Articles by Maria Popova

We found 176 results.


Against Busyness and Surfaces: Emerson on Living with Presence and Authenticity
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 15 Jul 2019

“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? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.” — Walt Whitman

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“Little Prince” Author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on Losing a Friend
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 24 Jun 2019

“Old friends cannot be created out of hand. Nothing can match the treasure of common memories, of trials endured together, of quarrels and reconciliations and generous emotions.”

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Kierkegaard on the Individual vs. the Crowd, Why We Conform, and the Power of the Minority
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 10 Jun 2019

“Truth always rests with the minority … because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion.”

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How to Keep Criticism from Sinking Your Confidence: Walt Whitman and the Discipline of Creative Self-Esteem
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 3 Jun 2019

“I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood.”

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Germaine de Staël’s Guide to Haters
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 May 2019

The First Modern Woman on Meritocracy, the Psychology of Why the Masses Rejoice in Tearing Down Successful Individuals, and the Only True Measure of Genius – “The life of man, so short in itself, is still of longer duration than the judgment and the affections of his contemporaries.”

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The Art of Being Alone: May Sarton’s Stunning 1938 Ode to Solitude
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 20 May 2019

“There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone.”

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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on How a Simple Human Smile Saved His Life
Maria Popova| Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 May 2019

“Care granted to the sick, welcome offered to the banished, forgiveness itself are worth nothing without a smile enlightening the deed.”

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Rachel Carson on Writing and the Loneliness of Creative Work
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 6 May 2019

“If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in… you will interest other people.”

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The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 29 Apr 2019

“Loneliness is difficult to confess; difficult too to categorise. Like depression, a state with which it often intersects, it can run deep in the fabric of a person.”

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Stress and the Social Self: How Relationships Affect Our Immune System
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 15 Apr 2019

“We are all tethered to our social worlds by invisible but steel strong wires.” Relationships refine our truths. But they also, it turns out, refine our immune systems. That’s what pioneering immunologist Esther Sternberg examines in The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions — a revelatory inquiry into how emotional stress affects our susceptibility to burnout and disease.

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Thoreau on the Long Cycles of Social Change and the Importance of Not Mistaking Politics for Progress
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 8 Apr 2019

All men are partially buried in the grave of custom, and of some we see only the crown of the head above ground. Better are the physically dead, for they more lively rot. Even virtue is no longer such if it be stagnant. A man’s life should be constantly as fresh as this river. It should be the same channel, but a new water every instant. The longer the lever the less perceptible its motion… The hero then will know how to wait, as well as to make haste. All good abides with him who waiteth wisely.

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Pablo Neruda: Against the Illusion of Separateness
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Apr 2019

There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song — but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.

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Maya Angelou (4 Apr 1928 – 28 May 2014): Identity and the Meaning of Life
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Apr 2019

Angelou’s timeless wisdom shines with unparalleled light in a 1977 interview by journalist Judith Rich, in which Angelou explores issues of identity and the meaning of life.

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The Difficult Balance of Intimacy and Independence: Beloved Philosopher and Poet Kahlil Gibran on the Secret to a Loving and Lasting Relationship
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 25 Mar 2019

“Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

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Create Dangerously: Albert Camus on the Artist as a Voice of Resistance and a Liberator of Society
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 18 Mar 2019

“To create today is to create dangerously… The question, for all those who cannot live without art and what it signifies, is merely to find out how, among the police forces of so many ideologies… the strange liberty of creation is possible.”

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John Steinbeck on Good and Evil, the Necessary Contradictions of the Human Nature, and Our Grounds for Lucid Hope
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 11 Mar 2019

“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.”

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Nobel-Winning Physicist Niels Bohr on Subjective vs. Objective Reality and the Uses of Religion in a Secular World
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Mar 2019

“The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won’t get us very far.”

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Carl Sagan on Mystery, Why Common Sense Blinds Us to the Universe, and How to Live with the Unknown
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 25 Feb 2019

“We are bathing in mystery and confusion on many subjects, and I think that will always be our destiny. The universe will always be much richer than our ability to understand it.”

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Against the Illusion of Separateness: Pablo Neruda’s Beautiful and Humanistic Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Feb 2019

Our original guiding stars are struggle and hope. But there is no such thing as a lone struggle, no such thing as a lone hope. In every human being are combined the most distant epochs, passivity, mistakes, sufferings, the pressing urgencies of our own time, the pace of history.

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Hermann Hesse on Solitude, the Value of Hardship, the Courage to Be Yourself, and How to Find Your Destiny
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Feb 2019

Most men, the herd, have never tasted solitude. They leave father and mother, but only to crawl to a wife and quietly succumb to new warmth and new ties. They are never alone, they never commune with themselves. And when a solitary man crosses their path, they fear him and hate him like the plague; they fling stones at him and find no peace until they are far away from him. The air around him smells of stars, of cold stellar spaces; he lacks the soft warm fragrance of the home and hatchery.

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A Small Dark Light: The Legacy of the Tao Te Ching and What It Continues to Teach Us about Personal and Political Power 2,500 Years Later
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 31 Dec 2018

“It is the profound modesty of the language that offers what so many people for so many centuries have found in this book: a pure apprehension of the mystery of which we are part.”

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Thoreau on Nature as Prayer
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 24 Dec 2018

“In the street and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean. No amount of gold or respectability would in the least redeem it — dining with the Governor or a member of Congress!! But alone in distant woods or fields, in unpretending sprout lands or pastures tracked by rabbits, even on a black and, to most, cheerless day, like this, when a villager would be thinking of his inn, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that the cold and solitude are friends of mine.”

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Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves? Leo Tolstoy on Why We Drink
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 17 Dec 2018

The cause of the world-wide consumption of hashish, opium, wine, and tobacco, lies not in the taste, nor in any pleasure, recreation, or mirth they afford, but simply in man’s need to hide from himself the demands of conscience. When a man is sober he is ashamed of what seems all right when he is drunk. In these words we have the essential underlying cause prompting men to resort to stupefiers.

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Truth, Justice, and Public Good: Simone Weil on Political Manipulation, the Dangers of “For” and “Against,” and How to Save Thinking from Opinion
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 10 Dec 2018

“True attention is a state so difficult for any human creature, so violent, that any emotional disturbance can derail it. Therefore, one must always endeavour strenuously to protect one’s inner faculty of judgment against the turmoil of personal hopes and fears.”

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Nicole Krauss’s Beautiful Letter to Van Gogh on Fear, Bravery, and How to Break the Loop of Our Destructive Patterns
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 3 Dec 2018

“Bravery is always more intelligent than fear, since it is built on the foundation of what one knows about oneself: the knowledge of one’s strength and capacity, of one’s passion.”

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Why We Hurt Each Other: Tolstoy’s Letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Truth of the Human Spirit
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 26 Nov 2018

The exchange sparked an ongoing correspondence between the two that lasted until Tolstoy’s death — a meeting of two great minds and spirits, eventually collected in Letters from One: Correspondence (and more) of Leo Tolstoy and Mohandas Gandhi and rivaled only by Einstein’s correspondence with Freud on violence and human nature.

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The Dalai Lama on Science and Spirituality
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 26 Nov 2018

“What science finds to be nonexistent we should all accept as nonexistent, but what science merely does not find is a completely different matter.”

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Tchaikovsky on Depression and Finding Beauty amid the Wreckage of the Soul
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 19 Nov 2018

“Life is beautiful in spite of everything! … There are many thorns, but the roses are there too.”

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How Leo Tolstoy Found His Purpose: The Beloved Author on Personal Growth and the Meaning of Human Existence
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 12 Nov 2018

So I too shall be safe in taking for the aim of my existence a conscious striving for the universal development of everything existent. I should be the unhappiest of mortals if I could not find a purpose for my life, and a purpose at once universal and useful… Wherefore henceforth all my life must be a constant, active striving for that one purpose.

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Borges on Turning Trauma, Misfortune, and Humiliation into Raw Material for Art
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 22 Oct 2018

“All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”

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An Antidote to White Male Capitalist Culture: Adrienne Rich on the Liberating Power of Storytelling and How Reading Emancipates
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Oct 2018

“The decline in adult literacy means not merely a decline in the capacity to read and write, but a decline in the impulse to puzzle out, brood upon… argue about, turn inside-out in verbal euphoria, the ‘incomparable medium’ of language…”

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Artist Louise Bourgeois on How Solitude Enriches Creative Work
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 24 Sep 2018

You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love. That is why geometrically speaking the circle is a one. Everything comes to you from the other. You have to be able to reach the other. If not you are alone…

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The Day Dostoyevsky Discovered the Meaning of Life in a Dream
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 10 Sep 2018

True to Stephen King’s assertion that “good fiction is the truth inside the lie,” the story sheds light on Dostoyevsky’s personal spiritual and philosophical bents with extraordinary clarity — perhaps more so than any of his other published works. The contemplation at its heart falls somewhere between Tolstoy’s tussle with the meaning of life and Philip K. Dick’s hallucinatory exegesis.

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Philosopher Martin Buber on Love and What It Means to Live in the Present
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 Aug 2018

Love does not cling to the I in such a way as to have the Thou only for its “content,” its object; but love is between I and Thou. The man who does not know this, with his very being know this, does not know love; even though he ascribes to it the feelings he lives through, experiences, enjoys, and expresses… Love is responsibility of an I for a Thou.

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How to Grow Old: Bertrand Russell on What Makes a Fulfilling Life
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 16 Jul 2018

“Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.”

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Seneca on Gratitude and What It Means to Be a Generous Human Being
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 Jul 2018

The wise man… enjoys the giving more than the recipient enjoys the receiving… None but the wise man knows how to return a favour. Even a fool can return it in proportion to his knowledge and his power; his fault would be a lack of knowledge rather than a lack of will or desire.

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Little Panic: A Literary Laboratory Exploring What It Is Like to Live in the Stranglehold of Anxiety and What It Takes to Break Free
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 Jul 2018

“This terrible truth binds us all: fear there’s a single, unattainable, correct way to be human.”

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Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 25 Jun 2018

How to fine-tune the internal monologue that scores every aspect of our lives, from leadership to love. One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality. The consequences of believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutably ingrained traits are remarkable

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William James on Consciousness and the Four Features of Transcendent Experiences
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 20 Jun 2018

“Our normal waking consciousness… is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.”

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Pythagoras on the Purpose of Life and the Meaning of Wisdom
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 11 Jun 2018

Abiding insight into the aim of human existence from the man who revolutionized science and coined the word “philosopher.”

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Maya Angelou (4 Apr 1928 – 28 May 2014): Identity and the Meaning of Life
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 Apr 2018

Angelou’s timeless wisdom shines with unparalleled light in a 1977 interview by journalist Judith Rich, in which Angelou explores issues of identity and the meaning of life.

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I and Thou: Philosopher Martin Buber on the Art of Relationship and What Makes Us Real to One Another
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 26 Mar 2018

The primary word I–Thou can be spoken only with the whole being. Concentration and fusion into the whole being can never take place through my agency, nor can it ever take place without me. I become through my relation to the Thou; as I become I, I say Thou. All real living is meeting.

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Zadie Smith on Optimism and Despair
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 5 Mar 2018

“Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive.”

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The Courage to Be Yourself: E.E. Cummings on Art, Life, and Being Unafraid to Feel
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 29 Jan 2018

“To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.” “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” wrote the thirty-year-old Nietzsche.

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Bruce Lee’s Never before Revealed Letters to Himself about Authenticity, Personal Development, and the Measure of Success
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 22 Jan 2018

Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are too busy in wasting their vital creative energy to project themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like rather than actualizing their potentiality as a human being, a sort of “being” vs. having — that is, we do not “have” mind, we are simply mind. We are what we are.

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A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 15 Jan 2018

There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.

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The Binary Code of Body and Spirit: Computing Pioneer Alan Turing on Mortality
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Jan 2018

When Christopher died of bovine tuberculosis in 1930 Alan fell to pieces. He was able to collect himself only through work, by burrowing so deep into the underbelly of mathematics that he emerged almost on the other side, where science and metaphysics meet. Sorrow had taken him on a crusade to make sense of reality. He wanted to understand how he could remain so attached to someone who no longer existed materially but who felt so overwhelmingly alive in his spirit.

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The Banality of Evil: Hannah Arendt on the Normalization of Human Wickedness and Our Only Effective Antidote to It
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 25 Dec 2017

“Under conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not… No more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”

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Between Sinew and Spirit: Are You a Body with a Mind or a Mind with a Body?
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 Nov 2017

An Animated Journey to the Center of the Self – “The body provides something for the spirit to look after and use,” computing pioneer Alan Turing wrote as he anguished at the intersection of love and loss. And yet we are creatures of atoms, with spirit and sinew inextricably entwined.

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Trailblazing Astronomer Maria Mitchell on Science, Spirituality, and the Conquest of Truth
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 Nov 2017

“The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both,” Carl Sagan wrote shortly before his death. An entire century earlier, another patron saint of cosmic insight contemplated this enduring question with equal parts wisdom and warm wit. “Every formula which expresses a law of nature is a hymn of praise to God.”

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The Search for a New Humility: Václav Havel on Reclaiming Our Human Interconnectedness in a Globalized Yet Divided World
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 Oct 2017

The main task in the coming era is a radical renewal of our sense of responsibility. Our conscience must catch up to our reason, otherwise we are lost. It is my profound belief that there is only one way to achieve this: we must divest ourselves of our egotistical anthropocentrism, our habit of seeing ourselves as masters of the universe who can do whatever occurs to us. We must discover a new respect for what transcends us: for the universe, for the earth, for nature, for life, and for reality.

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Gauguin’s Stirring First-Hand Account of What Actually Happened the Night Van Gogh Cut off His Own Ear
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 28 Aug 2017

Certain relationships are charged with an intensity of feeling that incinerates the walls we habitually erect between platonic friendship, romantic attraction, and intellectual-creative infatuation. One of the most dramatic of those superfriendships unfolded between the artists Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, whose relationship was animated by an acuity of emotion so lacerating that it led to the famous and infamously mythologized incident in which Van Gogh cut off his own ear.

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John Quincy Adams on Efficiency vs. Effectiveness, the Proper Aim of Ambition, and His Daily Routine
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 28 Aug 2017

Digging at the heart of modernity’s foundational disconnect between efficiency and effectiveness: our tendency to pour tremendous energy into doing things, with little reflection on whether those are the right things to do in the first place.

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When Things Fall Apart: Tibetan Buddhist Nun and Teacher Pema Chödrön on Transformation through Difficult Times
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 31 Jul 2017

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us… We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.”

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Seneca on True and False Friendship
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 29 May 2017

“Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.” “Friendship is unnecessary,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

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The Infinite Hotel Paradox: A Brilliant Animated Thought Experiment to Help You Grasp the Mind-Bending Concept of Infinity
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 10 Apr 2017

“Infinity is a demented concept,” astrophysicist Janna Levin, who studies the finitude of the universe, wrote in her spectacular diary-turned-book about the universe. Infinity is also a dementing concept.

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Maya Angelou (4 Apr 1928 – 28 May 2014): On Identity and the Meaning of Life
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 3 Apr 2017

Angelou’s timeless wisdom shines with unparalleled light in a 1977 interview by journalist Judith Rich, in which Angelou explores issues of identity and the meaning of life.

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Atom, Archetype, and the Invention of Synchronicity: How Iconic Psychiatrist Carl Jung and Nobel-Winning Physicist Wolfgang Pauli Bridged Mind and Matter
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 Mar 2017

Two of humanity’s greatest minds explore the parallels between spacetime and the psyche, the atomic nucleus and the self.

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The Binary Code of Body and Spirit: Computing Pioneer Alan Turing on Mortality
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 6 Mar 2017

“The body provides something for the spirit to look after and use.” Turing’s decryption of Nazi communication code is estimated to have shortened WWII by two to four years, consequently saving anywhere between 14 and 21 million lives. But despite his wartime heroism, Turing was driven to suicide after being chemically castrated by the U.K. government for being homosexual. More than half a century after his disquieting death, Queen Elizabeth II issued royal pardon — a formal posthumous apology that somehow only amplifies the tragedy of Turing’s life and death.

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Bruce Lee’s Never before Revealed Letters to Himself about Authenticity, Personal Development, and the Measure of Success
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 Feb 2017

“I have come to accept life as a process and am satisfied that in my ever-going process, I am constantly discovering, expanding, finding the cause of my ignorance, in martial art and especially in life. In short, to be real… Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are too busy in wasting their vital creative energy to project themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like rather than actualizing their potentiality as a human being.”

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The Banality of Evil: Hannah Arendt on the Normalization of Human Wickedness and Our Only Effective Antidote to It
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 20 Feb 2017

“Under conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not… No more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”

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The Joy of Suffering Overcome: Young Beethoven’s Stirring Letter to His Brothers About the Loneliness of Living with Deafness and How Music Saved His Life
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 13 Feb 2017

“Ah! how could I possibly quit the world before bringing forth all that I felt it was my vocation to produce?”

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The History of Zero: How Ancient Mesopotamia Invented the Mathematical Concept of Naught and Ancient India Gave It Symbolic Form
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 6 Feb 2017

“If you look at zero you see nothing; but look through it and you will see the world.” –Mathematician Robert Kaplan. If the ancient Arab world had closed its gates to foreign travelers, we would have no medicine, no astronomy, and no mathematics — at least not as we know them today.

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An Experiment in Love: Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Six Pillars of Nonviolent Resistance and the Ancient Greek Notion of ‘Agape’
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 16 Jan 2017

“Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives.”

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Albert Camus on Consciousness and the Lacuna between Truth and Meaning
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 Jan 2017

“From the evening breeze to this hand on my shoulder, everything has its truth. Consciousness illuminates it by paying attention to it.”

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Toni Morrison on the Power of Language: Her Spectacular Nobel Acceptance Speech after Becoming the First African American Woman Awarded the Accolade
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 19 Dec 2016

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Morrison took the podium at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm and accepted the accolade with a spectacular speech about the power of language — its power to oppress and to liberate, to scar and to sanctify, to plunder and to redeem. Morrison’s address remains perhaps our most powerful manifesto for the responsibility embedded in how we wield the tool that stands as the hallmark of our species.

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The Greatest Science Books of 2016
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 12 Dec 2016

From the sound of spacetime to time travel to the microbiome, by way of polar bears, dogs, and trees.

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Genes and the Holy G: The Dark Cultural History of IQ and Why We Can’t Measure Intelligence
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 5 Dec 2016

“If the history of medical genetics teaches us one lesson, it is to be wary of precisely such slips between biology and culture… Genes cannot tell us how to categorize or comprehend human diversity; environments can, cultures can, geographies can, histories can.” IQ testing perilous cultural legacy is what practicing physician, research scientist, and Pulitzer-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee explores.

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On Nonconformity: Artist Ben Shahn’s Spirited Defense of Nonconformists as Society’s Engine of Growth and Greatness
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 28 Nov 2016

“Without the nonconformist, any society of whatever degree of perfection must fall into decay.”

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There Is a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In: Leonard Cohen on Democracy and Its Redemptions
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 14 Nov 2016

Trained as a poet and ordained as a Buddhist monk, Leonard Cohen (21 Sep 1934–10 Nov 2016) is our patron saint of sorrow and redemption. He wrote songs partway between philosophy and prayer — songs radiating the kind of prayerfulness which Simone Weil celebrated as “the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

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10 Learnings from 10 Years of Brain Pickings
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 24 Oct 2016

Fluid Reflections on Keeping a Solid Center – I left Bulgaria for America lured by the liberal arts education promise of being taught how to live. As the reality fell short of that promise, I began keeping my own record of what I was reading and learning outside the classroom in mapping this academically unaddressed terra incognita of being.

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What Color Is The Wind? A Most Unusual Serenade to the Senses, Inspired by a Blind Child
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 17 Oct 2016

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in The Little Prince. Those bereft of vision, therefore, need not be bereft of the essential — they discern it by means other than sight. An imaginative invitation to empathy and self-expansion.

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The Secret Life of Trees: The Astonishing Science of What Trees Feel and How They Communicate
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 10 Oct 2016

“A tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it.” Trees dominate the world, the oldest living organisms. Hermann Hesse called them “the most penetrating of preachers.”

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The Private Person and the Public Persona: Borges on the Divided Self
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 26 Sep 2016

However integrated the our layered identity may be, our twined nature stands like a stereogram — two separate and noticeably different views, composed into a single three-dimensional image of personhood only through the special focal mechanism of our own consciousness.

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A New Refutation of Time: Borges on the Most Paradoxical Dimension of Existence
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 26 Sep 2016

“Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”

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The Sound of Silence: An Illustrated Serenade to the Art of Listening to One’s Inner Voice amid the Noise of Modern Life
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 12 Sep 2016

A tender reminder that silence is not the absence of sound but the presence of an inward-listening awareness.

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Proust on Love and How Our Intellect Blinds Us to the Wisdom of the Heart
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 15 Aug 2016

“Our intelligence, however lucid, cannot perceive the elements that compose it and remain unsuspected.”

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Bruce Lee’s Never-Before-Seen Writings on Willpower, Emotion, Reason, Memory, Imagination, and Confidence
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 8 Aug 2016

“You will never get any more out of life than you expect.”

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A Largeness of Contemplation: Bertrand Russell on Intuition, the Intellect, and the Nature of Time
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 1 Aug 2016

Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom. The greatest men who have been philosophers have felt the need both of science and of mysticism: the attempt to harmonise the two was what made their life, and what always must, for all its arduous uncertainty, make philosophy, to some minds, a greater thing than either science or religion.

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Thoreau on How to Use Civil Disobedience to Advance Justice
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 18 Jul 2016

Civil Disobedience is an indispensable read for every democratically minded, socially conscious human being awake to justice. “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” — Thoreau

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Schopenhauer on What Makes a Genius and the Crucial Difference between Talent and Genius
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Jul 2016

“Genius is the power of leaving one’s own interests, wishes, and aims entirely out of sight… so as to remain pure knowing subject, clear vision of the world.”
“Genius gives birth, talent delivers.”

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Thin Slices of Anxiety: An Illustrated Meditation on What It’s Like to Live Enslaved by Worry and How to Break Free
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Jul 2016

A guided tour of this pernicious prison of the psyche, honest and assuring in its honesty.

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The Science of How Our Minds and Our Bodies Converge in the Healing of Trauma
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 27 Jun 2016

“When our senses become muffled, we no longer feel fully alive… If you have a comfortable connection with your inner sensations … you will feel in charge of your body, your feelings, and your self.”

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A Brief History of the Toilet
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 6 Jun 2016

How the most appropriately named inventor in history saved humanity from a centuries-long crisis. Perhaps no word in English has undergone more transformations in its lifetime than toilet. And the final link in this chain of problem-solving came from an inventor with perhaps the most brilliantly appropriate name in history: Thomas Crapper.

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How Leo Tolstoy Found His Purpose: The Beloved Author on Personal Growth and the Meaning of Human Existence
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 23 May 2016

So I too shall be safe in taking for the aim of my existence a conscious striving for the universal development of everything existent. I should be the unhappiest of mortals if I could not find a purpose for my life, and a purpose at once universal and useful… Wherefore henceforth all my life must be a constant, active striving for that one purpose.

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In Praise of the Tamed Metaphysicist: Einstein on Reality, Rationality, and the Human Passion for Comprehension
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 16 May 2016

“Reason is a tool, a machine, which is driven by the spiritual fire,” Dostoyevsky wrote in 1838 as he contemplated how we come to know truth.

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Nobel-Winning Physicist Frank Wilczek on Complementarity as the Quantum of Life and Why Reality Is Woven of Opposing Truths
Maria Popova | Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 May 2016

“You can recognize a deep truth by the feature that its opposite is also a deep truth.” When confronted with the world’s complexity, we default into navigating it by creating artificial binaries, perceiving contradiction where they might in fact only be complementarity. Wilczek points to one familiar example — the fact that light is neither inherently a particle nor inherently a wave, but can be either depending on how we measure it.

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Don’t Heed the Haters: Albert Einstein’s Wonderful Letter of Support to Marie Curie in the Midst of Scandal
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 25 Apr 2016

“If the rabble continues to occupy itself with you, then simply don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.”

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Aldous Huxley on the Transcendent Power of Music and Why It Sings to Our Souls
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 11 Apr 2016

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death — all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence. After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

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The Art of Living: The Great Humanistic Philosopher Erich Fromm on Having vs. Being and How to Set Ourselves Free from the Chains of Our Culture
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 28 Mar 2016

“The full humanization of man requires the breakthrough from the possession-centered to the activity-centered orientation, from selfishness and egotism to solidarity and altruism.”

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Seneca on How to Fortify Yourself against Fear and Misfortune
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 22 Feb 2016

“If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes.” The great Roman philosopher — a man of timeless wisdom on ‘how to stretch life’s shortness by living wide rather than long’ — took this point to its exquisite extreme in a letter to his friend Lucilius Junior.

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The Soul of an Octopus: How One of Earth’s Most Alien Creatures Illuminates the Wonders of Consciousness
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 4 Jan 2016

Montgomery begins with a seemingly simple premise. The octopus is a creature magnificently dissimilar to us — it can change shape and color, tastes with its skin, has its mouth in its armpit, and is capable of squeezing its entire body through a hole the size of an apple. And since we humans experience reality in profoundly different ways from one another, based on our individual consciousnesses, then the octopus must be inhabiting an altogether different version of what we call reality.

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Bruce Lee on Self-Actualization and the Crucial Difference between Pride and Self-Esteem
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 21 Dec 2015

“Real self-esteem is an integration of an inner value with things in the world around you,” Anna Deavere Smith wrote. “When, for whatever reason, self-esteem is unattainable, the autonomous individual becomes a highly explosive entity. He turns away from an unpromising self and plunges into the pursuit of pride — the explosive substitute for self-esteem.” –Bruce Lee

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The Art of Self-Culture and the Crucial Difference between Being Educated and Being Cultured
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 14 Dec 2015

“In order to be cultured and not to stand below the level of your surroundings it is not enough to have read ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and learnt a monologue from ‘Faust,’ Anton Chekhov wrote in an 1886 letter to his brother, outlining the eight qualities of cultured people — among them sincerity, “no shallow vanity,” and a compassionate heart that “aches for what the eye does not see.”

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‘Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs,’ by Lisa Randall
Maria Popova - International New York Times, 30 Nov 2015

Dark matter is the invisible cosmic stuff that, like ordinary matter — which makes up the stars and the stardust, you and me and everything we know — interacts with gravity but, unlike ordinary matter, doesn’t interact with light. Although scientists know that dark matter exists and accounts for a staggering 85 percent of the universe.

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Nicole Krauss’s Beautiful Letter to Van Gogh on Fear, Bravery, and How to Break the Loop of Our Destructive Patterns
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 16 Nov 2015

“Bravery is always more intelligent than fear, since it is built on the foundation of what one knows about oneself: the knowledge of one’s strength and capacity, of one’s passion.”
[NOTE FROM TMS EDITOR: Last week we posted: Vincent van Gogh on Fear, Taking Risks, and How Making Inspired Mistakes Moves Us Forward. Here Nicole Krauss answers to Van Gogh. Delightful dialogue of minds.]

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Vincent van Gogh on Fear, Taking Risks, and How Making Inspired Mistakes Moves Us Forward
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 9 Nov 2015

“However meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth … steps in and does something.”

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Ben Hecht on Greatness, the Radiance of Realness, and the Rewards of Keeping in Touch with the Soul of Your Childhood
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 Nov 2015

In a culture that continually mistakes prestige for purpose and defines who we are by what we do, what remains of our being when the doing is stripped away and what does success really mean to those innermost selves buried beneath layers of cultural conditioning?

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A New and Sweeping Utopia of Life: Gabriel García Márquez’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 2 Nov 2015

“A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.”

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Nietzsche on How to Find Yourself and the True Value of Education
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings – TRANSCEND Media Service, 12 Oct 2015

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!

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