Monday, May 26, 2008
A NOTE ON THE TYPE
The text of this book was set in Krafft-Ebing,*
a fin-de-siècle corruption of the roman typeface, Macula,
a typeface adapted by the Dutch type cutter Jakobius Bathybius
from Johannes Cantrip’s long-suppressed Immacula,
a beautiful roman face censored by Pope Sixtus IV in 1481
for its innumerabilibus peccatis,
including the secular canting of the e’s cross-stroke,
and the crassitudo diabolico of the S’s sinistral curve.
Cantrip’s matrices, rediscovered
in a root cellar in Middenmeer (1745),
prompted a radical rethinking of the serif
among the region’s younger typographers.
Jakobius Bathybius’ Macula represents
the apotheosis of the resultant typefaces.
Noted for its muscular brackets
and gracefully tapering ascenders,
it has been described as a “a typographical fusion
of the mundane and the divine.” (Caslon, 1766)
In 1881, Hieronymo Glyphe,
a Parisian typesetter’s apprentice,
while handsetting the text of Didier Consommé ‘s
712-page Histoire De Mes Cacoëthes in Nonpareil Macula,
after five days straight of neither food nor sleep
dreamed the typeface transmogrified
into a mummery of limbs, bellies and holes,
all carousing, hermaphrodisiacal, across the blanc-
mange of sense, a play upon a play, a semaphor.
Krafft-Ebing, a bastard fount of unsurpassed eloquence,
grafts rack and crux, crook and genuflex,
groin and crotch, to the lunulate curves
of rictus, opisthotonos and gravidity.
Its strokes and serifs self-flagellate
to an abecediary tarantelle, and meaning
escapes its fenestrations, exorcised.
It is type’s trump. Huzzah ! Ghaxt. Plygqi. Vlo.