Where do stories belong? In books? Why not in blogs or tweets or fora or emails? There are so many means of freely publishing words these days, stories can be published anywhere, taking on bizarre new forms previously unimaginable
Fiction doesn’t have to be neatly packaged and shaped by market constraints, anyone can put it anywhere. But where will all of this freedom and experimentation leave us? Is the idea of the book outmoded? Will there still be a role for designers and illustrators in this brave new world? Do I really want to pull at this thread?
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 🤖
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.