Man, what a week.
In chronological order
- the Grenfell Tower fire started on the morning of 14 June killing
6 12 17 30 5479;
- early on 19 June, a clean-shaven white man attacked people near the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park; and
- later that day, Brexit talks between Britain and the EU began.
So, I took a quick spin through the reading list on my phone to see if it would throw up anything with the right tone for the blog.
An Illustrated Manifesto For The Artist’s Duty In Hard Times seemed to stray too far into the realms of solipsism, like the second album about the woes of touring, or the cocaine-fuelled third album.
Maybe a more prosaic version of The Artist’s Duty is that we should just throw ourselves into work? But then I came across another article in the reading list: The Disease of Being Busy.
It talks of how that blog favourite remark that the unexamined life is not worth living… for a human. How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?
This disease of being “busy”… is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.
The article continues to bemoan that, the technological advances of the past seven decades which were supposed to have made out lives easier, faster, and simpler have left us with no more leisure time.
Besides. I’ve tried throwing myself into my work.
So, let’s take a minute to contemplate the world around ourselves and, as George Nelson would say, How To See. Paul mentioned in a comment to the recent post on airports, design and movies, that a particular article on the political significance of fonts
seemed tangentially related to your writing this week so I figured I’d share!
Well, if going off on a tangent isn’t the blog’s defence against busyness and the insanity of the 24-hour news cycle…
How Fonts Are Fueling The Culture Wars is an interesting read, I think. Two points in particular jump out.
First, I’m reminded of the linguist’s observation that a Serb and a Croat can readily understand each other when they talk, but are talking different languages. Just as a, say, Glaswegian and a Londoner (or an Edinburger and an Aberdonian) might not, even if they’re all speaking the same language.
It turns out that Croatian and Serbian are similar languages that could hardly look more different in their written forms. The East-West hybrid Balkan Sans – the article continues – makes them mutually intelligible, so that two neighbors might be able to correspond over email without thinking twice. [Designers Nikola Djurek and Marija Juza] transformed typography from a barrier between nations into an olive branch.
That seems a pretty cool endeavour this week. Particularly when an earlier passage in the article discusses how colonial rule changed Arabic script.
In English, each letter stands on its own, while Arabic connects every letter in a word, allowing many letters to take on new shapes based on context. Arabic lends itself to lush and poetic calligraphy, but it doesn’t square with traditional European methods for making typefaces.
I’m reminded of the Futuracha latin font that adjusts as you type.
In The Disease of Being Busy, Omid Safi writes
In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?
What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.
I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, he continues, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Mine hurts a little for where we are, and I even feel a bit angry, but I’m glad for my good fortune and the opportunity to blether away with you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a few minutes with this post, just tangenting away. Maybe you’ve got a tangent you’d like to share. And, anyway, how is your haal?