In my personal opinion, one of the key markers of the postmodernist literary movement is the increased demand for self-help and individualized psychology books. We are living in a time where books that give us relaxation strategies, explain terms that previously existed only within the isolated field of psychology, and break down into simple concepts what exactly happens to our body and mind when placed under stress for long periods of time are in high demand. It seems to finally have occurred to the generations after the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s that we really don’t know how to relax, our workaholic lives are not always that fulfilling, and that making a good impression of an over-worked donkey doesn’t pay off nearly was well as we thought. Interestingly, many psychologists would also argue that books like Yumi Sakagawa’s Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe are subtle responses to an over-traumatized society.
Most of the time, the universe speaks to us very quietly … in pockets of silence, in coincidences, in nature, in forgotten memories, in the shape of clouds, in moments of solitude, in small tugs at our hearts.
You read that right. Large literary movements have been known to correlated with strong social movements or trends. Popularity in book genres and key novels with exceptional sale success are typically a response to some greater psychological and/or socio-political and/or economic shifts. I could go into so much more detail about this. But, the point is that Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe is made for this era’s stressed population. It’s illustrated; it’s cute; it’s calming. The reader is guided into relaxing in a novel way. Most recommended strategies for relaxation are not books now-a-days. Go check out this app! They say. Listen to this podcast! Or Check out my friend’s playlist on bla bla bla. More and more, I’ve noticed a trend in which people associate or have been conditioned into associating literature with stress. So, it’s refreshing to have this book on my book shelf. To think that I bought it on a whim only to be pleasantly rewarded.
It’s in black and white. Yumi is an incredible artist. I wondered for a comically long time why it was only in black and white. Then, it kind of hit me that coloring is known to be incredibly relaxing. Such a sneaky psychological strategy. We’re given a blank canvas with Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe. It’s play. It’s childish. It requires us to let go of our inhibitions and indulge in a carefree, purposeless activity. I would not recommend markers, though. Stick to crayons so the ink doesn’t bleed through the pages. Mine is not colored in yet, but I think I will enjoy taking the time filling in some of the pages one day after pouring myself a large glass of wine. If you buy it, enjoy!
Sakugawa, Yumi. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, AdamsMedia, 2014.
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