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“Humans of New York” Creator Brandon Stanton Reads John Updike’s Playful and Profound Ode to the Neutrino

A celebration of the imperceptible that governs the universe on the most fundamental level. “Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead,” John Updike (March 18, 1932–January 27, 2009) wrote.

Stephen Hawking on the Meaning of the Universe

A rare existential reflection from the man who set out to devise a theory of everything. At twenty-two, Stephen Hawking (January 8, 1942–March 14, 2018) was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — a rare motor disease — and given a few years to live.

The Hidden Lives of Owls

A sixty-seven-million-year odyssey of science and myth. “Sunlight, moonlight, twilight, starlight — gloaming at the close of day, and an owl calling,” Walter de la Mare wrote in his “Dream Song”.

How New York Breaks Your Heart: A Photographic Elegy for the City of Electric Beauty with an Edge of Sorrow

“First, it lets you fall in love with it…” “A poem,” E.B. White wrote in his timeless 1949 love letter to New York, “compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning.

Hannah Arendt on Action and the Pursuit of Happiness

“The rediscovery of action and the reemergence of a secular, public realm of life may well be the most precious inheritance the modern age has bequeathed upon us who are about to enter an entirely new world.” “What is happiness, anyhow?

Carl Sagan on the Enchantment of Chemistry, with Stunning Illustrations by Artist Vivian Torrence

“We too are made of starstuff.” I have always been fascinated by transformation — the seemingly magical process, sometimes delicate and sometimes violent, by which a something becomes a something-else.

Zadie Smith on What Writers Can Learn from Some of History’s Greatest Dancers

“Between propriety and joy choose joy.” “Oh, how wonderful! How like thought! How like the mind it is!

Thoreau on Nature as Prayer

“In the street and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean.” Walt Whitman saw trees — “so innocent and harmless, yet so savage” — as a wellspring of wisdom on being rather than seeming.

Bear and Wolf: A Tender Illustrated Fable of Walking Side by Side in Otherness

A watercolor serenade to kinship across difference in a shared world. Otherness has always been how we define ourselves — by contrast and distinction from what is unlike us, we find out what we are like: As I have previously written, we are what remains after everything we are not.

Nobel Laureate André Gide on the Five Elements of a Great Work of Art

“You come to doubt whether there is any secret there; it seems that you touch the depths at once. But ten years later you return to it and enter still more deeply.” “To harmonize the whole is the task of art,” the great Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky wrote in contemplating the spiritual element in art and the three responsibilities of artists.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning on Happiness as a Moral Obligation

“It is well to fly towards the light, even where there may be some fluttering and bruising of wings against the windowpanes, is it not?

Neither Victims Nor Executioners: Albert Camus on the Antidote to Violence

“If he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward.” “Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive,” Zadie Smith wrote in her spectacular essay on optimism and despair.

The Constitution of the Inner Country: Leonard Cohen on Words and the Poetry of Inhabiting Your Presence in Language

“The poem is nothing but information. It is the Constitution of the inner country.” “We die. That may be the meaning of life,” Toni Morrison asserted in her spectacular Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

A Burst of Light: Audre Lorde on Turning Fear Into Fire

“I am listening to what fear teaches. I will never be gone. I am a scar, a report from the frontlines, a talisman, a resurrection.

Against Busyness and Surfaces: Emerson on Living with Presence and Authenticity

On cultivating “the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & moon & solar system in its expanding immensity.” “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains?

Sylvia Beach and the World’s First International Writers’ Protest

When 167 literary titans banded together in solidarity with “that security of works of the intellect and the imagination without which art cannot live.” “You may gather from my article what Ulysses has done to a supposedly balanced psychologist,” Carl Jung wrote in his blistering review of James Joyce’s Ulysses a decade after the publication of the trailblazing novel that had unbalanced literature and pioneered a new literary aesthetic of stream-of-consciousness narrative.

An Evolutionary Anatomy of Affect: Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio on How and Why We Feel What We Feel

“How and what we create culturally and how we react to cultural phenomena depend on the tricks of our imperfect memories as manipulated by feelings.” “A purely disembodied human emotion is a nonentity,” William James wrote in his pioneering 1884 theory of how our bodies affect our feelings.

The Continuous Thread of Revelation: Eudora Welty on Writing, Time, and Embracing the Nonlinearity of How We Become Who We Are

“Greater than scene… is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.” To be human is to unfold in time but remain discontinuous.

The Temple of Knowledge: An Animated Celebration of How Libraries Change Lives

One man’s love letter to finding higher horizons among the stacks. “Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free.

A Placid Ecstasy: Walt Whitman’s Most Direct Reflection on Happiness

“What is happiness, anyhow? … so impalpable — a mere breath, an evanescent tinge…” “One can’t write directly about the soul,”, Virginia Woolf wrote.