Brain Pickings

Need to Want Less: Modern Philosophy via Graphic Design

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What Facebook and the food pyramid have to do with our deep desire for self-acceptance.

The disconnect between our wants and needs is one of the most fundamental and universal paradoxes of being human. Virtually everyone comes in contact with it in various levels of intensity. That piece of rich flourless chocolate cake after a perfectly healthy and nourishing meal. The lover you so desire even though you don’t need all the drama. And does anyone really need an iPad?

A few months ago, we micro-raved about artist and designer Erin Hanson’s brilliant Need To Want Less series of visual modern philosophy, and today — as we confront and try to reconcile our own wants and needs — we’re taking a closer look.

when i was 8 i wanted a puppy

when i was 10 i wanted parachute pants

when i was 12 i wanted an ogilvie perm

when i was 14 i wanted a boy named robbie

when i was 16 i wanted a car

when i was in my 20s i wanted to make bad choices

now i want everything

i only need enough to survive

From the playful to the profound, the project captures the wistful aspiration of who are versus who we want to be — and beneath the humor and facetiousness lies a somewhat tragic longing to be something else, something better, bespeaking the harsh judgement in which we consistently engulf ourselves, our desires, our very thoughts.

But sombre contemplation aside, it’s hard not to appreciate the cheeky self-derision and honesty with which Hanson approaches these very human issues. So take a look at the entire set for a dose of delightful neo-philosophy.

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