Husserl’s missing bits

Take a look at this advert for Fentimans Ginger Beer. Fentimans is a botanical brewery based in the North of England which produces a range of unusual drinks based on vegetable roots like burdock, dandelion and ginger. Their advertising is unusual too. When you first see the ad on the left, you think some one has made a mistake. Your eye is drawn to it. Then you realise that it is a deliberate cropping which is quite cunning. Although they only show a quarter of the bottle our minds fill in the rest. So they are effectively getting a full page ad for the price of a quarter of a page. Even better,  they are making us interact imaginatively with their brand in the act of completing the picture. And they are even able to make a joke out of it. So that is a triple plus in my book.

This  “missing part” trick seems to be becoming more popular. A lot of corporate logos these days seem to be a portion of a letter. Look at the three below. The first is the logo for Global Radio, the owner of several radio stations such as Heart, Capital and Classic FM. It’s a ‘g’ with the bottom part cropped off. Then look at the blue logo next to it for Bestway, a London based cash and carry chain. It’s the same trick but with the cropping at the top. The red logo at the end is for Adecco, an employment agency. They have taken the final ‘o’ of their name and only shown a quarter of it. It is so heavily cropped that it is almost an abstract figure. On the other hand,  if you were to reconstruct the whole word in your imagination you would get a sign 24 times bigger sticking way out into the street. Now that’s bang for your buck!


These logos echo the thinking of Edmund Husserl (1859 – 1938), the founder of a philosophical movement known as Phenomenology. In the long running debate amongst philosophers about whether the real world actually exists or is just a figment of our imagination, Husserl had an interesting conclusion: it’s both. I can  crudely paraphrase this deep thinker with the following example. If you are standing in the street looking at a house you can only see the front of it, but you believe that the back of it exists even if you can’t see it. In other words, you think  it is a real house rather than, say, a flat piece of scenery from a film set. So the reality of the house arises partly from our direct experience and partly from our inference. As with the Fentimans advert, the world is half real and half filled in by our imagination. It is a fusion between two different levels, the tangible and the intangible. That is catataxis.

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