Sunday, December 31, 2017

It makes no sense to continue

Lucio finds Fede bent over an Albrecht Dürer catalog. It looks like he's inhaling, sniffing it, even, bringing the image of the painting closer to his eyes with a gigantic magnifying glass.

"Look at this, it's astonishing..."

Fede shows him an etching from the book Melencolia I, from 1514, which some experts say marks the start of the Renaissance. Melancholy is represented by a sitting angel who looks tormented. Behind them, an unfinished house; in front of them, a multitude of objects: an hourglass, a feather, an empty scale, an inkwell, a ladder... objects that speak of a half finished job. He says:

"Back then melancholia was not what we understand it to be today: it was the least appreciated of the four temperaments... "

"Indeed. It was related to madness, to the color of the earth, to the fall, to the north wind, to cold weather and drought, to Saturn, which seems to influence creative types so much... it was also related with the time in life when men turn sixty years old..."

"With our time in life, therefore."

"Melancholia was always associated with laziness... but that's not the case in Dürer's etching. Look: it's true that melancholy has abandoned its work, but it's not doing it because of laziness, but because it's realized that it makes no sense to continue."

"The strangest thing is that we don't have a Melencolia II or Melencolia III..."

"Lost works of art..."

"I am not so sure... I have always believed that the I not a number, but an invocation."

"An invocation?"

"Yes: Go away, Melancholia! in Latin... Out of here! It's the desire to say goodbye to the dark Middle Ages and embrace the light of the Renaissance..."

"It was around that time that our beloved Aldus Manutius showed the world his first book using the Bembo font..."

"Garamond also emerged around the same time. Do you know what, Lucio, I've just realized why I prefer the Bembo font to Garamond: The Garamond font has smaller eyes, as if the eyes of the letters a and e were half closed..."

"As if they'd just woken up from a long sleep..."

"The Bembo font, however, has wide open eyes... The Bembo font is the first font that remains alert, attentive and vigilant. The Garamond font suits the sleepy, those who haven't quite woken up yet, who are still dormant... It's a bleary-eyed font... After looking at this painting by Dürer, I believe my conscience is clear and I am ready to go blind."
— from Twist, by Harkaitz Cano.

Bembo versus Garamond. I love a book that steps away from the plot to geek out over font. This novel does so regularly.

No comments: