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The Principles of Uncertainty (Maira Kalman)

February 23, 2011

Maira Kalman’s book The Principles of Uncertainty found me in a bookstore this weekend. It is a beautiful book, full of beautiful paintings and photographs, and beautiful writing. I didn’t know how to classify it, as it’s not really a memoir but not really short stories…it’s more like an art journal than anything. It’s lovely.

Her pictures and musings make me want to pause over the beauty in everyday life. She has a whole chapter filled with photographs of people walking down the street in front of her. Their backs. What it looks like to walk on a city sidewalk. And I thought, I walk behind people everyday. And they are interesting and lovely. And perhaps I should think about them more as I walk behind them. And ponder the meaning of life while I do so.

This book is lovely. It’s whimsical and fun and light hearted despite the serious subjects (human extinction…i.e. death) it deals with amongst the whimsy. It makes me think of people in my life who might like a book like this for their birthdays. Or just because.

I think you should read it. I think everyone should read it. Maybe women more so than men. No, that’s not right. Aesthetes more so than businesspeople. Of course, those two are not polar opposites. And there might be something valuable here for those without art or beauty in their lives on a daily basis. So I revert to my original sentiment. I think you should read it, whoever you are. Everyone should read this book. It is beautiful.

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