Friday, May 29, 2009Hot-Blooded, Check It And See
May has proven to be my own personal cold and flu season. Having gotten over the rhinovirus a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd paid my dues for the year, but it turned out it was just the flu lining me up for a clean shot. In the morning I was fine, out running errands, in the afternoon I started feeling a little funky, and by nightfall I was up to 103F and reduced to little more than an animal shivering under a blanket. All my usual methods of controlling a fever worked poorly at best, and for several days I couldn't get much below 101. I don't know if it was the dreaded H1N1 or just a garden variety influenza, but I'm calling it my swine flu either way, because that virus was badass enough to deserve a title. It was literally the sickest I've been in a decade.
So I spent the entirety of last week in bed struggling against a stubborn fever and doing not much else. Not reading, not writing, not watching TV, not fucking around online, just laying in bed sleeping about 18 hours a day, and staring at the wall for most of the rest. After a week, feeling considerably improved, I attempted to go into work, and discovered that within that context, a wide gulf can separate "considerably improved" and "fit for work." Apart from the wooziness and my inability to regulate my own temperature, several days of violent coughing had absolutely shredded my voice (which now, ten days after first getting sick, is still fragile and comes and goes), rendering me unable to speak. And as my mother can attest, if you can't talk, you're not much good to anyone in a work environment, yourself included.
But it's mostly over now. The voice is still rough, and my right ear is cut off from my brain by a small, unmoving lake of snot. The cough is going to be with me for weeks. At 33 I am robust enough to shake it off, but it's easy to see how a bug like that set loose among the very old or the immunocompromised could be catastrophic.
Anyway, that's been my week.
I've developed a recent thing for typography. I mean, in retrospect, it's been an obvious passive interest for a long time -- nothing I particularly want to pursue, but something that piques my interest whenever it comes along. It seems to me that there are picture people, and there are word people; I know for sure that I am very much the latter and almost not at all the former. I can appreciate pictures, and I can definitely appreciate others' skills with images, but for me, the picture part clicks only superficially, if at all. I can tell a good image from a bad one, but as far as understanding the differences between the two, I'm lost. Even hand-holding me through the process will only get me so far; the synthesis just never forms in my mind. Words, I get. I got them early, I got them deeply, I grok words. I'm more often careless with them myself, but if you drop a really masterful composition in front of me, I can understand how it works, why it works, and can make some good, educated guesses about the processes used to write it.
So maybe typography, then, is my bridge between two disparate styles of perception. Maybe I like it because it adds another layer of meaning to something I tend to take for granted. Maybe I like it because it offers me a handhold on the slippery world of images. Maybe I like it because, if you can look past the words, letters are just cool. And sometimes it's good to see them treated as beautiful in their own right.
I'd say that well-designed, well-chosen black letters against white space is probably one of the loveliest things humans have ever created. |