On the democracy of letters

A Reading Note

Even in a largely secular community, we still hesitate to set “god” (a concept that can be disbelieved) and not “God” (an undisputed primary being).

Kinross, Unjustified Texts, page 133

I have always written “god” and not “God” (which reveals something about my beliefs), and yet I still feel that hesitation that Kinross speaks of, knowing it runs contrary to the prevailing typographic/ideological currents and that even a small decision in typesetting can cause offense:

An editorial statement in the special issue [of Typographische Mitteilungen] concluded: “write small! no letters with powdered wigs and class-coronets / democracy in orthography too!” So lowercase was adopted by people who felt that egalitarian principles should extend to letters.

Kinross, Unjustified Texts, page 139

It’s a lovely image to consider: the lowercase letterforms demanding a democratically arranged constitution (read: alphabet), fighting off the tyranny of the capitals.

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