Alphabet Juice is the book Roy Blount was born to write, which considering his prodigious talent, is saying a lot. Did you know that the word LAUGH is linguistically related to chickens and pie? This is the book that any of us who urgently, passionately love words-to read them, roll them over the tongue and learn their life stories while laughing and eating chicken and pie-were lucky enough to be born to read.
The manner in which I learned to read and write, not only had great influence on my own mind, as I acquired it with the most perfect ease, so much so, that I have no recollection whatever of learning the alphabet.
Each typeface is a piece of history, like a chip in a mosaic that depicts the development of human communication. Each typeface is also a visual record of the person who created it - his skill as a designer, his philosophy as an artist, his feeling for... the details of each letter and the resulting impressions of an alphabet or a text line.
Opinions are not to be learned by rote, like the letters of an alphabet, or the words of a dictionary. They are conclusions to be formed, and formed by each individual in the sacred and free citadel of the mind, and there enshrined beyond the arm of law to reach, or force to shake; ay! and beyond the right of impertinent curiosity to violate, or presumptuous arrogance to threaten.
As the component parts of all new machines may be said to be old[,] it is a nice discriminating judgment, which discovers that a particular arrangement will produce a new and desired effect. ... Therefore, the mechanic should sit down among levers, screws, wedges, wheels, etc. like a poet among the letters of the alphabet, considering them as the exhibition of his thoughts; in which a new arrangement transmits a new idea to the world.
I suggest that a culture adopting an alphabet would denigrate right hemispheric values because the alphabet is a left hemispheric mode of reception. And this right hemispheric denigration would manifest in two principal ways: Women's rights would be taken away, and images would be declared abominations.
Man's books are but man's alphabet, Beyond and on his lessons lie The lessons of the violet, The large gold letters of the sky; The love of beauty, blossomed soil, The large content, the tranquil toil: The toil that nature ever taught, The patient toil, the constant stir, The toil of seas where shores are wrought, The toil of Christ, the carpenter; The toil of God incessantly By palm-set land or frozen sea.
Our musical alphabet is poor and illogical. Music, which should pulsate with life, needs new means of expression, and science alone can infuse it with youthful vigor. Why, Italian Futurists, have you slavishly reproduced only what is commonplace and boring in the bustle of our daily lives. I dream of instruments obedient to my thought and which with their contribution of a whole new world of unsuspected sounds, will lend themselves to the exigencies of my inner rhythm.
I've come to realize that making it your life's work to be different than your parents is not only hard to do, it's a dumb idea. Not everything we found fault with was necessarily wrong; we were right, for example, to resent, as kids, being told when to go to bed. We'd be equally wrong, as parents, to let our kids stay up all night. To throw out all the tools of parenting just because our parents used them would be like making yourself speak English without using ten letters of the alphabet; it's hard to do.