Thursday, April 22, 2010

Choice: BIG IDEAS // small books




by Renata Salecl
BIG IDEAS // small books / A Picador Paperback Original

Photographs by Jon Shireman
The essential idea is that choice, which we’d always thought of as the great prize of free markets and free societies, can become a paralyzing burden when there’s too much of it. Renata Salecl argues that in the developed world we’re told that we can choose everything about who we are, how we live, what we buy, how we look, down to the last detail. But that’s too much choice; we lose our sense of who we are and we don’t know how to make those choices, so we end up choosing them based on other people’s expectations or other outside forces—so in the end there’s nothing very personal about all this personal choice

To illustrate the concept of quantity of choices over quality of choices, I thought of playing off the pun "A needle in a haystack" with finding a needle in a needle stack. Overwhelmed by too many meaningless same choices.
Another approach was the idea of having to choose between two glasses that are either equally half full or half empty. Because in the end, it really doesn't matter which glass you agonize over and eventually choose, they're really both the same and you get out of it what you make of it. Jon did a fantastic job visualizing these ideas.


It doesn't happen too often that I love both solutions equally. But unfortunately we at Picador, for whatever reasons, chose not to publish this title for our BIG IDEAS // small books series. So I'll never have to make a choice and I get to choose both. But if this was published, the editor picked the two glasses. Both half full of course.

6 comments:

Jen Heuer said...

wow! those photographs are amazing! and the idea is spot on! sorry they're not publishing this, but it eases the problem of playing favorites for sure!

mini spice said...

beautiful ideas always finds a way to show up... tks for sharing, henry!

Ian Shimkoviak said...

the glasses are a winner.

i own 2 or 3 of these books. Advanced reader copied I got at the expo last year. Simple is best.

Robin said...

That is a shame. I'm sorry they didn't choose the title for the series. In any case, I'd choose the glasses. But both are great conceptual images and either would make a great cover.

Dan Mogford said...

Hey Henry - the UK publishers of the series are publishing this one and using the 2 x glasses shot - I artworked it for them 2 days ago - so it will get to see the light of day :-)

William C Bevan said...

neat. I love the images.