City


An abstract love letter to the art of paying attention. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard memorably wrote.

The Science of How Our Minds and Our Bodies Converge in the Healing of Trauma


“When our senses become muffled, we no longer feel fully alive… If you have a comfortable connection with your inner sensations … you will feel in charge of your body, your feelings, and your self.” “A purely disembodied human emotion is a nonentity,” William James asserted in his revolutionary 1884 theory of how our bodies affect our feelings.

Albert Camus on What It Means to Be a Rebel and the Heart of Human Solidarity


“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” “You say you want a revolution,” the Beatles sang in 1968 as Dr.

Virginia Woolf on the Relationship Between Loneliness and Creativity


“If I could catch the feeling, I would; the feeling of the singing of the real world, as one is driven by loneliness and silence from the habitable world.” There is a kind of loneliness that lodges itself in the psyche and never fully leaves, a loneliness most anguishing not in solitude but in companionship and amid the crowd.

The Lost Art of Astropoetics: An 1881 Cosmic Masterpiece by the Forgotten Woman Who Popularized Astronomy


“No observers could lift their eyes to the golden mysteries enshrined above without being impressed with the exceeding loveliness of the shining throng.” On February 8, 1881, a short and stunning piece appeared in the Providence Journal under the heading “The Beauty of the Evening Sky: Telescopic Observation of the Moon, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars.” Its poetic splendor captivated editors and audiences alike.

Lying in Politics: Hannah Arendt on Deception, Self-Deception, and the Psychology of Defactualization


“No matter how large the tissue of falsehood that an experienced liar has to offer, it will never be large enough … to cover the immensity of factuality.” “The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people,” Adrienne Rich wrote in her beautiful 1975 speech on lying and what truth really means, “are a kind of alchemy.

The Final Word Is Love: Dorothy Day on Human Connection, Music, and the Power of Community


“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” “Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks,” Walt Whitman counseled in his timeless advice on living a vibrant and rewarding life.

Strong as a Bear: An Illustrated Celebration of Animals and Their Emotional Presence in Language


Free as a bird, busy as a bee, and the rest of the metaphorical menagerie of the human imagination. The human animal, the thinking animal, thinks with animals.

In the Light of Darkness: Lost Wisdom on the Poetics of Curiosity, the Crucial Difference Between Undersanding and Explanation, and What Makes a Scientist


“If I know what I shall find, I do not want to find it. Uncertainty is the salt of life.” As a teenager, long before he became a pioneering biochemist, Erwin Chargaff (August 11, 1905–June 20, 2002) learned English from two women who ran a small school in his native Vienna.

Young Barack Obama on What His Mother Taught Him About Love


“Perhaps that’s how any love begins, impulses and cloudy images that allow us to break across our solitude, and then, if we’re lucky, are finally transformed into something firmer.” In 1990, a promising law student and writer not yet thirty was elected as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review.

Einstein’s Brilliant and Unusual Life, in a Graphic Novel


From relativity to romance, an illustrated chronicle of genius. Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879–April 18, 1955) is celebrated as “the quintessential modern genius” and his groundbreaking discoveries have changed the course of science, but he was also a man of enormous and thus inescapably fallible humanity, whose confusion and conflictedness were inseparable from his genius.

Mary McCarthy on Love and Hannah Arendt’s Advice to Her on the Dangerous Delusion That We Can Change Our Lovers


“What’s the use of falling in love if you both remain inertly as-you-were?” Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906–December 4, 1975) remains one of the most blazing intellects of the past century, whose ideas about the crucial difference between thinking and knowing, the power of outsiderdom, our impulse for self-display, and what free will really means continue to electrify with their insight into the fabric of being.

John Cage’s Intensely Beautiful Love Letters to Merce Cunningham


“i would like to measure my breath in relation to the air between us.” Composer, writer, artist, and Zen Buddhist John Cage (September 5, 1912–August 12, 1992) pioneered the aesthetics of silence, but he was animated by a clamorous inner life.


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