The function of typography, as I understand it, is neither to further the power of witches nor to bolster the defences of those, like this unfortunate parliamentarian, who live in terror of being tempted and deceived. The satisfactions of the craft come from elucidating, and perhaps even ennobling, the text, not from deluding the unwary reader by applying scents, paints and iron stays to empty prose. But humble texts, such as classified ads or the telephone directory, may profit as much as anything else from a good typographical bath and a change of clothes. And many a book, like many a warrior or dancer or priest of either sex, may look well with some paint on its face, or with a bone in its nose.
May we all aspire to such prose, filled with surprise, dashing with the momentum and grace of a skier. And, the kicker:
Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness…Typography at its best is a slow performing art, worthy of the same informed appreciation that we sometimes give to musical performances, and capable of giving similar nourishment and pleasure in return.
Isn’t that what we’ve always wanted to say about great performances and their power to reveal great compositions?