Summary of “Two Hundred Years of Blue”

With Carl Sagan’s poetic Pale Blue Dot on my mind lately, I have found myself dwelling on the color blue and the way our planet’s elemental hue, the most symphonic of the colors, recurs throughout our literature as something larger than a mere chromatic phenomenon – a symbol, a state of being, a foothold to the most lyrical and transcendent heights of the imagination.
In music a light blue is like a flute, a darker blue a cello; a still darker a thunderous double bass; and the darkest blue of all – an organ.
When I started painting the pelvis bones I was most interested in the holes in the bones – what I saw through them – particularly the blue from holding them up in the sun against the sky as one is apt to do when one seems to have more sky than earth in one’s world they were most beautiful against the Blue – that Blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.
In an entry from April 9 of 1937, four springs before the blue of her lifelong depression and the River Ouse swallowed her, Woolf limns the singular blue of a particular interior space.
Passing on to the blue group, there is steely x, thundercloud z, and huckleberry k. Since a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape, I see q as browner than k, while s is not the light blue of c, but a curious mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl.
The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance.
“Longing,” says the poet Robert Hass, “Because desire is full of endless distances.” Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world.
I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Tuning Out The Noise”

“Love to hear you talk about how to get clarity and minimize distractions and noise around us. What techniques do you employ to find that focus?”.
As you grow older, you accumulate all sorts of “Things.” Even if you’re not a hoarder or someone who wants it all, your life will expand as the years go by.
You will have more friends, more stuff, more ideas, more goals, more wishes, more expectations.
You will have so many things in your life that you don’t know what’s important.
As your life expands, you keep on carving out the non-essential things.
Every day you struggle to tune out all the noise in the world.
There will never be a moment in your life where you will achieve focus and KEEP it forever.
If you want clarity in your life, you have to fight for it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Wendell Berry’s Lifelong Dissent”

At a time when political conflict runs deep and erects high walls, the Kentucky essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry maintains an arresting mix of admirers.
From the beginning, Berry has written the land’s history alongside the history of those who have worked it or been worked on it.
Even as Berry made himself a student of the flaws of local life, he sought to refashion its patterns of community and culture into something that might repair them.
A student of material interdependence cannot ignore that the systems driving these forms of ecological devastation are just as real as the topsoil that Berry lays down on his farm at Lane’s Landing and just as powerful as the floodwaters from the Kentucky River.
A contrarian is least essential when his dogged dissent becomes an era’s lazy common sense; Berry risks becoming, willy-nilly, the philosopher of the Whole Foods meat counter.
Throughout his work, Berry likes to iron out paradoxes in favor of building a unified vision, but he is himself a bundle of paradoxes, some more generative than others.
For most of his life, Berry has written as a kind of elegist, detailing the tragic path that we have taken and recalling other paths now mostly fading.
If these strands of resistance and reconstruction persist, even prevail, Wendell Berry’s lifelong dissent-stubborn, sometimes maddening, not quite like anything else of its era-will deserve a place in our memory.

The orginal article.

Summary of “11 Forgotten Books of the 1920s Worth Reading Now”

Reading about forgotten books and authors nearly 100 years later is a haunting exercise.
In this spirit, here are ten books from the 1920s that are worth reading now.
Dealing with the challenges of assimilation, arriving in a strange land, language issues, and the loneliness of immigrant life, Giants in the Earth is a haunting portrayal of prairie life.
Winner of the 1925 Pulitzer Prize, Edna Ferber’s So Big tackles important topics, like immigration, the role of art and culture in society, and how one lives her best life.
Let’s just make the case that Nella Larsen, a trailblazing librarian and writer who was part of the Harlem Renaissance movement, should be more widely read if the reader hopes to more fully understand the context, history, and evolution of black life in the early 20th century.
Writer Anzia Yezierska’s life is a biopic waiting to happen-Jewish immigrant living on the Lower East Side, sordid love life, affair with philosopher John Dewey, screenwriter dubbed “The sweatshop Cinderella,” women’s rights activist, and much more.
Babbitt’s plight provokes the reader and asks that we search for a something more authentic from life.
In a Heaven-like place called Elysian Fields after he is hanged for the murder, Mr. Zero realizes that he has lived an unfulfilled life, both despising the machine that replaces him, but also having gone through life in a robotic, lifeless fashion.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘I feel bombarded with to-dos’: the hell of life admin”

According to one 2018 survey of 2,000 Brits, the average adult carries out 109 life admin tasks a year, from sorting out car insurance to paying council tax; about half the respondents admitted they struggled to keep up with household paperwork.
Life admin might be at once the most boring and overwhelming anxiety of our age: look closely, and we are procrastinating and blind panicking our way into an organisational crisis.
Now I’m 31, and my inability to manage life admin has become a shameful character flaw.
My admin ineptitude still makes me feel I’m lacking a fundamental piece of the “Adult” jigsaw.
“A lot of my admin is keyboard-mediated – for example, I do my bank accounts online. My dad gave my mum the household cash each week and she separated it into different old handbags. If she wanted something, she’d go to the relevant handbag and see what she had in notes and small change. And if you needed the bank, you had to go there. For my parents, there seemed to be fewer things to think about. I now feel bombarded with to-dos, but many of them take no time at all. I can hit a button and it’s done. The quality of the interaction is different, and perhaps that’s why it can feel like drudge work – there’s rarely a human there.”
Emens argues that, “Certain features of modern life make admin more pervasive. One of them is the rise of the bureaucratic state: we have more paperwork to complete, particularly around things like weddings, divorces, births and deaths. And another is technology, so admin reaches us with greater insistence and frequency. People expect us to respond to emails and texts; there’s an escalation of demands.” And where once we might have outsourced the business of booking a holiday, or the drudgery of filling in our tax return to an expert, we now turn to Airbnb, Skyscanner and Booking.com, or download apps such as QuickBooks.
Millions of us watch “Admin routine” YouTube videos and follow “Cleanfluencers”, Marie Kondo disciples who have become famous for their tips on effective life admin management, as well as cleaning.
As Emens points out, “Even people who avoid life admin have some really useful strategies to teach those who get it all done – namely, that there are some tasks you shouldn’t devote masses of energy to, because it’s not an effective use of your time.” In a world where there is more junk life admin than ever before, we all need to get strategic.

The orginal article.

Summary of “My Brother’s Passing, God, and the Origins of Life”

Before I left on a three-week trip this summer, I had drinks with my brother Kudzai at Nacho Borracho.
One day, there is this Kudzai playing video games and binge-watching Game of Thrones; the next day, there is this other and wholly new Kudzai not drinking and working long hours to save money.
My little brother Kudzai, the lawyer? The transformation, the focus, the commitment to something tangible-it was unbelievable.
In our entire time together, I cannot recall one conversation with Kudzai about God.
I turn to my brother and say: “I have never, ever said this to you before, but I will tonight. If there is a God, Kudzai, He can only be a break in symmetry. Not creation, but violation.”
Not far from where we watched the reduction of Kudzai to chemical processes that had developed over 3.7 billion years of life’s history on earth, three scientists at the University of Washington were sharing their new and important discovery about life’s origins with Ed Yong, the science writer for the Atlantic.
Now, why is this discovery so important? To begin with, in the origin-of-life field, you must take one of these two positions: Life is a freak accident or the universe is pregnant with life.
We were startled on Kudzai’s last full day, a Sunday, the day the Abrahamic God is said to have rested after creating the universe, by the roar of the Blue Angels.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Hannah Arendt on Love and How to Live with the Fundamental Fear of Loss”

How to heed Augustine’s caution, not by subjugating but by better understanding our experience of love, is what Hannah Arendt explores in her least known but in many ways most beautiful work, Love and Saint Augustine – Arendt’s first book-length manuscript and the last to be published in English, posthumously salvaged from her papers by political scientist Joanna Vecchiarelli Scott and philosopher Judith Chelius Stark.
For half a century after she wrote it as her doctoral thesis in 1929 – a time when this apostle of reason, who would become one of the twentieth century’s keenest and most coolly analytical minds, was composing her fiery love letters to Martin Heidegger – Arendt obsessively revised and annotated the manuscript.
A love predicated on possession, Arendt cautions, inevitably turns into fear – the fear of losing what was gained.
Death, of course, is the ultimate loss – of love as well as life – and therefore the ultimate object of our future-oriented dread. And yet this escape from presence via the portal of anxiety – perhaps the commonest malady to which human beings are susceptible – is itself a living death.
Love as craving is determined by its goal, and this goal is freedom from fear.
If presence – the removal of expectancy – is a prerequisite for a true experience of love, then time is the elemental infrastructure of love.
Decades after her doctoral days, she would compose her influential treatise on how tyrants use isolation as a weapon of oppression – totalitarianism, in other words, is not only the denial of love but an assault on the essence of human beings.
In the remainder of Love and Saint Augustine, Arendt goes on to examine Augustine’s hierarchy of love, the psychological structure of craving, the perils of anticipation, and the building blocks of that “Love of the world” so vital to a harmonious life and a harmonious society.

The orginal article.

Summary of “No, You Can’t Have It All”

Enter the concept of “FOMO” or “Fear of Missing Out.” We live a life that is constantly pelted with reminders of everything we are unable to become.
Devoting everything in your life to becoming an expert farmer involved next to no opportunity costs and next to no FOMO. After all, there was nothing else to miss out on.
In a way, your so-called life purpose crisis is a luxury, something you’re allowed to have as a result of the amazing freedoms the modern world has bestowed upon you.
There are articles all over the mainstream media debating whether it’s possible to “Have it all” – i.e., is it possible to be an all-star in your career and have a healthy family life and have cool and fun hobbies and be financially stable and have that sexy bikini body and cook organic soufflé in your underwear while buying beachfront property on your new iPhone 6, all at the same time?
Every person who decides to sacrifice their dating life to advance their career is now bombarded constantly by the rambunctious sex lives of their friends and strangers.
What if we recognize our life’s inevitable limitations and then prioritize what we care about based on those limitations?
When we attempt to do everything, to fill up life’s checklist, to “Have it all,” we’re essentially attempting to live a valueless life, a life where everything is equally gained and nothing lost.
In my experience, the people who struggle with the so-called “Life purpose” question, always complain that they don’t know what to do.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why You Should Live Like You’re Immortal”

When you live your life according to that philosophy, it doesn’t make sense to do anything that takes a long time to pay off.
If you think that life is short, why on earth would you do hard things? It doesn’t make sense.
How different would you live if I told you that you’re never going to die?
“Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live properly.”
To me, living properly means that I’m satisfied with my life.
Once you’re working on building a LIFE, it’s not helpful to think like that.
Being present is a great thing, but like many things in life, don’t overdo it.
That’s why I like to live like I’m immortal.

The orginal article.

Summary of “When Things Fall Apart”

In When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she draws on her own confrontation with personal crisis and on the ancient teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to offer gentle and incisive guidance to the enormity we stand to gain during those times when all seems to be lost.
Half a century after Albert Camus asserted that “There is no love of life without despair of life,” Chödrön reframes those moments of acute despair as opportunities for befriending life by befriending ourselves in the deepest sense.
Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape.
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.
Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it.
Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior.
We are giving up control altogether and letting concepts and ideals fall apart.
Complement the immensely grounding and elevating When Things Fall Apart with Camus on strength of character in times of trouble, Erich Fromm on what self-love really means, and Nietzsche on why a fulfilling life requires embracing rather than running from difficulty, then revisit Chödrön on the art of letting go.

The orginal article.