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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.

Simone Weil on Attention and Grace


“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” “Attention without feeling,” Mary Oliver wrote in her beautiful elegy for her soul mate, “is only a report.” To fully feel life course through us, indeed, we ought to befriend our own attention, that “intentional, unapologetic discriminator.” More than half a century before Oliver, another enchantress of the human spirit — the French philosopher Simone Weil (February 3, 1909–August 24, 1943), a mind of unparalleled intellectual elegance and a sort of modern saint whom Albert Camus described as “the only great spirit of our times” — wrote beautifully of attention as contemplative practice through which we reap the deepest rewards of our humanity.

The Rabbit Box: Unusual Vintage Children’s Book for Grownups Celebrates the Mystery of Life and the Magic of Falling in Love


“i waited for you to fall in love with someone else … but you didn’t & now i’m faced with the biggest terror of my life, knowing i am enough even at my worst for you to love me all your life.” In 1970, poet, playwright, and former priest Joseph Pintauro teamed up with artist Norman Laliberté on a marvelous limited-edition boxed set titled The Rainbow Box, containing four children’s books for grownups, each dedicated to a season and full of playful and poignant fragmentary meditations on love, loss, war, peace, loneliness, communion — in other words, the emotional kaleidoscope of life itself.

The Inner Light of Creativity: Vivian Gornick on How One Blossoms into Being an Artist


“I experienced a joy then I knew nothing else would ever equal. Not an ‘I love you’ in the world could touch it.” “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant — there is no such thing,” Georgia O’Keeffe wrote in her exquisite letter to Sherwood Anderson, adding: “Making your unknown known is the important thing.” Over the years, I’ve kept coming back to this as the most piercing and perfect definition of what it means to be an artist — an idea E.E.

An Illustrated Tour of New York City from a Dog’s Point of View

A vibrant concentration of humanity, seen through earnest eyes of wonderment and infectious enthusiasm.


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