Brain Pickings

Francis Ford Coppola Predicts YouTube in 1991

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What a fat girl in Ohio has to do with Mozart and one of our era’s most radical shifts in the culture of creativity.

We’ve previously explored 5 fascinating vintage visions for modern social media, including Thomas Edison’s early experimentation with what became one of YouTube’s message staples — the cat meme as a currency of entertainment. From legendary director Francis Ford Coppola comes a vision for YouTube as a medium — 40 seconds of remarkably prescient insight into one of the greatest creative revolutions of our time, some two decades before our time.

Suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is gonna be the new Mozart…and make a beautiful film with her father’s little camera-corder, and for once this whole professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form.” ~ Francis Ford Coppola

The excerpt comes from Hearts of Darkness, the fascinating documentary about Coppola’s 1979 cult-classic Apocalypse Now.

via Jason Pollock

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The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossoms

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“If you give up, it’s all over.”

A piece of existential poetry for your weekend: Japan’s most beloved flower began blooming a month after the devastating disaster.

Even when the flower falls, we love it. That’s the heart of the Japanese person. Flowers dying is not a sad thing.”

(What a lyrical way to capture the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which has no direct translation in English but connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay.)

From award-winning British director Lucy Walker of Waste Land fame.

via Doobybrain

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An Illustrated Visualization of What Happens on Earth in a Single Second

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What a whale’s song has to do with the Helios II satellite and the beat of the pigmy shrew’s heart.

We’ve previously explored time and the scale of the universe, but what about the scale of time? Do we fully understand the 2.5 billion seconds most of us will experience in an average lifetime? That’s precisely what prolific science author and illustrator Steve Jenkins playfully probes in Just a Second (public library | IndieBound), a lovely and refreshing book for kids, doubling as a curious and enjoyable trivia compendium for grown-ups, and a fine addition to the year’s best children’s books. From the 5,085-foot water journey of a whale’s song to the 50 beats of a hummingbird’s wings to the 300-foot plunge of a peregrine falcon, the charmingly illustrated pages weave a kind of alternative metric system for telling time through the surprising things that happen in a single second — a measure that, as Jenkins points out, is a human invention.

The second doesn’t relate to any cycle in nature — it’s a human invention, and the shortest interval of time most of us use in our daily lives. The Babylonians came up with the idea of the second about 4,000 years ago, but they had no way to measure such a short interval of time.”

As with Jenkins’ other children’s books, there is a palpable environmental undercurrent propelled by profound awe for Earth’s creatures.

By the time you finished this book, Steve Jenkins had lived through 21,439 sunrises. If he’d been counting, he would have tallied more than two billion heartbeats.”

Charming and perspective-shifting, Just a Second is a worthy investment of a few hundred seconds in illumination that will last your entire 2.5 billion.

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