Brain Pickings

Choosing to Die: Sir Terry Pratchett Comes to Terms with His Death

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Befriending the Grim Reaper, or what Swiss sunshine has to do with the ultimate personal freedom.

In 2008, having just turned 62, beloved fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s. Three years later, he began the process to take his own life. Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die is a powerful and fascinating film, in which Pratchett explores the cultural controversies and private paradoxes surrounding the issue of assisted suicide, which remains illegal in most countries. From the “small but imbalancing inconveniences” of the disease’s earlier stages to the loss of his ability to type to witnessing a terminally ill man peacefully choreograph his own last breath in Switzerland, Pratchett explores what it would be like to be helped to die, and what it would mean for a society to make assisted death a safe refuge for the dying.

What you’re about to watch, may not be easy, but I believe it’s important… Is it possible for someone like me, or like you, to arrange for themselves the death that they want?” ~ Terry Pratchett

When I am no longer able to write my books, I am not sure that I will want to go on living. I want to enjoy life for as long as I can squeeze the juice out of it — and then, I’d like to die. But I don’t quite know how, and I’m not quite sure when.

Snuff: A Novel of Discworld, Pratchett’s latest and possibly final novel, came out in October of 2011.

Complement with Joanna Macy on how Rilke can help us befriend our mortality.

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Artist Terry Border Imagines Everyday Objects in Romantic and Risqué Scenarios

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Spooning spoons, boogieing sushi, and what bent wire has to do with the mechanism of love.

Remember artist Terry Border of Bent Objects fame, who explores the secret life of everyday objects in playful vignettes using simple bent wire? Border is back with Bent Object of My Affection: The Twists and Turns of Love — a charming collection of new 60 bent-wire vignettes, photographed by in which household objects explore the romantic and the risqué. Sweet and kooky, Border’s images are also a light-hearted metaphor for love itself, wherein the ordinary becomes extraordinary. And though Border’s overly punny captions fall flat for me, the images themselves exude enough delight to make it all a treat.

Love is Free - You make my world go round

I Like it When We Spoon - We fit so well together

Love is Sticky - French kissing

Undercover - I love your appeal

Falling - I'll hold on, no matter what

Marilyn Merinque - You're the wind beneath my wings, and the breeze beneath my skirt

King Leer - I only have dies for you

A Toast To Us!

Film Strip - I think this could develop into something

We Make a Perfect Pair - Straight from the garden of Eden

Magnetic Personality - I can't help this attraction

Misfortune Cookie - I'd never get over you

Shrunken and Wrinkled - Let's grow old together

HT @matthiasrascher; images courtesy of Terry Border / Rex Features via The Telegraph

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Superwoman Was Already Here: Montessori’s Philosophy, Animated

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A visual manifesto for keeping the fire in kids’ eyes burning.

Superwoman Was Already Here! is an animated adaptation of the Montessori philosophy of education by Maria Montessori superfan Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein (who lists Harvard College and Columbia Law School as his alma maters). Though I wish he hadn’t used a company called 321 Fast Draw, who use all-caps, exclamation points, and the word “ZING” in their sales pitch and who effectively ripped off Andrew Park’s brilliant and memorable style of RSA animation — and poorly, at that — I’m still intrigued by a sketchnote-animated synthesis of the Montessori philosophy. (Though it certainly doesn’t help that the most famous RSA animation is actually the adaptation of Sir Ken Robinson’s now-legendary TED talk on changing educational paradigms, adding to the similarity of style a similarity of message.) Be your own judge:

Kids don’t stop asking questions because they lose interest. It’s the other way around — they lose interest because they stop asking questions.”

This, in turn, inspired another animation, alas also from 321 Fast Draw, by Petter-Lipstein’s “fellow Montessori caped crusader” Trevor Eissler, based on Eissler’s popular book Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education:

For more on the Montessori school of thought, see Maria Montessori’s own recently digitized handbook and her seminal 1949 book The Absorbent Mind. For a broader look at the past and future of learning, don’t miss these 7 must-read books on education.

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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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