Brain Pickings

Film, Film, Film: 1968 Soviet Animated Parody of the Movie Industry

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A vintage satirical look at cinema’s ego and bureaucracy.

In 1968, Russian animator Fyodor Khitruk — best-known for the Russian animated adaptation of Winnie the Pooh and his 1962 gem, Story of a Crime — set out to parody the ego-driven, bureaucratic world of Soviet cinema. The result was Film, Film, Film — a satirical short film telling the story of how a historical movie is made through near-silent pantomime. Its aesthetic — a dynamic mix of minimalist yet provocative image and typography — is somehow reminiscent of the Information Age visual vernacular Marshall McLuhan and designer Quentin Fiore were crafting on the other side of the Iron Curtain around the same time.

Part two continues below:

Film, Film, Film, along with other groundbreaking animated shorts from Russian animation pioneers, can be found on Masters Of Russian Animation — a remarkable collection of animated shorts from the 1960s through 1980s in four volumes.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson on Space, Politics, and the Most Important Thing to Know About the Universe

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What our sense connectedness has to do with NASA’s budget and the osmosis of rationality and intuition.

Neil deGrasse Tyson might be one of today’s most prominent astrophysicists, but he’s also a kind of existential philosopher, bringing his insights from science into the broader realm of the human condition — a kind of modern-day Carl Sagan with a rare gift for blending science and storytelling to both rub neurons with his fellow scientists and engage a popular-interest audience.

Nowhere does this gift shine more brilliantly than this chill-giving mashup by Max Schlickenmeyer, remixing images of nature at its most inspiring with the narration of Tyson’s answer to a TIME magazine reader, who asked, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?”

When I look up at the night sky and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than most of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up — many people feel small, because they’re small, the Universe is big — but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity — that’s really what you want in life. You want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant. You want to feel like you’re a participant in the goings on and activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive.”

Tyson’s book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, explores the future of space travel in the wake of NASA’s decision to put human space flight essentially on hold, using his signature wit and scientific prowess to lay out an urgent manifesto for the economic, social, moral, and cultural importance of space exploration. This excerpt from the introduction captures Tyson’s underlying ethos and echoes other great thinkers’ ideas about intuition and rationality, blending the psychosocial with the political:

Some of the most creative leaps ever taken by the human mind are decidedly irrational, even primal. Emotive forces are what drive the greatest artistic and inventive expressions of our species. How else could the sentence ‘He’s either a madman or a genius’ be understood?

It’s okay to be entirely rational, provided everybody else is too. But apparently this state of existence has been achieved only in fiction [where] societal decisions get made with efficiency and dispatch, devoid of pomp, passion, and pretense.

To govern a society shared by people of emotion, people of reason, and everybody in between — as well as people who think their actions are shaped by logic but in fact are shaped by feelings and nonempirical philosophies — you need politics. At its best, politics navigates all the minds-states for the sake of the greater good, alert to the rocky shoals of community, identity, and the economy. At its worst, politics thrives on the incomplete disclosure or misrepresentation of data required by an electorate to make informed decisions, whether arrived at logically or emotionally.

Complement Space Chronicles with Tyson’s selections for the eight books every intelligent person should read.

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A Booklover’s Map of Literary Geography circa 1933

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On the Bostoncentricity of literature, or what “our first man of letters” has to do with Poe.

Two of my great loves — maps and books — converged on my friend Wendy‘s wall, where I spotted this stunning vintage map of “literary geography.” Titled The Booklovers Map of America Showing Certain Landmarks of Literary Geography and created by pictorial cartographer Paul M. Paine in 1933, the map zooms in on the biggest literary cities and places “The Birthplace of American Literature” squarely in the Boston/Cambridge area.

A few closeups:

With its charmingly unpunctuated, almost stream-of-literary-consciousness text, the map is as much a cartographic treasure as it is an almanac of early twentieth century literary celebrity.

For more unusual, creative, culturally sensitive maps, see these 7 fantastic books of and about maps.

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:





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