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This is Brain Pickings midweek pick-me-up, drawn from my fifteen-year archive of ideas unblunted by time, resurfaced as timeless nourishment for heart, mind, and spirit. (If you don’t yet subscribe to the standard Sunday newsletter of new pieces published each week, you can sign up here — it’s free.) If you missed last week’s archival resurrection — Hermann Hesse on life’s “little joys” as an act of resistance to the cult of busyness and a portal to presence — you can catch up right here. If my labor of love enriches your life in any way, please consider supporting it with a donation – all these years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours, made many personal sacrifices, and invested tremendous resources in Brain Pickings, which remains free and ad-free and alive thanks to reader patronage. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

FROM THE ARCHIVE | Seasons in a Pandemic: Mary Shelley on What Makes Life Worth Living and Nature’s Beauty as a Lifeline to Regaining Sanity

Half a century before Walt Whitman considered what makes life worth living when a paralytic stroke boughed him to the ground of being, Mary Shelley (August 30, 1797–February 1, 1851) placed that question at the beating heart of The Last Man (free ebook | public library) — the 1826 novel she wrote in the bleakest period of her life: after the deaths of three of her children, two by widespread infectious diseases that science has since contained; after the love of her life, Percy Bysshe Shelley, drowned in a boating accident.

From that fathomless pit of sorrow, on the pages of a novel about a pandemic that begins erasing the human species one by one until a sole survivor — Shelley’s autobiographical protagonist — remains, she raised the vital question: Why live? By her answer, she raised herself from the pit to go on living, becoming the endling of her own artistic species — Mary Shelley outlived all the Romantics, composing prose of staggering poetic beauty and singlehandedly turning her then-obscure husband into the icon he now is by her tireless lifelong devotion to the posthumous editing, publishing, and glorifying of his poetry.

Shelley had set her far-seeing Frankenstein, written a decade earlier, a century into her past; she sets The Last Man a quarter millennium into her future, in the final decade of the twenty-first century, culminating in the year 2092 — the tricentennial of her beloved’s birth.

Mary Shelley. Art from Literary Witches — an illustrated celebration of trailblazing women writers who have enchanted and transformed the world.

The novel’s narrator, Lionel Verney — an idealistic young man, more porous than most to both the deepest suffering of living and the most transcendent beauty of life — is the closest Mary Shelley, stoical and guarded, came to painting a psychological self-portrait. As the pandemic sweeps the world and vanquishes his loved ones one by one, Shelley’s protagonist returns home to seek safety “as the storm-driven bird does [to] the nest in which it may fold its wings in tranquillity.” There, in the strange stillness, stripped of the habitual busynesses and distractions of social existence, he finds himself contemplating the essence of life:

How unwise had the wanderers been, who had deserted [the nest’s] shelter, entangled themselves in the web of society, and entered on what men of the world call “life,” — that labyrinth of evil, that scheme of mutual torture. To live, according to this sense of the word, we must not only observe and learn, we must also feel; we must not be mere spectators of action, we must act; we must not describe, but be subjects of description. Deep sorrow must have been the inmate of our bosoms… sickening doubt and false hope must have chequered our days… Who that knows what “life” is, would pine for this feverish species of existence? I have lived. I have spent days and nights of festivity; I have joined in ambitious hopes…: now — shut the door on the world, and build high the wall that is to separate me from the troubled scene enacted within its precincts.

In consonance with Whitman — “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains?” the American poet would ask across space and time, then answer: “Nature remains.” — Shelley’s protagonist finds the meaning of life not in the whirlwind of the human-made world with its simulacra of living but in the simple creaturely presence with nature’s ongoing symphony of life:

Let us… seek peace… near the inland murmur of streams, and the gracious waving of trees, the beauteous vesture of earth, and sublime pageantry of the skies. Let us leave “life,” that we may live.

First Signal by Maria Popova

At the height of the deadly pandemic, nature seems all the more quietly determined to affirm the resilience of life — spring arrives with its irrepressible bursts of beauty, untrammeled by human suffering and a supreme salve for it. It is by observing nature’s unbidden delirium in its littlest expression, by surrendering to its sweep, that Lionel regains his faith not only in survival but in the beauty, the worthiness of life.

A generation before the young Emily Dickinson delighted in the poetry of spring, Shelley writes:

Winter passed away; and spring, led by the months, awakened life in all nature. The forest was dressed in green; the young calves frisked on the new-sprung grass; the wind-winged shadows of light clouds sped over the green cornfields; the hermit cuckoo repeated his monotonous all-hail to the season; the nightingale, bird of love and minion of the evening star, filled the woods with song; while Venus lingered in the warm sunset, and the young green of the trees lay in gentle relief along the clear horizon.

From this open presence with the non-human world, Shelley’s protagonist extracts the essence of what it means to be human:

There is but one solution to the intricate riddle of life; to improve ourselves, and contribute to the happiness of others.

Mary Shelley

Complement with Rebecca Elson’s stunning poem “Antidotes to Fear of Death,” Shelley’s contemporary Elizabeth Barrett Browning — a trailblazing poet who was dealt an inordinate share of suffering and who made of it inordinate beauty — on what makes life worth living, and the story of how young Isaac Newton’s plague quarantine fomented humanity’s greatest leap in science, then revisit the gorgeous advice on life Shelley’s mother, the trailblazing political philosopher and founding feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, never lived to give her daughter, having died in giving her birth.

donating=lovingEach month, I spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars keeping Brain Pickings going. For a decade and a half, it has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers. I have no staff, no interns, not even an assistant — a thoroughly one-woman labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood. If this labor makes your life more livable in any way, please consider aiding its sustenance with a donation. Your support makes all the difference.monthly donationYou can become a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch. one-time donationOr you can become a Spontaneous Supporter with a one-time donation in any amount.Partial to Bitcoin? You can beam some bit-love my way: 197usDS6AsL9wDKxtGM6xaWjmR5ejgqem7


Probable Impossibilities: Physicist Alan Lightman on Beginnings, Endings, and What Makes Life Worth Living

* * *

Mary Shelley on the Courage to Speak Up Against Injustice and the Power of Words in Revising the World

* * *

How to Raise a Reader: Mary Shelley’s Father on Parenting and How an Early Love of Books Paves the Path to Lifelong Happiness

* * *

Walt Whitman, Shortly After His Paralytic Stroke, on What Makes Life Worth Living


Fulcrum FUHL-krəmPart of speech: nounOrigin: Latin, late 17th century
1A thing that plays a central or essential role in an activity, event, or situation.2The point on which a lever rests or is supported and on which it pivots.
Examples of Fulcrum in a sentence “His relationship with his wife was the true fulcrum of his life experience.” “Levers are a simple, comprehensible way to study how fulcrums work.”

तुका म्हणे आता उरलो उपकारापुरता..

तुका म्हणे आता उरलो उपकारापुरता..

ईश्वरभेटीसाठी आकांत मांडणार्‍या आंतरिक संघर्षाला तोंड देत ‘तुकोबा ते विठोबा’ हा खडतर प्रवास संपला. जे हवं होतं ते मिळालं. जिथं पोचायचं होतं तिथं पोचता आलं… घट बनवण्यासाठी कुंभार चाकाला गती देतो. हळूहळू आकार घेत घट तयार होतो. पूर्ण झाल्यावर घट चाकावरून काढून घेतला तरी गती दिलेलं चाक फिरतच राहातं. तसं ईश्वरभेटीचं इप्सित साध्य झालं तरी देह आहे तोपर्यंत जगणं उरतंच. पण ते केवळ उपकारापुरतं..! या कृतकृत्य भावनेची नोंद असलेला तुकोबांचा एक महत्त्वाचा अभंग सर्वश्रुत आहे. तो असा-
‘अणुरणीया थोकडा तुका आकाशाएवढा । गिळुनी सांडिले कलिवर । भव, भ्रमाचा आकार । सांडिली त्रिपुटी । दीप उजळला घटी । तुका म्हणे आता उरलो उपकारापुरता ॥ (९९३)
‘गिळुनी सांडिले कलिवर । भव, भ्रमाचा आकार’ या सहा शब्दात व्दैताकडून अव्दैताकडे झालेला प्रवास सांगितला आहे. ज्ञानप्राप्तीसाठी शरीर धारण करावे लागते. त्याचे भोग भोगावे लागतात. ज्ञानप्राप्ती झाल्यावर उमगते की हा देह, हा संसार अनित्य आहे. दिसतात ते सर्व केवळ भ्रमाचे आकार आहेत. हे आतून समजले की शरीर म्हणजे मी ही धारणा सोडणे शक्य होते. देहभावात असणे हे व्दैत आणि देहभावातून मुक्त होणे हे अव्दैत..! हे ज्ञान झाले. इतके खोलवर की ज्ञेय–ज्ञाता–ज्ञान ही त्रिपुटीही उरली नाही. त्यांचं वेगवेगळेपण निमालं. देहाच्या घटात आत्मज्ञानाचा दीप उजळला. तुकोबांच्या ‘अणुरेणूहूनही’ छोट्या ‘मी’ला आकाशाएवढं विस्तारलेलं स्व-रूप दिसलं..! आता देह इथं वावरला तरी तो केवळ जगण्याचा उपचार म्हणून. या अवस्थेला ‘उरलो उपकारापुरता’ म्हणणारा हा काव्यात्म अभंग विलक्षण सौंदर्यानुभूती देणारा आहे…!
(२००६ साली करवीर नगर वाचन मंदिर, कोल्हापूर येथे वि. स. खांडेकर स्मृती व्याख्यानमालेत केलेल्या भाषणासाठी मी ‘कवितेतील ईश्वर’ हा विषय घेतला होता. अनेक कवितांची उदाहरणं देत कविता हे ईश्वरशोधाचं समर्थ माध्यम कसं होऊ शकतं त्याची मांडणी करण्याचा प्रयत्न मी केला होता. या भाषणाच्या शेवटी संत तुकाराम महाराजांनी आपल्या ‘कविते’तून हा शोध कसा घेतला ते विस्ताराने मांडले होते. गेले काही आठवडे त्यातलेच अभंग अधिक स्पष्टीकरणासह इथं शेअर केले. ते भाषण लेख स्वरूपात ‘कवितेभोवतीचं अवकाश’ या माझ्या लेखसंग्रहात समाविष्ट केलेले आहे.)



No one has ever become poor by giving.

Anne Frank – 1929-1945 – German-Dutch Diarist-Jewish Holocaust Victim

My own learning in life: Give, Give, the More you Give; God Refills. He is the ONE who makes me and you Able to Give. So I Pray to you Oh God~ Make me Able to Give for the Humanity and be forever in your Servitude. You are the Master of this Universe, let me enjoy your Mastery in Servitude.

via: Newsletter of Gastro Obscura…

The Messy History of Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake Recipe

It reveals an unexpected side to the poet’s personality and the brutality that brought a Caribbean dish to New England.

BY REINA GATTUSOAUGUST 20, 2021The cake reveals much about Dickinson's life and times.The cake reveals much about Dickinson’s life and times. REINA GATTUSO FOR GASTRO OBSCURAIn This StoryDESTINATION GUIDEAmherst

IN THE DARK PANDEMIC DAYS of last December, 667 people gathered on a video call to celebrate Emily Dickinson’s birthday—and her black cake. Participants were invited to bake the recipe before the gathering, and many appeared on camera with their own rendition of the cake. The tradition had started five years before, when Emily Walhout, a reference assistant at Harvard University’s Houghton Library—which houses the largest collection of Dickinson’s poems, letters, and household artifacts in the world—finally decided to bake the poet’s recipe. The library owns Dickinson’s handwritten original recipe, from a letter she sent to her friend Nellie Sweetser. “I had been at Houghton for decades, knowing about this recipe and wondering why nobody made it,” Walhout says. When Emilie Hardman, a former pastry chef, joined the staff, she and Walhout decided to go for it.

Black cake is a Caribbean Christmas cake, piquant with spirits and velvety with molasses or burnt sugar. Dickinson’s recipe, written in loopy letters on age-yellowed paper, belies her biography: A dedicated baker, Emily was better known during her lifetime for her desserts than her poetry. The labor-intensive recipe, and its journey from the Caribbean to Dickinson’s elite New England milieu, reminds us of the brutal histories of colonization and enslavement that shaped her times, and the Black and immigrant domestic laborers who shaped her work and home. Dickinson’s black cake recipe also helps us reimagine Emily herself—not as the austere recluse the patriarchal literary establishment has long portrayed, but as a sensuous, socially connected woman who shared poems and cakes with family, friends, and her life-long queer love.

Emily sent her black cake recipe, now held at Houghton Library, to her friend Nelly Sweetser.
Emily sent her black cake recipe, now held at Houghton Library, to her friend Nelly Sweetser. COURTESY OF HOUGHTON LIBRARY

A relative of British fruit cake, black cake depends on the sugar English colonizers forced the Indigenous and African people they enslaved to produce. The Caribbean version of the cake usually includes rum and either molasses or burnt sugar, also known as browning, a bitter liquid that results from scalding white sugar over a high flame. “You can taste the slight bitterness at the back of your throat,” says Canadian poet M. nourbeSe philip, who wrote an essay on Dickinson’s black cake. For many Caribbean families, preparing the cake is a joyful annual tradition. philip watched her mother bake the cake growing up in Trinidad and Tobago. After she immigrated to Canada, her mother shipped her a homemade black cake every year.

The recipe and its ingredients were likely brought to New England from the Caribbean along the horrific triangular trade. Dickinson’s version uses molasses and swaps the rum out for brandy. Both Dickinson’s and Caribbean recipes are dense with dried fruit, including raisins, currants, and candied citron in Dickinson’s case. And they’re fragrant with nutmeg, cinnamon, and mace, brought to the Caribbean by colonizers from the spice coasts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Malabar.TRAVEL WITH ATLAS OBSCURAAre you a curious traveler?Join local experts in 50+ destinations for a once-in-a-lifetime journey.View Our Trips

Since black cake is meant to be shared, recipes can be massive. Dickinson’s calls for two pounds of butter, 19 eggs, and five pounds of raisins; the assembled batter, according to the Houghton staff, weighs 20 pounds. Basted with brandy, the cake keeps for months, if not until next Christmas.

The recipe is stained and aged with use.
The recipe is stained and aged with use. COURTESY OF HOUGHTON LIBRARY

Making the cake at the yearly Houghton gathering, says Christine Jacobson, assistant curator of modern books and manuscripts, summons an atmosphere of “warmth and conviviality.” Dickinson’s recipe, worn from years of use, brings the poet to life. “It’s stained, it’s imperfect, you can tell it was written in haste,” Jacobson says. Dickinson frequently gifted recipes—including the black cake recipe—and baked goods to friends, and the quantity of batter in her recipe means that she likely made it alongside her sister and household domestic workers, according to Dickinson scholar and artist Aífe Murray. This lively image of the poet rolling up the sleeves of her white frock to mix 20 pounds of batter, air redolent of cinnamon and mace, is a stark contrast to the otherworldly Emily Dickinson the literary establishment has long depicted.

Emily Dickinson wrote almost 1,800 poems, but she published only a few in her lifetime. She was a known baker but an obscure poet. She never chose to marry, instead living in her father’s farmhouse in Amherst, Massachusetts, until she died. She rarely took visitors, choosing to appear occasionally at her bedroom window as she lowered baskets of her famous gingerbread to village children.

For nearly a century after her death, literary scholars—with the help of Mabel Loomis Todd, who edited Dickinson’s work after her death and also happened to be her brother’s mistress—overwhelmingly chose to interpret those facts in the most severe way possible. They depicted Dickinson’s reticence as self-effacement, her singleness as chastity, and her reclusiveness as dainty misanthropy.

According to Martha Nell Smith, a Dickinson scholar at the University of Maryland, this waifish image was largely late-Victorian propaganda. “You know how we have the image of a rock star: sex, drugs, rock and roll?” she asks. In the late 19th century, “The composite biography of a woman poet is that she bore a secret sorrow, that she was reclusive, and that she probably dressed in white. Sound like anybody you’ve heard of?”

This daguerrotype, of a teenage Dickinson at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, is the only verified portrait of the poet.
This daguerrotype, of a teenage Dickinson at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, is the only verified portrait of the poet. PUBLIC DOMAIN

In the past three decades, scholars like Smith have urged us to look past the myth of the woman in white to see Dickinson as she depicted herself: sensual, at times rebellious, and effervescently queer. This version of Dickinson is evident throughout her work. Her poetic voice often shifts between genders. She expresses both intense desire (“Might I but moor – tonight -/ in thee!” she writes in “Wild nights – Wild nights!”) and powerful declarations of autonomy (“I’m ceded – I’ve stopped being Theirs,” she writes in poem 508).

Pointing to this self-possession, scholars like Smith argue that Dickinson chose to stay home in order to prioritize her work. They note that her vigorous correspondence, with dozens of interlocutors over decades, shows she was far from socially isolated. And they emphasize the centrality of Emily’s lifelong relationship with Susan Gilbert Dickinson, the poet’s sister-in-law, next door neighbor, primary editor—and likely lover.

While Dickinson scholars had long acknowledged that Emily and Susan were friends, Smith’s 1998 book, Open Me Carefully, included a stunning revelation. Going back through Dickinson’s letters, Smith discovered places where Mabel Loomis Todd had literally cut up and smudged out words. The most commonly erased and altered items: she/her pronouns in letters and poems to Sue, and affectionate lines about Sue.

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, which has a substantial Dickinson collection, unveiled this daguerrotype in 2012, arguing that it pictures Dickinson with her friend Kate Scott Turner. It has not been verified as a genuine image of Emily.
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, which has a substantial Dickinson collection, unveiled this daguerrotype in 2012, arguing that it pictures Dickinson with her friend Kate Scott Turner. It has not been verified as a genuine image of Emily. PUBLIC DOMAIN

We can’t say for sure why Todd erased these lines, though Victorian respectability is a good bet. As, says Smith, are personal resentments: Mabel Loomis Todd was having an affair with Emily’s brother Austin Dickinson, who was married to Susan, who in turn was likely having an affair with Emily.

Many of those obscured lines were breathtakingly erotic. Reading the letters in Open Me Carefully, one can almost feel the electricity: “Sweet Sue, / There is / no first, or last, / in Forever – ” one letter-poem starts. In the same poem, she continues, “for the Woman / whom I prefer, / Here is Festival – / Where my Hands, / are cut, Her / fingers will be / found inside.” In another letter to Sue, she writes “We are the only poets. And everyone else is prose.”

Emily’s passion for Sue, poetry, and baking were intertwined. Dickinson spent hours each week making bread and cake for her father’s household. “She certainly was writing in the kitchen on scraps of paper,” Smith says. Some extant Dickinson manuscripts are decorated with food stains, including likely splatters of currant wine, an Emily specialty. Dickinson left several handwritten recipes among her papers, and their line breaks bear the same telltale dashes of her poetry. Meanwhile, the open-ended form of Dickinson’s poems sometimes mimics the terseness of a recipe. They’re “recipes for reading,” Smith says.

A portrait of the Dickinson children from around 1840. Emily is pictured at left.
A portrait of the Dickinson children from around 1840. Emily is pictured at left. OTIS ALLEN BULLARD, PUBLIC DOMAIN

Dickinson frequently shared her baked goods with friends, along with flower cuttings and affectionate letters. “I enclose Love’s ‘remainder biscuit,’ somewhat scorched perhaps in baking,” she wrote a friend, alongside a gift of slightly burnt caramels. “But ‘Love’s oven is warm.’”

Dickinson’s greatest correspondent was Sue, who often edited Emily’s work. In one exchange, Susan thanks Emily for a bouquet (“The flowers are sweet and bright and look as if they would kiss one”), complains about making a bib for her child, and provides feedback on Emily’s draft of “Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers.” In another exchange, when Susan is away teaching, Emily mails her rice cakes amid a series of passionate love letters.

Food also appeared, in vividly sensuous language, in dozens of Dickinson’s poems and letters. “I taste a liquor never brewed – / From tankards scooped in pearl,” she writes in poem 214. In her letter-poems with Sue, food and drink appear to stand in for devotion and longing. “I could not drink it, Sue / til you had tasted first – / Though cooler than / the Water – was / The Thoughtfulness of / Thirst,” Dickinson writes in one letter-poem. In Sue’s obituary for Emily, she mentions “Emily’s ambrosial dishes.” “I was like, ‘That is sexy! Because that emphasizes taste and smell,’” says Smith, laughing.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Union Civil War veteran and editor, kept up a vigorous correspondence with Dickinson.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Union Civil War veteran and editor, kept up a vigorous correspondence with Dickinson. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Recently, Smith’s work, and that of other feminist Dickinson scholars who’ve brought the poet’s sensuality and sexuality to light, has won public opinion. Since 2016, two popular films and a TV show (a whimsical, highly aestheticized teen drama) have all depicted the poet as queer. Meanwhile, fans and critics point out that Taylor Swift’s album Evermore contains allusions to the Emily-Sue relationship.

Yet if Dickinson’s black cake recipe helps us reimagine her as a social and sensual being, it also forces us to contend with histories of injustice she benefited from.

A few years ago, philip’s family had just picked up their annual Christmas black cake when she heard about Dickinson’s black cake recipe on the radio. “I was just stunned,” she says. “It was just this moment of, ‘No, those two things don’t go together.’” philip thought of her own mother, who also made black cake, but who—unlike the elite white poet—had days so filled with care-taking and laundry, she was left with no time to make art. philip quickly realized that the two were, in fact, connected, through the brutal historical trade in sugar, rum, and enslaved African people on whose forced labor American wealth rests.

Black cake at Houghton Library's 2015 celebration of Emily's 185th birthday.
Black cake at Houghton Library’s 2015 celebration of Emily’s 185th birthday. COURTESY OF HOUGHTON LIBRARY

The elite Dickinson family, like all white Americans, economically benefited from slavery. Their ancestors were early New England colonizers, and their Southern enslaver cousins fought for the Confederacy. Emily’s congressman father, Edward, was not an abolitionist. Dickinson’s own letters, meanwhile, contained violently anti-Black and anti-Irish statements. Her brother, Austin Dickinson, was part of the xenophobic Know-Nothing party.

Conventional histories of Dickinson, as of other white poets, tend to gloss over this complicity. “She’s removed from this very messy, ugly context and held as this beacon, this symbol of purity,” philip says. But in her essay “Making Black Cake In Combustible Spaces,” philip argues that the very ingredients of black cake, especially the bitter burnt sugar, implore readers to confront these often-erased histories—and challenge them to imagine more just futures. “We have to remember the bitterness,” she says. “It’s what gives the cake the sweetness.”

Dickinson’s black cake recipe also reminds us of the Black and Irish domestic workers who helped make her family’s household run. Though they could afford to hire full-time domestic workers, the Dickinsons employed only part-time workers when Emily was young, expecting Emily, her mother, and her sister, Lavinia, to do most of the housework. Emily complained about the incessant demands of domestic labor.

A knobby, thick-skinned fruit, citron is the ancestor of many of the citrus fruits we enjoy today. You can order them candied online, or substitute lemon, lime, or mixed candied fruit.
A knobby, thick-skinned fruit, citron is the ancestor of many of the citrus fruits we enjoy today. You can order them candied online, or substitute lemon, lime, or mixed candied fruit. COURTESY OF HOUGHTON LIBRARY

The family eventually employed a long-term Irish maid named Margaret Maher. Emily became close to Maher, who lived and worked at the Dickinson house for over thirty years. It’s likely the two baked together—including, perhaps, the black cake, says Aífe Murray, who wrote a book documenting the influence of Black and Irish workers on Emily’s poetry. These workers’ labor freed up Dickinson’s time, so she could pursue poetry. Meanwhile, Murray argues, their ways of speaking likely shaped Emily’s ear for language, contributing to the unique cadence of her poems. Emily actually stored her manuscripts in Maher’s trunk, and according to one family source, Maher was instrumental in saving those manuscripts from incineration after Dickinson’s death. Yet Maher has largely been edited out of Dickinson histories. “Dickinson’s ‘voice,’ in a sense, had depended on Maher’s ‘silence,’” Murray writes.

The black cake recipe helps us understand the aspects of Dickinson’s life and poetry—her passion, her queerness—that were literally erased. But it also reminds us of these other erasures, of the people whose unrecognized labor helped make Dickinson the great poet we know today. The messy history of black cake asks us to challenge the conventional image of Emily Dickinson as a waif in a spotless white dress. It asks us to imagine, instead, the dress’s fabric sticky with molasses, rumpled with the labor of baking, and splashed crimson with currant wine. It asks us to imagine the indigenous land that grew the dress’s cotton, the enslaved Black people who were forced to pick it, the immigrant laborers who spun it into fabric, and the Irish laundress who boiled and beat that dress until history could pretend it had always and only been white.

Emily Dickinson’s Original Black Cake Recipe

You can find the original manuscript, and a video of the first Houghton recreation.

2 pounds Flour –
2 sugar –
2 Butter –
19 Eggs –
5 pounds Raisins –
1 ½ Currants –
1 ½ Citron –
½ pint Brandy –
½ — Molasses –
2 Nutmegs –
Cloves – Mace –
Cinnamon –
2 teaspoons Soda –

Beat Butter
and Sugar
Together –
without beating
and beat the
Mixture again –
Bake 2 ½ or
Three hours, in
Cake pans, or
5 to 6 hours
in Milk pan
if full.

Mixing wet and dry ingredients for the cake.
Mixing wet and dry ingredients for the cake. REINA GATTUSO FOR GASTRO OBSCURA

Houghton Library’s Version

A quarter of the original size, courtesy of Emily Walhout and Houghton Library.

8 ounces (227 grams) flour

8 ounces (227 grams) sugar
8 ounces (227 grams) butter
5 eggs
20 ounces (570 grams) raisins
6 ounces (170 grams) currants
6 ounces (170 grams) citron
2 ounces (60 milliliters) brandy
2 ounces (60 milliliters) molasses

half a nutmeg, grated (roughly 1¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg)
1¼ teaspoon cloves
1¼ teaspoon mace
1¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda

  1. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, spices, and soda.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in the unbeaten eggs until blended, then mix in the brandy and the molasses.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add the raisins, currants, and citron, and mix until the fruit is well-distributed.
  6. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 250 ºF (120 ºC) for three hours. After allowing it to cool, wrap the cake in a cheesecloth soaked in brandy. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
  7. Every once in a while over the coming weeks and months, baste the cake with more brandy. The cake can be eaten any time after it emerges from the oven, but the longer you store it, the tastier it will be.
Emily Dickinson's version of the cake uses brandy and molasses rather than rum and browning.
Emily Dickinson’s version of the cake uses brandy and molasses rather than rum and browning. REINA GATTUSO FOR GASTRO OBSCURA

Gastro Obscura Tips

  • You can compare Dickinson’s black cake recipes to various Caribbean black cake recipes online. M. nourbeSe philip includes an image of her mother’s black cake recipe in “Making Black Cake in Combustible Spaces.” She notes that her mother’s recipe calls for two pounds of butter, like Dickinson’s, and 24 eggs, more than Dickinson’s. Her mother’s burnt sugar was homemade.
  • You can play around with the dried fruit. Citron can be hard to get ahold of; you may have to order it online. You can also buy or candy your own lemon or orange peel. I opted to use currants and raisins in the proportions named above, plus mixed candied fruit and honeyed lemon peel from a Caribbean grocery store.
  • Caribbean black cake recipes, as well as many British fruit cake recipes, advise soaking the dried or candied fruit in liquor for anywhere from a couple hours to half a year before making the cake. You can substitute burnt sugar, also called browning, for the molasses, and rum for brandy; consult the Caribbean recipes above for tips on the proportions. You can also try adding mixed essence, a sweet and fruity flavoring extract; again, follow recipes from Caribbean chefs.

Gastro Obscura covers the world’s most wondrous food and drink.
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Remembering When Bermuda Was an Onion Island

Mark Twain once called the allium the “pride and joy of Bermuda.”

The Epic Landscape Art of Tiny Inakadate, Japan

<img src="; alt="A scene from <em>Gone With the Wind

Counterview Point: Newsletter : FP on ANALYSIS: How the U.S. Got 9/11 Wrong |

U.S. Army 3rd Division Bradley fighting vehicles take up their position.

As dawn broke on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States was considered virtually unchallengeable. Not only was it the lone superpower left on the world stage after the Soviet Union’s collapse a decade before, the United States had become, if anything, even more dominant relative to the rest of the world. Post-Soviet Russia had shrunk to an economy smaller than Portugal’s. Europe was inwardly focused and squabbling over monetary union. Japan’s once-surging economy had flatlined. And China was still just a rising tiger. Even the Roman Empire at its height did not measure up to the economic, military, and technological dominance over the world then possessed by United States, wrote Yale University historian Paul Kennedy. In a famous 1987 book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Kennedy had argued the United States was in decline, but as the new century got underway, he changed his mind: “Nothing has ever existed like this disparity of power; nothing.” 

Despite the terrible trauma of what happened later that morning—the worst-ever attack on U.S. soil—Washington’s response over the next two months only reaffirmed U.S. dominance. After the Taliban refused to surrender the culprit behind 9/11, al Qaeda, the United States attacked Afghanistan—but in a new way that utterly baffled the militants. Armed with GPS navigators and laser-targeting equipment with which to “paint” Taliban troops on the ground, a handful of CIA officers and special operations forces guided in powerful smart bombs that decimated the Taliban. Survivors scurried into the mountains. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and his terrorists ran with them, escaping to their mountain redoubt at Tora Bora. With the noose closing, it seemed to some U.S. officials that the nascent “war on terror” was almost won. As Gary Berntsen, the CIA officer in charge of the operation, later told me in an interview—and recorded in his 2005 book, Jawbreaker: The Attack on bin Laden and al-Qaeda—bin Laden was overheard on the radio asking his followers for forgiveness. Berntsen swiftly sent a message back to Washington asking for more troops, saying, “Let’s kill this baby in the crib.” In just a matter of months, “we could have had the entire al Qaeda command structure,” Berntsen said. 

Leaving Afghanistan

What happens to the country and its people after the forever war ends?


That’s when things began to go terribly wrong for Washington. 

Hiding in the mountains, bin Laden reportedly asked his militants to pray—and for him, at least, a kind of miracle occurred. Distracted by their plans to invade Iraq and determined to keep a “small footprint” in Afghanistan, the White House and U.S. Defense Department refused to rush in troops to encircle the trapped al Qaeda terrorists, in what Afghanistan expert Peter Bergen later wrote was “one of the greatest military blunders in recent U.S. history.” Bin Laden fled to Pakistan, disappearing for almost 10 years. Then came U.S. President George W. Bush’s disastrous Iraqi diversion, which left Afghanistan wide open to a Taliban resurgence. The Iraq occupation, with U.S. troops now exposed on the ground, also proved to be a tutorial for jihadists in a new kind of asymmetric warfare against the overextended superpower, waged by smaller, stealthier militant groups using novel weapons like improvised explosive devices that revealed the United States’ worst vulnerabilities. Many of these tactics then spread from Iraq back to Afghanistan. Ultimately, the Taliban renewed themselves in the vacuum left by the otherwise-occupied Americans, deploying these asymmetric guerrilla methods toward a long-term strategic goal of outlasting Washington. 

“Every jihadist group on the planet is massively energized that this little group, the Taliban, outlasted the infidel United States,” said counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen.

Finally, on Aug. 31, the resurrected Taliban chased the United States out of the country altogether. The militants’ stunning 10-day takeover left Washington humiliated and, as U.S. President Joe Biden declared in a speech that day, resigned to “ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.” That new approach now encompasses the entire Middle East: In late July, Biden also announced the U.S. military would downshift to a training role in Iraq by the end of the year, apparently preparatory to leaving. 

As a result, no one is celebrating the 20th anniversary of 9/11 more than Islamist militants around the world. Four U.S. presidents—George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and now Biden—were unable to defeat the Taliban, a force said to be just 75,000 people strong. Tired of the conflict, the last three U.S. presidents have been dead set on a policy of retreat from Central Asia and the Middle East. This had been al Qaeda’s main goal all along, beginning with bin Laden, who said he sought to expel the “crusaders” from the region. The Islamist celebration will go well beyond the rifles fired in the air by the Taliban on Aug. 31. 

“Every jihadist group on the planet is massively energized that this little group, the Taliban, outlasted the infidel United States,” said counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen.

Newsletter: FP Editor’s Pick

1  Last best hope. The international community’s decision to freeze billions of dollars in funding has left Afghanistan on the brink of a financial crisis. Money exchangers may be its last defense against disaster, Nafay Choudhury writes.  
2  New focus. Following Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s departure announcement, many of the candidates to succeed him are focusing more on taking a tougher line on China than controlling the coronavirus, William Sposato writes.  
3  Mixed messages. With the Taliban back in control, many people in the Hazara Shiite community fear a return to large-scale persecution. The way the group treats the Hazara could predict how it governs, Tom Mutch writes.  
4  Diplomatic dispute. Lithuania’s decision to exchange diplomatic offices with Taiwan sparked ire from China. The outcome of the conflict could be a bellwether for Beijing’s ability to bend small countries to its will, FP’s Robbie Gramer reports.  
5  Afghanistan erupts. After the Taliban claimed they eliminated all resistance in the Panjshir Valley, thousands of Afghans have taken to the streets to challenge the group’s extremist rule and fight for their liberty, Lynne O’Donnell reports.



Eddie Izzard quotes

I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.SHARELouis C.K. quotes

I’m just like yeast – I eat sugar and I shit alcohol. And there’s a huge culture that goes with that. Alcohol creates massive shifts in world history, and it changes people’s lives. People get pregnant because of alcohol. But the yeast doesn’t give a fuck. The yeast isn’t going, “I really want to help people loosen up and bring passion into Irish people’s lives.SHAREDavid Cross quotes

So I was watching all the Katrina coverage and I got really angry at… Christians who didn’t pray hard enough… It’s their fucking fault. First off, they needed to pray against the people that were praying for Katrina to hit, because New Orleans is a den of sin and iniquity; an area where gay people dance! But now they have to pray double, and if they had just put that little effort up front, we could’ve avoided all of this. I think it’s time we take a lesson from history, and return to human sacrifice.SHAREDavid Cross quotes

James Lipton: The most pompous arrogant failure in history.SHAREChris Rock quotes

A black man failing black history… ain’t that some sad shit….. cuz you know, fat people don’t fail cooking!SHAREFred Allen quotes

We are living in the machine age. For the first time in history the comedian has been compelled to supply himself with jokes and comedy material to compete with the machine. Whether he knows it or not, the comedian is on a treadmill to oblivion.SHARETim Allen quotes

As the Chinese will tell you, history depends on your point of view.SHAREGeorge Burns quotes

I can’t understand why I flunked American history. When I was a kid there was so little of it.SHARERodney Dangerfield quotes

She was old too, when she went to school they didn’t have history.SHAREMichael Ian Black quotes

How dare you compare Hitler to this president or any president? How dare you equate what he did with what Obama is doing? Do you have any idea how insulting that is? Do you know anything about history? Do you have any idea what Hitler did? He killed six million of my people, which is six million more than Obama has killed. You’re a fucking idiot. You’re a fucking moron. You’re the fucking problem with this country.SHAREDaniel Tosh quotes

I hate you, Google. You’ve caused a lot of problems in my relationship. I share a computer with my girlfriend and she would look up anything. “I’m going to look up apples today.” She just hits ‘A.’ It’s “Asian ass porn” instantly. Google is, like, “I’ll take it from here. I know exactly what you’re looking up… Well, every time you hit ‘A,’ it’s ‘Asian ass porn.'” Google! All I ask is that you let her type three letters before you jump to such a bold conclusion. It’s bad enough that I’m clearing my history every three hours and changing my passwords. I’m trying to have an honest relationship, and you are fucking my shit up!SHAREDenis Leary quotes

I do have to say that I think that President Obama is the greatest President in the history of all of our Presidents, and that he can do no wrong in my book. So how’s that for prejudice on the Democratic side?SHARETim Vine quotes

I was reading this book today, The History Of Glue and I couldn’t put it down.SHAREJohn Oliver quotesFunny

I took a tip from your history books, and, the day after election day, I got a truckload of Dr. Pepper and just drove it straight into Boston Harbor. See how you like your favorite beverage being drowned.SHAREJohn Oliver quotes

This report found out that more British people died, proportionally, than American people on that boat because they discovered that, at that point in history, British people were more polite while Americans were, and I quote, more assertive. But don’t feel guilty when you imagine your ancestors elbowing mine out of the way.




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2 : WINSTON CHURCHILL – UK PRIME MINISTER 1940 – 1945 & 1951 – 1955

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27 of the Most Ridiculous Things for Sale That You Can Find Online

Some Pills Are Really Hard To Swallow and There is a Meme


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Winston Churchill


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Source : imgur

Quotes about History

Famous Quotes About History

Read these famous history quotes and get drawn into the realms of the past.

“History is only the register of crimes and misfortunes.”

Napoleon Bonaparte
“What is history but a fable agreed upon?”

Karl Marx
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

Winston Churchill
“History is written by the victors.”

Thomas Jefferson
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

John Maynard Keynes
“Ideas shape the course of history.”

William Shakespeare
“There is a history in all men’s lives.”

Mark Twain
“The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.”

Henry David Thoreau
“It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.”

Alexander Smith
“I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.”

Robert Heinlein
“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.”

Marshall McLuhan
“Only the vanquished remember history.”

Mohandas Gandhi
“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

Stephen Covey
“Live out of your imagination, not your history.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Things have never been more like the way they are today in history.

Cite this Article 


Taliban announce caretaker government in Afghanistan

U.S. Navy looks to South Korea’s free-diving women for hypothermia remedy

Trial for accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed restarts in Cuba

British warships set sail to Indo-Pacific as new carrier prepares for joint exercises 


Quote of the Day
“We walk through our lives, and we don’t realize how many people notice us and, because they notice us, how many people might imitate our behavior, or change their behavior because of something we did or said.”
Social psychologist Vanessa Bohns on our hidden potential to persuade, in the latest from McKinsey’s Author Talks series

The Elephant in the Room: Black Swan Disruption

Stephen Long, Ph.DBusiness Transformation

Business Conference Speaker

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of executives expected to increase their company’s resilience by rebalancing their supply chains. By May 2020, an overwhelming 93% reported they plan to take steps to make their supply chains more resilient. The pandemic has pushed supply chains to the top of the corporate agenda where C-level executives everywhere are rethinking On top of financial losses, there is an additional risk of permanently losing market share to competitors who are able to sustain operations or recover faster, along with the costs of rebuilding damaged physical assets. It could also cause managers to become more dependent on trade or force them to undertake expensive adaptations. Weaknesses are often perceived as stemming from the structure of supplier networks in a given chain. But, that’s not completely true.

A company’s supply chain is defined by its first tier of suppliers, and some managers include the suppliers of those suppliers — the second tier. Their effectiveness is validated by the paths they forge responding to the emergence of bottlenecks throughout the supply chain. The effects of their actions are whether or not the supply chain delivers what the consumer wants. It’s typical for managers to have their performance-review metrics center around: In addition to how managers are incentivized through revenue growth, market-share gain, productivity gain, cost cutting, etc., resilience not only helps with disaster preparedness, but also for overall organizational performance.

Some managers are demonstrating that flexible and resilient supply chains can deliver more than productivity improvement where they generate new value and profitable growth in the long term. However, they are the outliers. Since 2000, the value of intermediate goods traded globally has tripled to more than $10 trillion annually and as much as 45 percent of one year’s earnings could be lost each decade because of disruptions.

For example, algorithms can be used to automate pre-building inventory when there is excess capacity and sufficient warehouse space prior to a constrained week. Other decisions, however, require human intervention and judgement such as those involving complex and ambiguous tradeoffs and high levels of creativity.

Proactive and forward thinking While we know how to measure efficiency, the critical question is how to measure resilience. Analytics and artificial intelligence are powerful tools to unlock value, with amplifying effects across the physical and digital worlds. But without the right mental model in place, they may accelerate and even exacerbate existing problems such as uncoordinated processes, capability gaps or technology mismatches..

Managers experience new levels of supply chain performance by integrating Social Technology through the supply chain nerve center. This nerve center works with supply-chain partners fostering agreement on appropriate standards and protocols and supports all the partners in execution matters. Most importantly, the nerve center has been psychologically stress tested enabling consistent execution and sound decisions. Psychological stress-testing the supply chain is an important starting point for evaluating agility and building an action plan because if people aren’t resilient, the supply chain can’t be resilient. Managers can identify appropriate mitigation steps because the stress test revealed potential vulnerabilities along the supply chain.

If supply chain partners could work together to overcome barriers — including common operating standards, trust, and appropriate gain sharing — they could significantly reduce costs by improving resilience through Social Technology. Trust is the determining issue for partners from two perspectives. Internal information may be too sensitive to share and because of the sensitivity, a common understanding of the value of the data may not be agreed upon. These limitations may never be resolved. However, common ground is found when partners work as a team through Social Technology allowing them to form a stronger bond of trust.

The primary objection to Social Technology adoption is, “Why would I invest in something that’s not going to make me more productive today?” However, this is a false choice. Adopting Social Technology delivers immediate performance benefits in other facets of the business other than the supply chain focus. It’s clear managers can’t afford not to invest in Social Technology.

Written by Stephen Long, PhD

Track Latest News Live on CEOWORLD magazine and get news updates from the United States and around the world. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter and Facebook. For media queries, please contact:

World’s richest CEOs and the cars they drive

World’s richest CEOs and the cars they drive

Maria GourtsilidouC-Suite LifestyleSeptember 7, 2021

Most of the world’s richest CEOs drive luxury and fast cars. In their garages someone can find expensive models such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis. At the same time some CEOs have a collection of old collectible cars. Let’s have a look at the cars that well- known CEOs own.

  1. Bill Gates: He has a collection of cars that every man would like to drive. He owns a Porsche 959 Sports, which was one of the most technologically equipped in the world in the 80s. He also has a Ferrari 348. It may be an old model but has collectible value since it is one of limited edition. Only 8000 units were produced between 1989-1995. One of his new acquisitions is an electric Porsche Taycan.
  2. Mark Zuckerberg: Although he is one of the richest men in the world, he owns some really affordable cars. The founder and CEO of Facebook drives a Honda Jazz. Except from this small car, he also owns an Acura TSX and a Volkswagen Golf. An expensive car in his collection is a Bugatti Huayra which costs 1.4 million dollars.
  3. Larry Ellison: The founder and CEO of Oracle drives a Lexus LS 600h, a luxury sedan. Of course this is not the only car he owns. He also has a McLaren F1 and an Audi R8. Larry Ellison seems to like speed.
  4. Elon Musk: He has a variety of cars in his garage. Elon Musk loves the Porsche 911. He has a Porsche 911 Turbo. Furthermore, he owns several other cars such as a 1978 BMW 320i, a 1920 Ford Model T, an E-Type Jaguar Roadster, a Lotus Esprit, a 1997 McLaren F1, a Hamman BMW M5, an Audi Q7, a Tesla Model S and a Tesla Cybertruckx.
  5. Mukesh Ambani: He has a collection of several luxury cars. He has a Tesla Model S 100D, a Bentley Bentayga, a Bentley Flying Spur, a Mercedes Benz 660 Guard and a Rolls Royce Cullinan. These are only some of the cars that he owns. It is said that this family owns more than 150 cars.
  6. Jeff Bezos: He is one of those businessmen who do not spend much money on expensive cars. He once bought a Honda Accord and seems to still drive a newer model of the same car. Before this car, he used to drive a 1987 Chevrolet Blazer.
  7. Warren Buffet: He sold a Lincoln Town Car and a DTS at charity auctions. He currently owns a Cadillac XTS. He bought the car in 2014 for 45.000 dollars.
  8. Al Waleed Bin Talal: It is said that he owns almost 300 luxury cars including Ferraris, Lamborghinis and more. His office car is a Rolls Royce Fancy costing a 300.000 dollars. By the way this specific cars is among the cheapest he drives. Furthermore, he owns a Rolls Royce Phantom costing 2.1 million dollars. This car is covered with diamonds.
  9. Carlos Slim Helu: He can afford buying many expensive cars. He owns a Bentley Continental Flying Spur with a cost of $300.000. Another car in his collection is a 1941 vintage Cadillac Escalade. He also owns a navy Mercedes.
  10. Jack Ma: The CEO of Alibaba is China’s second richest man. He owns only three cars. A Mercedes Maybach which costs almost 500.000 dollars and has a lavish interior, a BMW 760Li and Roewe RX5 SUV costing $15.000.

Track Latest News Live on CEOWORLD magazine and get news updates from the United States and around the world. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter and Facebook. For media queries, please contact: