Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘books’

18 MAY, 2012

C. S. Lewis on Why “School Stories” and Media Distortion Are a More Deceptive Fiction Than Fiction

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“Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories. Adults are not deceived by science-fiction; they can be deceived by the stories in the women’s magazines.”

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t,” Mark Twain reflected on the osmotic balance of truth and fiction, which has long fascinated famous authors.

In An Experiment in Criticism, C. S. Lewis — he of great insight on the motives of duty and the secret of gaiety — articulates with extraordinary astuteness the counter-intuitive truth about fact vs. fiction, increasingly timely in today’s opinion culture where we need, more than ever, the critical thinking necessary for teasing apart agenda and opinion from truth.

No one can deceive you unless he makes you think he is telling the truth. The unblushingly romantic has far less power to deceive than the apparently realistic. Admitted fantasy is precisely the kind of Literature which never deceives at all. Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories*. Adults are not deceived by science-fiction; they can be deceived by the stories in the women’s magazines. None of us are deceived by the Odyssey, the Kalevala, Beowulf, or Malory. The real danger lurks in sober-faced novels where all appears to be very probable but all is in fact contrived to put across some social or ethical or religious or anti-religious ‘comment on life’ … To be sure, no novel will deceive the best type of reader. He never mistakes art either for life or for philosophy. He can enter, while he reads, into each author’s point of view without either accepting or rejecting it, suspending when necessary his disbelief and (what is harder) his belief.

* See Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality, which seeks to teach children how to fight myth with science.

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17 MAY, 2012

Hippopposites: A Minimalist Lesson in Opposites and Aesthetics for Little Designers

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Navigating the complex web of simple terms with the help of a red hippo.

This must be the season for sensational picture books. The latest addition comes from French graphic designer Janik Coat: In Hippopposites, her children’s book debut, she teaches the progeny of the design-inclined about opposites and basic spatial, dimensional, and aesthetic vocabulary through a minimalist red hippo-hero, who remains charmingly catatonic throughout the book. Blending Blexbolex’s unexpected parallels and contrasts with Paul Rand’s simple semiotic sensibility, Coat explores fundamental concepts in simple yet refreshing ways.

For a touch of tactile whimsy, Coat adds a delightful show-rather-than-just-tell element:

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17 MAY, 2012

20 of Today’s Most Exciting Artists and Illustrators Reimagine the Paper Plane

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What the quintessential childhood staple teaches us about the bounds of the imagination.

The paper airplane is among the most beloved of childhood toys — and for good reason: It seems to embody just the right balance of function and fantasy, of hands-on practicality and make-believability. In Little Paper Planes, 20 of today’s most exciting artists and illustrators — including Brain Pickings favorites Julia Rothman ( ), Lisa Congdon ( ), and Gemma Correll () — reimagine the childhood staple. From the literal yet expressive to the wildly abstract yet playable with, the designs range from a meticulously engineered plane mobile to a paper doll to a crumbled up piece of paper to a handful of shreds, and just about every imaginative in-between shape.

Kelly Lynn Jones, founder of pioneering artist community Little Paper Planes, writes in the introduction:

While working on this book, it became clear that the concept of the paper plane represented more than just a flying object, but brought up moments of nostalgia for childhood, varying perceptions on the act of making and creativity, and notions around authorship and the collaboration between artist and reader.”

Each paper plane design is prefaced by a short introduction to and single-question interview with the artist, contextualizing his or her work, background, and approach to art.

Julia Rothman

Gemma Correll

Lisa Congdon

Michael C. Hsiung

A refreshing treat for that timeless inner child, or the creatively-minded real child, Little Paper Planes reminds you that the limits of even the most seemingly formulaic and constrained of concepts are set only by the bounds and boundaries of the imagination.

Open Culture

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