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06 SEPTEMBER, 2012

Advice to Lovers, 1919

By:

“Love is not kindly nor yet grim / But does to you as you to him.”

Between 1919 and 1923, English poet Robert Graves published a short-lived and radical literary magazine titled The Owl. The foreword to its first issue declared, “The Owl has no politics, leads no new movement and is not even the organ of any particular generation.” The magazine went on to publish works by established writers like Thomas Hardy, W. H. Davies, and John Galsworthy, alongside vibrant illustrations by some of the era’s celebrated artists.

The second issue of the magazine, published in October of 1919, featured a wonderful poem by Graves himself, titled “Advice to Lovers” — enjoy.

ADVICE TO LOVERS

I knew an old man at a fair
Who made it his twice-yearly task
To clamber on a cider cask
And cry to all the lovers there : —

‘Lovers of all lands and all time
Preserve the meaning of my rhyme,
Love is not kindly nor yet grim
But does to you as you to him.

Whistle, and Love will come to you :
Hiss, and he fades without a word :
Do wrong, and he great wrong will do :
Speak, and he tells what he has heard.

Then all you lovers take good heed,
Vex not young Love in thought or deed :
Love never leaves an unpaid debt,
He will not pardon, nor forget.’

The old man’s voice was kind yet loud
And this shows what a man was he,
He’d scatter apples to the crowd
And give great draughts of cider free.

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06 SEPTEMBER, 2012

Pioneers! O Space Pioneers! A Walt Whitman + NASA Mashup

By:

“Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways, Pioneers! O pioneers!”

On the heels of yesterday’s animated adaptation of Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot and Ray Bradbury’s passionate case for space exploration earlier this week comes a dynamic mashup of Walt Whitman’s poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” and awe-inspiring footage of mankind’s cosmic triumphs. Conceived before Neil Armstrong’s passing but released this past Labor Day, the video pays homage to the beloved pioneer and casts a hopeful eye towards the future of space exploration. Creator JankAround writes:

On this Labor Day, let’s all remember that regardless of policies, regardless of methods, and regardless of destinations, our journey into outer space will take an immense amount of work.

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,

We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize

Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?

did we stop discouraged nodding on our way?

not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Pioneers! O pioneers!

Complement with the fantastic Sagan Series remixes and the goosebump-giving The Sky Is Calling Us.

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05 SEPTEMBER, 2012

Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili

By:

Three decades of typographic magic, graphic elegance, and combinatorial creativity.

For more than three decades, graphic designer Louise Fili* has been producing some of the most consistently exquisite typography, frequently hand-drawn and building upon thoughtfully curated vintage sources. In her decade as art director for Pantheon Books, she created nearly two thousand book jackets, each with remarkable attention to detail. Since 1989, she has expanded and extended her singular lens to restaurant menus and food packaging through her namesake design studio. The new monograph Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili (public library) offers, for the first time, a sweeping look at Fili’s work and the philosophy behind it.

But Fili’s greatest gift is perhaps the extraordinary ability to seek out vintage gems — and to do so with great taste — which she then reimagines and combines into entirely new designs that aren’t mere homage to the past but, rather, an entirely original visual language with an entirely original point of view.

In the foreword, the inimitable Steven Heller observes Fili’s power of combinatorial creativity, something another design hero, Paula Scher, has previously spoken to:

What Louise does instead is build upon things passé to enliven her contemporary graphic statements — even when the result has vintage resonance.

Almost every example in this book can be unpacked to discover its influences and inspirations (and herein are detailed case studies). However, the manner in which these component parts are reassembled is uniquely Louise’s. It is all too easy to add pre-cooked ingredients from archival sources, but to then transform them into designs that are at once familiar and entirely novel — well, that takes extreme discipline.

For a charming aside, here’s a heart-warming anecdote about Heller and Fili’s relationship:

Dear Louise,

I just wanted to tell you that I think your book and book jacket designs for Pantheon are excellent Consistently so.

Every time I am struck by a book in our bookroom or on the in-coming table it is something you’ve been responsible for.

Best regards,

[signed] Steve Heller

On March 9, 1982, when I was art director of the New York Times Book Review, I sent the grammatically challenged note above to Louise Fili, whom I had never met and, in fact, had never laid eyes on before. A little more than a year later we were married.

This intimate disclosure is essential, lest anyone reading this foreword to Louise’s monograph presume I lack critical objectivity. Strictly speaking, at the time I wrote the note I was a genuinely objective fan of Louise’s typographic elegance, visual flair, and conceptual ingenuity, as well as her keen expertise with illustration — an area I knew something about.

Appropriately lavish and stunning, Elegantissima is the perfect showcase of Fili’s intricate, arresting, and always elegant work.

* …who looks strikingly like Anaïs Nin

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