I need your help with a project.

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Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 08:37 am
Hey philosophers, I am a student studying Graphic Design in Cornwall.

In my latest project, I was tasked to choose a philosophy or ideology and try and create a product or ad campaign around it that either referenced it or somehow gave it a new modern relevance. Philosophy has always been a hobby of mine so I enjoyed researching various philosophers and reading a lot. I chose to do a project on existentialism, as it seemed to me to be a philosophy with a lot of concepts that seemed to make sense (the concept of bad faith for example).

I struggled for a while to get a good idea of what I wanted to create for the project, I researched the topic slightly too much and it meant a lot of my ideas were self defeating; an ad campaign for example would be out of the question as existentialists would say that this is forcing values onto others/telling them what to do and is therefore wrong.

In the end I decided on creating and selling a 'cure' for an existential/mid-life (I figured they are similar) crisis, or a bout of existential depression that humans can so frequently go though. I was considering actually repackaging psych-meds, that address the symptoms of an existential crisis (depression, anxiety/angst and nausea), but I felt this wouldn't work for a number of reasons (taking a pill that controls your mindset, for example, might be seen as denying your freedom). In the end, it occurred to me that the best cure for such a crisis would ultimately be to read key philosophical works and to meditate on them, after all, shouldn't philosophy help us with our lives? I was really inspired Camus's opening in The Myth of Sisyphus:

Quote:
There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest - whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories - comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer.
Camus (an existentialist), may admit that life has no meaning, but this doesn't make it worth not worth living.
I was also inspired by the covers for the Great Ideas series by designer, David Pearson:
David Pearson Design
David Pearson Design
David Pearson Design
David Pearson Design

So my project is this. A box set of books, that are sold as a kind of cure or medication for people having a life crisis/crisis of existence, for example, people who have just lost their faith after having been strongly religious their whole lives, or people who have lost someone very important in their lives and need to find meaning again, or even people who have just become sick of life and just wonder, "What's the point?"
This is not meant to be a humorous or casual item, and the books, like a prescribed pill or medication, would be a real method of curing bouts of depression through reading them. As a designer, I would design the covers for the books, as well as the design on the box set, it would be a uniform design, with no 'flashy' illustrations or graphics on it, similar to medical packaging. The idea is to see it as a serious treatment and not some thing you buy and leave on your shelf to make you look intelligent when friends come over.

My question to you is, what books should be in this box set? What books from the great thinkers do you find particularly life-affirming or would you turn to for an epiphany or reasons to live life to it's fullest? Ideally I want to use existential books, seeing as that is the topic of my research and project, but if there aren't enough that aren't simply depressing texts (I know a lot of existential books are), then others could be used (Montaigne's essays on why we shouldn't fear death, for example). I am sure however, there are a lot of emotionally uplifting existential texts out there, I know some people find Nietzsche, with his exuberant writing style very affirming to read.
On the front cover of the books would be a quote from the book itself, that is relevant to curing how you feel, the Camus quote above is an example, so if you could also tell me any quotes from the books you suggest I could use that would be great.

I have tried to research this extensively myself, but given the time frame of the brief (4 weeks), there is only so many books you can read. So far I have managed to read The Myth of Sisyphus, which I will definitely put in the box set and I am 2/3 of the way through Nausea by Sartre, which I am unsure whether to put use as it seems kind of dark and I don't know whether it will have a depressing ending or not.

I am sorry for such a wall of text and any spelling mistakes I have likely made, I don't usually type so much but given that this is a proper philosophy forum, I figured I could justify truly expressing my predicament to people who love to read.

Thank you for your help.
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 08:57 am
@Crab Nicholson,
If it were me and I were you, I would pick Fascism... The fascist were very fashion conscious while the communists were just slobs... Just get heavy into tall black boots and lots of leather... Your product could be human bondage, but if you had some good looking body nazi girl in tall leather boots, wearing leather bras and pantys holding a truncheon for a model; I'd bet you could sell a boat load of their outfits to every kinky cookie in England...You could call your product Oberbetch.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 12:30 pm
@Fido,
Fantastic post Crab Nicholson, I don't think I have read such a well done and excellently composed OP in a year. Very well done if you would accept the compliment. Anyway, there are quite a few books you can use for your project. I put them in the order I think they go in (which, hilariously given the material, is subjective! LOL!).

First, I would suggest that the first books in the book collection be The Phenomenology of the Mind by G.W.F Hegel. One of the main reasons why you would want to start off with this book in particular is because this is in many respects the cause of the effect as far as existentialism goes. You then have the existentialist reaction by Kierkegaard, etc. In that book in particular, Hegel's notion of absolute consciousness supposedly rectifies all internal oppositions. In terms of your project, Hegel wrote very long and very dense works, so any representation of Hegel would be a substantially thicker book than the others.

But Kierkegaard had a problem with this and was one of a few philosophers who fervently opposed abstract rationalism. Kierkegaard denied any reducibility of the subjective and the human microcosm. If I had to pick a book to use as a representative for Kierkegaard, it would more popularly be Either/Or by Victor Eremita. However, if you look at the names in the sequence you want to do for your project, it would be better to do these two books in this order; Repetition and Fear and Trembling. Mostly because Kierkegaard espouses anti-Hegelian ideas in these two in particular. Also, the noms de plume of Kierkegaard may be somewhat interesting for you to incorporate into your project.

Then I suppose you could put Kierkegaard's successors like Heidegger (Being and Time), Jaspers (Psychologie der Weltanschauungen), Sartre (Existentialism and Humanism), and Mercel (The Mystery of Being). But I suppose it is for as many philosophers as you want books. You could also add Simone de Beavoir (The Second Sex) and Michel Foucault (Discipline and Punish, etc.).

But I think these books I have suggested are the more common and typical references to existentialist works. There are a few more niche existentialism books that I am particularly fond of (although I have to say I am not a fan of existentialism in particular). One book is Existentia Africana by Lewis Gordon. The book deals with African/African-American existentialism and very interesting and thought provoking unique notions like hyper-visibility, etc. Interestingly enough, that may actually provide a good inspiration for your project as well. Another book that I liked was Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, which examines the more intricate existential dilemmas as seen through the eyes of holocaust survivors. Now if that's not a prime example of existentialism, anxiety and dread, I don't know what is.
 
qualia
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 02:27 pm
@Crab Nicholson,
Crab Nicholson;164245 wrote:
My question to you is, what books should be in this box set? What books from the great thinkers do you find particularly life-affirming or would you turn to for an epiphany or reasons to live life to it's fullest?


For one reason of another, although many of these books might contain dark passages, for me they have also inspired passion, critical self-reflection, reaction to slumber, and I guess in that sense life-affirmance. They're not really 'existential' books as filled in the library, but as they reflect on the human condition in a critical fashion one could argue that they are very existential. All authors, apart from 3, were writing in the twentieth century which gives the list a contemporary feel for the living searching individual. Literature and poetry have not been included. The list is not exhaustive and follows in no particular order of importance. I have only included one book from each author. Hope it helps a little:

Arthur Schopenhauer: The World as Will and Representation

Friedrich Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Moral

Karl Marx: The German Ideology

Erich Fromm
:
The Fear of Freedom

Victor Frankle: Man's Search for Meaning

Martin Heidegger: Being & Time

Herbert Marcuse: One-Dimensional Man

Michel Foucault: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison


Jean Baudrillard:
Selected Writings

Bertrand Russell:
In Praise of Idleness

Noam Chomsky:
Manufacturing Consent

Alan W Watts:
The Way of Zen
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 06:28 pm
@qualia,
Off the cuff, scent de existent, without it you stink of the oblivious.
Buy our perfume today and start existing:)
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 06:35 pm
@sometime sun,
sometime sun;164766 wrote:
Off the cuff, scent de existent, without it you stink of the oblivious.
Buy our perfume today and start existing:)


Let's try to keep the content of our posts in the phil101 section to academic reference rather than opinion. Could you suggest any existentialist reading to Crab Nicholson for his project?
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 07:35 pm
@sometime sun,
I would go with just Kierkegaard

For example:

Sickness unto Death
Fear and Trembling
Repitition
The Concept of Anxiety
The Concept of Irony


All these titles sound vaguely medicinal. I can imagine a bottle filled with a snake oil called "The Concept of Irony".

Dr. Kierkegaard's amazing cures! Oddly they make life more difficult rather than easier.
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Sat 15 May, 2010 09:21 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon;164768 wrote:
Let's try to keep the content of our posts in the phil101 section to academic reference rather than opinion. Could you suggest any existentialist reading to Crab Nicholson for his project?

My apologies.
A Primer of Existentialism


 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 01:51 am
@qualia,
qualia;164691 wrote:
For one reason of another, although many of these books might contain dark passages, for me they have also inspired passion, critical self-reflection, reaction to slumber, and I guess in that sense life-affirmance. They're not really 'existential' books as filled in the library, but as they reflect on the human condition in a critical fashion one could argue that they are very existential. All authors, apart from 3, were writing in the twentieth century which gives the list a contemporary feel for the living searching individual. Literature and poetry have not been included. The list is not exhaustive and follows in no particular order of importance. I have only included one book from each author. Hope it helps a little:

Arthur Schopenhauer: The World as Will and Representation

Friedrich Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Moral

Karl Marx: The German Ideology

Erich Fromm
:
The Fear of Freedom

Victor Frankle: Man's Search for Meaning

Martin Heidegger: Being & Time

Herbert Marcuse: One-Dimensional Man

Michel Foucault: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison


Jean Baudrillard:
Selected Writings

Bertrand Russell:
In Praise of Idleness

Noam Chomsky:
Manufacturing Consent

Alan W Watts:
The Way of Zen



"A main cause of a philosophical disease; a one-sided diet". Wittgenstein.
 
William
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 04:49 am
@Crab Nicholson,
Hello Nick. Please excuse me if I don't call you "Crab", ha! You don't write as one, like some. Welcome to the forum. Existentialism is a rather lofty subject and to create an ad campaign that will prove our existence you might want to start with a man on the street interview with those who don't exist and hear what they say about it. Ha!

Again, welcome to this new global ship. You express yourself well in the written word. Good luck on your task.

William
 
Crab Nicholson
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 08:33 am
@Crab Nicholson,
Wow, these are fantastic responses, and exactly what I needed. VideCorSpoon, qualia and Deckard in particular have gone above and beyond to help, so seriously, thanks. I have duly noted all of the books suggested and your reasons why, I will now begin to research them and narrow down the list to the final box set, once that is done I will pluck an inspiring quote from each book to use on their front covers (any help with this would be great). The box set will then be designed and put together.

Really, thank you for all of your feedback and compliments, I am really excited with the direction of this project and i'm glad the philosophy community here supports my ideas. It seems sad to me that careful reading and meditation isn't used more to deal with depression and life crisis when i'm sure there are times when simply reading a book would be quicker and less damaging than a course of psych-meds or expensive therapy.

I truly appreciate your help, but i'm not closed to suggestions, any further advice, particularly with quotes from the texts would be great.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 10:13 am
@Crab Nicholson,
Crab Nicholson;164938 wrote:
Wow, these are fantastic responses, and exactly what I needed. VideCorSpoon, qualia and Deckard in particular have gone above and beyond to help, so seriously, thanks. I have duly noted all of the books suggested and your reasons why, I will now begin to research them and narrow down the list to the final box set, once that is done I will pluck an inspiring quote from each book to use on their front covers (any help with this would be great). The box set will then be designed and put together.

Really, thank you for all of your feedback and compliments, I am really excited with the direction of this project and i'm glad the philosophy community here supports my ideas. It seems sad to me that careful reading and meditation isn't used more to deal with depression and life crisis when i'm sure there are times when simply reading a book would be quicker and less damaging than a course of psych-meds or expensive therapy.

I truly appreciate your help, but i'm not closed to suggestions, any further advice, particularly with quotes from the texts would be great.
 
Crab Nicholson
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 01:04 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
 
qualia
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 04:50 pm
@Crab Nicholson,
Crab Nicholson wrote:
I will now begin to research them and narrow down the list to the final box set, once that is done I will pluck an inspiring quote from each book to use on their front covers (any help with this would be great).


Marx - German Ideology: Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life.

Nietzsche - On the Genealogy of Morals: Only that which has no history can be defined.

Fromm - The Fear of Freedom: Is there not also, perhaps, besides an innate desire for freedom, an instinctive wish for submission?

Frankl - Man's Search for Meaning: We had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.

Heidegger - Being and Time: Everyone is the other, and no one is himself.

Marcuse - One-Dimensional Man: The transplantation of social into individual needs is so effective that the difference between them seems to be purely theoretical.

Foucault - Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison: The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body.

Baudrillard - Simulacra and Simulations: It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges subsist here and there, in the deserts which are no longer those of the Empire, but our own. The desert of the real itself.

Russell - In Praise of Idleness: A great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work.

Chomsky -Manufacturing Consent: The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely to impose necessary illusions.

Watts: The Way of Zen: For what I am seems so fleeting and intangible, but what I was is fixed and final. It is the firm basis for predictions of what I will be in the future, and so it comes about that I am more closely identified with what no longer exists than with what actually is!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I think other helpful writers in this series - sticking to essentially non-fiction texts - could be:

H.D. Thoreau's Walden
J. Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Laozi's Tai te Ching
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 06:16 pm
@Crab Nicholson,
Crab Nicholson;164994 wrote:


That's great to hear, I'll be sure to tell her.

As to the 3D software, I am surprised at how much I use it myself. Adobe CS4 collection programs like Photoshop and after effects are really useful for various stuff I do as far as art and graphic design. After effects in particular have been very helpful for still shots believe it or not. Not on a professional basis mind you, but just for fun and sometimes a little bit of profit.

Autodesk is definitely something you would like as a graphic designer though. Maya and 3ds Max are definitely complex programs, but they are really not that bad once you understand the nerb geometry and artificial physics system. But one thing I think I would heartily recommend to you is Autodesk Mudbox. What it essentially is is sculpting a virtual piece of clay into anything you want, from a box to a car to a book to an entire city. It is a very useful tool to use if you want to do graphic design but don't really want to go as far as calculating nerb points and so on. Here is a screen cap of my sad little car;

http://i44.tinypic.com/3096jb9.jpgJourneyEd.com - Academic Software Discounts! . They do international schools as well, so you may find your school there and get their discounts.
 
Twirlip
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2010 06:41 pm
@Crab Nicholson,
A beautifully bound book, with all the pages blank. And a pen.
 
qualia
 
Reply Mon 17 May, 2010 06:21 pm
@Twirlip,
You might also be interested in Peter Wessel Zapffe, a very underrated, and under translated, existential philosopher from Norway. Here are a couple of links:

Zapffe
Philosophy Now | The View from Mount Zapffe
The Last Messiah - Scratchpad Wiki Labs - Free wikis from Wikia
Sirocco :: Zapffe on the mystery of existence :: August :: 2006
 
Crab Nicholson
 
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 03:36 am
@Crab Nicholson,
Qualia, thanks for the quotes and the link, the book you recommended has made it to my current list of possibilities.

And, VideCorSpoon, thanks for the links and advice, cheap software is always useful if you're a student.
 
 

 
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