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The Elements of Typographic Style

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Minding the Earth, Mending the Word: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

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Entries in Robert Bringhurst (3)


Letter are Things, Not Pictures of Things, But...

Insights from Robert Bringhurst (see The Elements of Typographic Style) noted while reading The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind, and Ecology on the train to work this morning:

"I beg to remind you, however, that what you find on the font of a photosetting machine is the photographic image of a letter, and what you set with photosetting equipment is not in truth a letter but a picture of a letter. More precisely: a picture of a drawing of a letter. What you find on a digital font is likewise not a letter but a Bézier or cubic-spline description of a letter. What you set with your computer and print with a laser printer is a digital simulation of a letter. What you find in a California job case (see above) is also not a letter but a sort, which is a sculpture of a letter. What you print with a Vandercook or an Albion is the imprint of a sculpture of a letter. Where is the letter itself? This is the mind-body problem of the philosophers writ small."

And then I got to my stop. [NOTE: This book is a delight]. 


The Elements of Typographic Style

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst is considered by many (including me) to be "the finest book ever written about typography". But it's much more than that. It's a book about making books beautiful–and useful. It a book about book design and layout and white space and calligraphy and the golden ratio and Henry David Thoreau (really). And it's also a beautiful book in it's own right. Every page is a marvel of design, the paper feels good, the author is a poet. Truly a rare example of embodying human language with an elegant visual form. Illuminating.


Self-Policing Biosphere

I interrupt this blog for a public service announcement:

"Even reluctant observers find it obvious by now that in a finite and overexploited world, endlessly increasing material wealth for an endlessly increasing number of humans is a suicidal dream. That leaves us in the short term with two choices: to continue insisting that humans come first, though we know that only a few of those humans will ever enjoy the delusion, or to relinquish the ideal of a global ecology owned and controlled by human beings. In the long run, of course, the self-policing biosphere will edit any choice we make, and its list of alternatives is shorter".

-Robert Bringhurst
 The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind, and Ecology (2008)

[NOTES: Bringhurst is also the author of the classic, The Elements of Typographical Style, one of my favorites. Image is from China.]