Brain Pickings has a free Sunday digest of the week’s most interesting and inspiring articles across art

Sunday newsletter

Brain Pickings has a totally free Sunday digest of the week’s most fascinating and articles that are inspiring art, science, philosophy, creativity, children’s books, and other strands of your look for truth, beauty, and meaning. Here’s an example. Like? Claim yours:

midweek newsletter

Also: Because Brain Pickings is within its twelfth year and I have decided to plunge into my vast archive every Wednesday and choose from the thousands of essays one worth resurfacing and resavoring because I write primarily about ideas of a timeless character. Contribute to this free midweek pick-me-up for heart, mind, and spirit below — it really is separate through the standard Sunday digest of new pieces:

The greater amount of Loving One: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads W.H. Auden’s Sublime Ode to Our Unrequited Love for the Universe

Favorite Books of 2018

Emily Dickinson’s Electric Love Letters to Susan Gilbert

Rebecca Solnit’s Lovely Letter to Children About How Books Solace, Empower, and Transform Us

A Brave and Startling Truth: Astrophysicist Janna Levin Reads Maya Angelou’s Stunning Humanist Poem That Flew to Space, Inspired by Carl Sagan

In Praise for the Telescopic Perspective: A Reflection on coping with Turbulent Times

A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca from the Ant >

The Courage to Be Yourself: E.E. Cummings on Art, Life, and being > that is unafra

10 Learnings from 10 Years of Brain Pickings

The Writing of “Silent Spring”: Rachel Carson additionally the Culture-Shifting Courage to Speak Inconvenient Truth to Power

Timeless Suggestions About Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers

A Rap on Race: Margaret Mead and James Baldwin’s Rare Conversation on Forgiveness plus the Difference Between Guilt and Responsibility

The Science of Stress and exactly how Our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease

Mary Oliver on which Attention Really Means and Her Moving Elegy on her soul mates

Rebecca Solnit on Hope in Dark Times, Resisting the Defeatism of Easy Despair, and What Victory Really Means for Movements of Social Change

The Lonely City: Adventures within the creative art of Being Alone

Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives

Related Reads

Annie Dillard regarding the Art associated with the Essay while the Different Responsibilities of Narrative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Stories

Ted Hughes on How to Be a Writer: A Letter of Advice to His 18-Year-Old Daughter

W.E.B. Dubois on Earning One’s Privilege: His Magnificent Letter of Advice to His Teenage Daughter

Famous Writers’ Sleep Habits vs. Literary Productivity, Visualized

7 Life-Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Pickings, Illustrated

Anaпs Nin on Love, Hand-Lettered by Debbie Millman

Anaпs Nin on Real Love, Illustrated by Debbie Millman

Susan Sontag on Love: Illustrated Diary Excerpts

Susan Sontag on Art: Illustrated Diary Excerpts

Albert Camus on Happiness and Love, Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton

The Holstee Manifesto

The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks

Just how to Read Intelligently and Write a Great Essay: Robert Frost’s Letter of Advice to His Young Daughter

“Only someone who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery therefore the stamina to publish essays,” E.B. White wrote in the foreword to his collected essays. Annie Dillard sees things almost the way that is opposite insisting that essayists perform a public service — they “serve once the memory of a people” and “chew over our public past.” Himself, the advice Pulitzer-winning poet Robert Frost (March 26, 1874–January 29, 1963) offered to his eldest daughter, Lesley, not only stands as an apt mediator between White and Dillard but also some of the most enduring wisdom on essay-writing ever committed to paper although he had never written an essay.

During her junior year in college, Lesley shared her exasperation over having been assigned to create an academic essay about a book she didn’t find particularly inspiring. In an outstanding letter from February of 1919, found in The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1 (public library), the beloved poet gave his daughter sage counsel on her behalf particular predicament, emanating general wisdom on writing, the art of the essay, and even thinking itself.

Five years before he received the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes, 45-year-old Frost writes:

I pity you, being forced to write essays where the imagination does not have any chance, or close to no chance. Only one word of advice: stay away from strain or at any rate the appearance of strain. One way to head to work is to read through your author a couple of times over having an eye out for anything that develops to you as you read whether appreciative contradictory corroborative or parallel…

He speaks into the notion that writing, like all creativity, is a matter of selecting the few ideas that are thrilling the lot of dull ones that occur to us — “To invent… is to choose,” as French polymath Henri Poincarй famously proclaimed. Frost counsels:

There must be pretty much of a jumble in your mind or on the note paper following the first time and even with the 2nd. Much that you will think about in connection should come to nothing and be wasted. However some from it need to go together under one idea. That idea may be the thing to write on and write into the title in the head of your paper… One idea and a few subordinate ideas — the trick is to have those happen to you as you read and catch them — not let them escape you… The sidelong glance is exactly what you depend on. You appear at your author but you maintain the tail of your eye on which is going on in addition to your author in your own mind and nature.

Reflecting on his days as an English teacher at New Hampshire’s Pinkerton Academy, Frost points to precisely this quality that is over-and-above the factor that set apart the handful of his students who mastered the essay from the vast majority of the who never did. (Although because of the time of his tenure the Academy officially accepted young women, Frost’s remark that is passing his class consisted of sixty boys reveals a great deal about women’s plight for education.) He writes:

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