Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

04 JUNE, 2012

The Gnomes of Gnù: Umberto Eco Teaches Kids About Ecology Through Abstract Art

By:

A beautiful allegory about ecological collapse and salvation.

In the 1960s, celebrated novelist, list-lover, and philosopher Umberto Eco partnered with illustrator Emilio Carmi on an unusual children’s trilogy. First came The Bomb and the General, a primer on semiotics that used language as a malleable toy to comment on the nuclear age and deliver a message of peace. Then followed The Three Astronauts, employing recurring symbols in teaching kids to draw connections between text and image. Finally, nearly three decades after the original two, in 1992, Eco and Carmi produced the last installment: The Gnomes of Gnù (public library) — an abstract allegory about ecological collapse and the capacity for change, told through a Space Explorer (“SE”) who sets out to find a beautiful new habitable planet to which to port human civilization. But when he does find Gnù, the gnomes that inhabit it turn out to be less than interested in receiving civilization.

The Gnomes of Gnù is fairly hard to find, but Ariel S. Winter has kindly scanned it and made it available on Flickr in its entirety.

We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie

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.

22 MARCH, 2012

Plink Plink! Celebrate World Water Day with Vintage Children’s Illustrations circa 1954

By:

A marvelous mid-century homage to Earth’s lifeblood.

Between 1957 and 1963, The Doubleday Book Clubs published a series of illustrated anthologies entitled Best in Children’s Books. Each of the few dozen numbered volumes contained a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, blending old works by established authors and artists with new works by emerging ones. The series is a treasure-trove of obscure gems by artists who eventually became cultural icons — from young Andy Warhol’s vibrant drawings to Maurice Sendak’s little-known Velveteen Rabbit illustrations.

To celebrate World Water Day today, here is Plink Plink! — an utterly delightful story about water’s all-important role in our world, written and illustrated by Ethel and Leonard Kessler in 1954, and published in Best in Children’s Books Volume 12.

Though the volume — which also features John Tenniel’s original illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — is sadly out of print, you can snag a used copy with some dedicated rummaging online.

Thanks, Claudia

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.

12 JANUARY, 2012

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

By:

We’ve already marveled at the macro beauty of pollen, nature’s love-making mechanism. From Louie Schwartzberg’s film Wings of Life — an homage to “the love story that feeds the Earth,” inspired by the worrisome vanishing of the honeybees, nature’s irreplaceable Cupids — comes this stunning montage of high-speed images, revealing the intricate beauty of pollination:

Schwartzberg contextualizes the footage in his talk from TED 2011:

For a related moment of humility, treat yourself to Schwartzberg’s moving and rewarding TEDxSF talk on gratitude — it gets truly extraordinary at around 3:55:

You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day — it’s the one day that is given to you, today. It’s given to you, it’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life, and the very last day, then you would have spent this day very well.”

HT Smithsonian Retina

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.