The Marginalian
The Marginalian

Reads by Maria Popova

The Human Kaleidoscope and the Unwritten Story of the World: “Radiolab” Creator Jad Abumrad’s Superb Caltech Commencement Address
The Human Kaleidoscope and the Unwritten Story of the World: “Radiolab” Creator Jad Abumrad’s Superb Caltech Commencement Address

A ten-year-old boy on the side of a Lebanese mountain road, three generations of monarch butterflies, and the history of the future.

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Twenty Reasons for Being
Twenty Reasons for Being

A pastiche poem of tribute to the past and resolve for the possible.

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The Beginning and the End: Robinson Jeffers’s Epic Poem About the Interwoven Mystery of Mind and Universe
The Beginning and the End: Robinson Jeffers’s Epic Poem About the Interwoven Mystery of Mind and Universe

“Pleasure and pain, wonder, love, adoration, hatred and terror: how do these thing grow from a chemical reaction?”

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The Grandmother, the Mermaid, and the Soul: Poet Elizabeth Alexander on How Literature Widens the Portal of the Possible
The Grandmother, the Mermaid, and the Soul: Poet Elizabeth Alexander on How Literature Widens the Portal of the Possible

How a poem made a life and a life a poem.

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The Art of Living: The Contemplative Cartoonist Grant Snider’s Illustrated Love Letter to Noticing and Manifesto for Self-Liberation from Striving
The Art of Living: The Contemplative Cartoonist Grant Snider’s Illustrated Love Letter to Noticing and Manifesto for Self-Liberation from Striving

The consolation of clouds, the secret lives of leaves, and the yearning to be more fully human.

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June 16, 1816: The Inception of Frankenstein and Mary Shelley’s Prescient Warning About Reproductive Rights
June 16, 1816: The Inception of Frankenstein and Mary Shelley’s Prescient Warning About Reproductive Rights

A teenage girl from another epoch illuminates the fault lines of ours.

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Bronson Alcott on the Meaning of Family and How Our Friendships Humanize Us: His Ecstatic Diary Entry Upon His Daughter Louisa May’s Birth
Bronson Alcott on the Meaning of Family and How Our Friendships Humanize Us: His Ecstatic Diary Entry Upon His Daughter Louisa May’s Birth

“The human being isolates itself from the supplies of Providence for the happiness and renovation of life, unless those ties which connect it with others are formed.”

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The Dandelion and the Meaning of Life: G.K. Chesterton on How to Dig for the “Submerged Sunrise of Wonder”
The Dandelion and the Meaning of Life: G.K. Chesterton on How to Dig for the “Submerged Sunrise of Wonder”

Recovering the “forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence” alive in the back of our modernity-deadened minds.

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The Solace of Open Spaces
The Solace of Open Spaces

“There is nothing in nature that can’t be taken as a sign of both mortality and invigoration… Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.”

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Dismantling the Dogmas of Life and Death: How the Forgotten Prodigy William James Sidis Presaged the Quantum Undoing of Time and Thermodynamics
Dismantling the Dogmas of Life and Death: How the Forgotten Prodigy William James Sidis Presaged the Quantum Undoing of Time and Thermodynamics

“There is no way of telling whether we are living organisms in a positive universe, or pseudo-living organisms in a negative universe.. The difference is really one merely between the two directions of time, and, though those two directions are opposite to each other, they have no physical properties which are in any way different.”

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