Two kinds of attention: narrow and wide
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
20h ago
In Friday’s newsletter, I shared these images from my camera roll, which capture the dread and awe of last week, between the eclipse and the hailstorm and all the cosmic static and shenanigans in between. I was somewhat cheered by reading other people’s accounts of the total eclipse, because my experience, on the whole, was a big letdown. I just didn’t feel like I was there. I was frantically trying to capture it instead of experiencing it. (I wish I’d seen this advice from Bill Nye beforehand.)  This was such a contrast to my experience with the annual eclipse last October, which was de ..read more
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When You Hear It (an April mixtape)
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1w ago
My April monthly mixtape is inspired by thoughts of the upcoming eclipse. The word in Texas is that it’s going to be cloudy on Monday, so I picked this 99 cent cassette from my stack, thinking I’d use the title Cirrostratus. But then I realized if I flipped the cover inside out, it cropped the tagline of Cold Busted records: “STEREO at its best when you hear it on COLD BUSTED.” It’s very possible that our eclipse experience will be mostly ambient, with the sky going dark and nature going quiet. So it might even be a matter of When You Hear It rather than when you see it. Even wilder: When I ..read more
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You just do it and do it and do it
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1w ago
Today’s newsletter, on how quantity (usually) leads to quality was inspired by this NYTimes profile of Matt Farley: “If you reject your own ideas, then the part of the brain that comes up with ideas is going to stop,” he said. “You just do it and do it and do it, and you sort it out later.” Or, as the case may be, you don’t, but rather send it all out into the abyss, hoping that someday, somebody, somewhere will hear it. You can read it here ..read more
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On not giving up on not giving up
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1w ago
Note: I cut this section from today’s newsletter because I thought it was too bitchy. But what is a blog for if not for bitching? I had a maddening experience last week reading Adam Phillips’ On Giving Up. Here is a critically-acclaimed writer I find genuinely interesting — his Paris Review interview is one of my all-time favorites — whose style I cannot stand. Still, I could not give up On Giving Up, because I liked thinking about so much of what he was thinking about, and I found myself becoming enraged that he had all these interesting things for me to think about but he couldn’t be cleare ..read more
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Letters mingle souls
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
2w ago
I was making a collage while listening to Katherine Rundell’s Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne and found a vintage postage stamp quoting the poet: “Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls, / For thus, friends absent speak.” I’ve been thinking about this line a lot re: the newsletter. One thing I’ve tried really hard in the past few years to do is to make the newsletter more letter-y. I want each one to feel like a real letter ..read more
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Steven Soderbergh on reading
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
2w ago
This map of notesmap of notes became item #4 in today’s newsletter: “I read in order to calm down.” Steven Soderbergh’s Year in Reading. So many things I care about get mentioned in this conversation: not being guilty about quitting books, Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne, the diminishing returns of new technology, and keeping a commonplace book. (Found via Mark Larson’s rebooted weekly blog, which continues to whip ass.) Read the rest of the newsletter here ..read more
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My typewriter interview with Mary Ruefle
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
3w ago
A highlight of my year so far: The poet Mary Ruefle doesn’t do Zoom interviews or use a computer, so we conducted an interview via our typewriters. I typed a bunch of questions on individual pieces of yellow paper and mailed them to her home in Bennington, Vermont. She typed her answers underneath and mailed them back to me. You can read the complete interview in today’s newsletter ..read more
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Back to the beginning
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
3w ago
Today’s newsletter begins with a quote from Katherine Rundell’s Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise: “When you read children’s books, you are given the space to read again as a child: to find your way back, back to the time when new discoveries came daily and when the world was colossal, before your imagination was trimmed and neatened, as if it were an optional extra.” Read the rest here ..read more
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The meek inherit the earth
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1M ago
Corita Kent, Beatitudes Banner I like the poetry of The Beatitudes, a list Jesus made in his The Sermon on the Mount. It begins: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth… I always get stuck on that third one: “Blessed are the meek…” Meek? What does that mean? “‘Meek’ is not a word that is easy to salvage,” writes Rowan Williams in his latest book, Passions of the Soul. “Even ‘humble,’ which is sometimes used as an alternative in translations, is ..read more
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Basic pleasantries
Austin Kleon
by Austin Kleon
1M ago
A paragraph plea from today’s newsletter:  I am no saint, but I’ve been shocked lately by how saying “Hello,” “Please,” and “Thank you” to workers in service industries often elicits surprise and wonder and gets me treated like the Pope. I don’t know what is going on with most people, but it seems like a large number of us are becoming assholes, either downright mean or totally oblivious to others. I probably don’t need to tell you lovely subscribers this, but just in case: Try this week to acknowledge your fellow human beings and treat them with basic dignity and respect. The Golden Ru ..read more
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