The 10 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2012

QuietYes, I’m highlighting yet another brainpickings blog post, but this one is very interesting, a very detailed and considered look at the ten best psychology and philosophy books of the year: “From Buddhism to the relationship between creativity and dishonesty, by way of storytelling and habit”. Off I go to add all these to my wishlist. (I’m assuming I can get all these on my kindle?)

Many fine quotes here, but my favourite one:

To the dumb question ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not? — Christopher Hitchens (who else?)

Link: The 10 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2012

Colossal Organic Wooden Sculptures by Henrique Oliveira

Colossal Organic Wooden Sculptures by Henrique OliveiraIncredible transformation of a material normally thought of as straight, solid, rigid, dependable. These massive sculptures from Henrique Oliveira, consisting of a very natural material, feel anything but; threatening, almost. When Botany attacks! PhotosMore photos.

Bill Clinton, the last sane man on Earth?

billE-mail sends you mad. This is a fact, known to science since forever. You know it, I know it. The more you deal with it, the more insane it makes you. Turns out that Bill Clinton sent just two e-mails as president. He must have been very sane. Perhaps the last sane man on Earth.

Bill Clinton only sent two emails. EVER
I guess the reason this is most surprising is that Bill Clinton is not a faded memory where quirky stories like this are read with misty eyed nostalgia. He is still on the scene; his presidency happened within the lifetime of anyone over 11 years old. So this is a very stark reminder of how quickly things have changed.

The shapes of stories

Shape of StoriesYes, I’m aware I’m linking to yet another brain pickings article, but I don’t care as I love this one. it’s Kurt Vonnegut drawing the shapes of stories, which leads him on to discussing the difficulties with distinguishing good news and bad news. And there’s a great video too.

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories and Good News vs. Bad News

Going retro

Following on from that earlier The Last Typewriter article from the BBC, here’s another of theirs, on why we should still use them. I was expecting this to be a little flippant but I liked its take on the generational issue: “while ‘older folks’ resist technology, the youngest missed the original typewriter experience, hence the interest now.” You remember the iPad typewriter thing I mentioned earlier, right?

Five reasons to still use a typewriter

So, farewell then, typewriter

UglyA sad day perhaps, but if we’re being honest, those modern typewriters look bloody awful. The BBC article talks of typewriters holding “a special place in the hearts of members of the public”, but I’m guessing that applies to only certain typewriters and certain generations of the public. I loved the ones I had, but can not imagine, as a student, say, completing a dissertation with one. I know others did, but jeez, can you imagine?

Beautiful Old-time Typewriters

Ok, so whilst they don’t have internet and getting new ribbons for them is a pain, they look so much nicer than this plasticy rectangle of bland laptop. Really wish I had kept my Underwood now. Though actually, I think I still have that Remington in the cellar.

Beautiful Old-time Typewriters – http://www.shootingfilm.net

Secret suffering as mental health stigma silences anxious voices

“If you do not disclose you have a problem, universities cannot help you,” he said. “Institutions are generally very supportive to disabled staff, but people need to feel they can come forward and talk about their mental health problems.” Secret suffering as mental health stigma silences anxious voices

Dr. Strangelove film review to end all others

Dr. Strangelove film review to end all others

“… In addition to numerous sexual images and jokes throughout the film (including large phallic cigars, mating airplanes, guns, Ripper’s impotent “loss of essence”, and the orgasmic atomic bomb that Kong rides between his legs), many of the absurd, omnipresent names of the male, military characters (caricatures) have sexual connotations or allegorical references that suggest the connection between war, sexual obsession and the male sex drive: …”

Your New TV Ruins Movies

“Maybe you got a new TV for Christmas. Or maybe you just got one recently. Maybe you are thinking of buying one. Whichever is the case, take heed: your TV will try very, very hard to make whatever movies you watch on it look not just bad, but aggressively, satanically, puppy-drowningly bad.” …

Your New TV Ruins Movies

Technoetic Art

Art is stationary conventionally. We can read it from a work of art, be it a painting, a sculpture or a drama. Technoetic art stresses interaction. You can interact with the environment, the painting and the sculpture. Our movements are making changes on them. No stationary works exist as long as there is interaction. Visitors and users are all involved in the creating of these works, whether the works are in words or in pictures. This represents a major innovation in art.

Roy Ascott on technoetic art — A Unique Monkey King Created by Father of Technoetic Arts Professor Roy Ascott

19th-Century Mathematical Illustrations of Consciousness

19th-Century Mathematical Illustrations of Consciousness

Simply cannot think of a more intriguing headline. I could quite easily reblog all these Brain Pickings articles, but this one in particular caught my eye. Imagine, being able to actually see–let alone draw–consciousness. Benjamin Betts thought he could.

Why we write

Maria Popova’s found a chapter from Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem from 1968 that resonates today, with our blogs and twitters and instagrams.

Joan Didion on Keeping a Notebook
Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.

An anxious malcontent. Hmm.

We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.

Owner occupier

I increasingly feel like this is the only place on the internet I really own. The place I’m sure of. Twitter, Instagram etc feel like places that could be snatched away at somebody’s whim. Which would, sort of, be fine but, sort of, be not. I’m backing them up like I’m backing this up. But the files without the social context would be a little thin.

A post from Russell Davies carrying on that Personal Cloud line of thought.