March 28, 2019
Garrison Keillor heads to Steele County for a solo performance to benefit the Historical Society. 7:30 p.m.
February 24, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Crooners. Shows at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Fergus Falls, MN
February 23, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at A Center for the Arts. 7:30 p.m.
Detroit Lakes, MN
February 22, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Historic Holmes Theatre. 7:30 p.m.
St. Cloud, MN
February 21, 2019
“Old Friends” Garrison Keillor, Christine DiGiallonardo, Richard Dworsky reunite at Pioneer Place on Fifth. 7:30 p.m.
They say that ‘Time assuages’
by Emily Dickinson
They say that “Time assuages”—
Time never did assuage—
An actual suffering strengthens
As Sinews do, with age—
Time is a Test of Trouble—
But not a Remedy—
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no Malady—
“They say that ‘Time assuages’…” by Emily Dickinson. Public domain. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the man who coined the term “stream of consciousness” and who said that “the art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook” — psychologist and philosopher William James (books by this author) (1842), born in New York City to one of the most prominent intellectual families in the history of America. His brother was writer Henry James, his sister was diarist Alice James, his dad was a famous theologian, and his godfather was Ralph Waldo Emerson.
He was tone-deaf, got motion sickness easily, suffered from depression and was suicidal for long intervals, had chronic back pain, recurring digestive ailments, and problems with vision. He told people he had “soul-sickness.”
He got an M.D. at Harvard but never practiced medicine; instead, he spent his life in academia at Harvard. There he taught physiology, then anatomy, and then, for many years, psychology and philosophy. Over the years, he lectured to many future famous Americans, including Teddy Roosevelt, W.E.B. DuBois, and Gertrude Stein, a favorite of his. On an in-class exam he gave, Gertrude wrote, “Dear Professor James, I am so sorry but I do not feel a bit like writing an examination paper on philosophy today.” He wrote back, “Dear Miss Stein, I understand perfectly. I often feel like that myself.”
He was an enormously prolific writer. Scholar John McDermott put together a bibliography of William James’ writings that was 47 pages long. His most well-known work is probably the 1,200-page Principles of Psychology, published in 1890 after more than a decade of research and writing. While working on the book, he did first-person research on the psychology of mystical experience, and to aid in this he sometimes used narcotics. He said that he could only really understand the German idealist philosopher Hegel when he was under the influence of laughing gas.
He wrote a lot about the psychology of pragmatism. He argued that a person’s beliefs were true if they were useful to that person. And he said, “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.”
He also wrote: “Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”
He hung out with Freud, Jung, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell, and many other intellectuals. He once said, “Wherever you are, it is your own friends who make your world.” And he said, “Properly speaking a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him.”
It’s the birthday of the botanist William Curtis (books by this author), born in Alton, England (1746). A scientist, he directed the Apothecaries’ Garden, the world’s leading botanic garden, at a time when amateur gardening was booming and exotic plants were available through catalogs. He became an expert authority on how Londoners could grow plants from all over the world.
Curtis worked more than 20 years to produce a six-volume book called Flora Londinensis, a study of flowering plants within a 10-mile radius of London. He commissioned several painters to illustrate botanically precise plant portraits, which he captioned with detailed descriptions and both the scientific and common names. The book was praised in the scientific community for being an important contribution — but it was a financial disaster. Consumers wanted rare and exotic; they were uninterested in what already grew in their backyards. Curtis persisted for a decade, producing two beautiful, large folio volumes — and accruing considerable debt.
So he gave readers what he knew they wanted: The Botanical Magazine, a publication focused on ornamental and exotic plants. Most scientific journals at the time were for scientists; Curtis’s magazine was written in more accessible language, and it included the intricate hand-painted engravings similar to those in Flora Londinensis — albeit much smaller. Whereas his Flora brought him “praise,” Curtis said, the magazine — which remains in print today as the longest-running botanical publication — brought him “pudding.”
That success enabled him to continue his beloved Flora. The sixth and final volume was published the year before Curtis’s death; all told, because of the intricate hand-painting Flora Londinensis required, he’d produced only 300 copies.