One Hand Extended Into the Universe and One Hand Extended Into the World

Albert Einstein? Christina Baldwin? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is a quotation about art attributed to the famous scientist Albert Einstein which describes a person extending a hand into the universe and acting as a “conduit for passing energy”. I am skeptical of this ascription because I have been unable to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein made this statement. It is not listed in the 2010 book “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” which is a comprehensive reference about the physicist’s pronouncements from Princeton University Press. 1

The earliest match known to QI occurred in a 1990 spiritual book by Christina Baldwin. 2 A vivid statement within Baldwin’s book caught the eye of researcher Rosalie Maggio who placed it into her 1992 compilation “The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 3

Spiritual love is a position of standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.

Christina Baldwin, Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest (1990)

The above statement was about spiritual love and not art; however, by 2018 the remark had been altered to produce a new expression and had implausibly been reassigned to Albert Einstein who had died decades before in 1955. The “Newtown Bee” of Newtown, Connecticut on August 31, 2018 printed a miscellaneous set of quotations which included the following: 4

Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.
—Albert Einstein

Below is one additional selected citation and a conclusion.

In 2019 a newspaper in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma printed the following: 5

Now, just enjoy: “Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.” Albert Einstein.

In conclusion, Christina Baldwin should receive credit for what she wrote in 1990. The remark ascribed to Albert Einstein is spurious.

(Great thanks to Phil Earnhardt and Cecilia Di Trastevere who notified QI of this Einstein misattribution which led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration. Cecilia Di Trastevere pointed to Baldwin and her book as the source. In addition, a message from Clare MacQueen within a Facebook discussion thread pointed to Baldwin.)

Image Notes: Partially transparent human silhouette against a stylized space background from geralt at Pixabay. Image has been cropped, resized, and retouched.

Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, (No page number because statement is absent), Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified with hardcopy)
  2. 1990, Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest by Christina Baldwin, Page Number Not Yet Checked, (This citation has not yet been verified with hardcopy by QI), Bantam Books, New York.
  3. 1992 Copyright, The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women, Compiled by Rosalie Maggio, Topic: Spirituality, Quote Page 305, Column 2, Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified with scans)
  4. 2018 August 31, Newspaper: Newtown Bee, Article: News, Quote Page 2A, Newspaper Location: Newtown, Connecticut. (NewsBank Access World News)
  5. 2019 February 23, Newspaper: Pauls Valley Daily Democrat, Section: Community, Article: History revealed, one ‘correct’ envelope at a time, please!, Author: Tim Smith (Staff Writer), Newspaper Location: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. (NewsBank Access World News)