Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

02 MAY, 2013

Who Invented Writing? An Animated Historical Detective Story

By:

From Sumerian cuneiform to hieroglyphics to Chinese script, a tale of simultaneous invention.

Theories of why humans write abound — for George Orwell, the impulse was driven by sheer egoism and aesthetic enthusiasm; for Joan Didion, writing provides vital access to one’s own mind; David Foster Wallace sought in it the nature of fun; for Joy Williams, it offers an escape from darkness into light; for Isabel Allende, it’s an irrepressible outpouring of inner life. But how did we get to write in the first place?

In this lovely short animation from TED Ed, Matthew Winkler, author of The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters and Editors, takes us on a historical detective story to figure out who invented writing and explains how symbols set writing and drawing apart as vehicles of meaning:

If you just draw what you mean, that’s art — not writing. In order for this to be writing, the symbol has to stand for the word.

Complement with this fascinating visual history of how sounds became shapes.

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:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

22 APRIL, 2013

To This Day: A Collaborative Animated Spoken-Word Poem About the Lifelong Pain of Bullying

By:

Soul-stirring words in 20-second fragments of creativity.

To This Day is a beautiful short film based on Shane Koyczan’s spoken-word poem of the same title, exploring the debilitating lifelong trauma inflicted by early bullying. The project, in the style of The Exquisite Book and The Johnny Cash Project, was made by 87 animators and motion artists, each of whom contributed a 20-second segment of the narrative.

our lives will only ever always
continue to be
a balancing act
that has less to do with pain
and more to do with beauty.

Koyczan writes:

My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways. … Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. We can give them a starting point… A message that will have a far reaching and long lasting effect in confronting bullying.

“To This Day” can be found on Koyczan’s spoken-word album, Remembrance Year, which is absolutely fantastic.

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:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

18 APRIL, 2013

David Foster Wallace on Ambition, Animated

By:

“If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.”

On March 4, 1996, WNYC’s Leonard Lopate sat down with David Foster Wallacecultural critic, articulator of the ineffable, tragic prophet of the meaning of life — to talk about Infinite Jest, the 1,079-page, three-pound-three-ounce novel that catapulted Wallace into literary fame. Now, the wonderful folks of Blank on Blank and animator Patrick Smith have teamed up with PBS Digital Studios to bring Wallace’s wisdom on ambition, education, and writing to life. Highlights below:

Like Neil Gaiman, who famously admonished, “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving,” Wallace cautions against the lose-lose mindset of perfectionism:

You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in– It’s actually kind of tragic because it means you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is.

Like Sister Corita Kent, Wallace sees learning and teaching as intertwined:

I was a very difficult person to teach when I was a student and I thought I was smarter than my teachers and they told me a lot of things that I thought were retrograde or outdated or B.S. And I’ve learned more teaching in the last three years than I ever learned as a student.

Pair with Wallace on true heroism and why writers write.

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:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.