Maria Popova’s search for what it means to live a good life explores the connectedness of literature, science, philosophy, nature and art. Popova is a purveyor of the marginalia of life—all the bits and pieces woven into a beautiful design that spans both time and space.
In her fascinating compilation, Figuring (Pantheon Books), Popova chronicles what she’s learned from her research at her website Brainpickings.org—a “human-powered discovery engine for interestingness”—which has been included as a permanent web archive in the Library of Congress.
Figuring explores the gender-neutral intersection of science, art, nature, music, and philosophy and the interconnectedness of humanity with our world and universe.
We are continually figuring and re-figuring our reality. As we try to make meaning of our world, we must recognize the invisible connections and harmony between ideas, our environment and the thoughts and lives of people through the ages. Throughout our lives, although our beliefs and ideas evolve and our environments change, we amazingly still remain ourselves.
Scientific discoveries change our understanding of reality, each new fragment of information modifying and tweaking what we know about our place in the universe.
Popova details the lives of prominent scientists, philosophers, artists
Transporting us through important scientific discoveries and artistic expressions of notable figures through the years, our journey begins with the writings of
William Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781 caused Ludwig van Beethoven to consider how inhabitants of the star of Urania would think of his music, and 200 years later, his Fifth Symphony would play on the Voyager spacecraft as it traveled through space—part of the Golden Record recorded to reflect the culture of humanity—and the Voyager would glimpse the moons of Jupiter that Galileo Galilei had glimpsed 400 years earlier.
Popova details in depth the discoveries and writings of scientists, poets
The artistic and scientific gifts to society from these women, most gay, stemmed from their personal lives and intimate relationships. Popova explains how their work and beliefs have become a mosaic through the ages, one piece touching another, but together making a whole.
Popova gives us a detailed look into the lives of these notable women, and how peripheral figures—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Charles Darwin—affected their lives and altered their thinking and understanding of the world and humanity’s place in it.
Piecing together human truths and the remarkable details of these lives well-lived into an extraordinary mosaic of human existence, Figuring reveals our timeless interconnectedness, and the inevitable, although improbable, intersections of our lives in the vastness of the universe.
Figuring is now available for purchase.
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ABOUT MARIA POPOVA:
Maria Popova is a reader and a