“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction — and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.”
Celebrate Caturday with this great book for kids on space: Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space written by Dominic Walliman and designed and illustrated by Ben Newman. I spotted it in the window of the Strand Bookstore this morning and looked it up when I got home. It was actually featured on Brain Pickings last fall (which is where I saw these great illustrations).
Cats + Space is always a winning combination in my book.*
“The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. That’s all you need to make a feature film these days. Beware of useless, bottom-rung secretarial jobs in film-production companies. Instead, so long as you are able-bodied, head out to where the real world is. Roll up your sleeves and work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse. Drive a taxi for six months and you’ll have enough money to make a film. Walk on foot, learn languages and a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking — like great literature — must have experience of life at its foundation. Read Conrad or Hemingway and you can tell how much real life is in those books. A lot of what you see in my films isn’t invention; it’s very much life itself, my own life. If you have an image in your head, hold on to it because — as remote as it might seem — at some point you might be able to use it in a film. I have always sought to transform my own experiences and fantasies into cinema.”
“Leaving love behind is never easy, for it also asks that we leave behind the part of ourselves that did the loving. And yet for all but the very fortunate and the very foolish, this difficult transition is an inevitable part of the human experience, of the ceaseless learning journey that is life — because, after all, anything worth pursuing is worth failing at, and fail we do as we pursue.”
In 1975, the iconic Spanish surrealist illustrated an ultra-limited, presently impossible to find edition of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, published by Rizzoli in a red silk slipcase and featuring 10 lithographs by Dalí. Only 999 copies were published.
For a larger sampling of Dali’s R&J work, head over to Brain Pickings.
dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of
others — who are, after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do
with reputation, which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara, is
something people with courage can do without.
To do without
self-respect, on the other hand, is to be an unwilling audience of one
to an interminable documentary that deals with one’s failings, both real
and imagined, with fresh footage spliced in for every screening.
There’s the glass you broke in anger, there’s the hurt on X’s face;
watch now, this next scene, the night Y came back from Houston, see how
you muff this one. To live without self-respect is to lie awake some
night, beyond the reach of warm milk, the Phenobarbital, and the
sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commissions and
omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts
irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice, or carelessness. However
long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously
uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in
it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.
Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.
Self-respect is something that our grandparents, whether or not they
had it, knew all about. They had instilled in them, young, a certain
discipline, the sense that one lives by doing things one does not
particularly want to do, by putting fears and doubts to one side, by
weighing immediate comforts against the possibility of larger, even
Self-respect is a discipline, a
habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained,
coaxed forth. It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to
crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound
physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly
that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is
difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering
Heights with one’s head in a Food Fair bag. There is a similar case for
all the small disciplines, unimportant in themselves; imagine
maintaining any kind of swoon, commiserative or carnal, in a cold
To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth
which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the
ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it
is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love
or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand
forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us,
so little perception as to remain blind to our fatal weaknesses. On the
other, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously
determined to live out — since our self-image is untenable — their false
notion of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to
please others an attractive trait: a gist for imaginative empathy,
evidence of our willingness to give. Of course I will play Francesca to
your Paolo, Helen Keller to anyone’s Annie Sullivan; no expectation is
too misplaced, no role too ludicrous. At the mercy of those we cannot
but hold in contempt, we play roles doomed to failure before they are
begun, each defeat generating fresh despair at the urgency of divining
and meting the next demand made upon us.
It is the phenomenon
sometimes called ‘alienation from self.’ In its advanced stages, we no
longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that
we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to
this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains
the will, and the specter of something as small as an unanswered letter
arouses such disproportionate guilt that answering it becomes out of the
question. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us
from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves — there
lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one
eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find
oneself, and finds no one at home.” - Joan Didion on Self-Respect
“Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt. There is no surer way to screw up an experiment than to be certain of its outcome."
Beautifully articulated definitions of science from the wonderful Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings.
A pioneering picture-book with an enduring message of equality.
“Many homosexuals live together in stable relationships. The time will come when homosexual marriages are recognized,” two Danish psychologists predicted in theirhonest, controversial, and now-iconic guide to teenage sexuality in 1969. But decades would pass before their prognosis would slowly, painfully begin to come true. In the meantime, those “stable relationships” were denied the dignity of being called a family and forced to conform to the mainstream-normative narratives of what a family actually is.
In the 1980s, writer Lesléa Newman began noticing that same-sex couples were having kids like everybody else, but had no children’s books to read to them portraying non-traditional family units. At that point, women had been“marrying” one another for ages, but true marriage equality in the eyes of the law and the general public was still two decades away, as were children’s books offering alternate narratives on what makes a family. So Newman enacted the idea that the best way to complain is to make things and penned Heather Has Two Mommies (public library) — a sweet, straightforward picture-book illustrated by Diana Souza, telling the story of a warm and accepting playground discussion of little Heather’s life with Mama Kate, a doctor, and Mama Jane, a carpenter.
Heather’s favorite number is two. She has two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, two hands, and two feet. She also has two pets: a ginger-colored cat named Gingersnap and a big black dog named Midnight.
Heather also has two mommies: Mama Jane and Mama Kate.