Kevin Beckles

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What the Science of “Sleep Paralysis” Reveals About How the Brain Works

<i>“In both writing and sleeping,”</i> Stephen King wrote in his meditation on “creative sleep” and the art of wakeful dreaming, <i>“we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.”</i> But while he was exploring the …

The Lion and the Bird: A Tender Illustrated Story About Loneliness, Loyalty, and the Gift of Friendship

Once in a long while, a children’s book comes by that is so gorgeous in sight and spirit, so timelessly and agelessly enchanting, that it takes my breath away. <b>The Lion and the Bird</b> (<i>public library</i>) by French Canadian graphic designer and illustrator <b>Marianne Dubuc</b> is one such rare gem — the tender …

Kierkegaard on Our Greatest Source of Unhappiness

<i>“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,”</i> Annie Dillard memorably wrote in reflecting on why presence matters more than productivity. <i>“On how one orients himself to the moment depends the failure or fruitfulness of it,”</i> Henry Miller asserted in his beautiful meditation on the …

Ten Days at the Mad-House: How Nellie Bly Posed as Insane in 1887 in Her Brave Exposé of Asylum Abuse

In 1887, two years after she launched her career with a response to a patronizing chauvinist and two years before she raced around the world in a quest to outpace Jules Verne’s fictional eighty-day itinerary, pioneering Victorian journalist <b>Nellie Bly</b> (May 5, 1864–January 27, 1922) pulled off one of …

19-Year-Old Italo Calvino on How to Assert Yourself and Live with Integrity

<i>“A classic is a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off,”</i> <b>Italo Calvino</b> observed in one of his 14 definitions of what makes a classic. But while these were directed at literature, can a <i>life</i> be a classic, in how it …

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on How a Simple Human Smile Saved His Life

Though researchers since Darwin may have spent considerable effort on the science of smiles, at the heart of that simple human expression remains a metaphysical art — one captured nowhere more beautifully and grippingly than in a short account by <b>Antoine de Saint-Exupéry</b> (June 29, 1900–July 31, …

Susan Sontag on Beauty vs. Interestingness

<i>“Attitudes toward beauty are entwined with our deepest conflicts surrounding flesh and spirit,”</i> Harvard’s Nancy Etcoff wrote in her fantastic meditation on the psychology of beauty. Indeed, beauty is a complex beast surrounded by our equally complex attitudes, and who better to tease those …

Pioneering Psychologist Jerome Bruner on the 6 Pillars of Creativity and How to Master the Art of “Effective Surprise”

One of the greatest preoccupations not only of our culture but of our civilization is the question of what creativity is, dating back to the dawn of recorded thought. But it wasn’t until the advent of modern psychology in the early twentieth century that our answers to the question began to take …