Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

11 JANUARY, 2012

The Joy of Books: A Stop-Motion Rainbow Intervention


If you, like me, are a lover of books, you’ll find yourself enamored with this husband-and-wife duo’s imaginative stop-motion reconfiguration of the bookshelves in Toronto’s Type bookstore — the best thing since Spike Jonze’s stop-motion love story for book lovers.

Some of my favorite books make cameos in the film — French illustrator Blexbolex’s People, the vibrant PANTONE: The Twentieth Century in Color, Christoph Niemann’s relentlessly delightful I LEGO N.Y., Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine, a graphic novel guide to the media, and 1493, the untold story of how Columbus changed the world.

Last July, the duo warmed up by giving their home bookcase the stop-motion rainbow treatment:

(One thing that’s always drawn me to stop-motion as a storytelling medium, particularly such labor-intensive executions, is the peculiar, paradoxical way in which it bends our relationship with time, at once compressing its scale and making its passage all the more palpable.)

Where to next? Try some inspired bookshelf designs, or the bookcases of famous authors.

Thanks, Alex

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11 JANUARY, 2012

Einstein, Anne Lamott, and Steve Jobs on Intuition vs. Rationality


What the libraries of yore have to do with today’s information economy and the heart’s will.

In putting together Monday’s reading list of 9 essential books on reading and writing — a master-toolkit for a worthy New Year’s resolution to read more and write better — I found myself rereading Anne Lamott‘s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, one of my all-time favorite books. A particular passage from it has stayed with me over the years, and reemerges by some uncanny, invisible mechanism at critical times of my life, as if to remind me where the truth lies:

You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.”

A similar sentiment comes from one of history’s most celebrated heroes of science, the alleged pinnacle of rationality — Albert Einstein:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

Steve Jobs reflects in Walter Isaacson’s much-discussed biography of him, one of the 11 best biographies and memoirs of 2011:

The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and the intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world… Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.

Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and it is the great achievement of Western civilization. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom.”

In the olden days, librarians were expected to use intuition to categorize books. When did we lose this value system in how we think about the categorization — curation, systematization, organization — of today’s information sphere and, perhaps more importantly, of the heart’s sphere?

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11 JANUARY, 2012

The Future Belongs to the Curious: A Manifesto for Curiosity


From my friends at Skillshare, who are out to revolutionize the paradigms of learning, comes this beautiful manifesto for the transformative power of curiosity — something very much at the heart of Brain Pickings.

We are all lifelong learners, from day one to twenty-thousand-and-one, and that’s why we keep exploring, wondering and discovering, yearning and learning, reaching with more than just our hands… The future belongs to the curious.”

I bet legendary physicist Richard Feynman would approve. (See also these 5 manifestos for the creative life.)

Ready to have your curiosity tickled? Explore Skillshare’s countless courses on everything from color theory to 3D printing to living rent-free in NYC.

For more on the future of curiosity and learning, see these 7 essential books on education.

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