Toni Morrison

— Do you prefer being called Professor, Doctor, Mrs or Ms?
— I like Toni.

In 2017, Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Mario Kaiser sat down with Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. Their conversation took place in her home in upstate New York. Read more at Granta.

Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson

“Commonplace things can be fascinating.”

― Tove Jansson, The Summer Book (trans. Thomas Teal)

Fred Rogers
Fred Rogers

Anticipating the release of A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, journalist Tom Junod has reflected on the friendship with Fred Rogers that inspired the film. Drawing from personal correspondence, he explores why Mister Rogers remains relevant as an important cultural icon.

Source: The Atlantic.

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Noted AIDS researcher Jay A. Levy became friends with Samuel Beckett after encountering his work as a student. This portrait, taken in Beckett’s home, was among books, letters, and memorabilia that Levy and his wife recently donated to Wesleyan University.

J. R. R. Tolkien

“I thought all the trees were whispering to each other, passing news and plots along in an unintelligible language…”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Fantasy or reality? Building on existing scientific research, new studies by forest ecologist Suzanne Simard suggest that trees form something akin to social communities, and might be capable of communication.

More information:

ts-eliot-1950-penn-1366076389_b

“Much to cast down, much to build, much to restore.”

— T.S. Eliot, The Rock

“[A] walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells.”

— Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

Photograph: Ansel Adams
Photograph: Ansel Adams

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

— Ansel Adams

Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros

“Cisneros’s work allowed me to see the power in my culture’s storytelling tradition, and the power within myself.”

Kali Fajardo-Anstine and other Latinx writers
on the influence of Sandra Cisneros’s poetic coming-of-age novel,
The House on Mango Street.

bustle.com/p/how-sandra-cisneross-house-on-mango-street-influenced-5-latinx-authors-18713476

“It’s the start of 2016, and Smith’s friend Pearlman—a producer and rock critic—has been hospitalized after a brain hemorrhage. As he lies in a coma, Smith recounts the tumultuous year that follows—the loss of friends (Sam Shepard is nearly bedridden), the horror of the imminent election and rise of nationalism, and the impending climate crisis. A reflection on mortality, the book retains Smith’s characteristically flat tone as she wanders through stretches of Arizona, California, Virginia, and Kentucky, stopping at diners for black coffee and onion omelets and conversations with strangers. She hitchhikes from San Francisco to San Diego and back, travels as far as Lisbon, and returns home to the quiet of her Rockaway bungalow to stare at the flowers. All the while, she describes the mundane details of life with incredible vividness…”

Camille Jacobson on
Year of the Monkey,
a new memoir from Patti Smith.

theparisreview.org/blog/2019/10/11/staff-picks-monsters-monkeys-and-maladies/

Olga Tokarczuk
Olga Tokarczuk

“Olga’s work is crystal clear: her characters live on the page and speak for themselves… I’m ecstatic that so many more readers will now discover the entire trove of literature Olga has created over the course of her thirty-year career. Olga is the Nobel laureate. She’s the one the prize was made for.”

Jennifer Croft on Olga Tokarczuk,
who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

theparisreview.org/blog/2019/10/10/the-nobel-prize-was-made-for-olga-tokarczuk/

Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter

I went walking in the hills where I grew up
and thought about that John Muir phrase:

“Between every two pines there is a door leading to a new way of life.”

“The most important thing in life is not happiness but meaning.”

— John M. Hull, Notes on Blindness


Set in the summer of 1983,
Notes on Blindness
is a beautiful 2016 documentary that explores the life of
writer and theologian John M. Hull.

Based on his memoir, Touching the Rock,
the film offers a deeply personal account
of an academic who permanently loses his vision
while anticipating the birth of his son.

Filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney
draw from audio cassettes recorded by Hull at the time,
which attempt to explain and understand
the experience of blindness
through vivid philosophical reflections
on everyday events and experiences. (more…)

Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter

In these dark times
we look for the light.