abortivesorrows

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In Praise of Melancholy and How It Enriches Our Capacity for Creativity

<i>“One feels as if one were lying bound hand and foot at the bottom of a deep dark well, utterly helpless,”</i> Van Gogh wrote in one of his many letters expounding his mental anguish. And yet the very melancholy that afflicted him was also the impetus for the creative restlessness that sparked his …

What Books Do for the Human Spirit: The Four Psychological Functions of Great Literature

The question of what reading does for the human soul is an eternal one and its answer largely ineffable, but this hasn’t stopped minds big and small from tussling with it — we have Kafka’s exquisite letter to his childhood friend, Maurice Sendak’s visual manifestos for the joy of reading, and even …

Petunia, I Love You: A Forgotten 1965 Children’s Book Treasure

Given my inexhaustible affection for vintage children’s books, I was instantly smitten by the 1965 gem <b>Petunia, I Love You</b> (<i>public library</i>) by <b>Roger Duvoisin</b>, part of his altogether delightful Petunia series — the story of the conniving Raccoon, who sets out to make Petunia the goose, “so handsome …

David Foster Wallace on the Redemptive Power of Reading and the Future of Writing in the Age of Information

Despite his heartbreaking end, or perhaps in part because of it, <b>David Foster Wallace</b> endures as one of the most revered and celebrated modern sages, from his wisdom on writing and self-improvement to his superb definition of true leadership to his chilling-in-hindsight insights on death and …

Legendary Composer Aaron Copland on the Conditions of Creativity, Emotion vs. Intellect, and the Trap of Public Opinion

In 1970, long before our present barrage of books on creativity, even before Vera John-Steiner’s pioneering investigation of the creative mind and the influential tome <i>The Creativity Question</i>, psychologists <b>Lawrence E. Abt</b> and <b>Stanley Rosner</b> set out to tackle the question of what makes creators create …

The Book of Miracles: Rare Medieval Illustrations of Magical Thinking

In 1552, a curious and lavishly illustrated manuscript titled <i>Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs</i> appeared in the Swabian Imperial Free City of Augsburg, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire, located in present-day Germany. It exorcised, in remarkable detail and wildly imaginative artwork, Medieval …

Davy Jones’s heat locker

OVER the past few years one of the biggest questions in climate science has been why, since the turn of the century, average surface-air temperatures …

In My Clothes

My aunt sews matching dresses for me and my cousin; she buys the patterns, and when she makes my cousin a dress she often makes me the same. The …

The Paris Review — —Kurt Vonnegut, Backwards City Review, 2004 (via)

Throw Over Your Man: Virginia Woolf’s 1927 Love Letter to Vita Sackville-West

What makes an extraordinary love letter? After Monday’s omnibus of famous correspondence, I revisited a lovely decade-old book titled <b>The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time</b>, which features missives from icons like <b>Ernest Hemingway</b>, <b>Jack Kerouac</b>, <b>Frida Kahlo</b>, <b>Franz Kafka</b>, and <b>Mozart</b>, covering everything …

David Foster Wallace on Writing, Death, and Redemption

On May 21, 2005 <b>David Foster Wallace</b> took the podium at Kenyon College and delivered the now-legendary <i>This Is Water</i>, one of history’s greatest commencement addresses — his timeless meditation on the meaning of life and the grueling work required in order to stay awake to the world rather than …

Kierkegaard on Why Anxiety Powers Creativity Rather Than Hindering It

<i>“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer,”</i> Anaïs Nin famously wrote. But what, exactly, is anxiety, that pervasive affliction the nature of which remains as drowning yet as elusive as the substance of a shadow? In his 1844 treatise <b>The Concept of Anxiety</b> (<i>public library</i>), Danish philosopher <b>Søren</b> …

The Pious Infant: Edward Gorey’s Rare Illustrated Allegory about the Dangers of Dogmatism

Beloved mid-century illustrator Edward Gorey used a variety of anagrammatic pseudonyms, formed by remixing the letter of his real name, for his prolific and diverse creative output, spanning irreverent children’s books, paperback covers for literary classics, naughty delights for grownups, and …

The Love Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, with a Cameo by William S. Burroughs

Among humanity’s greatest art-forms is the love letter. From the wonderful 1998 anthology <b>My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters Through the Centuries</b> (<i>public library</i>) — a diverse collection of missives covering the universalities of romantic love, from longing and infatuation to jealousy and rejection to …

Tarkovsky’s Advice to the Young: Learn to Enjoy Your Own Company

<i>“In proportion as [a person] simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude…,”</i> Thoreau famously wrote. <i>“A writer takes earnest measures to secure his solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it,”</i> Don DeLillo wryly observed. Indeed, …

So very proud and excited about this visualization of famous writers' sleep habits vs. literary productivity – a collaborative project months in the making: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/12/16/writers-wakeup-times-literary-productivity-visualization/ Also available as a print, benefiting literacy nonprofit Room to Read: http://society6.com/accurat/Famous-Writers-Sleep-Habits-and-Literary-Productivity_Print#1=45

“We Are What We Are”: Christian cannibals haunt the backwoods

In an ingenious American remake, a gruesome horror film becomes an indie mood piece on the dangers of religion<p>Rural America is, or once was, practically infested with weird dead-end religions, mostly half-forgotten offshoots of evangelical Protestantism with roots in the Second Great Awakening of …

Choose Your Own Adventure: If You Expect Life to Be Easy and Without Pain, Turn to Another Story

The Rumpus Interview with Adelle Waldman

It was a sweltering Brooklyn afternoon when I met debut novelist Adelle Waldman in a quaint coffee shop to discuss her brilliant new novel, <i>The Love</i> …

The Rumpus Interview with Tom Barbash

I first met Tom Barbash in the fall of 1995, almost twenty years ago. Man, he was handsome! A much-esteemed Jones Lecturer at Stanford, I was …

Paris Review - Dear Someone

Deborah Landau<p>Issue 192, Spring 2010<p>my emptiness has a lake in it deep and watery <br>with several temperaments milk cola beer<p>at night the selves are made of water <br>all the openings flooded streaming with rain<p>my emptiness …<p>Want to keep reading?<br>Subscribe and save nearly 40%.

Literature

Salinger and the Architecture of Personal Mythology

In 1951, <i>The Catcher in the Rye</i> catapulted <b>J. D. Salinger</b> into instant literary celebrity and the 65 million copies sold to date have stirred generations of dejected adolescents. Despite having spent his entire adult life aspiring to become a successful author, Salinger found himself unprepared for …

Syria crisis: Russia urges Assad to give up chemical weapons

http://vod-pro-ww-live.akamaized.net/mps_h264_hi/public/news/world/1009000/1009141_h264_1500k.mp4?__gda__=1524760042_6fe924e347e91909252b61c1e92b21c3<p><b>Russia has asked Syria to put its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control and then have them destroyed, in an attempt to avoid US</b> …

Middle East

The Paris Review — No island is a man lonely on all four sides with...

Why we read New York Times wealth porn

Their stories of the 1 percent are gruesome real-world fairy tales — and I can’t look away<p>In Woody Allen’s latest film, "Blue Jasmine,<i>"</i> the wealthy supposedly get their comeuppance. It is the more mannered response to America’s recent economic collapse than, say, "The Dark Knight." Jasmine is a …