Artist Eero Saarinen’s list of his wife’s good qualities, ca. 1954, from the Lists, to-dos and illustrated inventories of great artists.
Things I like: ivory, sweaters, architectural drawings, urinating, pizza (the Roman bread), staying in hotels, paper clips, the color blue, leather belts, making lists… .
Things I dislike: Television, baked beans, hirsute men, paperback books, standing, card games, dirty or disorderly apartments, flat pillows, being in the sun, Ezra Pound… .
1. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1964)
2. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
3. Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (1921)
4. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
6. Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe (1836–47)
7. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (1913–27)
8. Paradise Lost by John Milton (1667)
9. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (1985)
10. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)
Michael Chabon lists and discusses his 10 favorite books, part of the same project that gave us the greatest books of all time as voted by 125 famous authors.
Also see Chabon’s ideal bookshelf (along with those of other modern literary icons.)
1.) Takes Too Much Time
2.) Assumes Too Much Knowledge
3.) Too Basic, Not Really at the Level of Stanford, Oxford and MIT
4.) Lecture Fatigue
5.) Poor Course Design
6.) Clunky Community/Communication Tools
7.) Bad Peer Review & Trolls
8.) Surprised by Hidden Costs
9.) You’re Just Shopping Around
10.) You’re There to Learn, Not for the Credential at the End
1. All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level. (Stephen Schneider)
2. Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong. (Dandemis)
3. Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. (Francis Bacon)
4. Never fall in love with your hypothesis. (Peter Medawar)
5. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts. (Arthur Conan Doyle)
6. A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong. (Francis Crick)
7. The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting. (Richard Feynman)
8. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact. (Charles Darwin)
9. It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. (Mark Twain)
10. Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong. (Thomas Jefferson)
11. All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. (Arthur Schopenhauer)
1. Read, read read! Classic poems for children and adults, books about poetry. Never trust anyone who writes more than he or she reads. Even if you want to write free verse, learn verse forms and metrics until your eyes glaze over. You can break those rules, but only after you have learned them first.
2. Make a dictionary your best friend, no matter how geeky that sounds. Most children will speak only one language in their lifetimes, so why not make your fluency in that language as masterful as you can.
3. If you say you want to be a writer (prose or poetry), I applaud you. The next words out of your mouth should be, “But I promise to be a rewriter!” I don’t even know why we use the word “writer.” All the great writers in the world have been rewriters. So buy yourself a big wastebasket, and keep it filled.
Advice to aspiring poets from J. Patrick Lewis, the current United States children’s poet laureate.
On studying his chronic fears this man found they fell into five fairly distinct classifications:
1. Worries about disasters which, as later events proved, never happened. About 40% of my anxieties.
2. Worries about decisions I had made in the past, decisions about which I could now of course do nothing. About 30% of my anxieties.
3. Worries about possible sickness and a possible nervous breakdown, neither of which materialized. About 12% of my worries.
4. Worries about my children and my friends, worries arising from the fact I forgot these people have an ordinary amount of common sense. About 10% of my worries.
5. Worries that have a real foundation. Possibly 8% of the total.
You want to do the fast things as fast as possible so you can slow cook the other stuff. You trust your readers to know which is which (because they get it).
Here are some options:
1. Write a lot of original pieces yourself. (Pro: Awesome. Con: Hard, slow.)
2. Take partner content. (Pro: Content! Con: It’s someone else’s content.)
3. Find people who are willing to write for a small amount of money. (Pro: Maybe good. Con: Often bad.)
4. Find people who are willing to write for no money. (Pro: Free. Con: Crapshoot.)
5. Aggregate like a mug. (Pro: Can put smartest stuff on blog. Con: No one will link to it.)
6. Rewrite press releases so they look like original content. (Pro: Content. Con: You suck.)
Don’t laugh. These are actual content strategies out there in the wilds of the Internet. I am sure you have encountered them.
Still, it’s hard to imagine E. B. White ”aggregating like mug.” (But who knows who he would be if he lived and wrote today…)
1. Linguistic Intelligence: the capacity to use language to express what’s on your mind and to understand other people. Any kind of writer, orator, speaker, lawyer, or other person for whom language is an important stock in trade has great linguistic intelligence.
2. Logical/Mathematical Intelligence: the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system, the way a scientist or a logician does; or to manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations, the way a mathematician does.
3. Musical Rhythmic Intelligence: the capacity to think in music; to be able to hear patterns, recognize them, and perhaps manipulate them. People who have strong musical intelligence don’t just remember music easily, they can’t get it out of their minds, it’s so omnipresent.
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence: the capacity to use your whole body or parts of your body (your hands, your fingers, your arms) to solve a problem, make something, or put on some kind of production. The most evident examples are people in athletics or the performing arts, particularly dancing or acting.
5. Spatial Intelligence: the ability to represent the spatial world internally in your mind — the way a sailor or airplane pilot navigates the large spatial world, or the way a chess player or sculptor represents a more circumscribed spatial world. Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the sciences.
6. Naturalist Intelligence: the ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) and sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence: having an understanding of yourself; knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward. We are drawn to people who have a good understanding of themselves. They tend to know what they can and can’t do, and to know where to go if they need help.
8. Interpersonal Intelligence: the ability to understand other people. It’s an ability we all need, but is especially important for teachers, clinicians, salespersons, or politicians — anybody who deals with other people.
9. Existential Intelligence: the ability and proclivity to pose (and ponder) questions about life, death, and ultimate realities.
A Manifesto for Atheists - Ten Virtues for the Modern Age:
1. Resilience. Keeping going even when things are looking dark; accepting that reversals are normal; remembering that human nature is, in the end, tough. Not frightening others with your fears.
2. Empathy. The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person. The courage to become someone else and look back at yourself with honesty.
3. Patience. We lose our temper because we believe that things should be perfect. We’ve grown so good in some areas (putting men on the moon etc.), we’re ever less able to deal with things that still insist on going wrong; like traffic, government, other people… We should grow calmer and more forgiving by getting more realistic about how things actually tend to go.
4. Sacrifice. We’re hardwired to seek our own advantage but also have a miraculous ability, very occasionally, to forego our own satisfactions in the name of someone or something else. We won’t ever manage to raise a family, love someone else or save the planet if we don’t keep up with the art of sacrifice.
5. Politeness. Politeness has a bad name. We often assume it’s about being ‘fake’ (which is meant to be bad) as opposed to ‘really ourselves’ (which is meant to be good). However, given what we’re really like deep down, we should spare others too much exposure to our deeper selves. We need to learn manners, which aren’t evil - they are the necessary internal rules of civilisation. Politeness is very linked to tolerance, the capacity to live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same time, can’t avoid.
6. Humour. Seeing the funny sides of situations and of oneself doesn’t sound very serious, but it is integral to wisdom, because it’s a sign that one is able to put a benevolent finger on the gap between what we want to happen and what life can actually provide; what we dream of being and what we actually are, what we hope other people will be like and what they are actually like. Like anger, humour springs from disappointment, but it’s disappointment optimally channelled. It’s one of the best things we can do with our sadness.
7. Self-awareness. To know oneself is to try not to blame others for one’s troubles and moods; to have a sense of what’s going on inside oneself, and what actually belongs to the world.
8. Forgiveness. Forgiveness means a long memory of all the times when we wouldn’t have got through life without someone cutting us some slack. It’s recognising that living with others isn’t possible without excusing errors.
9. Hope. The way the world is now is only a pale shadow of what it could one day be. We’re still only at the beginning of history. As you get older, despair becomes far easier, almost reflex (whereas in adolescence, it was still cool and adventurous). Pessimism isn’t necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.
10. Confidence. The greatest projects and schemes die for no grander reasons than that we don’t dare. Confidence isn’t arrogance, it’s based on a constant awareness of how short life is and how little we ultimately lose from risking everything.