Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

23 MAY, 2012

Prophetic Animation: Douglas Adams Traces the Evolution of the Book from Rock to Silicon and Predicts eBooks in 1993

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How we went from boulders to scrolls to screens.

In 1968, Arthur C. Clarke predicted the iPad; in 1991, Francis Ford Coppola predicted YouTube; in 1993, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, recorded a short piece of audio for his then-publisher in the U.S. — Bob Stein of Voyager Expanded Books — tracing the evolution of the book from rock to silicone and predicting its transition into the digital age with astounding accuracy. This year, The Literary Platform hosted an international competition titled “Getting the Book Invented Properly,” inviting visual storytellers to animate Adams’s prophecy in interesting ways — a fine complement to these short videos on how books were made over the ages.

This entry by U.K. designer and illustrator Gavin Edwards takes the prize in my book.


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Complement with Anaïs Nin on the future of the novel in .

Thought You Should See This

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15 MAY, 2012

Animated Anatomy of Shakespearean Slurs

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Heartless hinds, fishmongers, and lots of thumb-biting.

Nearly two years ago, The Snark Handbook: Insult Edition gave us high-brow verbal sparring lessons with some of literary history’s finest comebacks, taunts, and effronteries. Now, from educator April Gudenrath and the team at TED-Ed comes this primer on Shakespearean insults, which served to unify the audience and to develop relationships between characters in a very short and sharp way.

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

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14 MAY, 2012

1953 Animated Adaptation of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” The First X-Rated Cartoon in Britain

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A beautifully haunting animated adaptation of the Poe classic.

Last week, we marveled at Harry Clarke’s haunting 1919 illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination. That same year, Clarke also illustrated Poe’s beloved short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” — but as darkly beautiful as his artwork was, this imaginative 1953 animated adaptation gives Clarke more than a run for his money. Narrated by legendary English actor James Mason, it was the first cartoon to be X-rated in Great Britain under the British Board of Film Censors classification system.

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07 MAY, 2012

Reason & Emotion: Pseudoscience Meets Gender Stereotypes in 1943 Disney Wartime Propaganda

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What resisting a double fudge sundae has to do with Freud and defeating the Nazis.

Whether we call it “rationality vs. intuition,” as Albert Einstein, Anne Lamott, and Steve Jobs did, or “reason vs. emotion,” being human means being bedeviled by the near-constant polar pull of two opposing forces. And yet, we’ve seen the “divided brain” is a reductionist myth, and perpetuating it has dangerous sociocultural consequences.

In 1943, however, the clear-cut dichotomy between reason and emotion was not only perfectly acceptable, it was also a perfectly exploitable propaganda talking point. This animated Disney short film, created the same year as the now-infamous Disney employee handbook, enlists the same comically appalling era-appropriate gender stereotypes to deliver a steady dose of wartime propaganda against the Axis, portrayed as governed by unreasonable emotion, which the Allies could combat with the force of reason and restrained emotion.

As amusing as the gender treatment might be in its appallingness, one particularly appalling chasm is what happens to each gender when its bearer is possessed by emotion and negligent of reason: The man merely gets his sexual advances met with a slap, whereas the woman spirals into food binges, which promise an undesirable body, which in turn makes her unworthy of said sexual advances. In other words, reason ultimately serves the man in both scenarios, while emotion merely distracts from his most desirable outcome.

Of course, the analysis of what any of this has to do with going to war is best left to Freud.

For a similar look at wartime propaganda from the other end of the world, see this collection of vintage Russian animated propaganda.

Open Culture

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