HERE2:8

letters

Nick Cave on Living with Loss and the Central Paradox of Grief as a Portal to Aliveness

“The paradoxical effect of losing a loved one is that their sudden absence can become a feverish comment on that which remains… a luminous super-presence.” …

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The Storm, the Rainbow, and the Soul: Coleridge on the Interplay of Terror and Transcendence in Nature and Human Nature

“In the hollow… I sate for a long while sheltered, as if I had been in my own study in which I am now writing: there I sate with a total feeling worshipping the power and ‘eternal link’ of energy.” …

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I Long to Read More in the Book of You: Moomins Creator Tove Jansson’s Tender and Passionate Letters to the Love of Her Life

“I’m so unused to being happy that I haven’t really come to terms with what it involves… I feel like a garden that’s finally been watered, so my flowers can bloom.” …

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Poet, Philosopher, and Pioneering LGBT Rights Advocate Edward Carpenter’s Moving Love Letter of Gratitude to Walt Whitman

“You have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature.” …

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Love Beyond Label: Lisel Mueller’s Tender Poem About the Lush, Unclassifiable Bond Between Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann

A lovely antidote to “the rude, irrelevant question of our age,” the hollow assumption that “the event of two bodies meshing together establishes the degree of love.” …

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Life, Death, Chance, and Freeman Dyson

“These matters are in the hands of a blind fate whose decrees it is perhaps well that we cannot foresee.” …

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Marcus Aurelius in Love: The Future Stoic Philosopher and Roman Emperor’s Passionate Teenage Love Letters to His Tutor

“Those who love less should be helped out and lavished with more.” …

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Anne Gilchrist on Inner Wholeness, Our Greatest Obstacle to Happiness, and the Body as the Seedbed of a Flourishing Soul

“One of the hardest things to make a child understand is, that down underneath your feet, if you go far enough, you come to blue sky and stars again; that there really is no ‘down’ for the world, but only in every direction an ‘up.’” …

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The Heartbreak of Hans Christian Andersen

Of turning sorrow into song. …

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Favorite Books of 2019

From the hidden universe beneath our feet to delight as a countercultural force of courage and resistance, by way of Patti Smith, Toni Morrison, and the Greek myths. …

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How to Give Sensitively: Edmund Burke’s Remarkable Letter to His Children About Generosity and the Importance of Honoring the Dignity of Those in Need

“To spend little and give much, is the highest glory a man can aspire to.” …

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Dostoyevsky, Just After His Death Sentence Was Repealed, on the Meaning of Life

“To be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart — that’s what life is all about, that’s its task.” …

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Debbie Millman’s Touching Letter to Children About How Books Solace Our Heartbreak and Salve Our Existential Loneliness

“Books — like dogs — are among a handful of things on this planet that just want to be loved. And they will love you back, generously and selflessly, requiring very little in return.” …

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Beginnings at the End of Love: Rebecca West’s Extraordinary Love Letter to H.G. Wells in the Wake of Heartbreak

“I am always at a loss when I meet hostility, because I can love and I can do practically nothing else.” …

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Engraving Is Eternal Work: How do Dodge a Deadline Like William Blake

A subtle lesson in taking responsibility while protecting the integrity of the creative process and the freedom of the artistic imagination. …

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Losing the Birds, Finding the Words: Eve Ensler’s Extraordinary Letter of Apology to Mother Earth

“I am the reason the birds are missing… I am made of dirt and grit and stars and river, skin, bone, leaf, whiskers and claws. I am a part of you, of this, nothing more or less. I am mycelium, petal pistil and stamen… I am energy and I am dust. I am wave and I am wonder. I am an impulse and an order.” …

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Uncommon Wisdom from a Forgotten Genius: Olga Jacoby’s Extraordinary Letters on Love, Life, Death, Moral Courage, and Spiritual Purpose Without Religion

“Love, like strength and courage, is a strange thing; the more we give the more we find we have to give.” …

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Art, Atheism, and the Freedom of Expression: Frida Kahlo’s Searing Protest Letter to the President of Mexico

A spirited defense of “public freedom of expression and opinion, the means of progress of every free people.” …

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The Lioness in the Tall Grass: Farmer and Poet Laura Brown-Lavoie’s Extraordinary Letter to Children About the Power of Storytelling

In praise of sentences that pull you in with all their teeth. …

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Middle Age and the Art of Self-Renewal: An Extraordinary Letter from Pioneering Education Reformer Elizabeth Peabody

“The perilous time for the most highly gifted is not youth… The perilous season is middle age, when a false wisdom tempts them to doubt the divine origin of the dreams of their youth….” …

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Keats on Compassion

“The best of Men have but a portion of good in them — a kind of spiritual yeast in their frames which creates the ferment of existence — by which a Man is propell’d to act and strive and buffet with Circumstance.” …

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Keats on Depression and the Mightiest Consolation for a Heavy Heart

“I am now so depressed I have not an Idea to put to paper — my hand feels like lead — and yet it is an unpleasant numbness it does not take away the pain of existence…” …

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Alexander Chee’s Lovely Letter to Children About How Books Save Us

“A book to me is like a friend, a shelter, advice, an argument with someone who cares enough to argue with me for a better answer than the one we both already have.” …

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William Godwin’s Stunning 1794 Advice to a Young Activist on How to Confront the Status Quo with Self-Possession, Dignity, and Persuasive Conviction

“Above all… abstain from harsh epithets and bitter invective… Truth can never gain by passion, violence, and resentment. It is never so strong as in the firm, fixed mind, that yields to the emotions neither of rage nor fear.” …

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The Conflicted Love Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller: How an Intense Unclassifiable Relationship Shaped the History of Modern Thought

We suffer by wanting different things often at odds with one another, but we suffer even more by wanting to want different things. …

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