Objects (or: the museum as heterotopia)

Several weeks ago I was asked to re-tool the type treatment on the old US edition cover of The Archeology of Knowledge by the great philosopher, sociologist, and géneálogiste Michel Foucault.

When it comes to getting me to take on a project, I think the editors here know how easy it is to set the hook (especially when it comes to titles by hoary old giants of the lit-crit and philosophy curricula of my youth.)

"Just change the old designer's type so it's more readable." sez they. (The old edition is actually quite lovely- though the word "Michel" is nested, illegibly, inside of the word "Foucault").

"ok- but, can I redesign the whole cover instead?" sez I. (like I don't have enough to do)

"Sure," sez they.

"Just one Foucault?" sez I.

"Well...." sez they....

Long story short: here are some of the forthcoming Foucaults (the first mechanicals have gone out- so: coming to stores soon-ish).

Some of my references here are less obvious than others (for instance, The Archeology of Knowledge is Foucault's seminal work on the speech act- hence the megaphone.) But even the designs that seem upon first glance to be crude puns have some textual referent. (And I know: "I, Pierre" should be a pruning hook, instead of an axe- but the axe just looked cooler. If only it was Best Made.)

In all the volumes, the idea of having an interplay between the extreme specificity of the objects and Foucault's broad principles was enticing to me- or, to use the expression most (justifiably) detested by my esteemed colleague Barbara DeWilde: I enjoyed "exploring the intersection" of the specific and the general. So- borrowing from Orhan Pamuk: an imaginary museum of objects (Museums were of specific interest to Foucault, and, if you wanna know his thoughts on the matter- go out and buy The Order of Things.)