Today we released our new 361 piece puzzle of Triumph of Death, the 1562 painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
The painting shows Death incarnate, multiplied as an army of skeletons over-running humanity, rich and poor. It lacks the amusing lightness and balance of the works of Hieronymous Bosch - this Bruegel is a masterpiece of despair and terror.
Such personifications of Death were popular in the late middle ages, and this sub-genre is called Dance of Death or Danse Macabre paintings. They are meant to shake us out of the stupor of our routines, and remind us of the fragility of our existence, as individuals, and peoples.
Warning: this puzzle is not appropriate for all-ages, and may be offensive to some - please check out the painting online before purchasing this puzzle.
We planned to make a puzzle of this famous painting before Covid struck, but in the throes of a massive pandemic, we hesitated to release it, lest it be viewed as a vote for despair. We held off, and are finally releasing it now when we, as a species, can and should have hope again, due to a growing arsenal of vaccines, and falling rates of infection.
Sadly though, we are still losing around 800 Americans a day to Covid, and infection rates are still on the rise in many parts of our country and the World. Worryingly, the people getting infected today are largely people who managed to evade the virus for a year... so let us all be wary yet.
But the vaccines created and mass-produced in just one year came not by magic, but stand on the shoulders of thousands of years of human progress. In fact, most major trends do show an improving world, despite the catastrophes and disruptions. For example, here are just a few of the best books that lay out some foundations for optimism:
- Hans Rosling's Factfulness: Ten Reasons You Are Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
- Rutger Bregman's Humankind: A Hopeful History
- Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
- Stephen Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined