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Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity. By Maria Popova “Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”

Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity

The third volume of Anaïs Nin’s diaries has been on heavy rotation in recent weeks, yielding Nin’s thoughtful and timeless meditations on life, mass movements, Paris vs. New York, what makes a great city, and the joy of handcraft. The subsequent installment, The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947 (public library) is an equally rich treasure trove of wisdom on everything from life to love to the art of writing. In fact, Nin’s gift shines most powerfully when she addresses all of these subjects and more in just a few ripe sentences. I heart intelligence 9 ways to stop overthinking. Freud’s Life and Legacy, in a Comic. By Maria Popova “You have to listen carefully.

Freud’s Life and Legacy, in a Comic

The unconscious mind is crafty.” While Freud may have engineered his own myth and many of his theories may have been disputed in the decades since his heyday, he remains one of the most influential figures in the history of psychiatry and psychology. And yet for many, Freud is more metaphor than man and his name summons only a vague idea of his work — “something to do with penises,” our marginally informed collective conscience might whisper — rather than a true understanding of just how profoundly he influenced contemporary culture, from our mechanisms of consumerism to our notions about the self. Which Dictator Killed The Most People? They say that it takes compassion for humanity, love for country and a strong pursuit of justice and mercy, to become a strong and respected leader of the masses.

Which Dictator Killed The Most People?

However, every once in a while, there are politicians or generals who decide to do things their own way. These cold-blooded dictators do not care for the value of life as much as they do for achieving their selfish motives of domination, power and immortality. This infographic shows worldwide dictators ordered by the number of killings: 1 drop, 1 million dead. Everyone’s a Comedian. Driving to work the other day, I heard an album title announced on the radio, If It Weren’t for Venetian Blinds, It’d Be Curtains for Us All, and I burst out laughing.

Everyone’s a Comedian

Why? The sheer silliness of it, the double meaning, hit me quickly, no doubt to the amusement of any driver who happened to see me cackling alone in the car. 8 Amazing Inexpensive Countries To Live In For A Year. Have you ever thought about chucking it all and moving to a place where the greenback goes farther?

8 Amazing Inexpensive Countries To Live In For A Year

Though many of us do, the spots we used to consider cheap—the Bahamas in the 1970s, Paris in the ’60s—aren’t so inexpensive now. Don’t worry. There are still plenty of places where the slightly well-heeled can live comfortably without giving up an arm and a leg. You have the world available to you, and there are plenty of options for international exploration. Emotional Intelligence Quiz. Facial expressions are a universal language of emotion, instantly conveying happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and much more.

Emotional Intelligence Quiz

Reading these expressions is essential to compassion and empathy. Take this short quiz to measure your emotional intelligence. Try to identify the emotion conveyed in each of the 20 photos. Each answer will pinpoint the exact muscles involved in that emotion and explain the subtle differences between expressions, drawing on pioneering research by psychologists Paul Ekman and Dacher Keltner. Some emotions appear more than once. The Language of Lying: Animated Primer on How to Detect Deception.

By Maria Popova The four most reliable telltale signs of the 10 to 200 lies we tell and are told each day.

The Language of Lying: Animated Primer on How to Detect Deception

Our yearning to discern deception so that we can protect ourselves from abuse, is ancient and almost primal — a marketable commodity for mystics and media manipulators alike. In one of the best explorations of the subject, Sam Harris defined lying as “both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood.”

Susan Sontag wrote in her diary that “ordinary language is an accretion of lies.” Friedrich Nietzsche on Why a Fulfilling Life Requires Embracing Rather than Running from Difficulty. By Maria Popova A century and a half before our modern fetishism of failure, a seminal philosophical case for its value.

Friedrich Nietzsche on Why a Fulfilling Life Requires Embracing Rather than Running from Difficulty

German philosopher, poet, composer, and writer Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844–August 25, 1900) is among humanity’s most enduring, influential, and oft-cited minds — and he seemed remarkably confident that he would end up that way. Nietzsche famously called the populace of philosophers “cabbage-heads,” lamenting: “It is my fate to have to be the first decent human being. I have a terrible fear that I shall one day be pronounced holy.” In one letter, he considered the prospect of posterity enjoying his work: “It seems to me that to take a book of mine into his hands is one of the rarest distinctions that anyone can confer upon himself.

John Keats’s Porridge: The Favorite Recipes of Beloved Poets. By Maria Popova What simple dishes reveal about the complexities of poetry as a creative act of constant transformation.

John Keats’s Porridge: The Favorite Recipes of Beloved Poets

The relationship between food and literature seems to be an enduring one, from literary parodies of recipes to meals from famous fiction. In late April of 1973, poet and self-taught chef Victoria McCabe decided to formalize the relationship and mailed form letter requests to 250 of the era’s leading poets, asking them to share their favorite recipes. October 22, 1964: Jean-Paul Sartre Becomes the First Person to Decline the Nobel Prize. By Maria Popova “A writer who adopts political, social, or literary positions must act only with the means that are his own — that is, the written word.”

October 22, 1964: Jean-Paul Sartre Becomes the First Person to Decline the Nobel Prize

Despite its surprisingly dark origin, the Nobel Prize is regarded as the highest honor bestowed upon a human being. 20 Badass Alternative Versions Of Cartoon Characters. Four Ways to Use Your Dark Side for Good (and Fight Evil in Others) The Artist and the Anguish of the American Dream: Zadie Smith’s Love-Hate Letter to New York.

By Maria Popova “The greatest thing about Manhattan is the worst thing about Manhattan: self-actualization.” With his philosophy of happiness as a moral obligation, it is no surprise that Albert Camus is intellectual America’s favorite European export. The American Dream is built on the pursuit of happiness, but Camus amplifies it from a mere right to something more, something better aligned with the modern condition of compulsive pursuit — of happiness, of productivity, of self-actualization. Indeed, this is a paradoxical culture where the Self reigns supreme, even though we know it is an illusion; a culture built on hard-headed, hard-bodied, hard-and-fast individualism, even though we don’t know how to be alone.

Ours is an era built on the legacy of the age of anxiety, the pathology of which we’ve perfected to a virtuoso degree. The History of the English Language, Animated. By Maria Popova “The Sun never sets on the English language.” The history of language, that peculiar human faculty that Darwin believed was half art and half instinct, is intricately intertwined with the evolution of our species, our capacity for invention, our understanding of human biology, and even the progress of our gender politics. From the fine folks at Open University — who previously gave us these delightful 60-second animated syntheses of the world’s major religions, philosophy’s greatest thought experiments, and the major creative movements in design — comes this infinitely entertaining and illuminating animated history of the English language in 10 minutes: Complement with these 5 essential reads on language and the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice, in which she explores the beauty of the English language.

The Secret of Life from Steve Jobs in 46 Seconds. By Maria Popova “Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two months since Steve Jobs passed away. William Faulkner on Writing, the Human Dilemma, and Why We Create: A Rare 1958 Recording. By Maria Popova “It’s the most satisfying occupation man has discovered yet, because you never can quite do it as well as you want to, so there’s always something to wake up tomorrow morning to do.” The writer’s duty, William Faulkner (September 25, 1897–July 6, 1962) asserted in his magnificent Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1950, is “to help man endure by lifting his heart.” How to Navigate the Murky Waters of Workplace Friendships: Wisdom from Adam Smith and Aristotle. By Maria Popova “Is not mistaking relationships for what they are not — that is being blind to their ambiguity — arguably the greatest cause of disappointment and failure?” “A condition of friendship, is the abdication of power over another, indeed the abdication even of the wish for power over one another,” Andrew Sullivan wrote in his beautiful meditation on why friendship is a greater gift than romantic love.

“As soon as a friend attempts to control a friend, the friendship ceases to exist.” Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses: 18 Rants by Mark Twain. A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus on Our Search for Meaning and Why Happiness Is Our Moral Obligation. Joni Mitchell on Freedom, the Source of Creativity, and the Dark Side of Success. The Nietzsche Family Circus. How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: Lessons in Mindfulness and Creativity from the Great Detective. John Cleese on the 5 Factors to Make Your Life More Creative. Be Like Water: The Philosophy and Origin of Bruce Lee’s Famous Metaphor for Resilience. My Ideal Bookshelf: Famous Artists and Writers Select Their All-Time Favorite Books. Agnes Martin on Art, Happiness, Pride, and Failure: A Rare Vintage Interview with the Reclusive Artist. Barbara Walters on the Art of Conversation, How to Talk to Bores, and What Truman Capote Teaches Us About Being Interesting. Homeless People Were Asked To Write Down A Fact About Themselves. Their Answers May Surprise You.


Misc. Darwin’s Battle with Anxiety. There's More to Life Than Being Happy. The Oppressed Majority: A Poignant French Short Film about a World in Which Men Are Subject to Sexism. Health and Fitness. Psychology. Consciousness. Pondering. Questionable New Age Stuff. Information and How-to's.