The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


In the Land of Punctuation published by Tara Books (seen at DesignWorkLife):

Written in 1905 by the German poet Christian Morgenstern, In the Land of Punctuation is a darkly comic linguistic caprice that holds a resonant mirror to our times. Situated at the crossroads of language, design, and politics, this illustrated edition is a unique picture book for adults. Translated faithfully by Sirish Rao, with typographic illustrations by Rathna Ramanathan, this is a brilliantly inventive dance of text and image.

More on the illustrations at Rathna Ramanathan’s blog.

Quality. Interest. Significance — Robert McCrum profiles literary agent Andrew ‘The Jackal’ Wylie in The Observer:

The more he talks, the more Wylie’s innate puritan zeal comes to life within the clerical black of his undertaker’s suit and tie. “I’m a books person. Yes, I have a Kindle. I used it for an hour and a half and put it in the closet. I’m not interested in mass culture. When I started out I saw nine out of 10 people heading for the door marked Money, Commerce, Trash. So I chose the door marked Quality. Interest. Significance…”

Battle Royale — In a much linked to article, Ken Auletta, author of Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, discusses the iPad, the Kindle, and, yes, Google, in The New Yorker:

Publishing exists in a continual state of forecasting its own demise; at one major house, there is a running joke that the second book published on the Gutenberg press was about the death of the publishing business.

There’s not much (if anything) new in the article and more than a few of the usual suspects (and clichés) appear, but it does cover a lot of ground and provides a decent summary of where things currently stand in the publisher-Apple-Amazon-Google pissing match.

Revolution Betrayed — Christopher Hitchens on George Orwell’s Animal Farm for The Guardian:

It is affecting to imagine battle-hardened ex-soldiers and prisoners of war, having survived all the privations of the eastern front, becoming stirred by the image of British farm animals singing their own version of the discarded “Internationale”, but this was an early instance of the hold the book was to take on its readership. The emotions of the American military authorities in Europe were not so easily touched: they rounded up all the copies of Animal Farm that they could find and turned them over to the Red Army to be burnt. The alliance between the farmers and the pigs, so hauntingly described in the final pages of the novel, was still in force.

And finally…


Massimo Vignelli says we use too many fonts.  I Love Typography has a smart response. The full 36-minute interview with Vignelli is available from Big Think.

Similar Posts:


  1. Pingback: In the Land of Punctuation «

  2. Love those Massimo clips. Especially his talks about scale.

Leave a Reply