The philosophy of a Yes and many Nos
This week I was sent a copy of The Yes by Sarah Bee and Satoshi Kitamura, published by Andersen Press.
I make it my job to find picture books that offer problems and questionings about big themes. This one found me in a way that only a Yes can…. And I can’t wait to share it with children who always have more wonderings than me.
The plot is simple but the language flows with complexity. The Yes has places to go, things to see, but in a world of Nos it is under duress to travel the Where and When. However in true Yes spirit the Nos serve only as a temporary setback. Nothing deters a Yes. So much so that when the Yes reaches its final destination he can no longer hear those pesky Nos. But do they still exist?
The philosophical interests and questions in this book are abundant.
What is a Yes? Is it the opposite of a No and would it still be a Yes in a world where No didn’t exist?
Can a No be something if it is defined by its no-ness and notness?
Take for instance this intriguing sentence;
“…..Until there was no more no and never had been”
What is this thing called nothingness? Is it something or nothing? If it is nothing how does it have a name? How do we define it?
The text plays with the inherent meaning of adverbs, changing them into nouns. This instantly provokes questions. Where do words come from? How and why do we define them? What is the relationship between language and reality? In fact now I am wondering what even is a How and a Why?
In discussing their ideas behind these words children will be exploring and seeking understanding of what it means to “mean” something.
Can we ever know what we or others mean? If so how?
The concept of the Yes is about affirmation of life. It is the tool of those who recognise as Nietzsche said;
“That life is terrible and tragic” and that by recognising this they can overcome the Noness and embrace the Yes.
Is it harder in life to say yes or no? What implications and consequences do these words have on our lives?
These are only my wonderings (noun or adverb?) I can’t wait to find out the many questions that I know this book will provoke from children. This book is philosophy and joy and playfulness with meaning. A true exploration of our place in a world that we are constantly trying to make sense of.
Definitely a must for the bookshelf of every thinker in the world of yes and no.