"The Creative Pace of the 20th Century’s Greatest Authors, Visualized" by Maria Popova, via Brainpickings
We inhabit a deeply imagined world that exists alongside the real physical world. Even the crudest utterance, or the simplest, contains the fundamental poetry by which we live. This mind fabric, woven of images and illusions, shields us. In a sense, or rather, in all senses, it’s a shock absorber. As harsh as life seems to us now, it would feel even worse — hopelessly, irredeemably harsh — if we didn’t veil it, order it, relate familiar things, create mental cushions. One of the most surprising facts about human beings is that we seem to require a poetic version of life. It’s not just that some of us enjoy reading or writing poetically, or that many people wax poetic in emotional situations, but that all human beings of all ages in all cultures all over the world automatically tell their story in a poetic way, using the elemental poetry concealed in everyday language to solve problems, communicate desires and needs, even talk to themselves. When people invent new words, they do so playfully, metaphorically — computers have viruses, one can surf the internet, a naive person is clueless. In time, people forget the etymology or choose to disregard it. We dine at chic restaurants from porcelain dinner plates without realizing that when the smooth, glistening porcelain was invented in France a long time ago, someone with a sense of humor thought it looked as smooth as the vulva of a pig, which is indeed what porcelain means. When we stand by our scruples, we don’t think of our feet, but the word comes from the Latin scrupulus, a tiny stone that was the smallest unit of weight. Thus a scrupulous person is so sensitive he’s irritated by the smallest stone in his shoe. For the most part, we are all unwitting poets.
Diane Ackerman, from her essay “Language at Play,” In Fact (via afternoon—-tea)
from “Advice for a New Human” by Chiara Barzini, via The Fiddleback
“GENERALLY: I am a Capricorn, and sometimes I have a hard time expressing my emotions. They are all there, just jammed underneath a shield. Don’t think I am incapable of empathy or love. I am a great lover. Sometimes not very honest with others. It is not easy for me to speak my opinion immediately. This is why I am giving you these basic life instructions in written form. Remember the part about opening your arms and receiving love. I meant it.”
from "The World in Evening" by Norman Lock, via Guernica:
"To get to the point: last night an iceberg slid out of my mind and into the room, sheathing first the windows and then the walls with frost. To be precise, an iceberg calved by the powerful torque of the imagination ascended from my unconscious depths, where it had been submerged for who knows how long, and, breaching a surface roiling with broken and commonplace dreams lacking its chill grandeur, slipped into my bedroom. That last line (gorgeous or gaudy, as you like) may suggest a mind hopelessly mired in fantasy, but you would be mistaken to dismiss me as delusional or mad."
Franz Kafka et al. to Kurt Wolff, 1913:
Franz Kafka is often pictured as a solitary figure, brooding alone in his room. The postcard above is evidence of Kafka’s social side. It was sent on March 25, 1913 from Charlottenburg, a district of Berlin, where Kafka was meeting with a group of fellow authors who shared the same publisher. The writers decided to send a group postcard to their publisher Kurt Wolff. Kafka writes “Best greetings from a plenary session of authors of your house. Otto Pick, Albert Ehrenstein, Carl Ehrenstein. Dear Herr Wolff: Pay no attention to what Werfel tells you! He does not know a word of the story. As soon as I have a clean copy made, I will of course be glad to send it to you. Sincerely, F. Kafka.” At the bottom, in another hand, is written “Cordial greetings from Paul Zech,” and on the front of the postcard is a drawing by Else Lasker-Schuler with the name “Abigail Basileus III” next to it. The “Werfel” Kafka refers to is the Austrian-Bohemian writer Franz Werfel, who had told Wolff about Kafka’s unpublished novella, The Metamorphosis. Wolff had expressed interest in seeing “the bug story.” He published it two years later, in 1915.
This looks amazing, although citing Tolstoy as an influence on Jennifer Egan is…interesting?
This is so neat to look at!
Poland, 19th century
Egg decorated with micrographic text from the Song of Songs,
Handwritten in ink, 7 x 5 2398
“From the 18th century, and perhaps even earlier, hollow eggs on which sacred texts had been written in micrography were used to decorate European sukkahs. Not all the texts related directly to the holiday of Sukkot, the Festival of Booths: this example has Song of Songs 1-4:7 inscribed in miniscule letters. At times feathers were added to the hanging egg, so that it looked like a bird in flight.”(via)
From "Observations on the Ground" by Mary Ruefle, via Granta
"The planet seen from extremely close up is called the ground. The ground can be made loose by the human hand, or by using a small tool held in the human hand, such as a spade, or an even larger tool, such as a shovel, or a variety of machines commonly called heavy equipment. We bury our dead in the ground. Roughly half of the dead are buried in boxes and half of the dead are buried without boxes. A burying box is an emblem of respect for the dead. We are the only species to so envelop our dead. An earlier more minimal way to envelop the dead was to wrap them in cloth.”
"We learn a new word for the first time. Then it turns up within the next hour. Why? Because words are living organisms impelled by a crystallizing process to mysterious agglutinative matings at which the word-fancier is sometimes privileged to assist. The glow-worms light up…. The individual also is like a moving mirror or screen which reflects in its motion an ever-changing panorama of thoughts, sensations, faces, and places, and yet the screen is always being guided to reflect one film rather than another, always seeking a chosen querencia. In the warm sea of experience we blob around like plankton, we love-absorb or hate-avoid each other or are avoided or are absorbed, devoured and devouring. yet we are no more free than the cells in a plant or the microbes in a drop of water but are all held firmly in tension by the pull of the future and the tug of the past.”
-from The Unquiet Grave by Cyril Connolly