The Librairie Mollat in France is drawing quite a lot of interest to their Instagram page after employees began observing how closely their store’s books looked like their customers and themselves.Their cheeky but hilarious pictures prove how book covers fit unexpectedly well into the frames of everyday routine, especially when they reflect the people holding them. It’s a typical example of smart French humor, and Mollat’s 21.2k followers have fallen for it. Mollat was actually the first independent bookstore in France, which opened its doors in 1896 in Bordeaux, a legacy its present employees are only trying to bolster.Have a look at some of the most hilarious and awesome juxtapositions below.
April 27, 2017 If you’re the kind of person who relishes adventure, you may literally see the world differently. People who are open to new experiences can take in more visual information than other people and combine it in unique ways. This may explain why they tend to be particularly creative.
Openness to experience is one of the “big five” traits often used to describe personality. It is characterised by curiosity, creativity and an interest in exploring new things. Open people tend to do well at tasks that test our ability to come up with creative ideas, such as imagining new uses for everyday objects like bricks, mugs or table tennis balls.
There’s some evidence that people with a greater degree of openness also have better visual awareness. For example, when focusing on letters moving on a screen, they are more likely to notice a grey square appearing elsewhere on the display.
Now Anna Antinori at the University of Melbourne in Australia and her team are showing that people who score more highly when it comes to the openness trait “see” more possibilities. “They seem to have a more flexible gate for the visual information that breaks through into their consciousness,” Antinori says.
Patchwork PicturesAntinori and her colleagues asked 123 university students to complete a binocular rivalry test, in which they simultaneously saw a red image with one eye and a green image with the other eye for 2 minutes.
Usually, the brain can only perceive one image at a time, and most participants reported seeing the image flip between red and green. But some subjects saw the two images fused into a patchwork of red and green — a phenomenon known as “mixed percept”.
The higher the participants scored for openness on a personality questionnaire, the more they experienced this mixed perception.
“When you present open people with the binocular rivalry dilemma, their brains are able to flexibly engage with less conventional solutions,” Antinori says. “We believe this is the first empirical evidence that they have different visual experiences to the average individual.”
Mind ExpandingThe results could explain why people with a high degree of openness tend to be more creative and innovative, Antinori says. “When they come up with all these crazy new uses for bricks, it might be because they really perceive the world differently,” she says.
The findings also hint at why extremely open people are more prone to paranoia and delusions, says Niko Tiliopoulos at the University of Sydney, Australia. “At those levels of openness, people may actually see reality differently,” he says. “For example, they may ‘see’ spirits, or misinterpret interpersonal or other signals.”
According to Antinori, there are similarities between high levels of openness and the experience of taking magic mushrooms. Previous work by her team has found that psilocybin — a hallucinogenic compound in magic mushrooms — increases a person’s openness scores in a personality questionnaire, and their experience of mixed percept in binocular rivalry tests.
The team has also found that some forms of meditation can increase mixed image perception in binocular rivalry tests.
Antinori next wants to see if similar neural processes are involved in mixed perception, creative thinking and the shifts in visual perception caused by psilocybin and meditation. “It seems that openness alters the filter of consciousness, and we’d like to know how,” she says.
“Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’”
By Maria Popova
“Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion,” the great painter Richard Diebenkorn counseled in his ten rules for beginning creative projects. “One doesn’t arrive — in words or in art — by necessarily knowing where one is going,” the artist Ann Hamilton wrote a generation later in her magnificent meditation on the generative power of not-knowing. “In every work of art something appears that does not previously exist, and so, by default, you work from what you know to what you don’t know.”
What is true of art is even truer of life, for a human life is the greatest work of art there is. (In my own life, looking back on my ten most important learnings from the first ten years of Brain Pickings, I placed the practice of the small, mighty phrase “I don’t know” at the very top.) But to live with the untrammeled openendedness of such fertile not-knowing is no easy task in a world where certitudes are hoarded as the bargaining chips for status and achievement — a world bedeviled, as Rebecca Solnit memorably put it, by “a desire to make certain what is uncertain, to know what is unknowable, to turn the flight across the sky into the roast upon the plate.”
That difficult feat of insurgency is what the great Polish poet Wisława Szymborska (July 2, 1923–February 1, 2012) explored in 1996 when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for capturing the transcendent fragility of the human experience in masterpieces like “Life-While-You-Wait” and “Possibilities.”
It’s not that they’ve never known the blessing of this inner impulse. It’s just not easy to explain something to someone else that you don’t understand yourself.
Noting that she, too, tends to be rattled by the question, she offers her wieldiest answer:
Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners — and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”
In a sentiment of chilling prescience today, as we witness tyrants drunk on certainty drain the world of its essential inspiration, Szymborska considers the destructive counterpoint to this generative not-knowing:
All sorts of torturers, dictators, fanatics, and demagogues struggling for power by way of a few loudly shouted slogans also enjoy their jobs, and they too perform their duties with inventive fervor. Well, yes, but they “know.” They know, and whatever they know is enough for them once and for all. They don’t want to find out about anything else, since that might diminish their arguments’ force. And any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life. In the most extreme cases, cases well known from ancient and modern history, it even poses a lethal threat to society.
This is why I value that little phrase “I don’t know” so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended. If Isaac Newton had never said to himself “I don’t know,” the apples in his little orchard might have dropped to the ground like hailstones and at best he would have stooped to pick them up and gobble them with gusto. Had my compatriot Marie Sklodowska-Curie never said to herself “I don’t know”, she probably would have wound up teaching chemistry at some private high school for young ladies from good families, and would have ended her days performing this otherwise perfectly respectable job. But she kept on saying “I don’t know,” and these words led her, not just once but twice, to Stockholm, where restless, questing spirits are occasionally rewarded with the Nobel Prize.
Such surrender to not-knowing, Szymborska argues as she steps out into the cosmic perspective, is the seedbed of our capacity for astonishment, which in turn gives meaning to our existence:
The world — whatever we might think when terrified by its vastness and our own impotence, or embittered by its indifference to individual suffering, of people, animals, and perhaps even plants, for why are we so sure that plants feel no pain; whatever we might think of its expanses pierced by the rays of stars surrounded by planets we’ve just begun to discover, planets already dead? still dead? we just don’t know; whatever we might think of this measureless theater to which we’ve got reserved tickets, but tickets whose lifespan is laughably short, bounded as it is by two arbitrary dates; whatever else we might think of this world — it is astonishing.
But “astonishing” is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We’re astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we’ve grown accustomed to. Now the point is, there is no such obvious world. Our astonishment exists per se and isn’t based on comparison with something else.
Granted, in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like “the ordinary world,” “ordinary life,” “the ordinary course of events” … But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.
Twenty years before she received the Nobel Prize, Szymborska explored how our contracting compulsion for knowing can lead us astray in her sublime 1976 poem “Utopia,” found in her Map: Collected and Last Poems (public library):
Island where all becomes clear.
Solid ground beneath your feet.
The only roads are those that offer access.
Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.
The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here with branches disentangled since time immemorial.
The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple, sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.
The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista: the Valley of Obviously.
If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.
Echoes stir unsummoned and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.
On the right a cave where Meaning lies.
On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction. Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.
Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley. Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.
For all its charms, the island is uninhabited, and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches turn without exception to the sea.
As if all you can do here is leave and plunge, never to return, into the depths.
Into unfathomable life.
Purely for the fun of it, I found myself drawing Szymborska’s poetic island in a map inspired by Thomas More’s Utopia:
In an ongoing series entitled, “Art History in Contemporary Life”, artist Alexey Kondakov skillfully photoshops characters from Renaissance paintings into present day photos he has taken around Europe.
The juxtaposition between the two time periods in the digitally altered scenes creates for an interesting visual. You can find many more works from the ongoing series on Facebook and Instagram.
In the World’s Cleverest Child and Me, Mark Dolan meets children with mind-boggling mental capacities – but are these young geniuses a force of nature or the product of some intensive nurture? Mark heads off to find out and in Seattle he meets the world’s youngest professor – literary genius Adora Svitak. In Malaysia he discovers a 9-year-old maths whiz who is CEO of his own company selling brain food. And in Singapore Mark attempts to befriend the world’s only known chemistry prodigy – an 8-year-old who’s already studying at degree level. He discovers life can be tricky for these baby brainboxes – but the biggest challenges are faced by their parents.
While the benefits of exercises are known to everyone, many tend to give the morning fitness regime a miss due to the heavy work schedule or late-nights. However, morning workouts have more benefits than any other workout during the day — from controlling the weight, enhancing the mood and keeping you fit and healthy. Did you know it also helps you find your creative gene?
Whether it is in just writing an article, painting a canvas or churning out ideas for your office meeting; physical activity activates the creative juices and once they start flowing, there is nothing to stop you. Early mornings are one of the best times to workout. Though it may seem tough at first, once you start, you’ll feel exhilarated. Getting done with your workout first thing in the morning means you are less likely to use job or family obligations as an excuse to skip it.
Working out bright and early boosts metabolism and gives additional energy, making one more productive throughout the day.
You start to look at things positively and feel refreshed and energised to start a new day at the end of a morning workout. To get that much-needed creative boost, set up a regular exercise schedule and see the difference
Once you take a decision to start, stick to it and ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
Fix the time and duration, so that you can schedule your day accordingly.
To start off with, pick a simple outdoor exercise, like taking a walk, jogging, swimming which will allow your mind to wander as you work out.
Avoid high-intensity training which involves sports since it will take up too much of your physical and mental strength.
Schedule your workout to coincide with the sun rising. It will help make your morning workout fulfilling, psychologically as well as physically.
When you are done, take some time to relax in the natural surroundings.
Give yourself a reward. Have a special treat planned upon your return from your workout session like a cup of your favourite coffee or tea. After all, nothing motivates like rewards.
Carry a notepad and pen or a tape recorder to keep a track of the ideas that you might have right after.
When you are back home, take a quick shower, have a healthy breakfast and polish your notes.
Change is the name of the game. Ensure that your workout is a little different every morning. Vary your walking route or the pace of your exercise. Don’t let boredom be an option.
While there are benefits of exercising alone, if you have to brainstorm on a project, take your partner along too.
Exercise with people you know might do you good and help you generate a feeling of happiness all around.
When you attempt to envision a writer, I imagine many of you see a quirky recluse, hunched over a desk in some cabin, crumpled paper strewn about as they obsessively work on the next great American novel. But writing is so much more.
Prose is thought put to page, which makes all of us writers—even if we don’t have the chops to tangle with Faulkner. In most cases, writing is most useful as a tool for thinking, expression, and creativity; cabin-dwelling novelists be damned.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of making writing a regular habit.
The Therapeutic Aspects of Writing
Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with “expressive writing,” or jotting down what you think and how you feel. Even blogging “undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to private expressive writing in terms of therapeutic value.
Expressive writing has also been linked to improved mood, well-being, and reduced stress levels for those who do it regularly, says Adam Grant:
“Research by Laura King shows that writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make people happier and healthier… And Jane Dutton and I found that when people doing stressful fundraising jobs kept a journal for a few days about how their work made a difference, they increased their hourly effort by 29% over the next two weeks.”
Moreover, laziness with words creates difficulty in describing feelings, sharing experiences, and communicating with others. Being able to flesh out thoughts in your mind only to have them come stumbling out when you speak is supremely frustrating. Fortunately, regular writing seems to offer some reprieve.
In both emotional intelligence and in hard sciences like mathematics, writing has been shown to help people communicate highly complex ideas more effectively. Writing helps eliminate “it sounded good in my head” by forcing your hand; brains forgive fuzzy abstractions, prose does not.
Writing Can Help You Handle Hard Times
In one study that followed recently fired engineers, the researchers found that those engineers who consistently engaged with expressive writing were able to find another job faster. Says Adam Grant:
“The engineers who wrote down their thoughts and feelings about losing their jobs reported feeling less anger and hostility toward their former employer. They also reported drinking less. Eight months later, less than 19% of the engineers in the control groups were reemployed full-time, compared with more than 52% of the engineers in the expressive writing group.”
According to an older study, writing about traumatic events actually made the participants more depressed, until about 6 months later, when the emotional benefits started to stick.
One participant noted, “Although I have not talked with anyone about what I wrote, I was finally able to deal with it, work through the pain instead of trying to block it out. Now it doesn’t hurt to think about it.”