On cultivating “the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & moon & solar system in its expanding immensity.”
Tag: Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings -> The Temple of Knowledge: An Animated Celebration of How Libraries Change Lives
One man’s love letter to finding higher horizons among the stacks.
“Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her beautiful essay on the sacredness of public libraries. “A library is a rainbow in the clouds,” Maya Angelou exulted in reflecting on how a library saved her life. It was thanks to the library that James Baldwin read his way from Harlem to the literary pantheon. “You never know what troubled little girl needs a book,” Nikki Giovanni wrote in one of her wonderful poems celebrating libraries and librarians.
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings ->The Continuous Thread of Revelation: Eudora Welty on Writing, Time, and Embracing the Nonlinearity of How We Become Who We Are
“Greater than scene… is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”
To be human is to unfold in time but remain discontinuous. We are living non sequiturs seeking artificial cohesion through the revisions our memory, that capricious seamstress, performs in threading the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. It is, after all, nothing but a supreme feat of storytelling to draw a continuous thread between one’s childhood self and one’s present-day self, since hardly anything makes these two entities “the same person” — not their height, not their social stature, not their beliefs, not their circle of friends, not even the very cells in their bodies. Somewhere in the lacuna between the experiencing self and the remembering self, we create ourselves in what is literally a matter of making sense — of craftsmanship — for, as Oliver Sacks so poignantly observed, it is narrative that holds our identity together.
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: I Am Loved: Nikki Giovanni’s Poems for Kids, Selected and Illustrated by Beloved 94-Year-Old Artist Ashley Bryan
I Am Loved (public library) — a lovely set of poems by Nikki Giovanni (b. June 7, 1943), one of the great poets of our time, illustrated by the prolific ninety-four-year-old artist, storyteller, and humanitarian Ashley Bryan (b. July 13, 1923).
In praise of “the rejoicing of strength that is returning, of a reawakened faith in a tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,… of impending adventures, of seas that are open again.”
“Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive.”
Applying the tenth of her ten rules of writing — “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.” — to life itself, Smith adds:
We will never be perfect: that is our limitation. But we can have, and have had, moments in which we can take genuine pride.
Nobel-Winning Physicist Niels Bohr on Subjective vs. Objective Reality and the Uses of Religion in a Secular World
“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.”
Ursula K. Le Guin on Art, Storytelling, and the Power of Language to Transform and Redeem
“One of the functions of art is to give people the words to know their own experience… Storytelling is a tool for knowing who we are and what we want.”
An inventory of the meaningful life.
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Ursula K. Le Guin on what makes life worth living, an illustrated meditation on our paths to acceptance, Jane Hirshfield on writing and the fluid self
A fierce thinker and largehearted, beautiful writer who considered writing an act of falling in love, Le Guin left behind a vast, varied body of work and wisdom, stretching from her illuminations of the artist’s task and storytelling as an instrument of freedom to her advocacy for public libraries to her feminist translation of the Tao Te Ching and her classic unsexing of gender.
In her final years, Le Guin examined what makes life worth living in a splendid piece full of her wakeful, winkful wisdom, titled “In Your Spare Time” and included as the opening essay in No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters (public library) — the final nonfiction collection published in her lifetime, which also gave us Le Guin on the uses and misuses of anger.
“Worshipped today, scorned or even crucified tomorrow,” Albert Einstein wrote in contemplating the fickleness of fame, “that is the fate of people whom — God knows why — the bored public has taken possession of.” And indeed the public itself often knows not why it has taken possession of those whom it inflates before deflating with the same rapaciousness and rapidity — such is the arbitrary and fleeting nature of popular favor in its gruesome modern guise of celebrity. “Success is the pageantry of genius,” Germaine de Staël wrote in her pioneering eighteenth-century treatise on happiness, but in the twenty-first century celebrity has become the simulacrum of success and visibility the simulacrum of genius.
An inventory of the meaningful life.
Read more – Brain Pickings