Saturday, October 14, 2017

Strange Sorrowful Stories

Seven Winters after the Prague Spring of 1968

The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
I think somebody has already written that.
I did! But I was wrong about the title then. That title was supposed to
belong to the novel I'm writing right now.
- Milan Kundera

“It is the most supremely interesting moment in life, the only one in fact when living seems life,” wrote Alice James, the brilliant and terminally ill sister of Henry James and William James, as she reflected on how to live fully while dying. (We are, after all, always dying.) “Death is our friend precisely because it brings us into absolute and passionate presence with all that is here, that is natural, that is love,” Rilke wrote a generation later from the height of life.

This notion that death grants us a most singular and intimate perspective on life, much as love does, is what Zen Hospice Project co-founder Frank Ostaseski explores in The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully (public library) — a celebration of how the recognition that death comes to each of us, a recognition at once consolatory and conciliatory, brings us closer to one another and closer still to the innermost truth of our own being.
The Five Invitations: Zen Hospice Project Co-founder Frank Ostaseski on Love, Death, and the Essential Habits of Mind for a Meaningful Life

We spend our lives trying to discern where we end and the rest of the world begins. There is a strange and sorrowful loneliness to this, to being a creature that carries its fragile sense of self in a bag of skin on an endless pilgrimage to some promised land of belonging. We are willing to erect many defenses to hedge against that loneliness and fortress our fragility. But every once in a while, we encounter another such creature who reminds us with the sweetness of persistent yet undemanding affection that we need not walk alone.

Such a reminder radiates with uncommon tenderness from Big Wolf & Little Wolf (public library) by French author Nadine Brun-Cosme, illustrated by the always magical Olivier Tallec and translated by publisher Claudia Zoe Bedrick, the visionary founder of Brooklyn-based independent powerhouse Enchanted Lion. With great subtlety and sensitivity, the story invites a meditation on loneliness, the meaning of solidarity, the relationship between the ego and the capacity for love, and the little tendrils of care that become the armature of friendship.

Czech out Du Bois’s magnificent letter of life-advice to his young daughter and his correspondence with Einstein about social justice, then revisit Alan Turing’s little-known biology diagrams and Giorgia Lupi’s hand-drawn visualization of great writers’ sleep habits and literary productivity

Gambling addiction: Enter the 'zone' where winning is a distraction

The 'killer drug' so dangerous this dealer refused to sell it