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Monoculture: How Our Era’s Dominant Story Shapes Our Lives. By Maria Popova What Galileo has to do with the economy, or how Wall Street is moulding your taste in art.

Monoculture: How Our Era’s Dominant Story Shapes Our Lives

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms,” poet Muriel Rukeyser famously proclaimed. The stories we tell ourselves and each other are how we make sense of the world and our place in it. Some stories become so sticky, so pervasive that we internalize them to a point where we no longer see their storiness — they become not one of many lenses on reality, but reality itself. And breaking through them becomes exponentially difficult because part of our shared human downfall is our ego’s blind conviction that we’re autonomous agents acting solely on our own volition, rolling our eyes at any insinuation we might be influenced by something external to our selves. That’s exactly what F. The governing pattern a culture obeys is a master story– one narrative in society that takes over the others, shrinking diversity and forming a monoculture. Public domain images via Flickr Commons. Lucinda Williams on Compassion.

Pablo Neruda’s Extraordinary Life, in an Illustrated Love Letter to Language. By Maria Popova A swirling celebration of one of the greatest creative icons of the twentieth century.

Pablo Neruda’s Extraordinary Life, in an Illustrated Love Letter to Language

Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda was not only one of the greatest poets in human history, but also a man of extraordinary insight into the human spirit — take, for instance, his remarkable reflection on what a childhood encounter taught him about why we make art, quite possibly the most beautiful metaphor for the creative impulse ever committed to paper. As a lover both of Neruda’s enduring genius and of intelligent children’s books, especially ones — such as the wonderful illustrated life-stories of Albert Einstein and Julia Child — I was instantly smitten with Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People (public library) by Monica Brown, with absolutely stunning illustrations and hand-lettering by artist Julie Paschkis. Neftalí wasn’t very good at soccer or at throwing acorns like his friends, but he loved to read and discovered magic between the pages.

Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr. Self-Scrutiny Applied with Kindness: Epictetus’s Enduring Wisdom on Happiness and How Philosophy Helps Us Answer the Soul’s Cry. By Maria Popova “Spirited curiosity is an emblem of the flourishing life.”

Self-Scrutiny Applied with Kindness: Epictetus’s Enduring Wisdom on Happiness and How Philosophy Helps Us Answer the Soul’s Cry

Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations remains one of humanity’s most significant and influential packets of thought on what it means to live a meaningful life. And yet Aurelius’s ideas were profoundly shaped, if not heavily borrowed, from those of his most formative mentor, the great Stoic philosopher Epictetus — an ordinary man of extraordinary intellect and self-discipline, who was born in the outskirts of the Roman Empire in 55 AD, grew up as a slave, and went on to lay the foundations of Western thought. The centerpiece of his teachings is at least as urgently valuable today as it was in Ancient Rome — an insistence on gradual self-refinement and the disciplined, systematic cultivation of good character and virtuous behavior. What made Epictetus so popular and influential in his day, Lebell asserts, is also the reason he matters enormously today: John Dewey on the True Purpose of Education and How to Harness the Power of Our Natural Curiosity. By Maria Popova “While it is not the business of education … to teach every possible item of information, it is its business to cultivate deep-seated and effective habits of discriminating tested beliefs from mere assertions, guesses, and opinions.”

John Dewey on the True Purpose of Education and How to Harness the Power of Our Natural Curiosity

“Do not feel absolutely certain of anything,” philosopher Bertrand Russell instructed in the first of his ten timeless commandments of teaching and learning in 1951. And yet formal education, today as much as then, is for the most part a toxic byproduct of industrialism based on the blind acquisition of certainty and the demolition of the “thoroughly conscious ignorance” that gives rise to real progress, both personal and cultural. To fuel the internal engine of learning is a lifelong journey we are left to steer on our own as the education system continues to flounder. Teaching and learning are correlative or corresponding processes, as much so as selling and buying. He later adds: Illustration from 'My Teacher Is a Monster' by Peter Brown. Jazz Legend Bill Evans on the Creative Process, Self-Teaching, and Balancing Clarity with Spontaneity in Problem-Solving. The Flat Rabbit: A Minimalist Scandinavian Children’s Book about Making Sense of Death and the Mysteries of Life.

By Maria Popova A gentle and assuring reminder that we don’t have all the answers.

The Flat Rabbit: A Minimalist Scandinavian Children’s Book about Making Sense of Death and the Mysteries of Life

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge. By Maria Popova “The real enemy is the man who tries to mold the human spirit so that it will not dare to spread its wings.”

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn’t know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical. How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time. By Maria Popova “We live in a society which sees high self-esteem as a proof of well-being, but we do not want to be intimate with this admirable and desirable person.” If the odds of finding one’s soul mate are so dreadfully dismal and the secret of lasting love is largely a matter of concession, is it any wonder that a growing number of people choose to go solo? The choice of solitude, of active aloneness, has relevance not only to romance but to all human bonds — even Emerson, perhaps the most eloquent champion of friendship in the English language, lived a significant portion of his life in active solitude, the very state that enabled him to produce his enduring essays and journals.

And yet that choice is one our culture treats with equal parts apprehension and contempt, particularly in our age of fetishistic connectivity. Solitude, the kind we elect ourselves, is met with judgement and enslaved by stigma. Illustration by Alessandro Sanna from 'The River.' Donating = Loving. How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love. “Find something more important than you are,” philosopher Dan Dennett once said in discussing the secret of happiness, “and dedicate your life to it.”

How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love

But how, exactly, do we find that? Surely, it isn’t by luck. I myself am a firm believer in the power of curiosity and choice as the engine of fulfillment, but precisely how you arrive at your true calling is an intricate and highly individual dance of discovery. Still, there are certain factors — certain choices — that make it easier. Gathered here are insights from seven thinkers who have contemplated the art-science of making your life’s calling a living. Every few months, I rediscover and redevour Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham’s fantastic 2006 article, How to Do What You Love. Richard Dawkins on The Science of Why You Are Lucky to Be Alive. By Maria Popova What Yeats’s epitaph has to do with the infinitesimal odds of winning the DNA lottery.

Richard Dawkins on The Science of Why You Are Lucky to Be Alive

“To lament that we shall not be alive a hundred years hence,” Montaigne wrote in his fantastic 16th-century meditation on death and the art of living, “is the same folly as to be sorry we were not alive a hundred years ago.” Half a millennium later, Richard Dawkins — who coined the term “meme” — enlists evolutionary biology in substantiating that strangely assuring philosophical idea. In the altogether fantastic Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (public library), Dawkins writes: Neil deGrasse Tyson on Space, Politics, and the Most Important Thing to Know About the Universe. Books. 05 NOVEMBER, 2014By: Maria Popova “If any human being, man, woman, dog, cat or half-crushed worm dares call me ‘middlebrow’ I will take my pen and stab him, dead.”

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Susan Sontag once scoffed that reading criticism is “cultural cholesterol” that “clogs conduits through which one gets new ideas.” Despite her svelte frame, Virginia Woolf, on at least one notable occasion, indulged in such a high-cholesterol gorge of the mind. On October 13, 1932, the English novelist and critic J. B. The situation escalated when, four days later, the BBC invited Priestley to give a radio talk under the title “To a Highbrow,” mocking those who reject anything “popular” for the sake of appearing intellectual and urging them instead to “be a broadbrow.” Alain de Botton on How to Think More About Sex. How to Worry Less About Money. By Maria Popova What Goethe can teach us about cultivating a healthy relationship with our finances.

How to Worry Less About Money

An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence. By Maria Popova Wisdom on overcoming the greatest human frustration from the pioneer of Eastern philosophy in the West.