Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

22 APRIL, 2011

Three-Minute Kant


What the common good has to do with office infidelity and objective reality.

Legendary German philosopher Immanuel Kant, father of the Categorical Imperative, was born on April 22, 1724. To celebrate his birthday, here’s a witty and illuminating 3-minute digest of his life’s work from the wonderful Three-Minute Philosophy series.

For a deeper dive into Kant, try Susan Stuart’s free Kant lectures on iTunesU (thanks, Dan) or the excellent anthology Kant’s Critiques: The Critique of Pure Reason, The Critique of Practical Reason, The Critique of Judgement.

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22 APRIL, 2011

Writer’s Block in Stop-Motion, Shakespeare-Style


What Romeo and Juliette have to do with William Shatner and modern justice.

395 years ago tomorrow, the great William Shakespeare took his last breath. Shakespearean Tragedy (A Comedy) is a lovely Claymationesque animated short film about Shakespeare’s writer’s block by 24-year-old Jerusalem-based animator Anna Cohen, exploring something we have an ongoing fascination with: What is creativity, and how do we overcome the obstacles in its way? After previously hearing from the very real Scott Belsky, Rainn Wilson, Kurt Andersen, Stefan Sagmeister, Steven Johnson and Isaac Asimov, it’s time we heard from imaginary-Shakespeare:

Bonus points for the Spakespearean facepalm, no?

Here are a few more intelligent ways to commemorate the iconic playwright:

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21 APRIL, 2011

The Language of Graphic Design


100 years of visual communication on a silver platter.

Visual communication, like all communication, relies on a sophisticated and deeply encoded language to relay its message. That language is design and though it’s wildly ubiquitous, most people are proficient at best. Out this month, The Language of Graphic Design: An Illustrated Handbook for Understanding Fundamental Design Principles offers fluency on a beautiful silver platter by dissecting the building blocks of this language and examining its ABC’s — definitions, functions, and usage — through visually-driven case studies spanning the past 100 years.

The Language of Graphic Design isn’t a design textbook — it’s a thoughtful look at the syntax and lexicon of this language that speaks to us daily, crisply written and visually driven in away that makes it equal parts visual reference and semantic study.

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21 APRIL, 2011

Tweets from Tahrir: Rare Record of a Revoltuion


What Gladwell’s fallacies have to do with changing media models and political paradigms.

In the past year, we’ve seen the fall of political regimes, the crumbling of media paradigms, and the parallel evolution of decomcary and social media. And while certain pundits continue to hold blatantly misguided opinions about the sociopolitical role of social media in activism, the real world is providing ample evidence for these new modalities of democracy and dissent. Tweets from Tahrir, an excellent new addition to alternative publishing powerhouse OR Books‘ stable of progressive social and political commentary, is a compelling time-capsule of the revolution unfolded before the world’s eyes as young people used social platforms to coordinate an historic uprising, documented it with their mobile phones, and spread it across the social web — a revolution not only of political dogma, but also of media dogma as citizen journalists in the streets replaced traditional newsrooms to deliver rich real-time insight into the heart of a historical milestone.

I think we’re agreed: Without the new media the Egyptian Revolution could not have happened in the way that it did. The causes were many, deep-rooted, and log0seated. The turning moment had come — but it was the instant and widespread nature of the new media that made it possible to recognize the moment and to push it into such an effective manifestation. What happened next has already become legend. Lines and images from the three weeks that followed January 25, 2011 , have imprinted themselves not just on the Egyptian psyche, but on the memory and imagination of the world.” ~ Ahdaf Soueif

Edited by young activists Alex Nunns and Nadia Idle, an Egyptian who was in Tahrir Square when Mubarak fell, and with a foreword by Anglo-Egyptian novelist and political commentator Ahdaf Soueif, the book is everything the self-righteous, removed pontification of cultural theorists is not (sorry, Malcolm) — the lived reality of the revolutionaries, the raw core of a world history landmark the repercussions of which will shape textbook narratives for generations to come.

I have friends on antidepressants who, over the twenty days of the revolution, forgot to take their pills and hav enow thrown them away. Such is the effect of the Egyptian Revolution.” ~ Ahdaf Soueif

Fast-paced and relentlessly fascinating, Tweets from Tahrir is unlike any book ever written, much in the way that the Egyptian Revolution was unlike any uprising ever orchestrated. To miss it is to deny yourself unprecedented understanding of the sociocultural forces that shape our political and media reality.

Thanks, Kirstin

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