from Dick Weltz:
> Please go to the library and read a bit of Beatrice Warde's
> "The Crystal Goblet." She explains far more eloquently than
> I ever could the fallaciousness of your point of view.
While I won't disagree that Beatrice Warde writes far more eloquently
than you, I also don't agree with the argument and analogy she constructs
in The Crystal Goblet. Well, except where she describes her own words as
"long-winded and fragrant." She's right about that.
Before one can take The Crystal Goblet seriously, one has to accept some
fairly ridiculous conditions: your choice is limited to Solid Gold Goblet
or Crystal Clear Glass. That's rather like saying your type choices are
limited to Bembo and Beesknees -- take your pick.
"Pour and drink," she says, "and according to your choice of goblet, I
shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine." Yeah, okay, and
set a book in Tekton and I shall know whether or not your background is
limited to DTP ... so? What insights have we really gained from this?
When our options are so simplistically limited, the choice too is a
simple one. Of course we'll choose the crystal glass; of course we'll take
Bembo over Beesknees. This is from the Book of Duh, no?
The sub-title of her essay is also flawed, reducing the analogy that
follows almost to a non sequitur: "Printing should be invisible," she
states. Whaaa? Transparent, mayyyybe, but *invisible*? I don't think so.
It's no more invisible than is her beloved crystal goblet. At some point we
all notice the glass. Otherwise, let's just drink straight from the bottle
In another essay, Warde posits that "type is clothing for words." I like
this analogy better, but it's somewhat at odds with the notion that
printing be invisible, or even transparent for that matter. (I wonder how
often Ms. Warde went to her Monotype offices clad in a see-through top or
bare midriff ensemble? Probably not very.) To extend this analogy, I don't
think many would agree that clothing should not be consciously noticed. If
that were the case, we'd all wear the same drab one-piece jumpsuits to work
(and set all our documents in Verdana). But it's not the case. We choose
our clothes carefully, knowing full well our choices WILL be consciously
noticed. Same with type. While some will undoubtedly never notice our work,
this is not necessarily the primary objective.
To be successful in our choice of type and measure for any given document
is to walk a very fine line, what Bringhurst calls a "task of creative
non-interference." And I think this approach is much more valid, much more
realistic, than shooting for invisibility or avoiding conscious notice.
- Sean Cavanaugh