Standing on the Shoulders of Solitude: Newton, the Plague, and How Quarantine Fomented the Greatest Leap in Science

“Truth is the offspring of silence and meditation.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 6 hours ago

Virginia Woolf on Finding Beauty in the Uncertainty of Time, Space, and Being

Calibration and consolation for those moments when it seems impossible that we should ever again recompose the world’s broken fragments into a harmonious whole. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 days ago

Stillness as a Form of Action: Tocqueville on Cataclysm as an Antidote to Cultural Complacency and a Fertilizer for Growth

“There are periods during which human society seems to rest… This pause is, indeed, only apparent, for time does not stop its course for nations any more than for [individuals]; they ar… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 4 days ago

This Is Chance: The Story of the 1964 Alaska Earthquake and the Remarkable Woman Who Magnetized People into Falling Together as Their World Fell Apart

“What is safety, anyway? How can you predict where or when tragedy will occur? You can only learn to live with it and make the best of it when it happens.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 6 days ago

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads Walt Whitman’s Stunning Serenade to Our Interlaced Lives Across Space and Time

“It avails not, time nor place… What is it then between us?… It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall, the dark threw its patches down upon me also.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 11 days ago

Terror, Tenderness, and the Art of Buoyancy in Despair: How Ernst Haeckel’s Personal Tragedy Begot His Stunning 19th-Century Drawings of Jellyfish

A story of transmuting the grief of one life into a celebration of the grandeur of Life. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 11 days ago

An Antidote to Helplessness and Disorientation: The Great Humanistic Philosopher and Psychologist Erich Fromm on Our Human Fragility as the Key to Our Survival and Our Sanity

“Only through full awareness of the danger to life can this potential be mobilized for action capable of bringing about drastic changes in our way of organizing society.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 14 days ago

Rebecca Solnit on Growing Up, Growing Whole, and How We Compose Ourselves

“Growing up, we say, as though we were trees, as though altitude was all that there was to be gained, but so much of the process is growing whole as the fragments are gathered, the patterns f… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 16 days ago

Figuring Forward in an Uncertain Universe

Consolations from the cosmic scheme. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 18 days ago

Against Aloneness in the Web of Life: Ernst Haeckel, Charles Darwin, and the Art of Turning Personal Tragedy into a Portal to Transcendence

An antidote to isolation by way of tiny marine creatures and a broken Romantic heart. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 19 days ago

“Today, Another Universe”: Jane Hirshfield Reads Her Stunning Perspectival Poem of Consolation by Calibration

Steadying solace for those times when we “go to sleep in one world and wake in another.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 21 days ago

The Psychology of Social Rule: Pioneering Sociologist Elsie Clews Parsons’s Prophetic Century-Old Study of Power, the Rise of Divisiveness, and Why We Classify Ourselves and Others

“Classification is nine-tenths of subjection.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 25 days ago

Josh Groban Reads Auden’s “After Reading a Child’s Guide to Modern Physics” and Tells the Inspiring Story of His Rebel Astronomer Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather

“Marriage is rarely bliss / But, surely it would be worse / As particles to pelt / At thousands of miles per sec / About a universe / Wherein a lover’s kiss / Would either not be felt / Or br… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 28 days ago

The Body Politic Electric: Walt Whitman on Women’s Centrality to Democracy

“Have I not said that womanhood involves all? Have I not told how the universe has nothing better than the best womanhood?” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Cephalopod Atlas: Stunning, Sensual Illustrations from the World’s First Encyclopedia of Octopus and Squid Wonders from the Ocean Depths

Ravishing otherworldly wonders of the cosmos beneath the surface, from the first expedition to prove that life exists in the depths. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Life, Death, Chance, and Freeman Dyson

“These matters are in the hands of a blind fate whose decrees it is perhaps well that we cannot foresee.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Bloom: A Touching Animated Short Film about Depression and What It Takes to Recover the Light of Being

How the warm rays of hope and healing enter the dark inner chamber of leaden loneliness through the unexpected cracks of kindness. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Between the Body and the Soul: Neri Oxman Reads Walt Whitman

A timeless song of praise for our belonging with “Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees,” with “night of the large few stars.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Creativity as a Way of Being: Poet and Potter M.C. Richards on Wholeness, the Measure of Our Wisdom, and What It Really Means to Be an Artist

“The creative spirit creates with whatever materials are present. With food, with children, with building blocks, with speech, with thoughts, with pigment, with an umbrella, or a wineglass, o… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Immortality in Passing: Poet Lisel Mueller, Who Died at 96, on What Gives Meaning to Our Ephemeral Lives

“What exists, exists so that it can be lost and become precious.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Charming Doodles Charles Darwin's Kids Drew on His Manuscript

From fish with legs to carrot cavalries, an endearing testament to the human life of science. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Until the End of Time: Physicist Brian Greene on the Poetry of Existence and the Wellspring of Meaning in Our Ephemeral Lives Amid an Impartial Universe

“From our lonely corner of the cosmos we have used creativity and imagination to shape words and images and structures and sounds to express our longings and frustrations, our confusions and … | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

The Art of Richard Feynman

“I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world…this feeling about the glories of the universe.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

W. Blake Illustrates Mary Wollstonecraft’s Book of Moral Education for Children

“Good habits, imperceptibly fixed, are far preferable to the precepts of reason.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

What It Takes to Grow Up, What It Means to Have Grown

A poetic antidote to despair by way of delight. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Self-Culture and the Difference Between Being Educated and Being Cultured (2015)

“The art of self-culture begins with a deeper awareness … of the marvel of our being alive at all; alive in a world as startling and mysterious, as lovely and horrible, as the one we li… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Marcus Aurelius in Love: The Future Stoic Philosopher and Roman Emperor’s Passionate Teenage Love Letters to His Tutor

“Those who love less should be helped out and lavished with more.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

How Do We Know What We Want: Milan Kundera on the Central Ambivalences of Life and Love

“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come… We live everything as it comes, wi… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Anne Gilchrist on Inner Wholeness, Our Greatest Obstacle to Happiness, and the Body as the Seedbed of a Flourishing Soul

“One of the hardest things to make a child understand is, that down underneath your feet, if you go far enough, you come to blue sky and stars again; that there really is no ‘down’… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

The Poetics of Outer Toughness and Inner Tenderness: Gorgeous 19th-Century Engravings of Cacti

A succulent serenade to the elegant geometry of spiny splendor. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

William Godwin on the Advantages of the Multilingual Mind

How the ability to call your idea “by various names, borrowed from various languages,” empowers you to conceive that idea “in a way precise, clear and unconfused.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Philosopher Martin Buber on Love and What It Means to Live in the Present

“We live our lives inscrutably included within the streaming mutual life of the universe.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

Mendeleev Invented His Periodic Table in a Dream

“Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

The Moral of Flowers: An Illustrated Victorian Encyclopedia of Poetic Lessons from the Garden

From the sensuous honeysuckle to the humble daisy, a lyrical journey to where nature meets human nature. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 1 month ago

How to Live and How to Die

“Leave something of sweetness and substance in the mouth of the world.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

Patti Smith on Libraries and the Transformative Love of Books

On books, bronchitis, and a mother’s “sympathetic exasperation.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

How to Give a Great Presentation: Timeless Advice from a Legendary Adman, 1981

“No speech was ever too short.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

The Heartbreak of Hans Christian Andersen

Of turning sorrow into song. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

A Curious Herbal: Gorgeous Illustrations from Elizabeth Blackwell’s 18th-Century Encyclopedia of Medicinal Botany

Time-travel to the dawn of modern medical science via the stunning art of a self-taught woman illustrator and botanist. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

Bach and the Stream of Belonging: Michael Pollan on How the Transcendent Power of Music Allays the Loneliness of Being and the Ache of Regret

“Opened to the music, I became first the strings… and then the breeze of sound flowing past as it crossed the lips of the instrument and went out to meet the world, beginning its lonely… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

Virginia Woolf on Why We Read and What Great Works of Art Have in Common

“Our minds are all threaded together… Any live mind today is of the very same stuff as Plato’s & Euripides. It is only a continuation & development of the same thing. It is thi… | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

My Mother’s Eyes: A Soulful Animated Short Film About Loss and the Unbreakable Bonds of Love

Simple, tenderly expressive line drawings unspool a complex, inexpressible universe of feeling. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

Calculating the Incalculable: Thoreau on the True Value of a Tree

“What would human life be without forests, those natural cities?” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

Salvation by Words: Iris Murdoch on Language as a Vehicle of Truth and Art as a Force of Resistance to Tyranny

“Tyrants always fear art because tyrants want to mystify while art tends to clarify. The good artist is a vehicle of truth.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

The Haunting Beauty of Snowflakes: Wilson Bentley’s Pioneering 19th-Century Photomicroscopy of Snow Crystals

The quest to capture nature’s vanishing masterpieces, endowed with the delicacy of flowers and the mathematical precision of honeycombs. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

How to Raise a Reader: Mary Shelley’s Father on Parenting and How an Early Love of Books Paves the Way for Lifelong Happiness

“The impression we derive from a book, depends much less upon its real contents, than upon the temper of mind and preparation with which we read it.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

Here and Now: An Illustrated Guided Meditation Inviting the Practice of Noticing as a Portal to Presence

A sensorial serenade to the art of awareness. | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago

Poet Ross Gay on the Body as an Instrument of Thought and the Delights of Writing by Hand

In praise of the manual-mental “loop-de-looping we call language.” | Continue reading


@brainpickings.org | 2 months ago