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Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity

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.” 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 like to live always at the beginnings of life, not at their end. Donating = Loving Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount: Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter.

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/03/anais-nin-on-emotion-and-writing/

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10 facts about infidelity, as divulged by Helen Fisher While talking about her research on love at TED2006, Helen Fisher mentioned the issue of infidelity. Here, she dives into the topic of cheating in much more detail. Photo: Robert Leslie Love isn’t so much an emotion, says Helen Fisher in her TED Talk. No, love is a brain system — one of three that that’s related to mating and reproduction. Alice in Quantumland: A Charming Illustrated Allegory of Quantum Mechanics by a CERN Physicist by Maria Popova Down the rabbit hole of antimatter, or how to believe six impossible things about gender stereotypes before breakfast. As a lover of science and of all things Alice in Wonderland, imagine my delight at discovering Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics (public library) — an imaginative and unusual 1995 quantum primer by particle physicist Robert Gilmore, who has under his belt experience at Stanford and CERN. Besides the clever concept, two things make the book especially remarkable: It flies in the face of gender stereotypes with a female protagonist who sets out to make sense of some of the most intense science of all time, and it features Gilmore’s own magnificent illustrations for a perfect intersection of art and science, true to recent research indicating that history’s most successful scientists also dabbled in the arts.

10 Rules for Students, Teachers, and Life by John Cage and Sister Corita Kent by Maria Popova “Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.” Buried in various corners of the web is a beautiful and poignant list titled Some Rules for Students and Teachers, attributed to John Cage, who passed away twenty years ago this week. Lectures Aren't Just Boring, They're Ineffective, Too, Study Finds Are your lectures droning on? Change it up every 10 minutes with more active teaching techniques and more students will succeed, researchers say. A new study finds that undergraduate students in classes with traditional stand-and-deliver lectures are 1.5 times more likely to fail than students in classes that use more stimulating, so-called active learning methods. “Universities were founded in Western Europe in 1050 and lecturing has been the predominant form of teaching ever since,” says biologist Scott Freeman of the University of Washington, Seattle.

Russian Scientist Photographs the Soul Leaving the Body, With a Special Camera Does the soul exists? According to Dr. Konstantin G. Korotkov, a Russian scientist, the soul does exist and he has evidence showing that there is something beyond death. Legendary Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on Why the Capacity for Boredom Is Essential for a Full Life by Maria Popova “Boredom … protects the individual, makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be.” When was the last time you were bored — truly bored — and didn’t instantly spring to fill your psychic emptiness by checking Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? The last time you stood in line at the store or the boarding gate or the theater and didn’t reach for your smartphone seeking deliverance from the dreary prospect of forced idleness? A century and a half ago, Kierkegaard argued that this impulse to escape the present by keeping ourselves busy is our greatest source of unhappiness. A century later, Susan Sontag wrote in her diary about the creative purpose of boredom.

Consciousness is Not a Computation In the previous article in this series, Is The Universe a Computer? New Evidence Emerges I wrote about some new evidence that appears to suggest that the universe may be like a computer, or least that it contains computer codes of a sort. But while this evidence is fascinating, I don’t believe that ultimately the universe is in fact a computer. Vintage data visualization: 35 examples from before the Digital Era This is a guest post by Tiago Veloso, the founder of Visual Loop, a collaborative digital environment for everything related to information design and data visualization. He lives in Brazil, and you can connect with him online on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you follow us regularly on Visual Loop, you’ve probably noticed we like to featured not only modern interactive visualizations and infographics, but also examples from the past, from the time when there were no computer softwares to help analyzing and designing and no Internet to access and share data.

Looking At Tears Under A Microscope Reveals A Shocking Fact. Share on Facebook One day Rose-Lynn Fisher wondered if her tears of grief would look different from her tears of joy, so she began to explore them up close under a microscope. She studied 100 different tears and found that basal tears (the ones that our body produces to lubricate our eyes) are drastically different from the tears that happen when we are chopping onions. The tears that come about from hard laughter aren’t even close to the tears of sorrow. Avoid Harmful Chemical Teeth Whitening With These DIY Tricks To A Brighter Smile Teeth naturally yellow as we age. A number of things we eat and drink can contribute to the loss of a pearly white smile. Drinking a lot of coffee, red wine, and smoking can cause yellowing. Soda, tea and berries contain chromogenic agents which stain teeth. Even some types of medication taken as an adult can cause yellowing. Everyone wants a great smile, but the cost and harmful toxins associated with whitening treatments can make you think twice.

Wisdom from a MacArthur Genius: Psychologist Angela Duckworth on Why Grit, Not IQ, Predicts Success by Maria Popova “Character is at least as important as intellect.” Creative history brims with embodied examples of why the secret of genius is doggedness rather than “god”-given talent, from the case of young Mozart’s upbringing to E. B. White’s wisdom on writing to Chuck Close’s assertion about art to Tchaikovsky’s conviction about composition to Neil Gaiman’s advice to aspiring writers. How to Optimize Your Brain: Why Refining Emotional Recall is the Secret to Better Memory by Maria Popova “You are what you remember — your very identity depends on all of the events, people and places you can recall.” We’ve seen the many ways in which our memory can be our merciless traitor: it is not a recording device but a practitioner of creative plagiarism, a terrible timekeeper, and the bent backbone in the anatomy of lying. How, then, can this essential human faculty become our ally?

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