Twilight Rants - 2013

Modern Calligraphy

calligraphy.

You challenge everything I believe about the beauty of words being intrinsic, being tied to meaning, regardless of form. After attending the calligraphy symposium (and by symposium I am not referring to a bacchanal party in case you were wondering) I realized that your form means a lot to some people.

Here I am, refusing to own an e-reader for the sake of preserving the “written word” in the form of physical books, nearly forgetting that people are still willing to pay big bucks for calligraphers to design their wedding invitations. I guess in the same way that many people in the field of literature are fighting to keep every book/article/letter from going digital, calligraphers are fighting to keep the written word actually written.

Watching the calligraphers interpret each spoken word in her own way onto her “canvas” it was clear that there was a special techne involved. Even more than an acquired skill set, it was an instinctual process for these ladies. Unique and decorative writing just flowed from their hands.

This all sounds lovely and endearing, but really it came together for me when I went to the 2nd floor of the library and actually looked at the calligraphy exhibit. There, I saw a piece that perfectly united the not-so-distant worlds of calligraphy and literature.

Curse you, library lighting, and curse you ancient Samsung  phone, for not being able to capture the greatness of E.E. Cummings’ poem “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” in calligraphic form. *sigh*

It’s worth a look.

It’s nothing more than brown ink on white canvas, framed with dark brown wood, but man it really reached out a grabbed me. I thought about the poet himself and how he was able to so eloquently express love. I also thought about how the format – the simple layout – was so thoughtfully put together to highlight the meaning behind the words. Comparing this calligraphy piece to, say, this…

Kind of makes you appreciate the calligraphy doesn’t it? Or maybe booger green colors and baby handwriting tickles your fancy. I’m not judging.

So what can pass in our technological digital world, as today’s calligraphy? Can a blog be an art form? Can we compare typing on a keyboard and strategically placing images and hyperlinks to the hand-to-pen-to-paper art form that is calligraphy? I personally believe that nothing can replace the tactile connection you get from putting a pen to paper, and that it inherently adds a degree of separation between you and your work. But calligraphy hasn’t died, and I certainly believe that the meaning of words transcends their form (even scrawly words on a pukey background).

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3 thoughts on “Modern Calligraphy

  1. You catch the difference. There was a time when elegance and grace were to be sought. People once took “time” to encourage those things. Clothes and manners tell the tale. Look at the past – care in dressing, in speech and in behavior mattered. Today’s fast-forward, anything goes, dress, speech, behavior mirrors that. the art of calligraphy takes “time.” Of course, the words in both your examples are the same and their meaning is the important thing. Nice observation.

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