Brain Pickings

Street Artist JonOne Celebrates Abbé Pierre


In 1949, iconic French activist Henri Marie Joseph Grouès, better-known as Abbé Pierre, founded the Emmaus movement — a charitable effort to combat poverty and homelessness. One cold winter night in 1954, after a lady froze to death in the streets of Paris, he went on the French national radio and asked everyone in France to sleep in the street for a night. Many did, and the incident propelled him into the public eye.

He passed away four years ago, but his legacy and his eponymous foundation remain a powerful force in social justice. To commemorate this, French agency BDDP Unlimited partnered with New York graffiti artist JonOne on a street art operation to raise awareness about Abbé Pierre’s work among young people by painting a stunning mural on a wall donated by the city of Paris. Recall is a poetic short film that captures the project, to the soundtrack of Abbé Pierre’s original speech remixed with the music of Jean-Gabriel Becker.

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Alfred Hitchcock on the “Fright Complex”


What The Little Red Riding Hood has to do with the art and science of suspense cinema.

Last month, we looked at The Power of Nightmares — a provocative BBC miniseries exploring fear manipulation in political propaganda. Today, we turn a different lens on the same subject: Exploiting human fear for entertainment value.

In May of 1964, BBC’s Huw Weldon interviewed iconic film director Alfred Hitchcock for the TV program Monitor. Brilliantly insightful and ever-so-subtly condescending as ever, the great filmmaker shares priceless insights on the social psychology of fear, the gender balance of film audiences, and ratio of intuition vs. calculation in American and English cinema.

It’s all based on Red Riding Hood, you see. Nothing has changed since Red Riding Hood. So what [audiences] are frightened of today is exactly the same thing they were frightened of yesterday. Because this…shall we call it ‘fright complex’…is rooted in every individual.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

The assembly of pieces of film to create fright is the essential part of my job, just as much would a painter, by putting certain colors together, create evil on canvas.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

[A good cry] is the satisfaction of temporary pain. And that’s the same thing when people endure the agonies of a suspense film — when it’s all over, they’re relieved.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

For more of the iconic director, we highly recommend Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection — an ambitious collection of 14 digitally remastered Hitchcock gems, accompanied by fascinating documentaries, featurettes, commentary and a collectible book, and encased in stunningly designed velvet packaging.

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TEDxAustin Title Sequence


This past weekend, we had the pleasure of attending TEDxAustin — an absolute pinnacle of thoughtful cultural curation and remarkable production value. We were particularly taken with the event’s opening sequence, directed by Garrett Johnston, a.k.a. One Year Study, in collaboration with one of our favorite tastemakers, Public School. Enjoy — we certainly did.

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Carl Sagan / Egyptian Revolution Mashup


We love, love, love Carl Sagan remixes. For the past couple of years, we’ve had a favoite: Carl Sagan + Sigur Rós. But this priceless mashup of Sagan’s iconic Pale Blue Dot and the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions may just be the best one we’ve seen to date.

For more of Sagan’s genius, don’t forget his iconic 1980s TV series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, was recently restored and remastered — we couldn’t recommend it more.

Thanks, Kirstin

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