Everyday Aesthetics 5 – The Letter

Everyday Aesthetics 5  – The Letter

Without the letter I wouldn’t be able to read, I wouldn’t be able to order from a menu, I would be able to keep up with the news, I wouldn’t be able to follow instructions. I would be able to type this and you wouldn’t be able to read it. Everyday Aesthetics 5  – The Letter

The Letter: Without it I wouldn’t be able to read, order from a menu, keep up with the news, follow instructions.
This is a 19C printer’s ‘A’ wooden block

Of course, it’s endless. Where would we be without letters, reading, writing, the press?

The Letter: Without it I wouldn’t be able to read, order from a menu, keep up with the news, follow instructions.
Printing Press Helston Town Museum

Who really knows where the first letters we use today originated from. India, Egypt, Syria?  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_alphabet) Who knows for sure. But what we do know is how letters and with them writing, changed the world.

Nomadic tribes, to agricultural society, to civilization and the first recordings of history and theology (Old Testament), philosophy (Greece), poems (Homer) through the millennia to today with some exceptions.

For modern times it was the invention of the printing press that made all the difference. Up until then, scribes were required all writing in longhand, single pages and books at a time. With the printing press all this changed overnight, and masses of tracts, missives, pamphlets, and books were able to be printed and distributed thus bringing whatever word, story, message, to the masses.

Johannes Gutenberg was allegedly the first European inventor of the printing press, and his first work was the Bible (around 1440).

Gutenberg Bible

In England it was William Caxton (around 1476).

William Caxton

Thus, leading to reading and writing’s accessibility to all who could read and therefore not just the clergy. A massive move forward for the march of humankind. For example, this helped people such as Martin Luther to spread his word (1517) leading to the criticism of indulgences, the concept of priests being only able to intercede between you and God and eventually the spilt of the Roman Catholic Church (Protestantism).

Martin Luther

The printing press could also be used to mass produce pictures and from that point artists had access to once again, mass markets. Using wood engravings, the press people were able to reproduce popular pieces of art for whoever could afford them, and as such prints were relatively cheap, many could buy them. This helped to release artists from the close confines of patrons such as the church and the super wealthy and therefore they could enlarge their oeuvre and eventually become far more independent to follow their own paths.

All this leading to the pamphleteers of the revolutionary 17th 18th and 19th centuries, spreading their word and the news Press in the 18th and 19th Centuries through to today.

Examples of pamphlets: Durer and anti-Luther

Just for a moment consider the wealth of information, entertainment, insights and knowledge conveyed by newspapers, magazines, comics and books, the Internet and on and on, all as a result of the letter.

William Blake:

We now have the technical digital world. I’m typing this on a computer keyboard. I use the Internet, I message with emails and WhatsApp, X and Instagram for example. But I’m still using letters like this one illustrated above.

Modern printing press

And now we have the very latest technology … worth a dip into the Wiki site given here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message

Arecibo Message

Letters – an everyday essential without doubt.