“When one hungers for bread one does not receive stones.” “Many of the tenets of sainthood are also to be cultivated in the committed writer,” Melissa Pritchard observed in her beautiful meditation on art as a form of active prayer.
“Like most people we love your attractions, but we found some problems with some of them and those problems are stereotypes.” In the spring of 2015, a nine-year-old boy named Dexter went to Disneyland with his family and found himself deeply unsettled — not by a scary ride or the unpleasantness of waiting in line, but by some of the most unsettling cultural issues of our time: racial and gender stereotypes, culminating in a profound failure to honor today’s nuanced identity politics.
“Art is its own excuse, and it’s either Art or it’s something else. It’s either a poem or a piece of cheese.” “There are contradictory impulses in everything,” Susan Sontag observed in lamenting how our inability to sit with duality makes us fall into perilous polarities.
“I do not know which is better, the ill that helps or the good that harms.” Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, poet, architect, and engineer Michelangelo (March 6, 1475–February 18, 1564) is celebrated as one of the greatest and most influential artists of all time.
A weird and wonderful journey into the woodland of the subconscious. “A dream can be so strange that it seems that another subject has come to dream with us,” philosopher Gaston Bachelard observed in his reflection on dreams and reverie.
“Immerse yourself in the common ground of the universe so that your true voice — not the egoistic voice that clamors vainly for power (for it will ruin you if you listen to it) — your authentic voice … may be heard.” Why do we humans create — why do artists make art, why do writers write?
“One of the most important things is to recognize that we do have this mounting violence in us, and then to find the reasons.” More than half a century after Tolstoy’s little-known correspondence with Gandhi on violence, human nature, and why we hurt each other, as the civil rights movement was being built on a philosophy of nonviolence and Leonard Bernstein was making his moving case for the only true antidote to violence, twenty-something Hunter S.
“…and are we not of interest to each other?” Elizabeth Alexander is among the most entrancing and spiritually invigorating poets of our time, and only the fourth poet in history to read at a U.S.
“Oh boy! It is something to make a mind up.” Theodor Geisel (March 2, 1904–September 24, 1991), better known as Dr.
“Imagination is the precursor to policy, the precondition to action. Imagination, like wonder, allows us to value something.” Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866–December 22, 1943) is one of the most beloved and influential storytellers of all time.
“How was I able to live alone before, my little everything? Without you I lack self-confidence, passion for work, and enjoyment of life — in short, without you, my life is no life.” Under the tyranny of our present productivity-fetishism, we measure the value of everything by the final product rather than by the richness of the process — its rewards, its stimulating challenges, the aliveness of presence with which we fill every moment of it.
The chilling human story behind an almost-statistic. “You’ve got to tell the world how to treat you,” James Baldwin told Margaret Mead in their magnificently prescient 1970 conversation on race.
“Zen practice … requires great faith, great courage, and great questioning.” If death is so enormous a mystery that we remain unable to wrap our grownup minds around it, despite comfort from our great poets and consolation from our great philosophers, how are tiny humans to make sense of it all?
“Adult human beings owe as much to themselves as to others, for by asserting individual rights, the baser natures of those who have them are held in check.” Amelia Earhart (b.
“Love is really a recognition of truth, a recognition of another person’s integrity and truth.” Poet, novelist, mythologist, essayist, and translator Robert Graves (July 24, 1895–December 7, 1985) is among the most influential artists of the past century — a piercing mind carried on the wings of a thoroughly free spirit, an unflinching idealist with a certain Mad Hatter quality to his genius.
“Finding the words is another step in learning to see.” To name a thing is to acknowledge its existence as separate from everything else that has a name; to confer upon it the dignity of autonomy while at the same time affirming its belonging with the rest of the namable world; to transform its strangeness into familiarity, which is the root of empathy.
How a college dropout reordered the heavens and forever changed our understanding of our place in the universe.
A most unusual invitation to repaint the reality we take for granted through the art of moral imagination.
“In all the activities of life, from the simplest physical activities to the highest intellectual and spiritual activities, our whole effort must be to get out of our own light.” Aldous Huxley endures as one of the most visionary and unusual minds of the twentieth century — a man of strong convictions about drugs, democracy, and religion and immensely prescient ideas about the role of technology in human life; a prominent fixture of Carl Sagan’s reading list; and the author of a little-known allegorical children’s book.
“There is nothing… more gratifying than true adulthood… Its achievement is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard won glory, which commercial forces and cultural vapidity should not be permitted to deprive you of.” In May of 2004, a decade after receiving the Nobel Prize for her “visionary force and poetic import” and shortly after collaborating with her son on a little-known and lovely children’s book, Toni Morrison was invited to Wellesley College to deliver what is both among the greatest commencement addresses of all time and a courageous counterpoint to the entire genre — Morrison defies every graduation cliché with wisdom at once thoroughly grounding and immensely elevating, striking that difficult but crucial balance of critical thinking and hope.