A celebration of the imperceptible that governs the universe on the most fundamental level. “Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead,” John Updike (March 18, 1932–January 27, 2009) wrote.
A rare existential reflection from the man who set out to devise a theory of everything. At twenty-two, Stephen Hawking (January 8, 1942–March 14, 2018) was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — a rare motor disease — and given a few years to live.
A sixty-seven-million-year odyssey of science and myth. “Sunlight, moonlight, twilight, starlight — gloaming at the close of day, and an owl calling,” Walter de la Mare wrote in his “Dream Song”.
“First, it lets you fall in love with it…” “A poem,” E.B. White wrote in his timeless 1949 love letter to New York, “compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning.
“The rediscovery of action and the reemergence of a secular, public realm of life may well be the most precious inheritance the modern age has bequeathed upon us who are about to enter an entirely new world.” “What is happiness, anyhow?
“We too are made of starstuff.” I have always been fascinated by transformation — the seemingly magical process, sometimes delicate and sometimes violent, by which a something becomes a something-else.
“Between propriety and joy choose joy.” “Oh, how wonderful! How like thought! How like the mind it is!
“In the street and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean.” Walt Whitman saw trees — “so innocent and harmless, yet so savage” — as a wellspring of wisdom on being rather than seeming.
A watercolor serenade to kinship across difference in a shared world. Otherness has always been how we define ourselves — by contrast and distinction from what is unlike us, we find out what we are like: As I have previously written, we are what remains after everything we are not.
“You come to doubt whether there is any secret there; it seems that you touch the depths at once. But ten years later you return to it and enter still more deeply.” “To harmonize the whole is the task of art,” the great Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky wrote in contemplating the spiritual element in art and the three responsibilities of artists.
“It is well to fly towards the light, even where there may be some fluttering and bruising of wings against the windowpanes, is it not?
“If he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward.” “Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive,” Zadie Smith wrote in her spectacular essay on optimism and despair.
“The poem is nothing but information. It is the Constitution of the inner country.” “We die. That may be the meaning of life,” Toni Morrison asserted in her spectacular Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
“I am listening to what fear teaches. I will never be gone. I am a scar, a report from the frontlines, a talisman, a resurrection.
On cultivating “the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & moon & solar system in its expanding immensity.” “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains?
When 167 literary titans banded together in solidarity with “that security of works of the intellect and the imagination without which art cannot live.” “You may gather from my article what Ulysses has done to a supposedly balanced psychologist,” Carl Jung wrote in his blistering review of James Joyce’s Ulysses a decade after the publication of the trailblazing novel that had unbalanced literature and pioneered a new literary aesthetic of stream-of-consciousness narrative.
“How and what we create culturally and how we react to cultural phenomena depend on the tricks of our imperfect memories as manipulated by feelings.” “A purely disembodied human emotion is a nonentity,” William James wrote in his pioneering 1884 theory of how our bodies affect our feelings.
“Greater than scene… is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.” To be human is to unfold in time but remain discontinuous.
One man’s love letter to finding higher horizons among the stacks. “Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free.
“What is happiness, anyhow? … so impalpable — a mere breath, an evanescent tinge…” “One can’t write directly about the soul,”, Virginia Woolf wrote.