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T. S. Eliot on Idea Incubation, Inhibition, and the Mystical Quality of Creativity + a Rare Recording

T. S. Eliot on Idea Incubation, Inhibition, and the Mystical Quality of Creativity + a Rare Recording

Why I Let My Students Cheat On Their Exam by Peter Nonacs| On test day for my Behavioral Ecology class at UCLA, I walked into the classroom bearing an impossibly difficult exam. Rather than being neatly arranged in alternate rows with pen or pencil in hand, my students sat in one tight group, with notes and books and laptops open and available. Who in their right mind would condone and encourage cheating among UCLA juniors and seniors? Animals and their behavior have been my passions since my Kentucky boyhood, and I strive to nurture this love for nature in my students. Nevertheless, I’m a realist. Much of evolution and natural selection can be summarized in three short words: “Life is games.” So last quarter I had an intriguing thought while preparing my Game Theory lectures. A week before the test, I told my class that the Game Theory exam would be insanely hard—far harder than any that had established my rep as a hard prof. Gasps filled the room. “None,” I replied. Once the shock wore off, they got sophisticated.

Beautiful Failures: Nabokov and Flaubert’s Early Attempts A first novel is like spring lamb, tender and pink. Athenas that leap from the writer’s head armor-clad—Marilynne Robinson’s “Housekeeping,” say—may not count. Better to find a novel that requires indulgence—Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise” or Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” Débuts, even from much tougher writers, allow the reader to enjoy a guilty sense of paternalism: you protect débuts like Naipaul’s droll “Miguel Street,” or James’s thin “Daisy Miller,” or Coetzee’s compacted, miserable “Dusklands,” from the full force of your regular expectations. But then there are the real treasures, the rehearsals that never got published, the artifacts that invite you to reconstruct what an author wanted to do, before she did it. Even Vladimir Nabokov, the high priest of readerly hygiene, occasionally allowed himself this kind of communion. Now we have an invitation to root for the young Nabokov. We do know that he was trying to get a career started when he wrote the play. Institute of Design at Stanford History's 100 Geniuses of Language and Literature, Visualized by Maria Popova “Genius, in its writings, is our best path for reaching wisdom … the true use of literature for life.” “Genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly,” Victorian novelist Amelia E. Barr reflected in her 9 rules for success. But what, exactly, is genius? In their latest project, Italian visualization wizard Giorgia Lupi and her team at Accurat — who have previously given us a timeline of the future based on famous fiction, a visual history of the Nobel Prize, and a visualization of global brain drain inspired by Mondrian — explore the anatomy of genius, based on Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds (public library) by literary titan Harold Bloom. Bloom writes: Appearing here is an exclusive English-language version of a forthcoming spread in Italian literary supplement La Lettura. {Click image to enlarge) At the heart of Bloom’s ambitious taxonomy is a concern with the very nature of genius: Donating = Loving Share on Tumblr

Nabokov on Inspiration and the Six Short Stories Everyone Should Read by Maria Popova “A prefatory glow, not unlike some benign variety of the aura before an epileptic attack, is something the artist learns to perceive very early in life.” “Show up, show up, show up,” Isabel Allende advised, “and after a while the muse shows up, too.” “Inspiration is for amateurs,” Chuck Close famously proclaimed, “the rest of us just show up and get to work.” That’s precisely what Vladimir Nabokov addresses in an essay titled “Inspiration,” a fine addition to famous writers’ collected wisdom on writing, originally published in the Saturday Review on November 20, 1972, and found in Strong Opinions (public library) — the same fantastic volume that gave us the author’s rare BBC interview on literature and life. He begins with several dictionary definitions of the elusive grab-bag term: A special study, which I do not plan to conduct, would reveal, probably, that inspiration is seldom dwelt upon nowadays even by the worst reviewers of our best prose. Thanks, Natascha

Harper's Magazine: Tense Present. A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, by Bryan A. Garner. Oxford University Press, 1998. 723 pages. $35. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, by H. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, by Steven Pinker. Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, E. Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English, by Eric Partridge. Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Philip Gore, ed. Dilige et quod vis fac. "Save up to 50% — (and More)!" Did you know that probing the seamy underbelly of U.S. lexicography reveals ideological strife and controversy and intrigue and nastiness and fervor on a nearly hanging-chad scale? The occasion for this article is Oxford University Press's semi-recent release of Bryan A. From one perspective, a certain irony attends the publication of any good new book on American usage. I submit that we SNOOTs are just about the last remaining kind of truly elitist nerd. Issues of tradition vs. egalitarianism in U.S.

How Einstein Got So Smart – 10 Learning Hacks How would you feel if many people thought you were the smartest person in history? How might your life be different if you actually were that intelligent? Although we often think of Albert Einstein as one of the smartest people ever, we don’t investigate what it was that made him so. People who speak highly of him often attribute his genius to some mysterious gift. Einstein…the Failure? Before you get the list of Einstein’s learning habits, consider some interesting facts about his early life. These things represent just a taste of the irony about his early life. 10 Things Einstein Did to Get So Smart From what I can find, no one has compiled details about how Einstein actually studied. 1- He daydreamed and contemplatedWho has the right to say what is absentmindedness and what is pure genius? 8- He Relied on Faith to LearnEinstein’s faith was that by inquiry and discipline you could learn things about invisible objects or phenomena. Sources (contains some commissioned affiliate links):

Virginia Woolf on Happiness and the Limits of Psychotherapy Virginia Woolf spitting some hot fire: Always, Mrs Ramsay felt, one helped oneself out of solitude reluctantly by laying hold of some little odd and end, some sound, some sight. She listened, but it was all very still; cricket was over; the children were in their baths; there was only the sound of the sea. She stopped knitting; she held the long reddish-brown stocking dangling in her hands a moment. She saw the light again. (To the Lighthouse, p. 38.) In thinking about this passage, I found that it ties in nicely to something I've been thinking a lot about ever since reading Ernest Becker's Denial of Death (in particular the chapter entitled "The Present Outcome of Psychotherapy"). Here's where Becker gets contraversial: Becker uses these observations to argue that psychotherapy is a poor road to happiness. A large part of To the Lighthouse deals with these questions. In other words, maybe psychotherapy is a poor substitute for religion.