On Recent Academic Book Cover Art & Font

So I’ve been continuing my humanities and posthumanities reading project, and continue my life of hearing voices.  I keep thinking I’m going to ditch this blog and start a new one and sometimes I come up with a good WordPress url and set one up, but it never seems right. I don’t know what this blog is becoming but I continue to get hits, want to share my writing and thoughts, and considering I am schizophrenic, am interested in the imaginary, should read Sartre’s The Imaginary, should write about the cover of it at Routledge, etc, and as Sartre and others have written about the mental image, I keep coming back to the idea that the idea behind (or at least the title) isn’t so bad. It’s just a fluid thing, and that’s ok. There seems to be an interesting thing among my generation were we seem to want to package ourselves, the purple cow effect as I’ve written earlier, but my identity is a fluid thing, un-anchored, and I have to get use to that. This is a place I write. I may start a new blog, but I am going to resist the need to brand myself. I just got my laptop back and it’s not working great, but it has my programs on it so I plan to make some new images soon. For now I want to write about more cover art, this time on academic book covers that I have been reading or reading around.

universe of thingsafter natureprismatic ecology

One trend I’ve noticed and that appeals to me for whatever reason is obscured sans serif on academic cover art, mostly in recent writings in the post humanities. The three books, found here, here, and here. In all three the helvitica title of the book, and not the author name, is covered by a fore- or I would say mid ground. The title, that is the ‘text’ of the title, as receded to the background. All three of these books fit in the realm of posthumanities and are concerned with both ecocriticism, and the idea of anthropocentricism, but have different view points. There’s a history to theory and to criticism, both cultural, medial, and literary, and I think the ‘literary’ has ceded towards the background, to history. At least this is my impression and I may be in an ec(h)o-chamber. But the text of the title is mediated, my what some ecotheorist and –philosophers call true media (or the image thereof), that of nature: natural branches and what looks like (might?) be natural pigments.

I also think it’s interesting that the book titles are in a sans serif, helvitica- or futura-like font, associated with Bahaus and new objectivity – and one can see a link with the idea associated with these writers and the “objectivity” of object-oriented ontology.

Anyway compare these images that foreground the natural with this novel that involves a garden:

the moonlit garden

And of course Zizek’s book, which actually looks like it there’s a background of written text foregrounded infront by a torn up helvitica.



and a book that touches on critical university studiese, what seems to be the new nexus of theory and criticism:


academic freedom

Abnormal Pschology Cover Art Imagery UPDATE

I noticed a trend in recent cover art for abnormal psychology cover artwork.

The textbook cover art by corner, 7th edition:


8th edition (2012):


and finally 9th Edition (2015):


All of these images are mediated, whether the face is suggested as puppet/cloth dummy, a sculpture mediated by the screen of clouds, or this woman of color lastly, mediated by what i first thought were cracks like that of a painting, but what may be a map. The geographical turn.

Interesting, and now this one by Butcher, first 14th edition (2009):


An old theme, the body turned away from the viewer. I have mentioned this before. Now the next (15th Ed., 2012):


The face in profile, staring at glass reflection. There are dualities in both of these, whether it is the reflected image in the glass, or the two way road.  Then the most recent edition, 16th, 2013:


We see the a duality again this time, youth-age. And again, much like the other contemporary book, women of color.

Is this a trend? Let’s check on the most recent by Barlow..


and finally Rosenberg:


The last being a women covered with color, if not a woman of color.


What’s with this? These have all been updated I think since my first post on abnormal psychology textbook covers, here, and while I don’t know if my post has effected things, it is interesting.

Venn Diagram of Heideggerian Things (Draft) And Evolution in 6 Domains (or 3?)

Evolution and SustainabilityTheoretical biologist Eva Jablonka has posited that evolution occurs in four dimensions: Genetic (Orange circle), Epigenetic (clockwise from there), Behavioral (pink wedge) and Symbolic (purple circle). In the Venn diagram above I have the six things (things as in Hegel) I see as evolving (including now Ecological evolution, green circle; technological evolution, dark purple wedge.)

Here is a Lacanian diagram. While these may or may not map things, this describes the subject, Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic.


Here is a basic Venn Diagram of Sustainable Development.


Here’s a chart of Cornell’s Genius Graduate School’s  (Cornell Tech’s) future curricular domains and the departments and disciplins that relate to them, with some evolutionary domains on top, and the sustainability domains.domains simpler cornell tech

I seem to be interested in many of these fields.

Make’s sense, right?  Now here it is rearranged slightly with Lacan’s circles, and the three highlighted discourses described as conterpublics in a rhetoric book I just read, where citizens can be “citizen briceleurs” (as opposed to engineers like at Cornell Tech, highlight in dark purple font.)Domains

Above is the first draft for a Venn Diagram of Heideggerian Things.  I dont know how Judith Butler’s Antigone’s Claim fits in. Once I read that and get my computer back I will update (and make it  look nicer). Unfortunately my computer is down and I made these with an app online (No Adobe products on my husband’s  computer.) Expect future iterations to be better.


And now…. just for fun, the internet of things diagram:



Judging books by covers and a re-centering of the aesthetic.

In the past I have analyzed or at least called attention to the different types of covers for abnormal psychology textbooks. I looked at some of the introductory psychology textbooks sold on Amazon.com and one specifically caught my eye. The image these publishers or authors chose that seemed to hold the most significance, the image perhaps that holds, or so they seem to be imply, the field or discipline of psychology captive, is that of a single or many fish. Not just any fish, mind you, or fish in a stream, in a lake, in pond or those outdoors that can be caught and consumed and bring metaphors to mind of Jesus, the fisher of men, little fish in a big pond as I often felt in college, or any other fishing metaphor.

The 1st through 4th intro to psych editions, by Saundra K. Ciccarelli  and  J. Noland White, is sometimes called “Psychology: An Exploration,” and other times called just “Psychology”. It’s unclear from Amazon if these two titles refer to paperback and hardcopy editions or text- and work-books or students in universities but below are the progression of the edition covers as they are labeled.  Oddly enough (or perhaps not) they totem animal they seem to posit for psychology is a pet fish, a pet fish and not fish to be eaten which may imply the object of study (psychology) is one that can be made a pet of. That seems to be how my husband uses it. It’s tame(d).While he majored in philosophy and linguistics at Cornell he does has his moments of armchair psychology, the introductory course of which was a most popular at our university.

Psychology 1st edition

There is a move from the 1st edition to the 2nd from a single gold fish, and all that implies, to that of gold fish swimming one way and a digitally altered goldfish made to look purple going the other, the one that goes against the ‘school’ or stream.

psychology an exploration 2nd edition


psychology paperback second editionThere are two different 3rd edition covers, both not of a western gold fish but what are called Siamese fighting fish, an object of study in biology: One cover is of two Siamese fighting fish of the same color,

3rd edition

and the other of a orange (or gold) fish in a tank, and the purple (unsure if there are purple of this species but they come in a variety of colors) one outside the tank looking in, facing off as Siamese fighting fish are (if memory serves me correctly) known to do and an owner of these fish are not to have two males I believe (though perhaps its females) in the same tank as they will duke it out to the death…

3rd edition 2

to finally, in the fourth edition, the image of just a purple Siamese fighting fish.

4th edition

What were they thinking.

I’m not sure, but I think the progression to an ‘other’ kind of fish (Siamese or Eastern, and one that is not a standard  Western color of ‘gold [read white/blonde] fish’) is interesting. As some say and no I’m not going to find the quotation but I think it’s Emily Apter who wrote about a ‘re-centering of the aesthetic’ in the postcolonial. Is this a postcolonial other dare I say subaltern fish? Eh? Not so sure. Maybe it has more to do with selling textbooks?

So I googled purple goldfish. A book (again on Amazon.com) is the first link. “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?”, part of a series of three books that asks marketers what their [insert specific color] goldfish is. A green goldfish


has to do with the premise “Happy employees make happy customers”. A golden goldfish

download (1)

which shows a golden goldfish that was presumably hatched from a goose that laid golden eggs (who wants roe?) is about the premise that “all employees and customers are not created equal.” These are distinct from a purple goldfish


which has to do with “differentiation via added value. Marketing to your existing customers via G.L.U.E (giving little unexpected extras).  The end result is increased sales, happier customers and positive word of mouth.” I wouldn’t think this really meant all that much but then I read in the reviews one by “Deb Reed” that this concept of a ‘purple’ goldfish (why that color? The color of phonecian royalty?) is what she thought at first could be a “ripoff of Seth Godin’s Purple Cow” but instead “pays tribute” to “the principle.”


A Purple Cow, according to this book’s  amazon description, “describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable. Every day, consumers come face to face with a lot of boring stuff-a lot of brown cows-but you can bet they won’t forget a Purple Cow. And it’s not a marketing function that you can slap on to your product or service. Purple Cow is inherent. It’s built right in, or it’s not there. Period. In Purple Cow, Seth Godin urges you to put a Purple Cow into everything you build, and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for marketers who want to help create products that are worth marketing in the first place.” So there’s a conflation in today’s psychological economy of creatures as symbols between purple cows and goldfish. This color for an animal on a textbook directed to undergraduates and this book’s description brings to mind the supposed ‘exceptionalism’ of the entire millennial generation, each one a purple fish.

And now for a poem by Gelett Burgess known orally throughout America for which Wikipedia cites a commentator saying it is”[t]he most quoted poem in twentieth-century America, after “The Night Before Christmas“:

I never saw a Purple Cow,

I never hope to see one;

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one.

Is this how an animal of another color (not known widely in nature ie black sheep or swan although those examples may be applicable) and specifically that of the “The Color Purple”


got into American consciousness? Let’s dissect this nonsense poem briefly. A purple cow is posited, although in has not been held in sight in the captivity of vision, ‘anyhow’ or otherwise it’s written that the voice of the poem would “rather see than be one”. To hold the other in the (male) gaze as a (feminine) object. To hold the mind and psychology in the gaze of science. Not just to make a pet out of a ordinary run of the mill goldfish. But to see, finally, we are to assume after these changes, nothing but an exotic, iridescently purple Siamese fighting fish confronting I the viewer as in battle against a pristine white objective clarity (read ‘reason’/science) background. We are a match for this creature. We are a kind. The mind or psyche analyzing another akin to it while both extraordinary. The mind is an exotic animal. The fish of the mind is not in a tank (3rd edition) or against a bubbly colorful background (2nd and 1st editions) but there is clarity and nothing to clutter us from the view of all that psychology is. An exotic fish of another color ready to fight. “Psychology: An Exploration”? is this about finding your inner Nemo?


Or is more about the age of explorers?

4th edition

You know Caliban, that now-classic postcolonial example said:


Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

-Caliban, Act 3, Scene 2, the Tempest


Sounds like the unconscious.


Karl Nicholason

Karl Nicholason was an illustrator in the late sixties and seventies. He did amazing surreal work for psychology textbooks I truly find inspiring. Reminds me a bit of my abnormal psychology textbook cover art post and how many covers they are reminiscent of Magritte whose artwork i just saw at the MoMA last Saturday,  although Nicholason’s work is much more inventive and illustrative. Check out some of his artwork here, and hope you may see some of my own inspired directly from his cool surreal style.


During my hiatus I was somewhat incapacitated by my illness, namely a recurrent psychotic disorder that is either a mild form of schizophrenia or something called delusional disorder. It’s happened many times, and taken many and mixed forms. I was thinking about all the different forms delusions take, delusions of control, Cotard delusional, delusions of guilt or sin, delusions of reference, erotomania, grandiose/religious, somatic and persecutory delusions all of which I’ve had in some form or another, and then finally delusional parasitosis, where one thinks their infected by bugs of some kind or another.

And then I wrote my last post and thought about Di Chirico.  Models and the like as surreal substitution for humans. And I came up with these images that I made over coffee this morning really quickly. Could still use tweaking but thought I’d share.

First off is delusional guilt, where one thinks one is to blame for something terrible that has happened that has nothing to do with oneself:

delusional guilt
Delusional Guilt

Then grandiose delusions, which doesn’t need much of an explanation:

grandiose delusion
Grandiose Delusion

And finally somatic delusions. This is where you think something is wrong with your body when there is nothing wrong, like you think you have an extra limb.

Somatic Delusion
Somatic Delusion

These images are just drafts. Maybe I’ll continue the project or not. We’ll see.

Abnormal Psychology Cover Art Imagery

Now I have never taken an abnormal psychology class, but I do find it interesting how the idea of the abnormal mind is portrayed in a single image on the book covers for textbooks and the like. It all started with simple google image searches for various mental disorders, and I may write a post about that, all the fractured mirrors, people huddled on floors, people clutching their heads (as if with headache?), and broken faces or multiple faces, a rip off of the two drama masks that often go along with bipolar disorder imagery.

Now as for the text books they seem to fall into certain camps as well.

The first group is those with Van Gogh paintings or paintings mimicking the style of Van Gogh and post impressionism. Here are two:

The first one here is obviously Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Crows (full image below). This painting is purported to be Van Gogh’s last, before his own mental illness, whether considered an abnormal psychology, insanity, or epilepsy led either directly or indirectly (depending on who you ask) to his death by gunshot, and many think, by his own hand. The second textbook cover looks a lot like Van Gogh’s Landscape with Olive Trees (below).

These cover arts seem to suggest the view of the world (or a landscape and nature) from the perspective of one with a supposed abnormal psyche. Even for Van Gogh, his epilepsy may have caused him to at times to literally see colors more vividly and vibrantly than at other times, and some think this shows in his work, combined with the electric and urgent and sometimes tortured brushstrokes that some also say suggests things about his psyche.

What I find interesting here in these to book covers is that the abnormal psyches themselves are not the object being portrayed but rather a troubled mind’s subjective post-impressionist skewed view of things. On the other hand, when it seems that the subject of the image is the abnormal psyche itself, its surrealism and not post impressionism that seems to be at play the most, most notably influenced by Giorgio De Chirico and Rene Magritte.

First, compare these two images:

The bottom is Rene Magritte’s “The Future of Statues.” A direct influence. And here’s another:

which seems to be  influenced by two Magritte Paintings found below, one with an image over the thing imaged, and the second The Son of Man, where the mouth is obscured by an apple.

Then there’s a whole strew of Abnormal Psychology cover art that rips off the idea of the lone figure found in the picture above.  A lone suited figure walking through some landscape whether or not other people may be walking by, and turned away from the camera or viewer. Here are a few:

Magritte painting many paintings with lone images of a person not facing the viewer. Here’s just one of them:

What does all this tell us about the abnormal psyche? that it turns from “us” the “normal” viewer? That it’s face is hard to see? That they at least feel “alone” in the world? That what is in the book beneath these covers will like the cover show us the abnormal psyche or person and also show the world that they face, as are ‘lens’ is behind them?

…and now onto the images that are close up of faces. First compare these:

The bottom one is a surrealist painting by De Chirico, who was obsessed with mannequins and busts of heads. Which leads us to these, that also play with the idea of surrealism, close up of head shots, and illusion/reality dualism that is at the heart of surrealism:

The bottom is by far my favorite. A painting of a face that’s also a puppet or cloth-made thing with buttons that seems to come apart. And oh yeah. It’s crying! No really tho, it’s a great painting.

The rest on amazon.com I find a little less evocotive. Most are photographs, close ups of heads again, obscured by things or looking anxiously in their reflections.

The end.