The Whole vs. Its Parts

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Aristotle)


A still from the 2010 film adaptation of Flipped

I first read this quote in Wendelin Van Draanen‘s Young Adult fiction, “Flipped” when I was in elementary school. Flipped has garnered the honor of being one of my favorite books because of the complete innocence, purity and magic it possessed. It’s about childhood friends who go through the pits and hurdles of growing up but end up all the better for it. Covered in the glitter of good storytelling, based on the solid foundation of almost naive love and sprinkled with the spice of family, school, little chicks and hors d’oeuvres, it has remained a book I continue to recommend to friends.

One of the deciding factors in my declaration of love for this book had been the wisdom it contained along with its quirky and inspiring set of characters. My favorite part had been the conversation Juli had with her father (if I remember correctly. I confess I do not have the book, but I’ve been promised to be given a copy of it by a dear friend. We just both forgot about it, I guess.) about the “whole being greater than the sum of its parts”, which, I learned from Goodreads, was originally said by Aristotle.

In the book it went like this:

A painting is more than the sum of its parts,’ he would tell me, and then go on to explain how the cow by itself is just a cow, and the meadow by itself is just grass and flowers, and the sun peeking through the trees is just a beam of light, but put them all together and you’ve got magic.”  ― Wendelin Van DraanenFlipped

This little lesson has stayed with me ever since and I never really fully understood what it meant when I first read it but I felt that unmistakable chill on my skin that told me it would change my life. I’m still in the process of absorbing its full meaning! But I must say, the fragments I understand of it are intensely beautiful.

And that meaning was also shared wonderfully in this video of the filmmaker Ken Burns about how stories should be told.

“You know the common story is one plus one equals two, we get it. But all stories are really, the real genuine stories, are about one and one equaling three. That’s what I’m interested in.

We live in a rational world where absolutely we’re certain that one and one equals two, and it does. But the things that matter most to us, some people call it love, some people call it God, some people call it reason, is that other thing where the whole is greater than the some of its parts, and that’s the three.” – Ken Burns

Ken Burns: On Story from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo.

You can read Brainpicker Maria Popova’s take on this video here.

Flipped has been adapted into a beautiful film by Rob Reiner on the year 2010. I recommend it as well.

Credits go to three of my cyberspace haunts

YouTube, Brain Pickings and Goodreads


Dessert For Your Ears Vol. 2: Easy, Nostalgic Music

About time. Finally got a new internet connection which allows me access to wordpress full time–I am hoping! It hasn’t been loading for the longest time. Add my own tendency to procrastinate and the site’s stubbornness, and you get no posts.

This mini post is gonna be my second DFYE, which I hope to continue. Today’s collection will take you back through nostalgia and younger, simpler and more carefree days. Or at least they did for me. Romance, rain and a good cup of coffee.


1. Bubbly by Colbie Caillat

2. Like A Star by Corinne Bailey Rae

3. Take Off Your Cool by Norah Jones and Outkast (Andre 3000)

4. 1234 by Feist

5. Small Town Moon by Regina Spektor

Here’s a little extra treat I found while reading the book “Big Questions from Little People and Simple Answers from Great Minds” which was compiled by by Gemma Elwin Harris

The book is a compilation of actual questions asked by schoolchildren which were answered by scientists, celebrities, authors and people like Bear Grylls, Jeanette Winterson and Philip Pullman. It’s a pretty good read! It awakens the child and curiosity within-the wonder at this world we live in.

“Why Do We Have Music?”

answered by Jarvis Cocker, musician and broadcaster

“…every society on Earth has music so there must be some point to it. In fact, some scientists think that humans were singing and making music long before they learned to speak. 

Perhaps it was our very first form of communication. And it can still be a way of communicating without words today: think about ‘happy’ songs and ‘sad’ songs. They both use the same notes (there are only twelve, you know) and yet are so different in mood. ‘Ah, that’s because of the words,’ you might say. But no. Try listening to the radio in a country where you don’t speak the language. You’ll still be able to tell the happy songs from the sad ones. It’s the SOUND of the music that tells you. How does it work? I don’t know–but it does. It’s kind of magic and I think that’s why we have it.

It’s magic and we can have it whenever we want it. When you put one of your favourite songs on and get a sort of shivery feeling behind your ears and down the back of your neck (even goosebumps sometimes) that’s one of the best feelings there is.”

I also found this beautiful string of words in Diane Ackerman’s book, A Natural History of The Senses. This little something was written by T.S. Elliot in “The Dry Salvages”

“music heard so deeply

That it is not heard at all, but you are the music

While the music lasts.”