Perhaps the most illustrated and famous mushrooms are the ones known as fly agaric. The bright color is no doubt what makes them attractive and that’s why they’re chosen to create a whimsical setting in storybooks. Some have thought them to be the inspiration for the mushroom in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, due to their psychoactive effects that could indeed make one feel smaller or bigger. Reindeer actually adore these hallucinogenic mushrooms and will actively seek them out to eat, causing rather odd behavior, so one has to wonder if they might feel like they’re actually flying. This has led others to suggest these mushrooms even inspired the colors used in Santa’s suit and the key magical elements to that story. And, for anyone who loves video games, Super Mario wouldn’t be the same without a little fly agaric power-up to make the character larger or smaller. Despite being classified as poisonous, their unique qualities have fascinated humans and inspired stories for centuries. That’s quite an impressive feat for a little bit of colorful fungus.
It’s always fascinating to me to learn the origin of stories. I love finding out bits and pieces of things that might have inspired the original creator. And the level of imagination in these stories has created something timeless and memorable. I was reading an article today on the rapid increase in robotics and all of the jobs it would displace in just the next decade. One area that was still considered “safe” was a job requiring true creativity. Despite all of the incredible enhancements to artificial intelligence, it’s generally believed that there’s always something missing that will never quite replicate the creative human brain. This was indeed comforting for me to hear, as what I would assume is missing from our robot friends is that ability to be completely illogical. To make impossible leaps of thinking and connect dots that simply don’t fit together in an expected fashion. Algorithms by their very nature work with existing content and ideas. They can make predictions formed through patterns, but they can’t replicate magical thinking. Those broad imaginative leaps of thought that have created most of the stories we hold dear to this day.
I find it rather funny that we’ve reached a time when a creative job is consider a “safe” path. So many people share a story of parents who discouraged them from going down an artistic path, fearing they couldn’t get a job. Now, we’re rapidly reaching a place were those skills will be coveted. Sure, scientific and programming skills will indeed be highly sought in the future. But, it’s nice to know that creative humans will still be in demand to help guide our robot friends and give them the imagination they’ll still be seriously lacking. Though technology can make our lives easier, only we can make our lives truly enchanting. I finished the article, no doubt meant to add a bit fear and sensationalism, just feeling grateful to be human. It’s extraordinary to possess the ability to invent stories and create art. And it’s an ability that we’ve all have from the day we were born. Sure, it’s entirely possible we could simply grow into a society that doesn’t care if something is creative and unique. But that’s not a story with a happy ending, so I’ll leave that to other more apocalyptic writers. In my story, I have to believe that artists and writers will become even more important to society. As they continually confound and confuse those inferior robots with strange and impossible ideas, like those beloved, whimsical tales inspired by storybook mushrooms.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Vermillion, Opus (Vivid Pink), Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click Here!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!