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22 FEBRUARY, 2012

Ira Glass on the Secret of Success in Creative Work, Animated in Kinetic Typography

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On grit, the art of storytelling, and bridging the gap between good taste and great work.

This American Life host and producer Ira Glass is among our era’s most beloved storytellers. In this wonderful short motion graphics piece, filmmaker David Shiyang Liu has captured Glass’s now-legendary interview on the art of storytelling in beautifully minimalist and elegant kinetic typography. The gist of Glass’s message for beginners — that grit is what separates mere good taste from great work, and that the only way to bridge the gap between ability and ambition is to actually do the work — is one that rings true for just about every creative discipline, and something I can certainly speak to in my own experience.

The most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Look for more of Glass’s singular lens on storytelling in The New Kings of Nonfiction, his fantastically curated anthology of essays by some of today’s finest nonfiction storytellers, the introduction to which alone is an absolute literary masterpiece.

via Coudal

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21 FEBRUARY, 2012

Henri’s Walk to Paris: Saul Bass’s Only Children’s Book, 1962, Resurfaced 50 Years Later

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Half a century of anticipation, or what Parisian buses have to do with little yellow birds.

Saul Bass (1920-1996) is considered by many — myself included — the greatest graphic designer of all time, responsible for some of the most timeless logos and most memorable film title sequences of the twentieth century. In 1962, Bass collaborated with former librarian Leonore Klein on his only children’s book, which spent decades as a prized out-of-print collector’s item. This month, exactly half a century later, Rizzoli is reprinting Henri’s Walk to Paris — an absolute gem like only Bass can deliver, at once boldly minimalist and incredibly rich, telling the sweet, aspirational, colorful story of a boy who lives in rural France and dreams of going to Paris.

In his wonderful essay on Bass’s talent, Martin Scorsese observed, as if thinking of this book in particular:

Saul’s designs…speak so eloquently that they address all of us, no matter when, or where, you were born.”

For a related treat, don’t miss the excellent recent Saul Bass monograph, one of the 11 best art and design books of 2011.

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21 FEBRUARY, 2012

Why Everything is Connected to Everything Else, Explained in 100 Seconds

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Rockstar physicist Brian Cox uses quantum mechanics to illustrate one of the deepest truths of existence.

UPDATE: Sean Carroll (previously) has a well-argued critique of Cox’s explanation. Thanks, Siddharth.

Last week, physicist Brian Cox showed us why everything that could happen does happen in a riveting tour of the quantum universe. In this fascinating short excerpt from BBC’s A Night With The Stars, Cox turns to the Pauli exclusion principle — a quantum mechanics theorem holding that no two identical particles may occupy the same quantum state simultaneously — to explain why everything is connected to everything else, an idea at once utterly mind-bending and utterly intuitive, found everywhere from the most ancient Buddhist scripts to the most cutting-edge research in biology and social science.

This shift of the configuration of the electrons inside the diamond has consequences, because the sum total of all the electrons of the universe must respect Pauli. Therefore, every electron around every atom in the universe must be shifting as I heat the diamond up, to make sure that none of them end up in the same energy level. When I heat this diamond up, all the electrons in the universe instantly but imperceptibly change their energy levels. So everything is connected to everything else.”

For a deeper dive into this infinitely fascinating world, treat your mind to Cox’s The Quantum Universe.

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