Rebecca Gugger and Simon Röthlisberger's THE MOUNTAIN

Today, I'm pleased to have Rebecca Gugger and Simon Röthlisberger stop by to talk about Creative Thinking and their new picture book for NorthSouth, THE MOUNTAIN. While a fun read with luscious imagery, it also imparts an important message for our time. Welcome both!

Rebecca and Simon: We are interested in questions about life, everyday questions, but often with a deeper meaning. Views on life, on living together, the behavior of us humans among ourselves. In our own life and work, such questions play an important role. For us, it is important to deal with philosophical topics without claiming to be able to answer them completely. We are more interested in raising additional questions, in rethinking our own opinions and behaviors. How can such topics be treated playfully, with lightness and humor? In the adult world, we are often interested in clearly defining, narrowing down and trying to explain things. Often we are stuck in our patterns of viewing and thinking. In these we have been trained over the years. Children look at the world with different eyes. Curious, fresh, unfamiliar...Our story should bring up and inspire new perspectives. Without wanting to lecture, the picture book The Mountain takes up one of the fundamental themes of positive coexistence, with a pinch of humor.

The Mountain explores the themes of tolerance and openness to other opinions. The mountain as a three-dimensional form becomes a pictorial metaphor and illustrates, visually simplified, how a topic (belief, view) can be viewed from different sides. Depending on where I am standing, on which side and at what height, the mountain looks physically different. My environment, in which I stay or live, has different characteristics on my side than the opposite side. These different views are all "correct" from their respective point of view. When you look at the big picture, however, they are put into new light.

The book is intended to encourage people to leave their own, sometimes narrow, point of view and to try to put themselves in the positions of others. Allowing this change of perspective also helps to rethink one's own convictions. To meet the other with openness and tolerance and to let different opinions stand is an elementary part of the story. Because, outside of one's own world, there are many other facets.

In relation to the mountain, all the different views add up to the whole. The questions—where does the mountain begin and what must a mountain have so that it is what it is—are presented in the book in an understandable and humorous way. This consists of many parts, and all are needed to make up the mountain. To look at one thing (in this case, the mountain) from a distance can help us understand others better and to reduce our own prejudices. The realization that—in addition to my own way of thinking, which has its right to exist and is just as important as others’—there are also other opinions, people, points of view, promotes a benevolent attitude towards the new and different. This also means that my opinion becomes relative in relation to the whole but not negated. Rather, the overview makes one aware of its tremendous diversity.

Rebecca Gugger and Simon Röthlisberger were both born in Switzerland and live together in Thun, close to the forests, the mountains, and the fresh air.

Rebecca is a freelance illustrator and graphic artist, studied at the HKB (Bern University of the Arts), and likes to have her head in the clouds. Simon is a trained graphic artist, is currently working as an art director, and likes sailing.

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