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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two from Harper Perennial's Modern Thought Series

Designs by Gregg Kulick

A fairly new edition (2008) of Heidegger's Being and Time, and the first design that strives to remind us this landmark work of philosophy was written in 1927.


And since it's been a really long time since I've read any philosophy seriously, I asked a professor buddy of mine what he thought of the big red X on the Wittgenstein cover. He offered two possible interpretations:

1. "There's the post-modern sense of undecidability with the X."

2. "It could be a variable (Wittgenstein will put you to sleep in X minutes)."

Ha! (More analysis / suggestions in the comments.)

Either way, philosophy didn't look this good when I was a student.

14 comments:

Ned Beauman said...

I wonder if it's that Wittgenstein was always disputing whether analytic philosophy really had any validity whatsoever - so by undermining his own project, it's almost as if he's striking out his own work.

Joseph said...

There is that "under erasure" thing too. I am now reminded why I left grad school ;-)

Anonymous said...

Designer is Gregg Kulick for both.

Joseph said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The "X" on the cover might cleverly represent the kind of negation or overcoming of philosophy that Wittgenstein spoke of at the end of the Tractatus, where he characterizes philosophy as "a ladder" to solve the problems of life and then move on.

plainwater said...

In addition to what anonymous said, Wittgenstein was very reluctant to publish, and most of what we consider as his major works are cobbled together from lecture notes and things like that. As David Antin would say, Wittgenstein was a talking philosopher, much like Socrates in this way.

Joseph said...

Damn, you guys are smart :-)

Ian Shimkoviak said...

love that constructivist stuff. Didn't Kulick do another title similar to this?

Enjoying all the different things these cover mean to everyone. It definitely sheds light on the possible reason for the solution.

Erin Skinner said...

The "Being and Time" cover reminds me of Blue Note jazz album covers.

Anonymous said...

It stands out.
EJ

BIll Douglas said...

I think it works as a form of self-deprecation both for the author and the designer.
But whatever the reason, it works.
Is the X made out of tape?

frau said...

Love the Wittgenstein. Deep thinking aside, it gives the cover an almost rebel-like feel: like you're picking up forbidden fruit.

Simply put, the X over the "actual" book is so aggressive and imposing, it makes what is underneath seem intense.

Philosophy tomes always have the best design!

smelly said...

lol maybe they just design them well, because they really know that some people do choose books by their cover.

also, both designs are very constructivist, which was an art movement that was all about bringing art into life (like most modernist movements), design that had a purpose, and was aesthetically pleasing :)

Samot said...

I can relate the big "X" with postmodernism or the grunge movement that followed the modernism. The type work really reminds the modernist aesthetic but the "X" somehow deconstruts that...
In that way it doesn't seems like a very fitting cover for the book, althoug it's very atractive visually.

Thanks for the post!