Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity by Maria Popova Why creativity is like LEGO, or what Richard Dawkins has to do with Susan Sontag and Gandhi. In May, I had the pleasure of speaking at the wonderful Creative Mornings free lecture series masterminded by my studiomate Tina of Swiss Miss fame. I spoke about Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity, something at the heart of Brain Pickings and of increasing importance as we face our present information reality. These are pages from the most famous florilegium, completed by Thomas of Ireland in the 14th century. In talking about these medieval manuscripts, Adam Gopnik writes in The New Yorker: Our minds were altered less by books than by index slips.” Which is interesting, recognizing not only the absolute vale of content but also its relational value, the value not just of information itself but also of information architecture, not just of content but also of content curation. You may have heard this anecdote. Kind of LEGOs. And I like this last part. Do stuff.
You Are Not So Smart: A Field Guide to the Brain’s Guile by Maria Popova The science of why 600 Facebook “friends” are an illusion, or why brand loyalty is a product of the ego. We spend most of our lives going around believing we are rational, logical beings who make carefully weighted decisions based on objective facts in stable circumstances. The original trailer for the book deals with something the psychology of which we’ve previously explored — procrastination: And this excellent alternative trailer is a straight shot to our favorite brilliant book trailers: Despite his second-person directive narrative, McRaney manages to keep his tone from being preachy or patronizing, instead weaving an implicit “we” into his “you” to encompass all our shared human fallibility. From the greatest scientist to the most humble artisan, every brain within every body is infested with preconceived notions and patterns of thought that lead it astray without the brain knowing it. Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Share on Tumblr
How to Master on the Art of Getting Noticed: Austin Kleon’s Advice to Aspiring Artists by Maria Popova How to balance the contagiousness of raw enthusiasm with the humility of knowing we’re all in this together. In 2012, artist Austin Kleon gave us Steal Like an Artist, a modern manifesto for combinatorial creativity that went on to become one of the best art books that year. He now returns with Show Your Work! (public library) — “a book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion,” in which Kleon addresses with equal parts humility, honesty, and humor one of the quintessential questions of the creative life: How do you get “discovered”? Kleon begins by framing the importance of sharing as social currency: Almost all of the people I look up to and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built sharing into their routine. The act of sharing is one of generosity — you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen. The only way to find your voice is to use it.
How Our Minds Mislead Us: The Marvels and Flaws of Our Intuition by Maria Popova “The confidence people have in their beliefs is not a measure of the quality of evidence but of the coherence of the story that the mind has managed to construct.” Every year, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman summons some of our era’s greatest thinkers and unleashes them on one provocative question, whether it’s the single most elegant theory of how the world works or the best way to enhance our cognitive toolkit. This year, he sets out on the most ambitious quest yet, a meta-exploration of thought itself: Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Prediction (public library) collects short essays and lecture adaptations from such celebrated and wide-ranging (though not in gender) minds as Daniel Dennett, Jonathan Haidt, Dan Gilbert, and Timothy Wilson, covering subjects as diverse as morality, essentialism, and the adolescent brain. There is no sharp line between intuition and perception. … Perception is predictive. . . .
A Short Guide to a Happy Life: Anna Quindlen on Work, Joy, and How to Live Rather Than Exist by Maria Popova “You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.” The commencement address is a special kind of modern communication art, and its greatest masterpieces tend to either become a book — take, for instance, David Foster Wallace on the meaning of life, Neil Gaiman on the resilience of the creative spirit, Ann Patchett on storytelling and belonging, and Joseph Brodsky on winning the game of life — or have originated from a book, such as Debbie Millman on courage and the creative life. In 2000, Villanova University invited Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, journalist, and New York Times op-ed columnist Anna Quindlen to deliver the annual commencement address. Anna Quindlen (artwork based on a photograph by Grant M. Quindlen begins: I’ve never earned a doctorate, or even a master’s degree. And know it she does: Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. Illustration by Maurice Sendak from 'Open House for Butterflies' by Ruth Krauss. She continues:
Ancient Cherokee Indian Tale of the Origin of Illness Long ago the humans and the animals got along fine. All the peoples, human and animal, could communicate with each other and were at peace. The animals of that long-ago time were much larger than the animals of today. Indeed, the animals of today are but shadows of those who once were. There came a time when we humans forgot our place and broke the harmony. We humans began to reproduce at an alarming rate, and we gave ourselves to the production of all sorts of weapons meant for the destruction of the animals: spears and atlatls, bows and arrows, blowguns and traps of all kinds. The animals decided something had to be done about this human problem. “It’s these humans; they kill us indiscriminately.” “How do they kill us?” “With bows and arrows.” “Of what are their bows made?” “The bow of locust wood and the bowstring of our guts.” The bears decided they would make bows of their own with which to kill the humans. After the bear’s claws were cut, he could shoot a bow as well as any man.
The best relationship advice you'll ever get, what cognitive science reveals about the perfect daily routine and the psychology of writing, and more Hey Maria! If you missed last week's edition – Werner Herzog on creativity and making a living of doing what you love, Tolstoy's letters to Gandhi on why we hurt each other, Maya Angelou on courage and facing evil, and more – you can catch up right here. And if you're enjoying this, please consider supporting with a modest donation – every little bit helps, and comes enormously appreciated. The Psychology of Writing and the Cognitive Science of the Perfect Daily Routine Reflecting on the ritualization of creativity, Bukowski famously scoffed that "air and light and time and space have nothing to do with." Such strategies, it turns out, may be psychologically sound and cognitively fruitful. [There is] evidence that environments, schedules, and rituals restructure the writing process and amplify performance... Wendy MacNaughton for Brain Pickings Kellogg reviews a vast body of research to extract a few notable findings. A visualization of famous writers' sleep habits vs. creative output
10 Books for the Creative Soul | Glantz Design Sometimes all you need to get your creative juices flowing is a good read. The quest to find an entertaining, reliable, and genuinely interesting book can be hard, but being the good friends that we are, we did the searching for you. We have compiled a list of some of the most helpful, funny, and creative books out there, ranging from educational content—to doodles that are just fun to look at. Get inspired and take a look at these literary gems. 1. This book offers a healthy amount of exercises to get your gears turning Purchase it here. 2. Purchase it here. 3. Purchase it here. 4. Purchase it here. 5. Purchase it here. 6. 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design Purchase it here. 7. Purchase it here. 8. Purchase it here. 9. Purchase it here. 10. Purchase it here. Also, as an added note we are only sharing these because we like them for a variety of different reasons.