You Are a Wonder, You Are a Nobody, You Are an Ever-Drifting Ship: Melville on the Mystery of What Makes Us Who We Are

“There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause… We trace the round again; and are… Ifs eternally.” BY MARIA POPOVA “The self is a style of being, continually expanding in a vital process of definition, affirmation, revision, and growth,” the poet Robert Penn Warren wrote in his impassioned and insightful challenge to the notion of “finding yourself” — something the Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert captured half a century later in his memorable quip about our blind spots of becoming: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re … Continue reading You Are a Wonder, You Are a Nobody, You Are an Ever-Drifting Ship: Melville on the Mystery of What Makes Us Who We Are

Nil by page

When a writer stares down a blank page, the whole of literature stares back. Why, then, leave the empty page as it is? Andrew Gallix is an Anglo-French writer and occasional translator, who teaches at the Sorbonne in Paris and edits 3:AM Magazine. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement and Dazed & Confused, among others. He is the author of We’ll Never Have Paris (2019), and the co-editor of Love Bites: Fiction Inspired by Pete Shelley (2019) and Punk Is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night (2017). His debut novel Loren Ipsum will be published by Dodo Ink in 2024. He lives in Paris. In 1927, Virginia Woolf, perusing … Continue reading Nil by page

Kafka the hypochondriac

Franz Kafka believed illness was at the root of his writing yet he embraced wellness fads with hearty vigour Will Rees is a writer and editor, and publisher at Peninsula Press. His writing has been published in The Guardian, Granta and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among others, and his debut book Hypochondria is forthcoming from Coach House. Afew months before he died, Franz Kafka wrote one of his finest and saddest tales. In ‘The Burrow’, a solitary, mole-like creature has dedicated its life to building an elaborate underground home in order to protect itself from outsiders. ‘I have completed the construction of my burrow … Continue reading Kafka the hypochondriac

The Art of Choosing Love Over Not-Love: Rumi’s Antidote to Our Human Tragedy

“You’ll long for me when I’m gone… You’ll kiss the headstone of my grave… Kiss my face instead!” BY MARIA POPOVA “What exists, exists so that it can be lost and become precious,” Lisel Mueller wrote in her short, stunning poem about what gives meaning to our mortal lives. To become precious — that is the work of love, the task of love, the great reward of love. The recompense of death. The human miracle that makes the transience of life not only bearable but beautiful. It is heartbreaking enough that we do lose everything that exists, everything and everyone we love, … Continue reading The Art of Choosing Love Over Not-Love: Rumi’s Antidote to Our Human Tragedy

Wilderness, Solitude, and Creativity: Artist and Philosopher Rockwell Kent’s Century-Old Meditations on Art and Life During Seven Months on a Small Alaskan Island

“These are the times in life — when nothing happens — but in quietness the soul expands.” BY MARIA POPOVA Not often — a handful of times in a lifetime, if you are lucky — you come upon a work of thought and feeling — a book, a painting, a song — that becomes a fountain to which you return again and again, and which returns you to your life refreshed each time. For me, The Little Prince has been one, and Leaves of Grass, and I Put a Spell on You, and Spiegel im Spiegel. Wilderness (public library) by the painter, printmaker, and philosopher Rockwell Kent (June 21, … Continue reading Wilderness, Solitude, and Creativity: Artist and Philosopher Rockwell Kent’s Century-Old Meditations on Art and Life During Seven Months on a Small Alaskan Island

“God is dead”: What Nietzsche really meant

The death of God didn’t strike Nietzsche as an entirely good thing. Without a God, the basic belief system of Western Europe was in jeopardy. “God is dead” remains one of the most famous quotes from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.  The quote is often misunderstood or taken out of context.   Nietzsche was referring to how the Enlightenment had contributed to the erosion of religious beliefs, which had long served as a foundational belief system for much of the world.  by Scotty Hendricks It has been more than 130 years since the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared: “God is Dead” (or Gott ist tot, in … Continue reading “God is dead”: What Nietzsche really meant

Life-tested wisdom on how to live from James Baldwin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Leo Tolstoy, Seneca, Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman, Viktor Frankl, Rachel Carson, and Hannah Arendt.

BY MARIA POPOVA If we abide by the common definition of philosophy as the love of wisdom, and if Montaigne was right — he was — that philosophy is the art of learning to die, then living wisely is the art of learning how you will wish to have lived. A kind of resolution in reverse. This is where the wisdom of lives that have already been lived can be of immense aid — a source of forward-facing resolutions, borrowed from people who have long died, having lived, by any reasonable standard, honorable and generous lives, lives of beauty and … Continue reading Life-tested wisdom on how to live from James Baldwin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Leo Tolstoy, Seneca, Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman, Viktor Frankl, Rachel Carson, and Hannah Arendt.

Writing Into Wonder

In her latest book, poet Tishani Doshi examines the wonders and tragedies of living. By Emily DeMaioNewton Poet, journalist, and dancer Tishani Doshi has a knack for detecting remarkable stories. In her latest poetry collection, A God at the Door, which came out in November, she writes, among other things, about seven Indian men who quarantined in a tree and a Russian photographer who waited eleven months to capture a rare photo of an Amur tiger. But her stories of wonder often dwell within tragedy. The seven men belonged to millions of workers who walked hundreds of kilometers to their home villages when India imposed … Continue reading Writing Into Wonder

Nietzsche on Walking and Creativity

“Our first questions about the value of a book, of a human being, or a musical composition are: Can they walk? Even more, can they dance?” BY MARIA POPOVA Almost everything I write, I “write” in the notebook of the mind, with the foot in motion — what happens at the keyboard upon returning from the long daily walks that sustain me is mostly the work of transcription. I am far from alone in the reliance on ambulatory solitude as an anchor of creative practice — there is Rebecca Solnit’s lovely definition of walking as “a state in which the mind, … Continue reading Nietzsche on Walking and Creativity

The Wrath of the Gods: Surviving the Pandemic with Petronius, Fitzgerald, and Eliot

By Ted Scheinman THE ERA OF COVID has prompted many strange adjustments, new obsessions, fresh habits, or a slippage back into old ones. My most bookish COVID obsession has been revisiting the Latin texts of my grad school years, especially Petronius, courtier to Nero and author of the Satyricon. For a long time, I wasn’t entirely sure why the Satyricon was exerting such a special pull on me; I just knew that it was perhaps the only book that reliably made me laugh out loud, even when I was at my lowest and gloomiest, despairing about the gray life of quarantine or depressed to … Continue reading The Wrath of the Gods: Surviving the Pandemic with Petronius, Fitzgerald, and Eliot