“The details of happiness do not stay in the memory, and the rest of the day is a tapestry of sunlight and summer sounds.”
~ Emlyn Williams, George: An Early Autobiography
I like to read about people who have done nothing spectacular, who aren’t beautiful and lucky, who try to behave well in the limited field of activity they command, but who can see, in the little autumnal moments of vision, that the so called ‘big’ experiences of life are going to miss them; and I like to read about such things presented not with self-pity or despair or romanticism, but with realistic firmness and even humour.
Great sadnesses … they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.
I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing. For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its inmost chamber and is not even there any more, — is already in our blood. And we do not learn what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes into which a guest has entered.
~Rainer Maria Rilke’s classic Letters to a Young Poet
We fall in love not just with a person wholly external to us but with a fantasy of how that person can fill what is missing from our interior lives...
The paradoxical psychology of why we fall in love, what maturity really means, how our emotions affect our immune system, the transformative power of solitude, and a year’s worth more. After the annual reading list of the 15 finest books of the year, it’s time for the annual look back upon the best of Brain Pickings this year — “best” being a hybrid measure of the articles you read and shared most ardently, and those I took the greatest pleasure in writing. Please (re)enjoy, and here’s to a vitalizing new year.
Like MEdia Dragon, Brain Pickings was born as an email. ... "Over the years that followed, the short weekly email became a tiny website updated every Friday, which became a tiny daily publication, which slowly grew, until this homegrown labor of love somehow ended up in the Library of Congress digital archive of “materials of historical importance” and the seven original recipients somehow became several million readers. How and why this happened continues to mystify and humble me as I go on doing what I have always done: reading, thinking, and writing about enduring ideas that glean some semblance of insight — however small, however esoteric — into what it means to live a meaningful life.
In October of 2013, as Brain Pickings turned seven, I marked the occasion by looking back on the seven most important things I learned from the thousands of hours spent reading, writing, and living during those first seven years. (Seven is an excellent numeral — a prime, a calendric unit, the perfect number of dwarfs.) I shared those reflections not as any sort of universal advice on how a life is to be lived, but as centering truths that have emerged and recurred in the course of how this life has been lived; insights that might, just maybe, prove useful or assuring for others. (Kindred spirits have since adapted these learnings into a poster and a short film.) 9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings
I heard the wind-up bird winding its spring in a treetop somewhere. I closed the paper, sat up with my back against a post, and looked out at the garden. Soon the bird gave its rasping cry once more, a long creaking sound that came from the top of the neighbour’s pine tree. I strained to see through the branches, but there was no sign of the bird, only its cry. As always. And so the world had its spring wound for the day ...
|Eagle Czeching out Low Happineness|
In October of 2013, as Brain Pickings turned seven, I marked the occasion by looking back on the seven most important things I learned from the thousands of hours spent reading, writing, and living during those first seven years. (Seven is an excellent numeral — a prime, a calendric unit, the perfect number of dwarfs.) I shared those reflections not as any sort of universal advice on how a life is to be lived, but as centering truths that have emerged and recurred in the course of how this life has been lived; insights that might, just maybe, prove useful or assuring for others. (Kindred spirits have since adapted these learnings into a poster and a short film.)
When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as importantly, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.
The Best of Brain Pickings 2015
“I did not think that I should find them there
When I came back again; but there they stood,
As in the days they dreamed of when young blood
Was in their cheeks and women called them fair
Be sure, they met me with an ancient air,—
And yes, there was a shop-worn brotherhood
About them; but the men were just as good,
And just as human as they ever were.
And you that ache so much to be sublime,
And you that feed yourselves with your descent,
What comes of all your visions and your fears?
Poets and kings are but the clerks of Time,
Tiering the same dull webs of discontent,
Clipping the same sad alnage of the years.”
A Modest Proposal: Slow Philosophy In his review of Moral Prejudices by Annette Baier, Colin McGinn claimed that Baier had proposed that universities accommodate the demands of women’s reproductive clocks by allowing women to postpone tenure decisions until the age of 50 (New Republic, Oct. 22, 1994). McGinn was perhaps too busy being prolific to double-check the text, where Baier’s alleged proposal is in parentheses, punctuated with a question mark, and followed by a serious proposal:
Other ways [to address the problem], involving not just pregnancy and parental leave but different expectations as to when women will get into full professional stride (tenure decisions delayed at the candidates’ request until age 50?), would be bound to raise reasonable complaints of exploitation of the untenured and of unfairness to men. Still, we need to come up with new measures. One possibility, perhaps the best solution, would be to make all tenure decisions rest on evaluation only of what the candidate selects as say, her or his four best articles. A Modest Proposal: Slow Philosophy
“Life—how curious is that habit that makes us think it is not here, but elsewhere.”
~ V.S. Pritchett, Midnight Oil