Saturday, November 21, 2015

MARIA POPOVA: "Brain Pickings"

Something weird has gone wrong with my  I've tried all the remedies I know and none work, so I'll just reproduce what I was writing about.  Sort of. This is the "about" for Maria Popova's blog called "Brain Pickings."  I like it because it's cheerful but not about love, kittens and butterflies.  It IS a little icky sweet sometimes, which just seems inescapable for a young woman in our culture.  Alas.  Below the "about," I'll add her post that got my attention.  She does tweet on twitter.

Hey there. My name is Maria Popova and I’m a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large. I’ve previously written for Wired UK, The AtlanticThe New York Times, and Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, among others, and am an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

Maria Popova. Photograph by Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times

Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.
Founded in 2006 as a weekly email that went out to seven friends and eventually brought online, the site was included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive in 2012.
Here’s a little bit about my seven most important learnings from the journey so far.
The core ethos behind Brain Pickings is that creativity is a combinatorial force: it’s our ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, insight, information, inspiration, and all the fragments populating our minds — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new ideas.
I think of it as LEGOs — if the bricks we have are of only one shape, size, and color, we can build things, but there’s a limit to how imaginative and interesting they will be. The richer and more diverse that pool of resources, that mental library of building blocks, the more visionary and compelling our combinatorial ideas can be.
Brain Pickings — which remains ad-free and supported by readers — is a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful. Above all, it’s about how these different disciplines illuminate one another to glean some insight, directly or indirectly, into that grand question of how to live, and how to live well
Mary Oliver is much beloved in the UU community.  She's rather like Annie Dillard.
My nasty comment -- the one that got this entry deleted either by my conscience or some outside power -- was that if she attended a UU group, they'd make her run the Religious Education program and wear the social action t-shirt de jour.
Mary Oliver on the right, Molly Malone Cook, her partner, is on the left.

No, reading Mary Oliver will not make you become a lesbian.  But she does belong to my generation.  And most of the time I enjoy her poetry.  I like the one below.  The geese have not finished going south yet, but wind's stiff fingers has been throwing branches on the ground.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

1 comment:

artemesia said...

Brain Pickings and Mary Oliver are both great reading!