Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Complete Book of Calligraphy Lettering by Cari Ferraro, Eugene Metcalf, Arthur Newhall, John Stevens

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This book is exactly what it claims to be - complete! At least as far as a rank amateur like me can tell!

It contains everything from start to finish with information about pens, paper, brushes and even chalk. It covers a variety of alphabets and gives numerous detailed examples not only of how to create a beautiful calligraphic end result, but even down to the details of how to create each letter:- which strokes to use and which direction to draw them in, in black and colored ink and in an almost bewildering variety of styles, from simple lettering (no that any calligraphy is truly simple!) to exotic stuff with all the curlicues and flourishes you could hope for. Ancient and modern, elegant and edgy, it's all here.

I am about as far from a calligraphy expert as you can get, but I was impressed by the sheer amount of example and detail - some 240 pages of it, and the hints and tips which were included frequently. My guess is that if you cannot get these skills down from reading this, following the examples and practice, practice, practice, then you never will, so I commend this as a one-stop shop for learning this fine art.

Friday, November 2, 2018

How to Think Like an Absolute Genius by Philippe Brasseur, Virginie Berthemetv

Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I have to say up front that I wasn't impressed by this book. For one reason it was overwhelmingly white male - as though there are so few examples of other genders and ethnicities that the author couldn't find them. I call bullshit on that. He simply didn't look, and instead of finding a diversity of modern cutting-edge exemplars, it seems he took the lazy route and fell back on historical figures.

The book is divided into three sections, the first, 'Be Curious', is all white males. The second, 'Be Imaginative', is all white males. The third, 'Be Determined', is all white males save two token people: Martin Luther King and Agatha Christie, but what is the point of being determined if authors determinedly exclude you in books like this? Each individual section had up to half-a-dozen 'also-ran' names listed, but again these were overwhelmingly white men - around sixty of them, and white women - around forty, with a literal handful men and women of color. This book needs to be shunned on that basis alone. I'm surprised the publisher allowed it to be published like this in this day and age.

Even with the white folks, the author talked only about the positive, like every one of these people was a paragon. He never brought up anything negative about his heroes, such as that Einstein made a major blunder in his calculations precisely because he did not have the courage of his convictions, or about Charlie Chaplin's predilection for juvenile females, or America's darling Edison (barf), who cruelly electrocuted animals for no other reason than to try to 'prove' that his rival Tesla's AC power transmission system was dangerous and Edison's own limp DC current was the only intelligent way to go. Guess who won?

Edison was not a genius. A genius does not blindly try out hundreds of filaments to figure out how to make a light work. In fact Edison wasn't actually the one who tried all those - he had his more than likely underpaid workforce do all the work. Maybe that was his genius: getting others to labor for him while he took all the credit? But the real genius was the guy who invented the light bulb before Edison 'did': Sir Joseph Wilson Swan. Can we not find better inspiration and better, more diverse people to seek to emulate than these? I refuse to believe we cannot.

The short response to this title is: No, you can't teach someone to be a genius. The problem is that part of it is nature, which is really hard to change unless you become the scientist who does figure out how to change that. The other part though, is nurture and it's highly malleable, especially in young children.

In short you can encourage people to think in ways that might lead to important insights and inventions, but just as with a horse being led to water, you can only do so much. That doesn't mean you can't be inspired by those who have gone before, but it's a lot easier to be inspired by someone who is in some way like you, and the majority of people on this planet are not white males - they're half female and largely non-white! I cannot commend this book at all. It's entirely wrong-headed, unless the author really only wants white male children to be moved by it.