This week's letter is written by Krista. 

Dear Friends,

As you know, I delight in bringing unexpected combinations of minds, lives, and ideas into proximity and conversation. A few years ago, I was able to put into words something about the “why” of this, the good of this, for some of The On Being Project’s internal planning and visioning. And it feels more true now, and more urgent:

We believe that collaborative creativity and discovery is a key to living into the generative possibilities of this moment — not just in the halls of the academy or scientific laboratories, but in the everyday living laboratories of all of our vocations, our places of life and work, our friendships, and our minds.

This thought was infused with clarity I’d received from a wonderful conversation with Lyndsey Stonebridge about the wisdom of the political and social thinker Hannah Arendt. Arendt has been a friend and teacher to me across space and time. She suffered under the last century’s harrowing catastrophes and became one of their wisest observers. She’s most famously associated with her writing on totalitarianism and the phrase “the banality of evil” — but she also coined a phrase that is absolutely central to my passion and sense of calling: “the human condition.” She has come down in history as an intellectual, which in our time connotes the newly tender and inflammatory notion of being educated in a certain way. In fact, Arendt celebrated deep thinking as a birthright and capacity of every human being, a pleasurable activity by which we can find our way to the meaning each and every one of us longs for in a life. For her, thinking and friendship were interrelated experiences. Thinking finds its home and purpose as it interacts with kindred spirits and teachers as well as strangers.

Book cover with illustration of living and technological beings

Macmillan Publishers

I shared a few weeks ago here, and in our podcast feed, about the notebooks I filled in my time in Greece and Berlin this summer — how I came into conversation with myself and the world through coming into conversation with a book. I’ve called this contemplative reading, or conversational reading. It feels like something Hannah Arendt would approve of. And for the next eight weeks in The Pause, I’m going to be sharing from the parts of those notebooks where I was in conversation with a new offering from the British technologist, artist, and philosopher James Bridle called Ways of Being

This book felt to me, as soon as I cracked it open, to be a fitting continuation of my conversation with adrienne maree brown in June. It carries forward the idea of emergence — and how that works in the natural world and also in the ecosystem of our intelligence, the words we use, the economies that hold (and can break) us, and the technologies we’ve come to live by and how they could evolve in the direction of human and planetary flourishing.

If you’re so inclined, I warmly invite you to find yourself a copy of Bridle’s book and enter your own adventure of contemplative reading alongside me and others here. Get into conversation with the voice on the page, the world of the life and ideas you’ve entered. When it says something beautiful that you love, stop and write it down. When it sparks a question or memory or idea that speaks to the laboratory of your life, let that flow out of you and onto the page. I’ve been using big children’s or artists’ sketchbooks and layering the book and a pen on top of it as I begin. It feels somehow more like playing than my usual earnest journal writing.

A panel of three images: a reading chair strewn with books and an artist pad, a journal next to books on a table, and an open book with notes written in the margins

A glimpse into my own practice of contemplative and conversational reading with Ways of Being.

I’ll start with offerings from my reading of the Introduction and Chapter One of Ways of Being two weeks from today. Meanwhile, our Foundations series continues to unfold in the podcast feed. I hope you might be enjoying that. It too points at the living laboratory that I see all of us as part of, as together we walk into the challenges, callings, and generative possibilities for this world ahead.

With love, 


Tune in

On Being Foundations
A special, short four-part series. Ways of seeing and living to meet the world ahead. More wisdom and practice than podcast. And, interactive …

Living the Questions

Listen on:
Apple | GoogleSpotify | Our Website

Poetry Unbound
Reading Celan in a Subway Station
Carolina Ebeid

The sounds of a city can be overwhelming — but in the imagination of this poem, they are made into something new.

Adam Zagajewski

What do you do when what sustains you no longer sustains you? A poet tries everything he can to reconnect with his art.

Listen on:
Apple | GoogleSpotify | Our Website

Meet the human behind the new look and feel for the season.

Lucy Sherston is an artist and illustrator based in Brighton, UK. Lucy creates playful compositions using hand painted textures alongside collaged graphic shapes. Her work lies at the intersection between abstract and figurative and is built around sun-drenched snippets of memories and feelings, creating playful moments you can return to. She enjoys piecing together a narrative from fragments of collaged illustration, building up a scene that hints at a sense of place while still floating around in a dream landscape. She hopes to fill your eyes with golden rays and hopeful days.



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