“The creative personality is always one that looks on the world as fit for change and on himself as an instrument for change.” “If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes,” Van Gogh wrote in a magnificent letter to his brother about how taking risks and making inspired mistakes moves us forward.
“Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’” “Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later.
“A poem … is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.” “Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,” Adrienne Rich wrote in contemplating the cultural power of poetry.
“The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born, when we die.” “Every advance of intellect beyond the ordinary measure,” Schopenhauer wrote in examining the relationship between genius and insanity, “disposes to madness.” But could what is true of the individual also be true of society — could it be that the more so-called progress polishes our collective pride and the more intellectually advanced human civilization becomes, the more it risks madness?
“The fundamental fallacy of utopianism is to assume that everyone wants to live in the same utopia.” In her memoir, the trailblazing astronomer Caroline Herschel recounted frequently having to “measure the ground with poles” when she first began making astronomical observations in the 1780s.
“No-one knows what your life or life itself should be because it is in the process of being created. Life moves according to a growing consciousness of life and is completely unpredictable.” Perhaps the greatest paradox of human life is that although happiness is the most universal of our longings, it is unobtainable by striving.
How a tenacious boy created one of the most life-changing inventions in human history. “Communication is health; communication is truth; communication is happiness,” Virginia Woolf wrote in contemplating the elemental human need for communication.
“[The] excitement we derive from a work of art is mostly the excitement of seeing connections that did not exist before, of seeing quite different aspects of life unified through a pattern.” “Because of their outstanding permanence, works of art are the most intensely worldly of all tangible things,” Hannah Arendt wrote in contemplating the difference between how art and science illuminate the human condition.
“We are our stories, stories that can be both prison and the crowbar to break open the door of that prison.” “To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men,” the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote in her 1914 anthem against silence — an incantation which fomented biologist and writer Rachel Carson’s courage to speak inconvenient truth to power as she catalyzed the environmental movement.
“Our neurons must be used … not only to know but also to transform knowledge; not only to experience but also to construct.” “Principles are good and worth the effort only when they develop into deeds,” Van Gogh wrote to his brother in a beautiful letter about talking vs.
“The task of truth is divided among us, to the number of us… We must grasp the Subject with the tongs of our individual littleness; take the measure of it with what we are.” “Teller and listener, each fulfills the other’s expectations,” Ursula K.
“I saw myself stretched like brown earth in furrows, open to the sky, well planted, my life as a human being complete.” Artist have different ways of arriving at their life’s purpose.
How a paragon of persistence in the face of hardship discovered eight comets and paved the way for women in science.
“Art is not a plaything, but a necessity, and its essence, form, is not a decorative adjustment, but a cup into which life can be poured and lifted to the lips and be tasted.” “Seeing the world from the position of the weak person is a great education,” Chinua Achebe observed as he contemplated how storytelling helps us survive history’s rough patches.
In praise of the precious miraculousness of the mundane. “Do you need a prod? Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
A poignant perspective on “the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.” To outlive one’s children is arguably the most unbearable of human miseries.
Words of comfort and compassion from Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Rachel Carson, Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, Johannes Brahms, and Charles Dickens.
“I never left Cumberland Street without feeling happier: uplifted, even inspired, determined to be good, to work harder, not to worry about what other people thought.” I fell in love with the poet Marianne Moore (November 15, 1887–February 5, 1972) in three pivotal palpitations.
Two of humanity’s greatest minds explore the parallels between spacetime and the psyche, the atomic nucleus and the self.
“Communication is health; communication is truth; communication is happiness. To share is our duty… if we are ignorant to say so; if we love our friends to let them know it.” “Dismiss whatever insults your own soul,” Walt Whitman counseled in his timeless advice on living a vibrant and rewarding life.