Words will not back down, against typography


“Typography speaks louder than words.”

Unless (self-)proclaimed writers of the world start to work their butts off and keep on breathing the fogs and investigating the widespread squalor around them and then weave words into fragments and fragments into stories then stories into stimulations, these indictment most probably from the typography camp is surely to ring with veracity.

No one can dispute against the visuality of the age but not too many have consistently and strong-mindedly lashed back against the postmodern celebrations of superficiality and (feigned) facility.  It appears like everyone is kowtowing to the visual predominance, where as we shall have observed, the multimedia image is the queen. And in this hodge-podge, no illusion of equality can be preserved; for the written word is flinching at the margins, displaced by the audio-visual and even in its own terrain (the print/written), it is now being harassed by the looming stalwart in the typography.

True, I get the idea. A certain posture, a certain tincture of color, a certain shape or bend size can make words speak more than they stand, letter after letter. The connotations though are not that rich: huge size can easily mean dominance, a striking color can mean solid emphasis and so on. This is not to downplay typography. It is a welcome development, arguably an early success in venturing within the thriving of the visual. Plain words are bland and mostly disengaging if they come right by themselves. And with the physical contortions they have introduced, typography really is on the right path if one of its aims is to enliven the dull written word. But at this point, the written word should not just recoil. No thanks to the elitism and commercialism of the publishing “industry” in general and all its consequences on what comes out of the written world, the written word finds it harder to launch a spirited resurgence amidst this current trend.

The individual writer must recognize these overall contexts outside her that can certainly set the parameters for the upshot and probably the potential impact of her works.  Will they gain the nod of publishers and make a way into the mainstream streets? Will they be appreciated by the general public and to what extent? To the extent only of a passing success or up to the extent of future recognition and more writing ventures? The writers must strive harder; keep hitting their heads against the rock-solid parapets against creative written outputs and keep at pace with the visuals. We bow to this: the power of the word now accepts the immense help from the visual manipulation, but that should not hold us back from infusing more and more inventiveness less on the visual aspect and more on the word itself.

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2 Comments

  1. Or perhaps, the visual aspect of typography is the poetry itself?
    I think poetry, today, is not just about the words. A bad poem with good typography is still a bad poem. A good poem with bad typography is still a good poem, but we all know that only a few people read poetry, much less for poetry that looks like shit.

    This is the very nature of this day and age. Shakespeare is dead.

    1. Ok, point taken. Pero, at least for me, poetry should be primarily about the words (in other words: good typography CANNOT salvage a bad poem). Ok, pwede naman nating i-acknowledge yang visual adaptation na kailangang gawin ng poetry and that is the thing that needs to be problematized, given the visuality of the age and the fact na unti na lang ang nagbabasa ng tula. I think this is the deadlock where we find ourselves in during an exchange in the house.

      I think the post, while wanting a continuing effort for poetry to reinvent its words, does not dismiss the need for another distinct effort: an effort for poetry to reinvent its materiality/its physicality/its appearance.

      Also: is this Shakespeare versus the contemporary visual? The reference is too farfetched, and implies more outmodedness, hence, raising the vitality of that which seeks to come after it, i.e. the “visual” poem, whatever that is. Pero less than Shakespeare-like poetry which the visuality of the poem needs to address, is the simpleng verse after verse hitsura ng “lumang” poetry na ginagawa rin naman ni Yuson, ni Suarez, ni Sylvia Plath. So: let us write poetry more than package it.

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