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The Science of Finding Your Soul Mate


Breaking down the mathematical odds of winning at SoulMateRoulette. It’s been argued that the secret of lasting love is giving up the myth of “the one” — and yet the notion of a perfect soul mate is irresistibly alluring to most of us.

Fox’s Garden: A Tender Wordless Story About the Gift of Grace and the Transformative Power of Kindness to Those Kicked Away


A gentle reminder that life can be a cold wasteland of cruelty or a whimsical wonderland of grace, depending on the generosity of spirit with which we approach it.

Mozart’s Bag of Memories: How Memory Powers Creative Thought and the Art of Connecting the Seemingly Unrelated


“In the course of creative endeavors, artists and scientists join fragments of knowledge into a new unity of understanding.” Literature is the original internet — an endless rabbit hole of discoveries, with each citation, footnote, and allusion essentially a “hyperlink” to another text, another idea.

The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and The Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long


“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today… The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” “How we spend our days,” Annie Dillard memorably wrote in her soul-stretching meditation on the life of presence, “is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And yet most of us spend our days in what Kierkegaard believed to be our greatest source of unhappiness — a refusal to recognize that “busy is a decision” and that presence is infinitely more rewarding than productivity.

Click Like You Give a Damn: The Politics of Linkbait and How Feeding on Buzz Ensures a Malnourished Soul


“We have to start shaping the world we want with our clicks, because clicking is a public act.” When we feed on buzz, are we really nourishing our souls?

From a Gentleman to a Lady: A Clever Cryptographic Love Letter from the 1850s


“…dropped from the pocket of a young man who is very well known in sporting circles.” It’s been said that “nothing is mysterious, no human relation, except love,” which is a dynamic language that has to be learned.

Leonard Bernstein’s Moving Letter of Gratitude to His Mentor and a Prescient 1943 Manifesto for Crowdfunding the Arts


Decades before Kickstarter, a vision for how micro-patronage can help creators “ascend to new heights” and “gain in confidence, in self-esteem and in fortitude.” As a great proponent of the mutual gift of gratitude to those who touch our lives in a meaningful way and a joyful practitioner of sending regular notes of appreciation to these generous people in my own life, I was extraordinarily moved by a letter of gratitude that legendary composer Leonard Bernstein sent to one of his big heroes and mentors, the Russian-born conductor, composer, and Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Serge Koussevitzky.

Darwin’s Battle with Anxiety


A posthumous diagnosis of the paralyzing mental malady that afflicted one of humanity’s greatest minds.

The Price of Admission: Dan Savage on the Myth of “The One” and the Unsettling Secret of Lasting Love


How the lies we tell each other can become our greatest springboard for self-transcendence. “What is love but acceptance of the other, whatever he is,” Anaïs Nin wrote in a letter to her then-lover, Henry Miller.

Anne Truitt on Resisting the Label “Artist” and the Difference Between Doing Art and Being an Artist


“Artists have no choice but to express their lives.” At the age of fifty-three, the influential artist Anne Truitt (March 16, 1921–December 23, 2004) confronted the existential discomfort any creative person feels in facing a major retrospective of his or her work — the Corcoran Gallery of Art had just staged one of Truitt’s.

The Psychology of Our Willful Blindness and Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril


How to counter the gradual narrowing of our horizons. “Keep your baby eyes (which are the eyes of genius) on what we don’t know,” pioneering investigative journalist Lincoln Steffens wrote in a beautiful 1926 letter of life-advice to his baby son.

Worn Stories: Playful and Poignant Tales of Clothes That Encode Life’s Most Meaningful Memories


Wearable emotional memories from John Hodgman, Marina Abramovic, Piper Kerman, Pat Mahoney, Debbie Millman, Paola Antonelli, Kenneth Goldsmith, Meghan O’Rourke, Rosanne Cash, and more.

The Psychology of Writing and the Cognitive Science of the Perfect Daily Routine


How to sculpt an environment that optimizes creative flow and summons relevant knowledge from your long-term memory through the right retrieval cues.

My Teacher Is a Monster: A Sweet Modern Fable About Seeing Through the Otherness of Others


A gentle illustrated reminder that we can’t love what we don’t know. “Love,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in his poignant letters to Gandhi on why we hurt one another, “represents the highest and indeed the only law of life, as every man knows and feels in the depths of his heart (and as we see most clearly in children)…” Tolstoy believed that if only we managed to see through our superficial differences and our fear of the other’s otherness, we’d recognize instantly the universe’s basic “law of love” — something to which we are born attuned, only to forget as we enter adulthood.

A Brief History of Romantic Friendship


“Smashes,” “crushes,” “spoons,” and other curious nineteenth-century relationship varieties. Thoreau used to lie awake at night and “think of friendship and its possibilities,” while his dear friend Emerson, in contemplating the secret of friendship, marveled, “What is so delicious as a just and firm encounter of two, in a thought, in a feeling?

How We Know What We Know: The Art of Adaequatio and Seeing with the Eye of the Heart


A timeless guide to “understanding the truth that does not merely inform the mind but liberates the soul.” “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry memorably wrote in The Little Prince.

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury: The Beloved Author on the Secret of Life, Work, and Love


“I don’t put off to tomorrow doing what I must do, right now, to find out what my secret self needs, wants, desires with all its heart.” Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920–June 5, 2012) was not only one of the most celebrated writers of the past century and an invaluable source of practical advice on the craft, such as the creative benefits of list-making and the secret to a fruitful daily routine, but also a modern sage with a seemingly bottomless well of quotable wisdom on everything from failure to space exploration to the interplay of emotion and intelligence to the importance of working with love.

Maurice Sendak’s Rare, Sensual Illustrations for Herman Melville’s Greatest Commercial Failure and Most Personally Beloved Novel


“The strongest and fieriest emotions of life defy all analytical insight.” Something magical happens when a great artist interprets a great author — one need only look at William Blake’s paintings for Milton’s Paradise Lost, Picasso’s 1934 drawings for a naughty ancient Greek comedy, Matisse’s 1935 etchings for Ulysses, and Salvador Dalí’s literary illustrations for Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and the essays of Montaigne.

How Rockets Really Work


The chemistry of ridable explosions. In recounting the riveting experience of what it’s like to launch on a Space Shuttle, pioneering astronaut Sally Ride vividly recalled how “the shuttle leaps off the launch pad in a cloud of steam and a trail of fire.” But what produces this fiery magic?

Why We Hurt Each Other: Tolstoy’s Letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Truth of the Human Spirit


“Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills.” In 1908, Indian revolutionary Taraknath Das wrote to Leo Tolstoy, by then one of the most famous public figures in the world, asking for the author’s support in India’s independence from British colonial rule.


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