culture

A General Theory of Possibility: The Abstract Art of Otherwise and the Physics of Resilience

“As always happens with contradictions, something in the assumptions has to give… Declaring something impossible leads to more things being possible.” …

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Becoming the Marginalian: After 15 Years, Brain Pickings Reborn

Notes from the odyssey of ongoingness, notes for the symphony of aliveness. …

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Kinship: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Love Poem to Trees, the Interleaving of Life and Death, and the Eternal Flame of Being

A lyric reminder that “the word for world is forest” and the feeling of forest is love. …

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How (Not) to Love: Breaking Our Patterns to Unbreak Our Hearts, or, Chekhov’s Insight into the Most Disquieting and Liberating Truth about Love

“We want to believe that love is singular and exclusive, and it unnerves us to think that it might actually be renewable…” …

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The Century-Old Field Guide to Wonder and the Forgotten Woman Who Laid the Groundwork for the Youth Climate Action Movement

“All things seem possible in nature; yet this seeming is always guarded by the eager quest of what IS true. Perhaps half the falsehood in the world is due to lack of power to detect the truth and to express it.” …

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The Art of Solitude: Buddhist Scholar and Teacher Stephen Batchelor on Contemplative Practice and Creativity

“Here lies the paradox of solitude. Look long and hard enough at yourself in isolation and suddenly you will see the rest of humanity staring back.” …

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Alain de Botton on the Myth of Normalcy and the Importance of Breakdowns

“Crisis… is an attempt to dislodge us from a toxic status quo and constitutes an insistent call to rebuild our lives on a more authentic and sincere basis.” …

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The Beauty of the Overlooked: Philip Henry Gosse’s Stunning 19th-Century Illustrations of Coastal Creatures and Reflections on the Delicate Kinship of Life

“These objects are, it is true, among the humblest of creatures that are endowed with organic life… Here we catch the first kindling of that spark, which glows into so noble a flame in the Aristotles, the Newtons, and the Miltons of our heaven-gazing race.” …

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Thich Nhat Hanh on the Art of Deep Listening and the 3 Buddhist Steps to Repairing a Relationship

“The intention of deep listening and loving speech is to restore communication, because once communication is restored, everything is possible.” …

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Funeral March for the First Cosmonaut: Artist, Poet, and Philosopher Etel Adnan’s Stunning Painted Poem About Life, Death, Loneliness, and Our Cosmic Redemption

“In the beginning was the white page. In the beginning was the Sufi in orbit… In the beginning was color. In the beginning was music.” …

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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Lost Lectures on Social Change and the Three Archetypes of Youth

“There has always been a force struggling to respect higher values. None of the current evils rose without resistance, nor have they persisted without opposition.” …

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Broken Tulips: How a Virus Gave the World’s Most Prized Flower Its Beauty

An epochal intersection of art and science, ecology and culture, psychology and microbiology. …

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A Process for the Transfer of Energy and Feeling: George Saunders on the Key to Great Storytelling

“What a story is ‘about’ is to be found in the curiosity it creates in us, which is a form of caring.” …

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September 28, 1951: Alan Turing, the World’s First Digital Music, and the Poetry of Possibility

A hoot, a hummingbird, and an electronic hymn for the modern world. …

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Love, Death, and Whitman: Poet Mark Doty on the Paradox of Desire and the Courage to Love Against the Certitude of Loss

“Isn’t the flesh a way to drink of the fountain of otherhood, a way to taste the not-I, a way to blur the edges and thus feel the fact of them?… You need to both remember where love leads and love anyway; you can both see the end of desire and be consumed by it all at once.” …

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Place, Personhood, and the Hippocampus: The Fascinating Science of Magnetism, Autonoeic Consciousness, and What Makes Us Who We Are

“Often the places we grow up in… influence how we perceive and conceptualize the world, give us metaphors to live by, and shape the purpose that drives us.” …

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Between Restlessness and Rapture: Autumn and the Sensual Urgency of Aliveness

A wildlife ecologist’s serenade to the season that makes you “want to linger long enough to hear every sound and look far enough to see into forever.” …

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The Good Luck of Your Bad Luck: Marcus Aurelius on the Stoic Strategy for Weathering Life’s Waves and Turning Suffering into Strength

“What happened could have happened to anyone, but not everyone could have carried on.” …

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The Gifted Listener: Composer Aaron Copland on Honing Your Talent for Listening to Music

“There are few pleasures in art greater than the secure sense that one can recognize beauty when one comes upon it… Recognizing the beautiful in an abstract art like music partakes somewhat of a minor miracle.” …

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Blue Floats Away: A Tender Illustrated Fable About Our Capacity for Transformation, Told Through the Story of Water

In praise of our unfathomed capacity to experience beautiful new things beyond our habitual ideas of the possible. …

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The Unfinished Story of the World: Richard Powers’s Advice on Life and the Antidote to Cynicism

“This fluke, single, huge, cross-indexed, thermodynamic experiment of a story that the world has been inventing to tell itself at bedtime is still in embryo. It’s not even the outline of a synopsis of notes toward a rough draft yet.” …

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Bridging the Island Universes of Our Experience: Aldous Huxley on Making Sense of Ourselves and Each Other

“To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.” …

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The Blue Horses of Our Destiny: Artist Franz Marc, the Wisdom of Animals, and the Fight of Beauty Against Brutality

Tragedy and transcendence in the search for the spiritual in nature. …

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The Music of Trees: Improvisation, Iteration, and the Science of Immortality

“Potentially, every tree is immortal.” …

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How to Feel More Alive Each Day and Night: A Cosmic Nightwalk with Derek Jarman

“Here man has invented the heavens but the moon, not to be usurped, shines sickle bright, gathering our souls.” …

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How (Not) to Be a Writer: Chekhov on Why the Task of Art Is Not to Solve Problems But to Formulate Questions

“Anyone who says that the artist’s sphere leaves no room for questions, but deals exclusively with answers, has never done any writing or done anything with imagery.” …

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