Sam Ngo

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Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life

The seasonal trope of the commencement address is upon us as wisdom on life is being dispensed from graduation podiums around the world. After Greil Marcus’s meditation on the essence of art and Neil Gaiman’s counsel on the creative life, here comes a heartening speech by artist, strategist, and …

Brain Pickings

If you see one thing this week, make it Fail Safe – fantastic illustrated advice on courage and the creative life

How Not To Worry: Timeless 1934 Advice on Controlling Anxiety and Mastering Life

As far as vintage finds go, they hardly get more fortuitous than <b>You Can Master Life</b> (<i>public library</i>) — a marvelous 1934 compendium of sort-of-philosophical, sort-of-self-helpy, at times charmingly dated, other times refreshingly timeless advice on cultivating “the power to think, to create, to …

How China’s First Emperor Pioneered Design Thinking and Revolutionized the Branding of Legacy

The questions of what makes good design, what it should aspire to be, why it’s essential to culture, and how it harmonizes with human life have long occupied modern thinkers and pundits. That’s precisely what <i>Herald Tribune</i> design critic and writer extraordinaire Alice Rawsthorn sets out to answer …

Ted Hughes on the Universal Inner Child, in a Moving Letter to His Son

<i>“The analogy between the artist and the child is that both live in a world of their own making,”</i> wrote Anaïs Nin in her diary in 1945. Four decades later, 23 years after Sylvia Plath took her own life at the age of 30, <b>Ted Hughes</b> (August 17, 1930–October 28, 1998) wrote to their 24-year-old son, …

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, …

Darwin’s Daily Routine

In between weighing the pros and cons of marriage, grumbling to his friends, and changing our understanding of human emotion, <b>Charles Darwin</b> spent a decade perfecting a radical scientific theory of how the world worked. In part because it demanded intense intellectual investment and in part because …