Brain Pickings

A Visual Antidote to Cynicism

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‘You deserve GOOD things.’

Earlier this week, E. B. White reminded us that “some writers have lost their sense of proportion, their sense of humor, and their sense of appreciation.” The same can said of much of today’s visual culture, whose currencies have become the grim and the sensationalistic. You might recall a charming antidote: Everything Is Going to Be OK, the lovely pocket-sized anthology of positive artwork. Now, it’s available as equally lovely 20 different note cards, featuring artists like Gemma Correll, Jessica Swift, Danna Ray, and Amy Borrell. And while it’s easy to let cynicism take hold, E. B. White said it best:

I think I would lose what little value I may have as a writer if I were to refuse, as a matter of principle, to accept the warming rays of the sun, and to report them, whenever, and if ever, they happen to strike me.

'You deserve GOOD things' by Gemma Correll

'You are so loved' by Jessica Swift

'Be present every day' by Danna Ray

'NICE' by Amy Borrell

'I think you're lovely. (It's true.)' by Gemma Correll

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If Darth Vader Actually Raised Luke Skywalker

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“Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!”

What if “Luke, I am your father” wasn’t the beginning and end of pop culture’s tensest father-son relationship? That’s the premise of comic artist Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Son — a sweet, funny, charmingly illustrated story that imagines an alternate universe in which the Dark Lord of the Sith actually raises his son. From potty training to lightsaber batting practice to ice cream runs, the endearing absurdity of the duo’s dynamic makes for a remix treat of the most entertaining variety.

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Yayoi Kusama, Japan’s Most Celebrated Contemporary Artist, Illustrates Alice in Wonderland

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Down the rabbit hole in colorful dots, twisted typography, and strange eye conditions.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass endure as some of history’s most beloved children’s storytelling, full of timeless philosophy for grown-ups and inspiration for computing pioneers. The illustrations that have accompanied Lewis Carroll’s classics over the ages have become iconic in their own right, from Leonard Weisgard’s stunning artwork for the first color edition of the book to Salvador Dali’s little-known but breathtaking version. Now, from Penguin UK and Yayoi Kusama, Japan’s most celebrated contemporary artist, comes a striking contender for the most visually captivating take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland yet.

Since childhood, Kusama has had a rare condition that makes her see colorful spots on everything she looks at. Her vision, both literally and creatively, is thus naturally surreal, almost hallucinogenic. Her vibrant artwork, sewn together in a magnificent fabric-bound hardcover tome, becomes an exquisite embodiment of Carroll’s story and his fascination with the extraordinary way in which children see and explore the ordinary world.

A breathtaking piece of visual philosophy to complement Carroll’s timeless vision, Kusama’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the latest affirmation of what appears to be the season of exceptionally beautiful books.

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