MWF REVIEW: MARIA POPOVA – BRAIN PICKINGS

Friday 29 August 2014

Maria Popova: Brain Pickings was billed as one of the highlight events at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival. With a near capacity crowd at Dallas Brooks Hall in East Melbourne, the audience prepared for an evening of thought provoking material to pick and choose from.

“We live in an information-rich age,” said Maria Popova.  “Yet that information [billed as potential ‘knowledge’] doesn’t always equate to wisdom.”

With wisdom defined as information worth remembering and knowledge that matters in combination with some element of moral component (based on a set of values), Popova expressed a view that we should seek to find information that enhances our lives rather than diminishes it.

She then went on to promote the idea that by looking outside one’s own field of creativity, in a more cross disciplinary approach towards curiosity, this has the potential to fuel one’s own creative practice as a result.

In this musing of the life and times of Maria Popova, seven life lessons were offered to highlight some of the underlying principles of her work. These included allowing the uncomfortable luxury of changing your own mind, doing nothing out of guilt, prestige, status, money or approval alone, being generous with your time and resources and not judging the work of others (unless it is Buzzfeed, of which [judging] according to her, is most appropriate).

This evening offered some fascinating insights into the life of someone who has (for many years) pondered on questions such as “how to live well” and the role of creativity and connections in the “good life”.

There is no doubt she has been incredibly successful at tapping into the collective psyche just at the right time to ask these questions to the world, and whilst the seven lessons offered weren’t perhaps particularly surprising, the timely reminder of them was certainly sincere.

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this thought from the evening…

“Presence is far more intricate and rewarding art than productivity. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time…”

Follow @joelcarnegie or @thespacecompany

Digital Reporters is run in partnership with the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

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24 August –
2 September 2018