Posts Tagged: maria popova
Feeling anxious about today’s election? Brain Pickings gives us a look at how writer Mary Oliver copes when times are tough:
The second world—the world of literature—offered me, besides the pleasures of form, the sustentation of empathy (the first step of what Keats called negative capability) and I ran for it.
What is friendship if not learning the song of another’s heart and singing it back to them?
In a reflection on friendship and language, Brain Pickings’s Maria Popova explores Eudora Welty’s writings on the topic. Popova writes: “[I]t might be the basic necessities of friendship, [Welty] suggests, that sparked in us the evolutionary need for language.”...more
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reviews Albert Camus’s Lyrical and Critical Essays, and suggests works by Nietzsche and Susan Sontag to read alongside Camus’s eye- and mind-opening work:
If we are to save the mind we must ignore its gloomy virtues and celebrate its strength and wonder.
It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to put the severed parts together.
I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.
Brain Pickings shares with us a beautiful little vignette from Willa Cather’s masterpiece, My Ántonia, describing happiness in a perfect and simple way: with a character lying in the sun....more
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova muses on Richard Hamblyn’s The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies, which details the true story of Luke Howard, a 19th century English meteorologist whose work was admired by German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe....more
Franz Kafka’s letters reveal how the author’s father impacted his writing and his life, and a relationship fraught with fear. Kafka worried about his father’s “intellectual domination” creating an environment of “emotional tyranny.” Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova finds in Kafka’s letters a deeply haunting father-son relationship:
What I would have needed was a little encouragement, a little friendliness, a little keeping open of my road, instead of which you blocked it for me, though of course with the good intention of making me go another road.
Maria Popova collects the advice of Cheryl Strayed and uses Strayed’s words to deconstruct motherfuckery.
Invoking the time right before she wrote her first book, when she too was a twenty-something writer plagued by the same fear that she was “lazy and lame,” Strayed recounts how she “finally reached a point where the prospect of not writing a book was more awful than the one of writing a book that sucked”; in other words, she got off the nail.
(n.) an abnormal fear of failure or defeat; from the Greek kakos (“bad, evil”); syn. atychiphobia
Everybody in L.A. fails. We just do.
—Moby, from “Creativity and Freedom to Fail”
Maria Popova of Brainpickings pertinently asks in her March 2014 review of Sarah Lewis’s insightful book The Rise, “How, then, can we transcend that mental block, that existential worry, that keeps us from the very capacity for creative crash that keeps us growing and innovating?” It’s a trepidation we all have felt, whether it edges into the realm of “abnormal” or not: the fear of failure, of not succeeding, of letting someone down, whether it’s a teacher or a friend or just yourself....more
Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova talks with cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz about her new book On Looking, which is about the way sensory awareness impacts our perception of reality. The two discuss how “a writer is a professional observer” and how when you look at things more closely, you see—and imagine—them differently:
When you look closely at anything familiar, it kind of transmogrifies into something unfamiliar — the sort of cognitive version of saying your name again and again and again, or a word again and again and again, and getting a different sound of it after you’ve repeated it forty times.
British art giant David Hockney is best known for pop-art paintings like A Bigger Splash, but he has also worked in many other mediums—including, it seems, illustrations for children’s books.
Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova highlights a recently reissued collection of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm with striking, discomfiting drawings by Hockney....more
Brain Pickings’s Maria Popova collaborated with information designer Giorgia Lupi and Rumpus illustrator Wendy MacNaughton to create a series of super-charming illustrations of writers correlating their wake-up times with their creative productivity....more
Over at Brain Pickings, Maria Popova highlights the only known recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice.
In the recording, Woolf reads from an essay on craft (which Popova conveniently reprints in the post): “How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth?”
We hope it doesn’t sound disrespectful to point out that her voice sounds a lot like the Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey, and it’s delightfully mesmerizing....more
Advice my father gave me: never take liquor into the bedroom. Don’t stick anything in your ears. Be anything but an architect.
To celebrate Kurt Vonnegut, Maria Popova posted on her Brain Pickings an interesting list of advices the author use to give his children, excerpted from his collection of letters....more
In the 1920s, while living in Paris, poet E. E. Cummings wrote fairy tales for his only little daughter Nancy, which was an unknown fact until 1965.
Only four survived and published in a small booklet accompanied by drawing by Canadian artist John Eaton....more
Five years ago today, groundbreaking writer David Foster Wallace took his own life.
Maria Popova at Brain Pickings remembers him with a post excerpting Conversations with David Foster Wallace, a “collection of 22 interviews and profiles of the beloved author.” A preview:
Really good work probably comes out of a willingness to disclose yourself, open yourself up in spiritual and emotional ways that risk making you look banal or melodramatic or naive or unhip or sappy, and to ask the reader really to feel something.
Policy Mic has a fun post about the four worst things people tell young writers about writing.
Perhaps the most important of these to disregard is “Good writers always write well”:
Imagine you are someone who has no idea how to play a guitar.
Maria Popova from Brain Pickings takes a look at a chapter titled “New York Scenes” from Kerouac’s 1960 book, Lonesome Traveler.
According to Popova, the chapter is “a kind of narrative emotional cartography of Manhattan, woven of fascinating sketches of Gotham’s vibrant life and cast of characters as recorded in Kerouac’s travel journals, written in his signature style of spontaneous prose, complete with his famous disdain for apostrophes.”
After reading Popova’s article, one can’t help but long to travel back and party with Kerouac in New York, even if it were only for a night....more
Happy Birthday, Susan Sontag. You would have been 80 today.
Here is an entry from her collection of journals and notebooks, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh. Also, check out Rumpus contributor Wendy MacNaughton and Maria Popova’s fantastic collaborative illustration, Susan Sontag on Art....more
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings got her hands on a copy of William Faulkner’s only children’s book, written for his stepdaughter (and a few other children in his life) and published in a print run of 500.
With words like “choss” and “youall,” it may not be the best way to teach kids new vocabulary, but if the beautiful description of waking up doesn’t instill a lifelong desire to read, nothing will....more
The artwork is available on Etsy as an 11×14 print on heavy cotton rag paper with razored edges in a limited edition of 300, signed and numbered, bearing a hand-stamped inscription on the back....more