Colour me beautiful?

29 June 2015 | This 'n' that

suomenlinnutThe May list of the ten best-selling non-fiction books compiled by Suomen Kirjakauppaliitto (the Finnish Booksellers’ Association; the list is in Finnish only) included five books on food (smoothies in particular); number one was Suomen linnut (‘The birds of Finland’) by Lasse J. Laine (Otava). Every summer people occasionally seem to remember to look up from their electronic gadgets to spot birds in the sky, wondering what they are.

varita-mielenrauhaaNumber three was a book called ‘Find mindfulness by colouring’ (Väritä itsellesi mielenrauhaa, Atena).

Colouring books like this one have now become enormously popular; Johanna Basford’s books, for example, have sold millions of copies in various countries.

Has the oh-so-trendy ‘mindfulness’ has now become so frantically pursued that colouring patterns represent a kind of instant, fast-food-type mandala substitute?

Number six on the best-seller list was The 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book by Thomas Pavitte. Haven’t we all done these as little kids: after connecting, tongue in cheek, the dots with a erroneous pencil, a picture of a doggy or a flower, miraculously, appeared on the page? Yes: for adults it’s doggies, too, but also Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Madonna or John F. Kennedy, or the Eiffel Tower (coming up soon, masterpieces of the world art).

Also available is a Kama Sutra dot-to-dot book (first published by Random House: ‘…this wickedly witty book only exposes its 30 exotic positions to the most persistent hands. Put a little lead in your pencil and get stuck in’).

‘It lets me feel like a “real” artist even though it is a simple dot to dot’, said one customer on Amazon’s pages, where the books are sold with the following sales patter: ‘…much more sophisticated than the one-dimensional images created in childhood connect-the-dot activity books…. Dot-to-dot puzzles have also been proven to increase short-term cognitive acuity, hand-eye coordination, and concentration skills.’

Readers say they feel that they ‘realise their creativity’. Uh-huh? (A scary prospect: some say they might even give their finished pictures to friends as gifts.) It isn’t creative though – rather, contemplative. Or was that navel-gazing…

These trends were interpreted in a recent article in the Swedish newspaper Dagbladet as demonstrating the infantilisation of contemporary society. People want to flee from their stressful grown-up duties (life, reality…) – by retreating (or regressing) to their own simple childhood pastimes?

How about, instead of doting on connecting dots to make time pass, people made live contacts with childhood, i.e. real children, or friends, or read a real book? Their brains would benefit more – and so would their mindfulness.