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“Vacation Sex”: A Poem by Dorianne Laux


“…in hotels under overpasses or rooms next to ice machines, friends’ fold-out couches…” “Love is never finished expressing itself,” philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote in his beautiful essay on poetic reverie, “and it expresses itself better the more poetically it is dreamed.” While love and sex might be worlds of ambiguity apart, one would hope this sentiment holds equally true of sex and the poetics of desire.

Migrant: An Alice in Wonderland for the Modern Immigrant Experience


A compassionate chronicle of the laboring nomad’s optimism and wistfulness. Having spent my entire adult life as an immigrant, with all the relocations, bureaucracies, and social strain implied, I have tremendous respect for any effort to capture the complexities of the immigrant experience, its joys and its struggles, without robbing it of dimension.

C.S. Lewis on Suffering and What It Means to Have Free Will in a Universe of Fixed Laws


“If human souls affected one another directly and immaterially, it would be a rare triumph of faith and insight for any one of them to believe in the existence of the others.” If the universe operates by fixed physical laws, what does it mean for us to have free will?

The Poetics of Reverie: Philosopher Gaston Bachelard on Dreams, Love, Solitude, and Happiness


“There are still souls for whom love is the contact of two poetries, the fusion of two reveries.” “Creative writing, like a day-dream,” Freud observed, “is a continuation of, and a substitute for, what was once the play of childhood.” But how, exactly, does the playful imagination weave dream and storytelling together to frame our creative experience?

Love Is Forever: A Children’s Book That Helps Kids Deal with Losing a Loved One


A tender lesson in living with loss from Little Owl. If grief is so gargantuan a struggle even for grownups, how are tiny humans to handle a weight so monumental once it presses down?

Astronomer Jill Tarter on the Ongoing Search for Extraterrestrial Life and How She Inspired Carl Sagan’s Novel-Turned-Film Contact


The importance of playing the long game in life, be it extraterrestrial or earthly. Astronomer Jill Tarter grew up taking apart and reassembling her father’s radios.

July 23, 1951: How a Vintage Children’s Book Saved New York’s Iconic Little Red Lighthouse


A timeless testament to the power of stirring the collective imagination. In 1880, a little lighthouse was erected on New Jersey’s Sandy Hook to guide arriving ships into New York Harbor.

Debriefing: Susan Sontag Reads from I, Etcetera


“…an absent body one might be reluctant to imagine undressed.” Summer is the season of fiction, it is said — said here, now, at least.

The Universe, “Branes,” and the Science of Multiple Dimensions


How a needle, a shower curtain, and a New England clam explain the possibility of parallel universes.

Shakespeare, Sadness-Shaman: How Hamlet Can Help Us Through Our Grief and Despair


“Hamlet is about the precise kind of slippage the mourner experiences: the difference between being and seeming…” “Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be,” Joan Didion wrote in her soul-stretching meditation on grief.

The Science of Dust, Picasso’s Favorite Phenomenon


“With every breath, we inhale a bit of the story of our universe, our planet’s past and future…” It takes more than three centuries for a one-foot layer of dust to accumulate.

Edna St. Vincent Millay on the Death Penalty and What It Really Means to Be an Anarchist


“The minds of your children are like clear pools, reflecting faithfully whatever passes on the bank…” In 1921, Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, both in their thirties, were convicted of murdering two payroll guards during a bank robbery in Massachusetts.

New Yorker Cartoonist Roz Chast’s Remarkable Illustrated Meditation on Aging, Illness, and Death


Making sense of the human journey with wit, wisdom, and disarming vulnerability. “Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead,” John Updike wrote in his magnificent memoir.

Jeanette Winterson on Time, Language, Reading, and How Art Creates a Sanctified Space for the Human Spirit


“Art can make a difference because it pulls people up short. It says, don’t accept things for their face value; you don’t have to go along with any of this; you can think for yourself.” In September of 1994, beloved British writer Jeanette Winterson joined Canadian broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel on the air for a spectacular conversation, later published in More Writers & Company: New Conversations with CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel (public library) — the fantastic collection that also gave us Chinua Achebe on the meaning of life and the writer’s responsibility.

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness


The science behind the “tortured genius” myth and what it reveals about how the creative mind actually works.

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness


The science behind the “tortured genius” myth and what it reveals about how the creative mind actually works.

The Last Hotel: Patti Smith Sets Jack Kerouac to Song


Two great talents at the intersection of reality and dream. Between 1954 and 1965, in the thick of his foray into Buddhism, Jack Kerouac turned his beliefs and techniques for writing prose to poetry and wrote several dozen poems, both playful and profound, spanning everything from irreverent comments on his friends to meditations on spirituality.

How to Get Rich: Paul Graham on Money vs. Wealth


Debunking the pie fallacy, or why there’s more to success than giving people what they want. “The moral challenge and the grim problem we face,” Alan Watts argued in his superb 1970 essay on the difference between money and wealth, “is that the life of affluence and pleasure requires exact discipline and high imagination.” Hardly anywhere is this urgency manifested more vibrantly than in startup culture.

The Science of Mental Time Travel: Memory and How Our Ability to Imagine the Future Made Us Human


Shedding light on “the cognitive rudder that allows our brains to navigate the river of time.” Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland remains one of my all-time favorite books, largely because Carroll taps his training as a logician to imbue the whimsical story with an allegorical dimension that blends the poetic with the philosophical.

Maya Angelou’s Beautiful Letter to Her Younger Self


“Be courageous, but not foolhardy.” “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all,” the late and great Maya Angelou told Bill Moyers in their extraordinary 1973 conversation.


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