Books are terrible; publishing is an oligopoly with a progressive agenda; dumbass Millennial girls, with no history reading professionally-edited copy, now professionally edit and typeset copy. Books are terrible.

Out of the 150-odd books I bought, borrowed, downloaded, or simply blew through in 2019, a few were nonterrible even if their typography nonetheless was.

  1. Saving Beauty by Han Byung-Chul.

  2. Peak: The New Science of Athletic Performance [subtitle continues for some time – Ed.] densely and with good typography covers everything from mindset to constituent molecules. I’m still picking my way through it (again: dense).

  3. Bronze Age Mindset indeed is a poorly-assembled print-on-demand paperback. Yet this “book” is conceptually viable only as fungible electronic text. Akin to Don Norman’s just-noticeable difference, Bronze Age Mindset is just original enough to be captivating and memorable. (Q.v.)

  4. Sexual Landscapes by James D. Weinrich, while rather eccentrically typeset, offers a voice I’ve never encountered before in presenting academic arguments to laypeople. He’s delightful. Weinrich’s section “What happens when sissies and tomboys grow up?” is the only original contribution to that topic. (By a wide margin – positively not “just original enough.”)

  5. You’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey must be experienced in the authoress’s voice.

  6. Dave Addey goes into well more than the level of detail you would reasonably wish for in Typeset in the Future: Typography and Design in Science-Fiction Movies. More really is more in this kind of design criticism, whose tone recalls that history of synthetic voices with the perfect title, How to Wreck a Nice Beach.

    (Indeed, should we not informally refer to Addey’s book as Typeset in the Futura [q.v.]?)

  7. Provocations by Camille Paglia assembles everything from AOL screenshots to AOL chat sessions.

    In John Waters’ aperçu, there are some people for whom Deborah Harry is Elvis. Paglia achieved originality so vast you have to be blind, or blinkered, not to read in awe.

Three books all but permanently reset my outlook in the broadest sense. (Wat means‽)

  1. The hugely disturbing Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic (Sandra Kahn) rewrote my beliefs about sleep apnea and childhood orthodontia. I was unaware I had any such beliefs.

    I was not wrong to notice an onslaught of chinless pencil-necked geeks in living memory, many of whom, this book proves via X‑rays and photographs, will suffer from blocked airways for a lifetime. What seems contradictory on its face is that correcting such underbites the wrong way in childhood also leads to blocked airways.

    If you fancy the opposite of the pencil-necked geek (fellas with necks as wide as their earlobes are separated), well, guess which other group can’t breathe through a night’s sleep, either.

  2. The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi vitiated its purpose when the ostensible philosopher engaged in dialectic with the ostensible student was shown to be female. But, like Jaws, The Courage to Be Disliked effectively rewrites unexamined truths as it reveals a non-Freudian theory of the human mind (the Adlerian philosophy). Freudianism is so steeped in our psyches that it is shocking to imagine not cause and effect as primary human motivator (this happened as a boy; I am unhappy now as a man) but purpose (one is unhappy because it serves a purpose). If any apple cart deserved to be upended, I see now it is Freud’s.

    (In a Smithee-like oddity, searching even LC catalogue records [and sources beyond] reveals no translator credit.)

  3. Beauty by Stefan Sagmeister (and ostensibly Walsh, but let’s be serious) tells readers that some things are valuable because they are beautiful. To its detriment, Beauty is the kind of designed object that will be read only by those who already accept that beautiful things are valuable.

    • I do not know how to explain to Windoids, NPCs, basic bitches, and other nonentities who have so little going for them that I can sum them up in catchphrases that beauty has value.

    • Where I would fault Sagmeister is his inability to recognize that his own demimonde, namely progressive New Yorkers and Europeans, are the only faction in our society that militates against beauty, quite often with billyclubs, “concrete”-laced “milkshakes,” and bike locks.

    • Sagmeister cites research, which I tracked down and read, that shows artistically educated subjects find asymmetry beautiful while normals do not. That finding conforms to my own experience with postmodern architecture (cf. Charles Jencks’ photo cutlines). (Photo of some of Sagmeister’s citations.)

    • Spiekermann (q.v.) is one of who knows how many designers claiming their job is to make the world marginally less ugly. No wonder we – “we” – have failed when we’ve aimed so low.

      Still, I do think there has to be a 21st-century way of teaching Windoids, NPCs, basic bitches, and other nonentities the first step (it’s a lulu) in understanding that one can communicate visually, not just in words.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2019.12.31 12:33. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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