Brain Food #518


Thoughts of the day

Following a recent recommendation, I encountered a small book of aphorisms called Bluets, written by Maggie Nelson. It is a personal, intimate, and often raw examination of the colour itself, and the writer’s relationship with it, while weaving together a stream-of-consciousness narrative of a breakup, the fragility of the human body, the sturdiness of friendship, emotional and physical pain, shame, loneliness, what we choose to notice in nature, in philosophy, in science, in ourselves.

It is also an exercise in the therapeutic powers of writing, and the refreshing impact honesty can have if we are confronted with it; especially if this honesty is our own.

Some standout words, though the entire piece is worth devoting time to:

“156. Why is the sky blue? -A fair enough question, and one I have learned the answer to several times. Yet every time I try to explain it to someone or remember it to myself, it eludes me. Now I like to remember the question alone, as it reminds me that my mind is essentially a sieve, that I am mortal.

157. The part I do remember: that the blue of the sky depends on the darkness of empty space behind it. As one optics journal puts it, "The color of any planetary atmosphere viewed against the black of space and illuminated by a sunlike star will also be blue." In which case blue is something of an ecstatic accident produced by void and fire.”

The book itself offers no answers, and that is sometimes fine. Perhaps all that is within our power to do is to fill our lives with the right colour, and to keep asking questions. And one of those questions could be as simple as asking someone else, “What do you think is worth reading at the moment?”

Bluets - Maggie Nelson | Shopping near me, Maggie nelson, Stuff to buy

If you were forwarded this email and you'd like to receive more, you can sign up and receive it daily in your inbox.

And if you love Brain Food and want the world to know about it, feel free to share it with them.

Share Brain Food

If you have any questions, thoughts, ideas you'd like to share, just hit reply.

Read longer Brain Food musings on Medium.