And The Pursuit of Happiness: Maira Kalman Illustrates Democracy
“We hope. We despair. We hope. We despair. This is what governs us. We have a bipolar system.”
By Maria Popova
I do love Maira Kalman. In 2009, the celebrated visual storyteller released a wonderful and quirky illustrated twelve-part meditation on democracy in her New York Times blog. The series is now released as an equally wonderful illustrated book.
And the Pursuit of Happiness begins with Barack Obama’s inauguration on Chapter One, with each subsequent chapter representing a month in Kalman’s yearlong quest to explore the underpinnings of contemporary democracy.
In February, she travels to both costs, so the respective chapter is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln. In March, she goes to an actual town meeting, the quintessential haven of democracy. In April, she visits the Supreme Court and the office of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which prompts a rumination on women breaking social barriers. For December, she concludes with a chapter on George Washington and a thoughtful reflection on happiness itself.
Brimming with Kalman’s childlike aesthetic, delightfully kooky typography and subtle wordplay, And the Pursuit of Happiness takes you on a playful yet philosophical journey into the human side of politics and democracy — a genuine treat for eye, mind, and heart.
Published October 14, 2010