The Principles of Uncertainty

“My Brain is Exploding.
Trying to make sense out of nonsense,
Trying to tell you everything (everything?)
And all the while time is fleeing.
And the air around me vibrates with so
Many images. Which is great because most
Of them are British”
(The Principles of Uncertainty, Maira Kalman)

It has been said that books are windows into their author’s souls – but there is no clearer window than The Principles of Uncertainty. If you want to see how a superb and totally unique artist, an artist who uses words like ‘splendid’ and ‘jaunty’ and paints pictures of fruit platters and British hair-dos, sees the world – read Maira Kalman’s book. I read it at least once every year to remind myself to appreciate the small, beautiful, and quirky in life.

Beverage: Anything elaborate and carefully prepared will do – a British tea service and fruit platter, some Russian tea and a seven-layer cake with a cherry on top.

Reminds me… of The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery for its cultural references and of For the Time being by Annie Dillard for its lingering question of ‘why are we/am I here?’

And also, for whatever reason, part of T.S Eliot’s The Love Song for J. Alfred Prufrock: I grow old… I grow old/ I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled/ Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?/ I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

If you can’t wait to visit a bookstore, you can read a blog of hers at: (which is, ever so excitingly, going to become another gorgeous book in October). Or, if you are so lucky as to be living in Philadelphia, go check out her exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania.


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