In April I went to see Astra Taylor’s Examined Life, a film that “pulls philosophy out of academic journals and classrooms, and puts it back on the streets.” Right. No no really it was good. They just set themselves up for me to be bitchy by describing it that way.
Most memorable were Cornell West, Avital Ronell, and Slavoj Žižek. But probably only because I already knew about them. In fact, I’ve been carrying around Ronell’s The Telephone Book for the better part of twenty years now. I’ve never been able to understand it. Because there’s a lack of philosophy on the streets (see paragraph one). Anyway I only bought the book because of the design and typography. I had to have it. Richard Eckersley was brilliant. In fact, this was the first book he ever created using a computer. From his obituary in the New York Times:
In 1989, however, Mr. Eckersley made a radical departure from his signature restraint, shaking up the field with his design for Avital Ronell’s “Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech,” an unorthodox study of Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger and the philosophy of deconstruction. This was the first book Mr. Eckersley designed on the computer, using new page-making software programs to interpret the author’s complex postmodern ideas typographically.
Although the stark black-and-white cover of this long vertical book was rather quiet, he radically dislodged the interior text from conventional settings, and the book’s layout sometimes upstages the text by deliberately impeding the act of reading, which is just what Ms. Ronell wanted. Throughout the book there are unexplained gaps and dislocations between sentences and paragraphs, forcing the reader to work at reading. On one page is a mirror image of the page that faces it. On another, snakelike trails of space that come from careless word spacing (called rivers) are intentionally employed. Some words are blurred to the point of being indecipherable; one line runs into another because of the exaggerated use of negative line-spacing.
Though some adventurous graphic designers were experimenting at the time with idiosyncratic computer type design, this was first attempt to apply a “deconstructivist style” to a serious book.
Well maybe I suck at philopophy and reading hard books. But at twenty I could pick out rocking design. Clearly I’m all about looks ;)
I digress. The point here was to focus on Žižek and to share with you this video.
Thanks to Hugh for blogging the movie.