A timeless ode to the human spirit and the courage of “making poems in the lap of death.” “Poetry, like all art, has a trinitarian function: creative, redemptive, and sanctifying,” Vassar Miller asserted.
“Most people think of peace as a state of Nothing Bad Happening, or Nothing Much Happening. Yet if peace is to overtake us and make us the gift of serenity and well-being, it will have to be the state of Something Good Happening.” Each epoch creates a handful of grab-bag terms, phrased in its distinctive vocabulary, to hold its central anxieties.
‘It is … the greatest privilege for someone to look beyond our adult self in order to engage with — and forgive — the disappointed, furious, inarticulate child within.” “Nothing awakens us to the reality of life so much as a true love,” Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother.
From Calcutta’s most macabre prison to the ivory towers of Cambridge, by way of ancient mythology and Einstein.
“There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal.
“Don’t judge the value of higher education in terms of careermanship. Judge it for what it is — a priceless opportunity to furnish your mind and enrich the quality of your life.” “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” Nietzsche wrote in his 1873 reflection on the true value of education.
A guided tour of this pernicious prison of the psyche, honest and assuring in its honesty. Kierkegaard called anxiety “the dizziness of freedom” and believed that it serves to power rather than hinder creativity.
A foundational story of modern culture, told from the point of view of an abandoned son and viewed through an antiquated device.
“You say you would almost give your place in Heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in Heaven very cheaply.” Boredom is one of the most essential yet endangered human capacities, a seedbed of sanity the creative benefits of which have been championed by some of humanity’s most fertile minds.
“One has to assume that every man is a thinking reed and a noble nature, even if only part-time.” “A true friend of mankind whose heart has but once quivered in compassion over the sufferings of the people,” Dostoyevsky wrote in his spirited case for why there are no bad people, “will understand and forgive all the impassable alluvial filth in which they are submerged.” But there are instances of evil so incomprehensible in their injustice that even the largest heart is emptied of forgiveness.
“As never before, our world needs warmth in its cold, metallic heart, warmth to go on and face what has been made of human life, warmth to remain humane and kind.” “All true culture … is an effusion of light and warmth,” Nietzsche wrote in his beautiful meditation on how to find yourself.
An abstract love letter to the art of paying attention. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard memorably wrote.
“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.” “A purely disembodied human emotion is a nonentity,” William James asserted in his revolutionary 1884 theory of how our bodies affect our feelings.
“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” “You say you want a revolution,” the Beatles sang in 1968 as Dr.
“If I could catch the feeling, I would; the feeling of the singing of the real world, as one is driven by loneliness and silence from the habitable world.” There is a kind of loneliness that lodges itself in the psyche and never fully leaves, a loneliness most anguishing not in solitude but in companionship and amid the crowd.
“No observers could lift their eyes to the golden mysteries enshrined above without being impressed with the exceeding loveliness of the shining throng.” On February 8, 1881, a short and stunning piece appeared in the Providence Journal under the heading “The Beauty of the Evening Sky: Telescopic Observation of the Moon, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars.” Its poetic splendor captivated editors and audiences alike.
“No matter how large the tissue of falsehood that an experienced liar has to offer, it will never be large enough … to cover the immensity of factuality.” “The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people,” Adrienne Rich wrote in her beautiful 1975 speech on lying and what truth really means, “are a kind of alchemy.
“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” “Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks,” Walt Whitman counseled in his timeless advice on living a vibrant and rewarding life.
Free as a bird, busy as a bee, and the rest of the metaphorical menagerie of the human imagination. The human animal, the thinking animal, thinks with animals.
“If I know what I shall find, I do not want to find it. Uncertainty is the salt of life.” As a teenager, long before he became a pioneering biochemist, Erwin Chargaff (August 11, 1905–June 20, 2002) learned English from two women who ran a small school in his native Vienna.