Brain Pickings

Author Archive

21 OCTOBER, 2011

Indie Legends Celebrate the Songs of Shel Silverstein

By:

Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, and other indie icons pay homage to the beloved children’s author.

Though best-known as the author of children’s classics like The Giving Tree, beloved author Shel Silverstein (whose recent posthumous anthology of 137 never-before-seen poems and drawings is among the season’s greatest treats) was also a prolific songwriter. Not only did the album version of his book Where The Sidewalk Ends win a Grammy in 1984 for Best Children’s Recording, but he also collaborated with a number of prominent “grown-up” musicians between 1959 and his death in 1999, including Johnny Cash (“A Boy Named Sue”), Irish Rovers (“The Unicorn Song”), and Bobby Bare (“Daddy What If,” among many others).

Twistable, Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein (iTunes link) is a fantastic homage to Silverstein by a formidable roster of contemporary indie music icons, including Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Lucinda Williams, and Bobby Bare, Jr., Bobby Bare’s son, performing with his four-year-old daughter Bella.

Rianbow Rumpus has a wonderful interview with Bobby Bare, Jr. on his memories of Silverstein and how the author’s ethic of fearlessness influenced his own songwriting.

via Rainbow Rumpus

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount.





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

21 OCTOBER, 2011

The Divided Brain, Animated

By:

A hemispheric history of the making of the Western world, or why abstraction is necessary for empathy.

The metaphor of the “left-brain”/”right-brain” divide has permeated pop culture as one of the defining dichotomies of how we think about and describe ourselves. But this metaphor is rooted in a number of neuropsychological realities of how our brains operate — the right hemisphere (the “master”), with its flexibility and capacity for empathy and abstraction but lack of certainty, and the detail-oriented left (the “emissary”), with its preference for mechanisms over living things, its inability to see past the literal, and its propensity for self-interest.

In The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, the product of 20 years of research, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist delves into the world of difference between our two hemispheres and argues that the formal structures of modern society significantly — and dangerously — prioritize the left brain, resulting in a culture shackled by rigidity and bureaucracy, driven by self-interest, and ultimately incapacitated by its own imbalance.

This book tells a story about ourselves and our world, and about how we got to be where we are now. While much of it is about the structure of the human brain — the place where mind meets matter — ultimately it is an attempt to understand the structure of the world that the brain has in part created.” ~ Iain McGilchrist

In this lovely sketchnote animation by The RSA (whose previous animated gems you might recall), McGilchrist talks about the science and philosophy of his work, and makes a passionate case for reprioritizing the right hemisphere.

This organ, which is all about making connections, is profoundly divided… and it’s gotten more divided over the course of human evolution.”

Provocative and fascinating, The Master and His Emissary will give you pause — 600 pages worth of it — about the origin and making of today’s dominant worldviews, both ours as individuals as those of our collective cultural narrative.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

20 OCTOBER, 2011

A Collection a Day: An Obsessive Homage to Order

By:

Why we’re drawn to things organized neatly, or what sea urchins have to do with vintage erasers.

On January 1, 2010, artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon embarked on an unusual project — for 365 days, she was to photograph, draw, or, in the case of imaginary objects, paint one collection a day. She documented her process online and recently joined our own collection of blogs so great they became books.

A Collection a Day catalogs all 365 of Congdon’s quirky, obsessive, endlessly curious collections of tchotchkes — erasers, pencils, vintage stamps, mushrooms, receipts, medals, maps, sea urchins, and just about everything in between — in a beautiful volume that’s somehow calming and centering in its neatness, a rare oasis of order amidst the chaos of the everyday stuff that surrounds us.

Since I was a young girl, I have been obsessed both with collecting and with arranging, organizing and displaying my collections. This is my attempt to document my collections, both the real and the imagined.” ~ Lisa Congdon

For a peek inside Congdon’s creative process and what makes these collections so alluring with her wonderful recent talk from the San Francisco chapter of Creative Mornings — bonus points for the Ursus Wehrli, Andy Goldsworthy, and Edward Tufte references.

I think that ordinary objects become something different when they’re arranged with other like things… Seeing things with other like things helps us to see them in new ways.” ~ Lisa Congdon

Beautifully photographed and illustrated, A Collection a Day is a charming meditation on objects and stuff, part Obsessive Consumption, part Things, part its very own peculiar project with its own peculiar character.

Images courtesy of Lisa Congdon / UPPERCASE

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount.





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.