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What’s the Story?
A discovery engine for meaningful knowledge, fueled by cross-disciplinary curiosity.
A Brain Pickings project edited by Maria Popova in partnership with Noodle.
Twitter: @explorer
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Our modern conception of human excellence is too often impoverished, cold, and bloodless. Success does not always come from thinking more rigorously or striving harder.
Trying Not To Try – fantastic read on the paradoxical art of serendipity and how to master it using the Chinese concept of wu-wei.
Legendary Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner on the art of “effective surprise” and the 6 conditions of creativity 

Legendary Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner on the art of “effective surprise” and the 6 conditions of creativity 

On a day like today, my master William Faulkner said, “I decline to accept the end of man.” I would fall unworthy of standing in this place that was his, if I were not fully aware that the colossal tragedy he refused to recognize thirty-two years ago is now, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, nothing more than a simple scientific possibility. Faced with this awesome reality that must have seemed a mere utopia through all of human time, we, the inventors of tales, who will believe anything, feel entitled to believe that it is not yet too late to engage in the creation of the opposite utopia. A new and sweeping utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth.
In the wake of Gabriel García Márquez’s death, wisdom from his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Complement with Faulkner’s iconic 1950 Nobel speech on the role o the writer as a booster of the human heart, which Márquez bows to here.

Forgiveness.

The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this, because it is the key to making art and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper (which, let’s face it, was once a towering tree crowned with leaves and a home to birds), I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe that, more than anything else, this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.

Beloved illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger reimagines The Wizard of Oz

Beloved illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger reimagines The Wizard of Oz

Libraries tend to become more cozy, relaxing and communicative places. Other than public spaces like museums, they have a certain private character, which makes them a living room for their community.
Behold the Periodic Table of Storytelling – a guide to the tropes, characters, and story elements of great stories. Complement with Kurt Vonnegut on the 5 essential shapes of stories and Nabokov on the 3 qualities a great storyteller must have.
(HT Open Culture)

Behold the Periodic Table of Storytelling – a guide to the tropes, characters, and story elements of great stories. Complement with Kurt Vonnegut on the 5 essential shapes of stories and Nabokov on the 3 qualities a great storyteller must have.

(HT Open Culture)

If you read one thing today, make it Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on how a human smile saved his life during the war

If you read one thing today, make it Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on how a human smile saved his life during the war

14 British accents in 84 seconds

(via Open Culture)

Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice, one of Dinah Fried’s brilliant Fictitious Dishes – meals from beloved books, which she cooks, art-directs, and photographs. 

Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice, one of Dinah Fried’s brilliant Fictitious Dishes – meals from beloved books, which she cooks, art-directs, and photographs

In the end all books are written for your friends. The problem after writing One Hundred Years of Solitude was that now I no longer know whom of the millions of readers I am writing for; this upsets and inhibits me. It’s like a million eyes are looking at you and you don’t really know what they think.
Gabriel García Márquez (March 6, 1927 – April 17, 2014) in this altogether excellent 1981 Paris Review interview, a fine manifestation of the magazine’s mastery of the art of the interview.
Mr. Bliss — the little-known children’s book J.R.R. Tolkien lovingly hand-wrote and illustrated for his own two kids when they were little.

Mr. Bliss — the little-known children’s book J.R.R. Tolkien lovingly hand-wrote and illustrated for his own two kids when they were little.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on how a smile saved his life during the Spanish Civil War – an exquisite meditation on our shared humanity, and one of the most soul-stirring things I’ve ever read.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on how a smile saved his life during the Spanish Civil War – an exquisite meditation on our shared humanity, and one of the most soul-stirring things I’ve ever read.

Hope Is a Girl Selling Fruit – gorgeous and heartwarming illustrated celebration of women’s journey toward creative freedom, based on traditional Indian folk art

Hope Is a Girl Selling Fruit – gorgeous and heartwarming illustrated celebration of women’s journey toward creative freedom, based on traditional Indian folk art

A vintage treasure