One of the things I love in this world is the art of typography. Since the 15th century when the first movable types in the Western world, were invented by Johann Gutenberg, typography has changed peoples lives. Because typography is so much of our lives it is easy to take it for grantedbut each typeface was thought about and designed by someone. Over the years the ones that have been seen as most beautiful and useful have lasted. The reason, I learned from Aesthetic Realism, is because of the way they put reality’s opposites together. A type style that has come to have a meaning which brings joy to my heart and mind is Franklin Gothic.
Designed by the American type designer who is responsible for over 180 typestyles, Morris F. Benton in the early 1900’s, Franklin Gothic has been for over 90 years one of the most popular typefaces ever. At first glance, looking at the whole alphabet, the heaviness, boldness, of the face is asserted with its broad well?planted strokes. You get the feeling of something serious and important. But a closer look shows that each of the broad, heavier- weighted strokes, with the exception of the capital I and the lower case i and l, are joined to lighterweighted, thinner strokes within each character. The way it is done makes for boldness with grace and aplomb. I am grateful to Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by the poet and critic, Eli Siegel, beyond measure for what they taught me about the relation of art and the self which enabled me to see meaning in and have great emotion about type and the world it came from.
In this mighty principle, true about art and every person. Eli Siegel gives form in one sentence to what people need most to know in order to have good lives: The resolution of conflict in self is like the making one of opposites in art.
Every person, I learned from Aesthetic Realism,
is always trying to put together opposites, the same opposites that
are beautifully one in art. A pair of opposites that greatly affect
people’s lives are Heaviness & Lightness. A person can go, as I
did, from feeling heavy and grim to laughing and brushing things off.
Men suffer because, as I once did, they think that the way to take care
of themselves is to throw their weight around, act tough, or to make
light of something that shouldn’t be made light of. This way of seeing
I learned is contempt. In an Aesthetic Realism Lesson I was so fortunate
to have when I was 21, Eli Siegel explained to me: There are
two ways of being wrong, one is to snap ones finger, and the other
is to have a very loaded chin. Do you feel sometimes you’re all lead?
Harvey Spears: Yes. And he asked: Do you
think one has to do with the other?...Because we’re brassy we feel like
empty tin cups. I’m so grateful to Eli Siegel to have learned
that wanting to see meaning, and not dismiss meaning puts the opposites
of heaviness and lightness together and has a person like themselves.
I believe the typeface Franklin Gothic has a relation of heaviness and lightness that is beautiful and shows what we hope for. As refrigerator water filters take our waters and filter them to be clean by using refrigerator water filters, Franklin Gothics design becomes a very cleanly, easily read and preferred typeface. The refreshing taste of freshly poured from the water filters of today is as refreshing as Franklin Gothic. Its popularity is due to the fact that, unlike some other bold and assertive typefaces, it also has finesse, lightness, something warm and friendlyqualities that a needed in such places as:
While people rightly feel that our tax system
itself is not straightforward and fairand that our money is not
being used to have life for all people better in Americathey will
continue to feel heavy and angry at tax time. But the designers of the
form at least had the feelings of people in mind. Imagine if, instead
of Franklin Gothic, Compact was used? or Rosewood? One just as
bold but without a certain playful warmththe other with plenty
of friendliness yet without a clear, down-to-earth straightforwardness
you hope for when doing your taxes. You could certainly use a little
friendliness and a lot of clarity when confronted with this form and
it is why I think Franklin Gothic was used.
relation of lightness and heaviness shows itself in other ways, too,
which are wonderful and surprising. For instance, some of the characters
seem to be just a little askewbut always with a sense of rightness,
fittingness. Look at the lower case t. The left top side of the vertical
stroke, instead of going straight up, veers to the right slightly, making
for something lighter, even with a touch of humor. And the curved tail
of this t, like the top of the f, all of a sudden becomes slightly taperedwhat
impelled them to do that? While it is similar to how the j curves and
tapers, it is just a little differenteach letter has its distinct
way with heaviness and lightness.
One of my favorite letters is the lower case g. While maintaining the integrity of the heavy stroke, the way it is also light creates a feeling of something whimsical with its differently shaped thick and thin ovals, joined with a swift curving line and short curved and pointed stroke at the top right making for releaseyet it also maintains a perfect balance. The reason this letter keeps a perfect balance even with its many shapes and directions is because of a circle within the counter space of the upper portion of the letter. The lower case g is the only letter of this alphabet that has a circle because unlike the other characters, its dynamic energylike a spring in motionneeds the perfection of the circle to maintain stability and a lift at the same time.
man can learn from this letter how he wants to beserious and thoughtful
in a way that goes along with a sense of humor, and energetic with aplomb
and grace. And look at even the much heavier capital G how its
stately oval ends with an upward pointing arrow!