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Books as Dialects of ART: The Illustrated Man and Leonardo's Brain

ART is defined as "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power."

If art, as a whole, could be thought of as a universal language – every culture on Earth indulges in it – then different types of art could be considered its many dialects, with books being one of my favorites. Yes, writing – and good writing at that – should be considered an art form, and since one of my goals for ARTpublika Magazine is to inspire your interest in the universal language in every capacity, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite art-related books in the hopes they sow the seed of curiosity to explore other dialects of art within you.

Fiction | The Illustrated Man (1951) by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man | Books as Dialects of ART

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) possessed an astoundingly impressive ability to imagine wonders, plots, and protagonists in otherworldly settings that bewitched and bewildered his readers. Examining human nature through the lens of his imagination, he was able to take fantastical characters and make them surprisingly yet naturally relatable. In many ways, “the peerless storyteller” knew how to paint a picture, and his critically acclaimed work, The Illustrated Man, was one of the prime examples of this. Fusing “eighteen startling tales [that unfold] across a canvas of tattooed skin” Bradbury’s work “is a kaleidoscopic blending of magic, imagination, and truth—as exhilarating as interplanetary travel, as maddening as a walk in a million-year rain, and as comforting as simple, familiar rituals on the last night of the world.”

Non-fiction | Leonardo's Brain: Understanding da Vinci's Creative Genius (2014) by Leonard Shlain

Leonardo's Brain | Books as Dialects of ART

In an attempt to explain the unique mind of Leonard da Vinci, famed surgeon and writer Leonard Shlain (1937-2009) examined the life and creative pursuits of the universal genius by analyzing his achievements in art, science, psychology, and military strategy. To accomplish this, Shlain relied on “research on human creativity that revolves around the right brain-left brain split…[arguing] that Leonardo was unique in human history for the degree of integration that he showed.” What makes this book particularly interesting is that “he also speculates on whether or not the qualities of Leonardo’s brain and his creativity presage the future evolution of man.” As a result, Leonardo’s Brain integrates art, history, neuroscience, psychology and philosophy, all of which makes the non-fiction work an absolutely fascinating read!

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