Brain Pickings - RSS Feed

interestingness, curated.

Latest articles

How the Great Zen Master and Peace Activist Thich Nhat Hanh Found Himself and Lost His Self in a Library Epiphany

“To live, we must die every instant. We must perish again and again in the storms that make life possible.” “The self, the place where we live, is a place of illusion. Goodness is connected with the attempt to see the unself… to pierce the veil of selfish consciousness and join the world as it really is,” Iris Murdoch wrote in a 1970 masterpiece...

Sonic Hieroglyphics and Acoustic X-Ray Vision: The Fascinating Science of How Dolphins and Whales Communicate

How Victorian astronomy helped decode the secret language of the seas. “Words are events, they do things, change things… they feed energy back and forth and amplify it,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her uncommon ode to the magic of real communication. “They feed understanding or emotion back and forth and amplify it.” For millennia, we have considered...

Nick Cave on Creativity, the Myth of Originality, and How to Find Your Voice

“Your imagination… is mostly an accidental dance between collected memory and influence… a construction that awaits spiritual ignition.” Two years before she fused her childhood impression of a mechanical loom with her devotedly honed gift for mathematics to compose the world’s first computer program in a 65-page footnote, Ada Lovelace postulated...

The Antidote to Melancholy: Robert Burton’s Centuries-Old Salve for Depression, Epochs Ahead of Science

“Whosoever… is overrun with solitariness, or carried away with pleasing melancholy and vain conceits… or crucified with worldly care, I can prescribe him no better remedy than… to compose himself to the learning of some art or science.” Epochs before modern neuroscience came to locate the crucible of consciousness in the body, centuries before William...

What Is Love? A Tender and Poetic Illustrated Celebration of the Elemental Human Quest

A posy of subtle illumination from the garden of life. “Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being,” wrote Rumi. “Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.” Eight centuries later, we go on spending our lives trying to win something we don’t fully understand but are constantly defining, and we go on betting on all the wrong things:...

Into the Submarine Fairyland: How Scientific Artist Else Bostelmann Invited the Terrestrial Imagination into the Wonder-World of the Deep Sea

“Nothing in the upper world can compare with the luxury of this nether realm of the sea, with its colors, its atmosphere of mystery, of poise, and tranquility.” “Contemplating the teeming life of the shore,” the poetic marine biologist Rachel Carson wrote as she reckoned with the ocean and the meaning of life, “we have an uneasy sense of the communication...

What Happens When We Die

“How can a creature who will certainly die have an understanding of things that will exist forever?” When my atheist engineer grandfather died, my atheist engineer grandmother leaned over the body in the hospice bed that had contained half a century of shared life and love, cradled the cranium in which his stubborn and sensitive mind had dwelt, and...

What Love Really Means: Iris Murdoch on Unselfing, the Symmetry Between Art and Morality, and How We Unblind Ourselves to Each Other’s Realities

“Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.” Decades into his long life, the poet Robert Graves defined love as “a recognition of another person’s integrity and truth in a way that… makes both of you light up when you recognize the quality in the other.” A generation later, the poetic playwright Tom Stoppard...

Let Them Not Say: Krista Tippett Reads Jane Hirshfield’s Prayerful Poem of Promise to the Future

“Let them not say: we did not see it. We saw.” The story goes that when a newspaper mistakenly printed his obituary in 1888, the Swedish entrepreneur and inventor Alfred Nobel, very much alive, was so horrified to see himself remembered as the “tradesman of death” for his inventions of dynamite and ballistic that he decided to devote his remaining...

Almost Nothing, yet Everything: A Stunning Japanese Illustrated Poem Celebrating Water and the Wonder of Life

“It has no shape but can take any shape… You can touch it, but you cannot hold it… It can slip through your fingers, like it’s nothing at all. But life would be unthinkable without it.” “If you turn your back to the blues and deny your dependence on them,” Ellen Meloy wrote in her timeless meditation on water as a portal to transcendence, “you might...

Discover, share and read the best on the web

Follow RSS Feeds, Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter searches, Facebook pages, even Email Newsletters! Get unfiltered news feeds or filter them to your liking.

Get Inoreader
Inoreader - Follow RSS Feeds, Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter searches, Facebook pages, even Email Newsletters!