Hermann Hesse on Solitude, the Value of Hardship, the Courage to Be Yourself, and How to Find Your Destiny

Photograph by Maria Popova “Solitude is not chosen, any more than destiny is chosen. Solitude comes to us if we have within us the magic stone that attracts destiny.” BY MARIA POPOVA “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life,” the young Nietzsche wrote as he contemplated what it takes to find oneself. Somehow, this man of stark contradiction, cycling between nihilistic despondency and electric buoyancyalong the rim of madness, has managed to inspire some of humanity’s most surefooted spirits — among them, the great German poet, novelist, painter, and Nobel laureate Hermann … Continue reading Hermann Hesse on Solitude, the Value of Hardship, the Courage to Be Yourself, and How to Find Your Destiny

“Dracula” Author Bram Stoker’s Extraordinary Love Letter to Walt Whitman

One of Margaret C. Cook’s illustrations for a stunning rare edition of Leaves of Grass. “How sweet a thing it is for a strong healthy man with a woman’s eye and a child’s wishes to feel that he can speak to a man who can be if he wishes father, and brother and wife to his soul.” BY MARIA POPOVA A quarter century before his now-classic epistolary novel Dracula catapulted Abraham “Bram” Stoker(November 8, 1847–April 20, 1912) into literary celebrity, the twenty-four-year-old aspiring author used the epistolary form for a masterpiece of a different order. Still months away from his first published short story, he … Continue reading “Dracula” Author Bram Stoker’s Extraordinary Love Letter to Walt Whitman

7 of the best psychedelic books ever written

Turn on, tune in, and drop out and into a good psychedelic book. by MIKE COLAGROSSI Psychedelic literature contains some of the richest prose and musings on the human condition. A great deal of these books hail from the 20th century. These are gateway books to a rich and other worldly adventure Much has been said about the psychedelic experience and its rich and thrilling history. Luckily for us, some of the greatest pioneers who pushed forward into the choppy waters of the mind wrote it all down. Packed with governmental intrigue, freak-out trips and the loving grace of human … Continue reading 7 of the best psychedelic books ever written

Who decides what words mean

Photo by Brooke Anderson Photography/Getty Bound by rules, yet constantly changing, language might be the ultimate self-regulating system, with nobody in charge by Lane Greene is an American writer and editor. He is the language columnist and an editor at The Economist, and his latest book is Talk on the Wild Side (2018). He lives in London. Edited by Sam Haselby Decades before the rise of social media, polarisation plagued discussions about language. By and large, it still does. Everyone who cares about the topic is officially required to take one of two stances. Either you smugly preen about the mistakes you find abhorrent – … Continue reading Who decides what words mean

The Language the Poet Knows

ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP / GETTY A new collection of essays attempts to lend some objective shape to a timeless-seeming challenge: the ongoing balance of voice and form. by NICHOLAS CANNARIATO We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress BY CRAIG MORGAN TEICHER GRAYWOLF PRESS It is one of writing’s oldest cliches: Find your voice. Developing this ineffable quality—unique to a given writer, derived largely from reflection and experience—can seem like an elusive goal. Particularly for poets, with their highly personal interaction with language and the challenge of adapting it to form, the quest can seem highly subjective. We Begin in Gladness, a collection of … Continue reading The Language the Poet Knows

First women of philosophy

A prince and attendants visiting a noble yogini at an Ashram. Murshidabad sub-style, c1765. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London Philosophy was once a woman’s world, ranging across Asia, Africa and Latin America. It’s time to reclaim that lost realm by Dag Herbjørnsrud is a historian of ideas and founder of SGOKI (the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas) in Oslo. His latest book is Global Knowledge: Renaissance for a New Enlightenment, forthcoming (2016 original in Norwegian). Edited by Sam Dresser ‘I rise to challenge you, Yajnavalkya, with two questions, much as a fierce warrior … stringing his unstrung bow and taking two deadly … Continue reading First women of philosophy

Ursula K. Le Guin on Suffering and Getting to the Other Side of Pain

Art by Jean-Pierre Weill from The Well of Being “All you have is what you are, and what you give.” BY MARIA POPOVA Simone Weil considered it the highest existential discipline to “make use of the sufferings that chance inflicts upon us.” George Bernard Shaw saw suffering as our supreme conduit to empathy. “We suffer more in imagination than in reality,” Seneca observed before offering his millennia-old, timeless antidote to anxiety. And yet we do suffer and the pain incurred, whatever the suffering is grounded in, is real. How we orient ourselves to our suffering — or to the suffering, as Buddhist might correct the ego-illusion and reaffirm our … Continue reading Ursula K. Le Guin on Suffering and Getting to the Other Side of Pain