brain pickings

If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.
—  Thich Nhat Hanh
3 Must-Follow Newsletters

What’s the easiest way to get the news and articles you’re interested in? Newsletters straight to your inbox! Here are three you need to be following:


Scoopinion is a highly adaptive service that custom tailors a newsletter for you. It analyzes your reading habits and sends you your custom digest every Tuesday and Friday with only articles related to what you’re already reading. The more you use it, the better it gets. Scoopinion is an excellent way to get the articles you want without clickbait or the process digging through dozens of articles for one good one.


The brainchild of four New York City Twitter friends, Femsplain was built around what an internet safe space for women should look like. The content is made up of stories that range from goofy to powerful but encourage dialogue and discussion. A must read conglomeration of personal stories that are encouraging, motivating, and thought provoking.

Brain Pickings

Interested in psychology, art, science, design, or philosophy? Brain Pickings is a “weekly interestingness digest” that has all the most important articles in those topics and more every Sunday. Multifaceted without being random, this newsletter is guaranteed to have something for everyone and will no doubt encourage new interests as well.

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.
Pick my brain.
  • 1:If you could go back in time to a certain moment, what moment would you go back to and why that moment of all moments?
  • 2:Is there something that you want so badly in life, that you would risk or do anything to get it?
  • 3:If you could choose to bring back someone you've lost, in exchange for someone you've never met, would you?
  • 4:What would you rather? to fall in love once and never experience heart break, or fall in love multiple times and experience heart break?
  • 5:What is the single best memory you have with/of your mother?
  • 6:Can you tell us the most important lesson you've learned by yourself?
  • 7:Do you prefer to ask for help, or figure it out yourself?
  • 8:Tell us the coolest fact you've learned from history class.
  • 9:Let's say your house catches fire. All of your family members and yourself are able to make it out alive & safe. Before you do so, what's the first thing you grab? Do you grab anything at all?
  • 10:If you were to have kids in your future, would want girls, boys, or an even mix?
  • 11:Have you given any thought to potential names for your future children, if you have any?
  • 12:At what age would you like to settle down, get married, have kids, buy a house?
  • 13:Let's be practical. If the internet disappeared and never came back, would you be able to survive?
  • 14:What is your most prized possession and why is it so important to you?
  • 15:If given the opportunity, would you rather stay in school to attain a job in your field of study in the future, or drop out of school to start your dream job?
  • 16:Would you ever chop or shave your hair for cancer research for free, or for a price?
  • 17:To quote the Disney movie Brave; If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?
  • 18:It's 2 am and you're driving 20 over the speed limit and you accidentally hit a pedestrian. Do you stay on the scene, and call for help, or do you flee the scene and try to forget what you've done?
  • 19:Would you rather be paranoid at all times, or feel guilty at all times?
  • 20:What would you rather? To never experience hate, but also never experience love, or never experience loss, but also never experience success?

George Orwell’s Dessert Recipes

From Brian Pickings:

George Orwell: Diaries (public library) reveals two unexpected culinary treats from the beloved author’s time with the Searles: In the same extensive diary entry from March 5, 1936, which gave us 33-year-old Orwell’s contemplation of gender equality in work and housework, he writes down Mrs. Searle’s fruit loaf recipe to keep himself from losing it, noting parenthetically that it is “very good with butter.”

  • 1 lb flour.
  • 1 egg.
  • 4 oz. treacle.
  • 4 oz. mixed fruit (or currants).
  • 8 oz. sugar.
  • 6 oz. margarine or lard.

Cream the sugar and margarine, beat the egg and add it, add the treacle and then the flour, put in greased tins and bake about ½ to ¾ hour in a moderate oven.

He also includes her simple recipe for sponge cake:

  • 5 oz. flour
  • 4 oz. sugar
  • 3 oz. grease (butter best)
  • 2 eggs, 1 teaspoonful baking powder.

Mix as above and bake.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.
—  David Whyte
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.

We are thrilled to announce that Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them made the following Best of 2014 lists:

Flavorwire’s “The Year’s Most Beautiful and Interesting Art Books

Huffington Post’s “Best Art Books of 2014

Brain Pickings’ ”The Best Art, Design, and Photography Books of 2014

And also Brain Pickings’The Definitive Reading List of the 14 Best Books of 2014 Overall“ 

We’re incredibly excited! Heaps of thanks to everyone for helping to support the book!

-Isaac & Wendy

(Still haven’t picked up a copy of Pen & Ink? You can order your copy hereherehere, or here, and learn more about the book here.)

David Foster Wallace on Writing, Self-Improvement, and How We Become Who We Are

If you spend enough time reading or writing, you find a voice, but you also find certain tastes. You find certain writers who when they write, it makes your own brain voice like a tuning fork, and you just resonate with them. And when that happens, reading those writers … becomes a source of unbelievable joy. It’s like eating candy for the soul.

And I sometimes have a hard time understanding how people who don’t have that in their lives make it through the day…

Lucky people develop a relationship with a certain kind of art that becomes spiritual, almost religious, and doesn’t mean, you know, church stuff, but it means you’re just never the same.

[read more]

via: Brain Pickings