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Lucille Clifton Reads “Won’t You Celebrate With Me”


A glorious ode to claiming one’s belonging in that space between starshine and clay. “One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated,” poet Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1936–February 13, 2010) told Poets & Writers Magazine in 1992.

The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks


“I had no room now for this fear, or for any other fear, because I was filled to the brim with music.” I was a relative latecomer to the work of Oliver Sacks (July 9, 1933–August 20, 2015), that great enchanter of storytelling who spent his life bridging science and the human spirit — partly because I was not yet born when he first bewitched the reading public with his writing, and partly because those early books never made it past the Iron Curtain and into the Bulgaria of my childhood.

August 31, 1837: Emerson’s Superb Speech on the Life of the Mind, the Art of Creative Reading, and the Building Blocks of Genius


“Character is higher than intellect. Thinking is the function. Living is the functionary… A great soul will be strong to live, as well as strong to think.” On August 31, 1837, Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered one of the most extraordinary speeches of all time — a sweeping meditation on the life of the mind, the purpose of education, the art of creative reading, and the building blocks of of genius.

Love, Kindness, and the Song of the Universe: The Night Jack Kerouac Kept a Young Woman from Taking Her Own Life


“I felt his pain deeply, and his beauty, and his knowledge.” In the late 1950s, a young woman named Lois Sorrells Beckwith did what many passionate book-lovers find themselves doing — she fell in love with an author through his work; not with the writing alone, but with the man.

Goethe on Beginner’s Mind and the Discipline of Discernment in Your Media Diet


“One must be something in order to do something.” By the turn of the 19th century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832) was not only the world’s most celebrated poet, “the Olympian” of literature, but also a polymath of varied interests, from his fascination with the science of clouds to his psychological theory of color and emotion.

The Iron Giant: The 1968 Classic Celebrating Humanity’s Capacity for Harmony, Reimagined in Gorgeous Illustrations by Artist Laura Carlin


“One must be something in order to do something.” By the turn of the 19th century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832) was not only the world’s most celebrated poet, “the Olympian” of literature, but also a polymath of varied interests, from his fascination with the science of clouds to his psychological theory of color and emotion.

Happy Birthday, Goethe: The Beloved Poet on Beginner’s Mind and Choosing One’s Influences


“One must be something in order to do something.” By the turn of the 19th century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832) was not only the world’s most celebrated poet, “the Olympian” of literature, but also a polymath of varied interests, from his fascination with the science of clouds to his psychological theory of color and emotion.

Hegel on Knowledge, Impatience, the Peril of Fixed Opinions, and the True Task of the Human Mind


“Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there.” I frequently lament a particularly prevalent pathology of our time — our extreme impatience with the dynamic process of attaining knowledge and transmuting it into wisdom.

Amanda Palmer’s Extraordinary BBC Open Letter on the Choice to Have a Child as a Working Artist


“We’re artists — not art factories.” “Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio,” Teresita Fernández wrote in her devastatingly beautiful meditation on being an artist.

Willa Cather on Happiness: A Soulful and Deeply Alive Account of True Bliss


“That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” The history of recorded thought it strewn with evidence that happiness lives in the most ordinary of moments.

Mad About Monkeys: A Loving Illustrated Encyclopedia of Weird and Wonderful Kindred Creatures


A captivating primer on our fellow primates, from belligerent baboons to brilliant macaques. We share this planet we call home with an astonishing array of equally astonishing creatures.

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book: A Beautiful Anatomy of Loss, Illustrated by Quentin Blake


“Sometimes I’m sad and I don’t know why. It’s just a cloud that comes along and covers me up.” “Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be,” Joan Didion wrote after losing the love of her life.

August 25, 1944: Picasso, the Liberation of Paris, and the Meaning of Heroism


“It’s easy to be a hero when you’re only risking your life.” “To be an artist,” Louise Bourgeois wrote in her diary, “is a guarantee to your fellow humans that the wear and tear of living will not let you become a murderer.” But how is an artist to be when the world itself becomes murderous?

Happy Birthday, Borges: The Beloved Writer on Public Opinion, Literature vs. the Other Arts, and the True Measure of Success


“When you come right down to it, opinions are the most superficial things about anyone.” Jorge Luis Borges (August 24, 1899–June 14 1986) is among humanity’s most beloved and influential writers.

Every Person in New York, Illustrated


From sleeping strangers to subway cellists to Nick Cave, a loving portrait of a city whose vibrant vitality never stands still.

Simone Weil on the Paradox of Friendship and Separation


“It is a fault to wish to be understood before we have made ourselves clear to ourselves.” Friendship is one of life’s greatest graces, and yet we hardly understand the gossamer threads of sympathy and love by which it binds us together.

How to Be a Trim Tab: Buckminster Fuller on the Key to Transformation and Personal Growth


“What you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count.” “The only transformation that interests me is a total transformation — however minute,” Susan Sontag wrote in her diary.

Three Animators Bring to Life Three Beautiful Readings of Walt Whitman’s “A Noiseless Patient Spider”


“And you, O my Soul, where you stand, surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space…” When Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) self-published his first book of poetry in 1855, his monumental hopes for this labor of love were met with a few shrieks of harsh criticism amid an ether of noiseless indifference, resulting in pitiful sales and a sunken heart.

The Genes of the Soul: Amin Maalouf on Belonging, Conflict, and How We Inhabit Our Identity


“A person’s identity … is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.” As a teenager in Bulgaria, the great joy of turning sixteen was finally qualifying for a passport.

A Six-Year-Old’s Advice on Life and Overcoming Fear, Turned into a Heartwarming Movie


Why thinking about pizza can be a potent form of cognitive-behavioral therapy for self-doubt. Children, MoMA curator Juliet Kinchin observed in her superb design history of childhood, “help us to mediate between the ideal and the real.” They perform this mediation as supreme masters of metaphor, bridging the real and the ideal by being fiercely unafraid of failure.


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