Monday, March 9, 2015

fresh type from Parnassus

well, perhaps not quite Parnassus, but certainly Offizin Parnassia in Switzerland (they have, by the way, a splendid type catalog in PDF form you can download) - pictured here is the 24pt Albertus Light I showed back on January 10 - there's something about unused type, a sense, when I look at it, of open possibility, the scope of which will decrease at the precise point when it is put in the press, ink'd, & press'd into paper - the letters of the English alphabet are capable of registering a great many languages, a prospect diminished at the time any one language is chosen - is it similar to the loss of linguistic possibility written about by Daniel Heller-Roazen when he recounts Roman Jakobson : ". . . infants, he maintained, are capable of everything. Without the slightest effort, they can produce any - and all - sounds contained in human languages". And then quoting Jakobson : ". . . the child loses nearly all of his [her] ability to produce sounds in passing from the pre-linguistic stage to the first acquisition of words, that is, to the first genuine stage of language". (from Echolalias: On the forgetting of language, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Zone Books 2005) - is unprinted type like that - full of a total possibility that is erased or at least diminished when it's put to the service of just one or two languages - and if the type one acquires is secondhand, what then, if it was used in one language, to be henceforth used for another - there is of course no memory in the metal that passes over tho some would like to think so - a kind of unrealisable inherence, perhaps - in the transformation of lead type into gold words, the work stands at an absolute beginning, every time new, every time fresh, every time as all time, and no time as part of any sort of sequence - and, listening again to Guy Davenport in 1974 (the year I started to print) : "We are just now seeing, amidst the fads and distractions, the strange fact that what has been most modern in our time was what was most archaic. . . " - along with the Albertus from Switzerland came a quantity of Gill Sans Greek type, in capital letters only, in which both the old and the new are both equally present to sight and to the prospects at hand &, literally, in the hand-setting of type - what's past is present, and the present is ever reaching forward -