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Pioneering Scientist Erwin Chargaff on the Power of Being an Outsider and What Makes a Great Teacher


“A teacher is one who can show you the way to yourself.” “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” Nietzsche wrote in his timeless treatise on education and how to find oneself.

Henry Beston on Happiness, Simplicity, and the Sacredness of Smallness


“The emotions have … their own sense of scale. In the emotional world a small thing can touch the heart and the imagination every bit as much as something impressively gigantic.” Partway between Thoreau and Wendell Berry, Henry Beston (June 1, 1888–April 15, 1968) endures as a rare poet laureate of nature.

Neuroscientist Sam Harris on Our Misconceptions About Free Will and How Acknowledging Its Illusoriness Liberates Us Rather Than Taking Away Our Freedom


“Understanding this truth about the human mind has the potential to change our sense of moral goodness and what it would mean to create a just society.” “When you come right down to it, how much of that was free will?

Susan Sontag on How Photography Mediates Our Relationship with Life and Death


“We no longer study the art of dying, a regular discipline and hygiene in older cultures; but all eyes, at rest, contain that knowledge.

Chelsea Clinton Reads James Baldwin on the Creative Process and the Artist’s Role in Society


“The war of an artist with his society is a lover’s war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.” “We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we are still each other’s only hope,” James Baldwin told Margaret Mead in their spectacular and searingly timely 1970 conversation about race.

The Effortless Effort of Creativity: Jane Hirshfield on Storytlling, the Art of Concentration, and Difficulty as a Consecrating Force of Creative Attention


“In the wholeheartedness of concentration, world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.” “The poets (by which I mean all artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us,” James Baldwin wrote in lamenting the artist’s struggle at a time “when something awful is happening to a civilization, when it ceases to produce poets, and, what is even more crucial, when it ceases in any way whatever to believe in the report that only the poets can make.” We no longer have Baldwin to awaken us to the gravest perils of our own era — one in which the poetic spirit isn’t merely neglected but is being forced to surrender at gunpoint.

Hemingway’s Tough-Love Letter of Advice to F. Scott Fitzgerald on Writing and Turning Suffering into Creative Fuel


“Forget your personal tragedy… Good writers always come back. Always.” In the spring of 1934, just before dispensing his finest advice on writing and ambition to an aspiring writer who had hitchhiked atop a coal car across the country to see him, Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899–July 2, 1961) received a request for input by a writer far less unknown: his old pal F.

The Power of Perception and Critical Imagination: Alfred Kazin on Embracing Contradiction and How the Sacredness of Human Attention Shapes Our Reality


“The day, the living day, the actual moment, the pang of real life, — to be faithful to this, one must always pay attention, one must never dismiss anything a priority as too trivial.” “Reality is what we take to be true,” pioneering physicist David Bohm asserted in 1977.

Arthur Schopenhauer on the Relationship Between Genius and Madness and How Memory Mediates the Blurry Line Between Sanity and Insanity


“Every advance of intellect beyond the ordinary measure, as an abnormal development, disposes to madness.” “I don’t believe insanity is either a requirement or a guarantee for brilliance,” cosmologist Janna Levin wrote in her elegant inquiry into madness and genius.

Snail, Where Are You? Tomi Ungerer’s Wordless Vintage Conceptual Masterpiece


An illustrated celebration of our pattern-recognition ability and a radiant invitation to attentive wonderment.

How to Neutralize Haters: E.E. Cummings, Creative Courage, and the Importance of Protecting the Artist’s Right to Challenge the Status Quo


“War and chaos have plagued the world for quite a long time, but each epoch creates its own special pulse-beat for the artists to interpret.” “The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself,” young E.E.

The Science of What Makes You You and How Old Your Body Really Is


A biological Ship-of-Theseus exploration of how quickly your body replaces itself, from your nails to your neurons.

Geoff Dyer on the Paradoxical Rewards of Our Capacity for Disappointment


“When I am no longer capable of disappointment the romance will be gone: I may as well be dead.” “We hope.

You Got Me Singing: Jack and Amanda Palmer’s Elegy for Time and Ode to the Dignity of the Downtrodden and the Dispossessed


A record of searing tenderness and sorrowful optimism, harmonizing heartbreak and hope. “After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music,” Aldous Huxley wrote.

How Astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell Shaped Our Understanding of the Universe by Discovering Pulsars, Only to Be Excluded from the Nobel Prize


How a sole “scruffy signal” jokingly attributed to “little green men” forever changed our image of the cosmos.

How Astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell Shaped Our Understanding of the Universe by Discovering Pulsars, Only to Be Excluded from the Nobel Prize


How a sole “scruffy signal” jokingly attributed to “little green men” forever changed our image of the cosmos.

William Blake’s Most Beautiful Letter: The 20-Year-Old Artist’s Searing Defense of the Imagination and the Creative Spirit


“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees.” “The genius,” Schopenhauer wrote in his timeless distinction between genius and talent, “lights on his age like a comet into the paths of the planets, to whose well-regulated and comprehensible arrangement its wholly eccentric course is foreign.” Unlike the person of talent, whose work simply exceeds in excellence the work of their contemporaries and is therefore easily appreciated by them, Schopenhauer argued that person of genius produces work which differs not in mere degree of excellence but in kind of vision.

The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: Astrophysicist Marcelo Gleiser on the Transcendence of Nature and Fishing as a Metaphor for the Pursuit of Knowledge


“We are surrounded by mystery, by what we don’t know and, more dramatically, by what we can’t know.” “You put that line,” the great director Robert Altman enthused about his love of fishing, “and you don’t know what’s on the other end.

Nora Ephron on Women, Politics, and the Myth of Objectivity in Journalism


“I’ve never believed in objective journalism … because all writing is about selecting what you want to use.

Happy Birthday, Thoreau: The Beloved Philosopher on How to Use Civil Disobedience to Advance Justice


“Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” “Truth always rests with the minority,” the great Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote in his diary in 1846 as he contemplated the individual vs.


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