The internet is place that feels both infinite and finite, open and closed. While the strings of the world wide web could ostensibly stretch out for forever, most people actually experience the internet in a closed off way, heading to a handful of the same sites everyday, unaware of the buzz of millions of voices that surround them. I am a link lover, I click on link after link in a search (sometimes frenzied) of the new and the interesting. And that is how I happened upon Brain Pickings. The brainchild of Maria Popova, a write for The Atlantic and Wired UK, it is a site where you can spend hour discovering.
In Popova’s own words:
Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.
Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to culture, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.
The internet is a well of information, and Brain Pickings is a useful bucket down the well, a source for rumination and creativity to fester. Go, read, learn.
So, I’m a little behind on my reading list but I just finished The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain. It was published a couple of years ago, and from what I can glean from Barnes & Noble bookshelves, it was pretty popular. I didn’t know anything about it other than it focused on Hemingway’s relationship with his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and that it was set in Paris in the 20s – the setting alone was enough for me to buy it.
I wouldn’t say it was a book I couldn’t put down. In fact, I could leave it for days on end, without rushing to its pages, but when I returned to the marriage of Ernest and Hadley, I easily slipped into their world. It was a fascinating read because it is based on real events, and McLain seems to meticulous follow letters and Hemingway’s own writing of the time (A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises capture those years) so that at times I almost felt as if I were reading the truth.
It’s a dangerous thing about novels based on real figures – people mistake fiction for fact and towards the end of the novel when (spoiler alert…except not really if you know anything about the man) Hadley and her darling Hem go their separate ways, I was convinced that that was how it must have happened. I don’t think I realized until it was done how much I had invested in these characters’ marriage, even though I knew from the get go that she was just his ‘first wife, his Paris wife.’ Even though Hadley’s perspective is McLain’s meticulously researched words, it is so absorbing because at its core it is about two people falling in and out of love, while Paris filled with its Zeldas and F. Scotts drunkenly spin around them.
Finally managed to read the Observer – a day late – but hey ho. There was an excellent profile on the editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman.
Descriptive but not overbearingly so, the conversation meandering to the unexpected with great quotes (I’d be far too intimidated to ask anyone about vajazzling), Elizabeth Day really captures her subject.
I’d like to write something like this one day.
Some choice quotes below, read the rest here.
On Panic Attacks: “I’m sort of aware of a vulnerability to it. I have Xanax which I take everywhere with me in case it happens – it’s like my lucky charm.”
On Success: “Um, I’m very happy. Yes, I’m sure I’m a success.” Pause. “But it doesn’t feel that way to me.”
On Vajazzling: “I’m just so pleased I’m not a young woman now. I feel very grateful that, at the time I started having sex with men, I didn’t even have a bikini wax and men were lovely. Now I just think: how terrifying to be a 20-year-old and feel that you’ve got to be perfect and hairless and immaculate and that it’s really awful. I just – eurgh – I would never have got undressed.”