How Do I Look? (Or: Paintings from “Understanding Human Behavior”)

by Joey deVilla on December 7, 2007

Miss Fipi Lele sent me a couple of scans from a 1974 book titled Understanding Human Behavior: An Illustrated Guide to Successful Human Relationships, whose cover clearly marks it as a book from that era…

Cover of “Understanding Human Behavior” (1974)
The book should come with an explanation titled “Understanding this book’s cover”.

Here’s a painting in the book depicting the many ways a businessman is perceived, depending on the circumstances and who’s doing the perceiving (I added annotations):

Painting from “Understaning Human Behavior” depicting five ways a business is perceived
When I first saw this painting, I thought of the version in the upper left-hand corner as sober and all the others as varying degrees of drunk.

Here’s the text that accompanies the painting:

These five characters are studies of human personality, portraits of the many kinds of people we can be in a variety of situations. At the bottom is a man as he really is, but the other four figures circling around him show him in entirely different lights. Beginning at the lower left is the way his secretary sees him with a lecherous grin. That noble manly visage is how he imagines himself and the bland, unprepossessing creature is his wife’s perception. Last, downtrodden and ineffectual, is how he feels after confronting his boss.

Another set of paintings depict the different ways a husband a wife are perceived. Here’s the wife:

Paintings from “Understanding Human Behavior” depicting the different ways a wife is perceived
Desperate Housewives, summed in four paintings.

Here’s the husband:

Paintings from “Understanding Human Behavior” depicting the different ways a husband is perceived
Mid-life crisis in 3…2…1…

The best and most succinct review of the book comes from one “Bob” who says: “It’s more like a handbook on how to live a life of quiet desperation. With a few pictures of boobs in it.” Based on that, I might pick up this book if I ever stumble across it at a used bookstore.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Julian Bond December 7, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Gosh, that was bit heavy! Not feeling old, are we? Actually we all lead lives of quiet desperation. We just hide it to varying degrees. 😉

Joey deVilla December 7, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Feeling old, no. Feeling morbidly fascinated, yes.

Peter Lynn December 7, 2007 at 5:07 pm

We had that book! I didn’t pick up on the desperation back then (if it was actually there), but I certainly noticed the boobs. I’m pretty sure this was actually a two volume set.

jay May 29, 2008 at 10:18 pm

the cover you have featured is that of the second book of a 24 volume set. i happened upon the entire collection today at a thrift store in san antonio, texas. i found your site in a research attempt to satisfy my curiosity.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: