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Gertrude Stein Reads from The Making of Americans: A Rare Recording from 1934-1935

“More and more then every one comes to be clear to some one.”

A beloved writer, “reconstructionist,” and little-known author of delightful children’s books, Gertrude Stein endures as one of the most influential figures in modern literary history.

In this rare recording from the winter of 1934-1935, courtesy of my alma mater’s wonderful PennSound archive, Stein reads from her early novel The Making of Americans (UK; public library) — a pinnacle of her signature use of repetition as a sensemaking mechanism, written between 1902 and 1911 while Stein was in her late twenties and early thirties.

Repeating then is in every one, in every one their being and their feeling and their way of realizing everything and every one comes out of them in repeating. More and more then every one comes to be clear to some one.

Complement with Stein on understanding and joy, from another rare audio recording, and charming vintage children’s books.


Popular Lies About Graphic Design

Debunking the misconceptions, half-truths, and dangerous mythology of creativity.

“Aphoristic thinking is impatient thinking,” Susan Sontag famously wrote in her private rant against intellectual shorthand. And yet, young creators starting out are bombarded with aphorisms and simple mantras to which to adhere, without much questioning. While there might be tremendous value in learning how to think like a great graphic designer, the operative word is still “think.” In Popular Lies About Graphic Design (UK; public library), New-York-based British designer Craig Ward sets out to debunk the “misconceptions, half truths and, in some cases, outright lies” embedded in the familiar aphorisms and maxims instilled in young designers — a crusade against putting blind religion rather than critical thought at the heart of the discipline. From myths about work ethic to the cult of ideas, Ward tackles 35 such “lies” with all the deftness of a proper devil’s advocate.

For instance, he takes head-on the contention that nothing is truly original — an idea famously championed by Mark Twain (“…all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources…”) and Lord Byron (“To be perfectly original one should think much and read little, and this is impossible, for one must have read before one has learnt to think.”). Ward writes:

The human brain is a wondrous and infinitely complex organ, its capabilities and limits still, as yet, undefined. When fed the right combination of inspiration points a well educated, well read, hydrated and healthy brain will come up with original idea after original idea.

With its aesthetic minimalism and conceptual clarity, Popular Lies About Graphic Design manages to walk the challenging line between being critical without being complacently contrarian.


Life in Five Seconds: Minimalist Pictogram Summaries of Pop Culture and Historical Events

From The Matrix to Marie Antoinette’s execution, irreverent visual synopses of pop culture staples.

While reductionism in science might be a terrible idea, graphic reductionism in pop culture can be a source of endless delight. In 2011, Milan-based creative agency H-57 brought us an entertaining series of minimalist pictogram flowcharts depicting famous lives, from Darth Vader to Jesus. This year, they’re out with an entire book titled Life in Five Seconds (UK; public library), applying the same irreverent aesthetic to everything from cult movies to the biographies of historical figures.

Complement with the history of how pictograms came to dominate visual culture and their early use in vintage infographics.

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