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11 Great Thinkers' Brilliant Study Tips for Finals Week

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College students can try out these strategies used by some of history's greatest minds, gathered by Mason Currey in his book Daily Rituals, to prepare for finals week.

1. Behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner set a timer when he worked and plotted his daily productivity on a graph.

2. Writing and rewriting music was critical to composer Morton Feldman. "While you're copying it, you're thinking about it, and it's giving you other ideas," he explained in a 1986 lecture. But Feldman didn't take credit for this advice—he got it from fellow composer John Gage. 

3. The studio isn't for everyone. Artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec set up his easel in brothels and sketched at cabarets.

4. An insurance lawyer by day, Wallace Stevens composed his poems on long walks on his lunch break and to and from work. When he found the perfect line, he'd stop and scribble it on an envelope he kept in his pocket. 

5. To avoid distractions, British playwright Somerset Maugham's desk always faced a blank wall.

6. It doesn't get more consistent than film director David Lynch. He ate lunch at Bob's Big Boy every day for seven years, always ordering a chocolate shake and five to seven cups of coffee. 

7. Inventor Nikola Tesla had more lightbulb moments in the dark. He always worked from noon to midnight with the blinds shut.

8. Never underestimate the power of a wake-up call. Immanuel Kant hired a retired soldier to rouse him at 5 a.m. each morning.

9. To create a placebo effect of productivity, novelist Nicholson Baker establishes a new routine for every book, even if it just means writing in a certain pair of shoes. 

10. William Faulkner needed absolute solitude to write. The door to his home library didn't have a lock, so he closed it and removed the knob when it was time to work. 

11. Writing was a team effort for Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas. Toklas would drive Stein around France's Ain countryside in search of an inspiring cow or rock. When they found it, Stein would settle in the spot with her notebook. When she grew bored of the scenery, they'd get back in the car and drive on.

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Courtesy of Freeman's
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History
For Sale: More Than 150 Items of Victorian Mourning Art, Clothing, and Jewelry
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Courtesy of Freeman's

Funeral fashion hasn't always been reserved for memorial services, judging from a massive memento mori auction that's being billed as perhaps the largest collection of mourning art ever offered for sale. Spotted by Atlas Obscura and sponsored by Philadelphia-based Freeman’s auction house, the online sale—which kicks off on Wednesday, November 15—features more than 150 works from a renowned private collection, ranging from clothing and jewelry to artworks.

During the Victorian era, people paid tribute to their loved ones by wearing black mourning garb and symbolic accessories. (The latter often featured jet or real locks of hair, according to a 2008 article published in the academic journal Omega.) They also commissioned death-themed artworks and objects, including paintings, as exhibited by Angus Trumble's 2007 book Love & Death: Art in the Age of Queen Victoria.

These items have long since fallen out of fashion, but some historic preservationists amassed their own macabre private collections. Anita Schorsch, who’s arguably the most famous collector of memento mori, used her historic treasures to launch the Museum of Mourning Art back in 1990. Located in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, the museum is—as its name suggests—the only institution in the nation devoted exclusively to mourning art. The museum has been closed since Schorsch's death in 2015, and the items featured in Freeman's auction are from her collection.

Check out some of its memento mori below, or view the online catalogue here.

Hairwork choker, 19th century-mori, from the Collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch
Hairwork choker, 19th century-mori, from the Collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch
Courtesy OF Freeman's


Hairwork shroud pin, 19th century, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

Gold, enamel and pearl "Stuart crystal" mourning slide, made in late 17th century England and part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Gold, enamel and pearl "Stuart crystal" mourning slide, made in late 17th century England and part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

Group of 19th century ladies and gentleman's mourning costumes, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Group of 19th century ladies and gentleman's mourning costumes, from the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's


18th century iron and brass cemetery padlock from London, England, part of the Collection of Irvin & Anita Schorsch
Courtesy of Freeman's

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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History
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]

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