There’s a certain way of moving through a used bookstore. Walk in, nod to the owner. Have no expectations about what you might find. Don’t ask: where’s the fiction? Where’s the poetry? You’ll find it. Go slowly. Pull out the spines that interest you. Read the back covers. Search through the bottom shelves, the stacks on the floor (especially the stacks on the floor). Read the fliers on the wall; read everything. But most importantly, just look.
Moving that often, I’d get presumptuous; I would think I had a city figured out after just days or weeks of being there, only to break down when I’d miss a turnoff biking home at night, lost without brightly lit landmarks.
But inside a bookstore, I always knew where I was. They absorb the cities around them: fliers advertise local bands’ performances and events with hometown authors passing through on tour. But at the same time, from place to place, they are overwhelmingly, comfortingly, the same. The smell: woody, maybe a little damp. The stacks: cramped, overflowing onto the floor, religiously alphabetized if not proudly haphazard.
Seeking out bookstores was my attempt to translate a pattern from my past onto my new city. And it’s true that each time I walk into a bookstore in Brooklyn, I’m comforted: I feel like I’ve arrived somewhere I understand. But it’s not an act of regression. By searching for these pockets of familiarity in an unfamiliar city, I’ve brought the whole borough closer to me, and every day it feels more like home.
Vienna-based designer and typographer Paulus Dreibholz has published a beautiful volume all about that fundamental human activity, reading.
Along with music, architecture, literature, acting, dance and other cultural activities, typography claims only a small niche in the totality of human communication and interaction. However, due to its direct relationship to language, its complexity and ubiquity, its influence on our society and our society’s consciousness and development, typography constitutes an interesting and significant element of social life.
Typography is a wholly cultural phenomenon. Invented and refined by human beings, moulded to their needs and developed by their interaction with it, typography allows people to communicate across space and time. Typography cultivates and is cultivated: we form it and it (in)forms us.
One of the most striking characteristics of human beings, and probably the biggest difference between humans and animals, is humans’ developed ability to communicate. The exchange of information – whether real or hypothetical, whether within ourselves or with others – allows us to establish distance between our being and our thoughts, and makes it possible to expand our consciousness in new ways. There is no such thing as communication without meaning (since even meaningless communication is open to interpretation). As a reciprocal process, however, communication begins first with the reading of meaning and not with the sending of information. Only when something has meaning can I see it, try to understand it and accordingly construct my own message. Because of this, I believe it makes sense to consider first the process of reading and to return to the process of design later.
The ability to recognise meaning and allocate it correctly is the basic requirement of semiotics, the study of meaning generally, and thus also of semantics, the linguistic study of meaning. Without this capacity to interpret there would be no meaning, no content to messages and no sense; only formal relationships and empty constructions containing neither purposeful nor coincidental relevance would exist. Meaning arises during the processes of reading, in particular the processes of acquiring and interpreting information. Let us examine the misunderstandings that result from two often prematurely drawn conclusions with regards to this process. The first preconception deals with the relationship between the reader and the word.
In conventional use, we take the written word as a precondition for the process of ‘reading’, and with that we leap directly to typography, the study of the printed word. This is, however, a premature connection, since reading encompasses more than the reading of letters. The verb ‘to read’ is the root for many characteristic modifications, as in ‘a reading’ or ‘the reader’. And, indeed, reading refers to the processing of more than only the written message. (The term ‘literacy’, incidentally, also alludes to media in general and not only to typographic messages, just as texts and other written messages, works of art, experiences and developments can also be read.) This broader definition of reading is not exclusive to the English language: in German, one also speaks, for example, of reading traces or tracks (Spurenlesen), likewise activities that have nothing to do with the written word.
Source: 💖 diesel sweeties by @rstevens 🤖
2. THREE OTHER WOMEN NOVELISTS
Northanger Abbey presents reading as at once a trivial pursuit, a form of social bonding, the quest for pleasure and satisfaction, and a trainee’s preparation in reading the world. The pervasiveness of the theme of reading, from the first paragraph to the last, queries the frequent claim that the novel fails to hang together; yet it does not dispense with it entirely, since Austen cross-refers to very different kinds of novel.
Do Design: Why beauty is key to everything.
‘The act of creating something of beauty is a way of bringing good into the world. Infused with optimism, it says simply: life is worthwhile’. Alan Moore’s new book is set to inspire us to make better things, for better reasons.
Whether it’s a website, a handmade chair, or a business – we are encouraged to ask: is it useful and considered. Is it a thing of beauty? And this isn’t some throw away remark about a sunset or pretty dress. It’s the idea of creating something that might endure – often beyond the lives of its creators.
One example in the book – as seen here – is Fred and Hugo at Blitz Motorbikes building motorcycles from discarded parts – giving new life, energy and purpose to old bikes. Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, describes the book as, ‘An excellent guide to the essence of beauty – the freedom to create it and an argument for its power and importance to the soul.’
Craiglist has something wonderful on it: a vast collection of more than 600 vintage Smith-Corona typewriters, including accessories and marketing literature.
“My collection consists of over 600 typewriter items including the company’s first typewriter in the 1880’s to one of the company’s last typewriters in 2000’s and all models in between, along with all types of items that correspond to the typewriters, including ads, accessories, displays, documents, manuals, photos, shipping crates, etc. Smith Corona’s products are beautiful, interesting, unique, colorful, and when displayed, fun to look at.
I collected the typewriters and related items from 44 of the 50 United States, Washington DC, four Canadian provinces and three foreign countries. I only purchased museum quality items, so the collection would make an instant museum. The collection includes many rare and valuable items.
I have decided it is time to sell the collection.
The collection is a nice financial investment that consistently increases in value over time due to a large international typewriter collectors market. The collection will only increase in value over time.”