art

Iris Murdoch on Language as a Vehicle of Truth and Art as a Force of Resistance to Tyranny – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“To create today is to create dangerously,” Albert Camus wrote in the late 1950s as he contemplated the role of the artist as a voice of resistance. “In our age,” W.H. Auden observed around the same time across the Atlantic, “the mere making of a work of art is itself a political act.” This unmerciful reality of human culture has shocked and staggered every artist who has endeavored to effect progress and lift her society up with the fulcrum of…

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Lebanese-American Poet, Painter, and Philosopher Etel Adnan on Time, Self, Impermanence, and Transcendence – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“Place and a mind may interpenetrate till the nature of both is altered,” the trailblazing Scottish mountaineer and poet Nan Shepherd wrote as she drew on her intimate enchantment with the Highlands in her masterpiece The Living Mountain. Having grown up at the foot of Mount Vitosha and spent swaths of my childhood in the Rila mountains of Bulgaria, I too have known the mind-sculpting power of mountains and felt the embers of that knowingness reignited by Journey to Mount…

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The Great Naturalist John Burroughs on Art, the Courage to Defy Convention, and the Measure of a Visionary – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

Art is both foreground and background to all social change, the fulcrum by which we raise our personal and political standards, the wheel that propels every revolution — in thought, in feeling, in the constellation of customs, beliefs, principles, power structures, and sensibilities we call culture. “Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art,” Ursula K. Le Guin asserted in her superb National Book Award acceptance speech. It is hardly…

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Jane Goodall’s Lovely Letter to Children About How Reading Shaped Her Life – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“Books feed and cure and chortle and collide,” Gwendolyn Brooks wrote in her 1969 ode to why we read. For Kafka, a book was “the axe for the frozen sea inside us”; for Galileo, nothing less than a source of superhuman powers. “Without the writing of books, there is no history, there is no concept of humanity,” Hermann Hesse wrote in his visionary 1930 meditation on “the magic of the book” and why we will always remain under its generous…

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Nick Cave on AI, Awe, and the Splendor of Our Human Limitations – Brain Pickings

“All truth is comprised in music and mathematics,” Margaret Fuller proclaimed as she transfigured the cultural and political face of the 19th century. Her contemporary and admirer Walt Whitman considered music the profoundest expression of nature, while Nietzsche bellowed across the Atlantic that “without music life would be a mistake.” But something curious and unnerving happens when, in the age of artificial intelligence, mathematics reaches its human-made algorithmic extensions into the realm of music — into the art Aldous Huxley…

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Stunning 19th-Century French Natural History Illustrations of Beetles – Brain Pickings

The exoskeletal strangeness and splendor of creatures almost entirely unlike us yet thoroughly of this shared world. By Maria Popova “I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars,” the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska wrote in her stunning poem “Possibilities.” And why shouldn’t we? We are, after all, creatures pinned to scales of space and time far closer to those of the insects than to those of the stars. I was reminded of Szymborska’s strange and beautiful…

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Mary Oliver’s Advice on Writing – Brain Pickings

“Look for verbs of muscle, adjectives of exactitude.” By Maria Popova “I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too,” the poet Mary Oliver reflected in her lovely autobiographical essay on how literature saved her life. But what does it take to write such buoyant literature — be it poetry or prose — that lends itself as a lifeboat to those far from the shore of being? A decade after…

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