‘Even with an entire dictionary in one’s head, one eventually comes to the end of words’

“Every sentence is a wispy net, capturing a few flecks of meaning. The sun shines without vocabulary. The salmon has no name for the urge that drives it upstream. The newborn groping for the nipple knows hunger long before it knows a single word. Even with an entire dictionary in one’s head, one eventually comes […]

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Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing habits

What is your ideal writing routine? For novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, it was all about writing in the morning, reading in the afternoon, and playing at night. Criss-crossing such experiences throughout the day was a boon to her creativity. Through a process of production, consumption, and rest, she built a proper system for keeping […]

‘The enemy is our chattering brain’

Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, […]

19th century algae prints by Anna Atkins

These algae prints were misattributed for more than a century before art historian Larry Schaaf discovered that they were the work of British botanist Anna Atkins. As a pioneer of cyanotype photograms, a process in which sunlight (not a camera) imprints over objects on a piece of coated paper, Atkins produced the blueprints for a […]

‘Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence’

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. The desire and ability to press on has and always will solve the problems of the human race and divide those who achieve from those who might have been. Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Start the next one today’

I remember rolling the last page out and adding it to the stack that was the finished manuscript. Nobody knew I was done. Nobody cared. But I knew. I felt like a dragon I’d been fighting all my life had just dropped dead at my feet and gasped out its last sulfuric breath.   Rest […]

‘I’d rather have average art and survival’

I know that I stopped thinking about extreme grief as the sole vehicle for great art when the grief started to take people with it. And I get it. The tortured artist is the artist that gets remembered for all time, particularly if they if they either perish or overcome. But the truth is that […]

‘Don’t water down your natural style’

What you love to think about, dream about, speak about, learn about and create about is your genius. Don’t water down your natural style or contort yourself into some idealized version of who you think you should be. The impulses that come from deep within are your guide track to greatness. We want you as […]

‘All human activity is prompted by desire’

All human activity is prompted by desire. There is a wholly fallacious theory advanced by some earnest moralists to the effect that it is possible to resist desire in the interests of duty and moral principle. I say this is fallacious, not because no man ever acts from a sense of duty, but because duty […]

Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism

I’m looking forward to reading Cal Newport’s new book Digital Minimalism before my face falls off from the screen glare.  A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time in a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything […]

The growing block theory of time

Time is simply blocks or slices of reality, added on top of one another. Writes C. D. Broad’s in his theory of time in 1923:  […] such a theory as this accepts the reality of the present and the past, but holds that the future is simply nothing at all. Nothing has happened to the present […]

Anthony Bourdain’s tip for aspiring travelers

No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach (Amazon) was Bourdain’s sixth book. In it, he offered this sage advice to ambitious world travelers.    “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves mark […]

Against running with headphones

The host of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! wrote about the delights of running in our overconnected age and it looks fantastic.  “If I don’t leave my headphones behind when I run, I wouldn’t spend a single minute of my waking life free from input. I have a friend who wears headphones on long solo […]

Choosing to walk

Erling Kagge is the first person to trek the Three Poles Challenge: the North Pole, the South Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest. In his book Silence: In the Age of Noise (Amazon), he dissects the of the art of silence.   “Humans or homo sapiens didn’t invent walking. But walking invented human beings. So, of course, […]

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