79 Different Fonts?

Michael Bierut is intentional (and ironic in some cases) in his choice of fonts for each essay. While I won’t pretend to have figured out the typographic connection for each one, I’m certain of two: Helvetica in “Mr. Vignelli’s Map,” and ITC Garamond in “I Hate ITC Garamond.”

Helvetica, the font Vignelli originally wanted for his New York subway map, seems like an ideal choice for this essay. Also, the misunderstanding between the designers (Vignelli and Noorda) and the sign shop that resulted in the black horizontal line at the top of each sign reminded me of a graphic Dr. Xu showed us back in September.

Not only did Bierut’s use of ITC Garamond  in “I Hate ITC Garamond” tickle me, but also his severe and unnatural hatred of this font, which is so eloquently described in the following quote:

The most distinctive element of the typeface is its enormous lower-case x-height. In theory this improves its legibility, but only in the same way that dog poop’s creamy consistency in theory should make it more edible.

Although I’m still trying to figure out the connection between the font (which looks like Times New Roman) used in “Vladimir Nabokov: Father of Hypertext,” I had to read this particular essay to satisfy my ever-increasing love of all things hypertext (thank you, Shelley Jackson). His opening paragraph about losing two hours on the computer in a hypertextual adventure from one site to another and his unwillingness to venture out into the cold almost exactly describes how I spent my morning. Also, I’ll be running to the library tomorrow to find a copy of Pale Fire.

Whether or not there is an actual connection between each font and essay, I’m still curious to read this entire collection. Apparently there is an index that includes a comprehensive list of fonts used in the entire book, and it might be fun to ruminate over the reasoning behind Bierut’s choices.

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