Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

11 JULY, 2012

The Family That Dwelt Apart: Lovely Vintage Animated Film Based on an E. B. White Short Story

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Misadventures in happy isolation.

E. B. White was a timeless champion of literary style, crusader for the writer’s social responsibility, vocal pundit on matters of the free press, unsuspected New Yorker cover artist, and one of my two favorite authors of all time.

This wonderful 1973 animated short film is based on White’s New Yorker story The Family That Dwelt Apart, directed by Yvon Mallette, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and narrated by White himself.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 47th Academy Awards, but lost to the claymation short Closed Mondays. It appears in the 1974 compilation More Animation Greats.

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21 JUNE, 2012

Against Positive Thinking: Uncertainty as the Secret of Happiness

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Exploring the “negative path” to well-being.

Having studied under Positive Psychology pioneer Dr. Martin Seligman, and having read a great deal on the art-science of happiness and the role of optimism in well-being, I was at first incredulous of a book with the no doubt intentionally semi-scandalous title of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (public library). But, as it often turns out, author Oliver Burkeman argues for a much more sensible proposition — namely, that we’ve created a culture crippled by the fear of failure, and that the most important thing we can do to enhance our psychoemotional wellbeing is to embrace uncertainty.

Besides, the book has a lovely animated trailer — always a win.

Burkeman writes in The Guardian:

[Research] points to an alternative approach [to happiness]: a ‘negative path’ to happiness that entails taking a radically different stance towards those things most of us spend our lives trying hard to avoid. This involves learning to enjoy uncertainty, embracing insecurity and becoming familiar with failure. In order to be truly happy, it turns out, we might actually need to be willing to experience more negative emotions – or, at the very least, to stop running quite so hard from them.

The American edition (once again with an uglified, dumbed down, and contrived cover design) won’t be out until November, but you can snag a British edition here, or hunt it down at your favorite public library.

Thanks, Natascha

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04 JUNE, 2012

Is Pluto a Planet? An Animated Explanation Sets the Record Straight

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A brief history of why the word “planet” isn’t very helpful.

Since the dawn of time, mankind has sought to order the heavens, our models for the universe and the Solar System constantly evolving. The latest celestial body to ride the roller coaster of categorization is Pluto, which seems to fall in and out of planetary favor far too frequently for anyone to understand — or remember — whether or not it is indeed a planet. From the invariably edutaining C. G. P. Gray, whose fast-paced animations have previously set the record straight on everything from why the color pink doesn’t exist to the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England to several historical misconceptions, comes this short illuminator on what to make of Pluto after all:

As we increase our knowledge of the universe, the category of “planet” will probably continue to evolve or, possibly, fall out of favor entirely.

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