The Marginalian
The Marginalian

Reads by Maria Popova

Psychedelic Dinosaurs, Four-Dimensional Hummingbirds, and How We Got Our Vision: Color, Consciousness, and the Dazzling Universe of Tetrachromacy
Psychedelic Dinosaurs, Four-Dimensional Hummingbirds, and How We Got Our Vision: Color, Consciousness, and the Dazzling Universe of Tetrachromacy

“When we pay attention to other animals, our own world expands and deepens.”

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The Soul, the Universe, and the Vastness of Music: Composer Caroline Shaw Brings Whitman and Tennyson to Life in the Spirit of the Golden Record
The Soul, the Universe, and the Vastness of Music: Composer Caroline Shaw Brings Whitman and Tennyson to Life in the Spirit of the Golden Record

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”

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The Unphotographable #3: Alaskan Paradise with Rockwell Kent
The Unphotographable #3: Alaskan Paradise with Rockwell Kent

Sometimes, a painting in words is worth a thousand pictures. I think about this more and more, in our compulsively visual culture, which increasingly reduces what we think and feel and see — who and what we are — to what can be photographed. I think of Susan Sontag, who called it “aesthetic consumerism” half a century before Instagram. In a small act of resistance, I offer The Unphotographable — every Saturday, a lovely image in words drawn from centuries of literature: passages transcendent and transportive, depicting landscapes and experiences radiant with beauty and feeling beyond what a visual image could convey.

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Life and Death and More Life: Leo Tolstoy on Science, Spirituality, and Our Search for Meaning
Life and Death and More Life: Leo Tolstoy on Science, Spirituality, and Our Search for Meaning

“A caterpillar sees itself shrivel up, but doesn’t see the butterfly which flies out of it.”

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How to Be a Citizen of Earth: Learning from the Children of Palau
How to Be a Citizen of Earth: Learning from the Children of Palau

“I shall not take what is not given. I shall not harm what does not harm me. The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away.”

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The Milky Way, the Pond, and the Meaning of Life: Thoreau on Solitude, Sympathy, and the Salve for Melancholy
The Milky Way, the Pond, and the Meaning of Life: Thoreau on Solitude, Sympathy, and the Salve for Melancholy

“There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature and has his senses still.”

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Fantastic Toys: German Artist Monika Beisner’s Vintage Celebration of the Unselfconscious Imagination
Fantastic Toys: German Artist Monika Beisner’s Vintage Celebration of the Unselfconscious Imagination

“Everything that is possible is real.”

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Nick Cave on Songwriting, the Mystery of the Unconscious, and the Sweet Severity of Truth
Nick Cave on Songwriting, the Mystery of the Unconscious, and the Sweet Severity of Truth

“Metaphor can create a merciful sense of distance from the cruel idea, or the unspeakable truth, and allow it to exist within us as a kind of poetic radiance, as a work of art.”

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Sappho and the Fevered Heart: Anne Carson on Jealousy
Sappho and the Fevered Heart: Anne Carson on Jealousy

“…greener than grass I am and dead — or almost I seem to me.”

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Control for Surrender: Henry Miller’s Stunning Letter to Anaïs Nin About the Value of and the Antidote to Despair
Control for Surrender: Henry Miller’s Stunning Letter to Anaïs Nin About the Value of and the Antidote to Despair

“When you surrender, the problem ceases to exist. Try to solve it, or conquer it, and you only set up more resistance.”

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