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Khaled Hosny said:
the simplification of Arabic for typewriters and later printing was advocated by natives more than anyone else and it was for practical reasons.
Khaled Hosny said:
Arabic and colonial influence is rather bullshit. Arabic printing and type were not started by colonial powers and the simplification of Arabic for typewriters and later printing was advocated by natives more than anyone else and it was for practical reasons. Also, no, the kind of calligraphy they show is art pieces like paintings or sculpture, this is not what everyone was reading or writing in, before printing and after it.
Hrant H. Papazian said:
How could they have found a better solution? By worrying more about culture than money.
But the metaphor of war is nothing new.
My favourite is “charm offensive” (1956).
Typography in culture wars is primarily just another symbol vested with often-arbitrary meaning. Sure, that meaning sometimes comes from a historical basis, but at heart what matters is which ideas are associated with which particular styles, and sure it is great to be aware of that, but it is no more a big important deal than color or any number of other things that get associated as symbols of particular movements.
However, I don't think that the article referenced made a convincing case for this.
Of course a particular typeface or style of typefaces can, for historical reasons, acquire a negative connotation. But that's not a problem, it just means people will avoid it, unless they want to identify with extreme views.
As for Serbian and Croatian: the issue has to do with writing systems, with scripts, not with typefaces. The problems with Arabic typography are real, and indeed due to colonialism, but they too are far off the purported topic of the article.
If they could have tried to show how, say, the use of Scotch Roman or Baskerville, or even Times Roman, instead of Helvetica or Univers, sent an insidious message that patriarchy and tradition were just peachy... even if I didn't agree with them, at least I would have admitted they were actually talking about what they were claiming to be talking about.
As it is, the article showed that typography is perhaps not as utterly devoid of political subtext as we might like to think... but not that this is so to any extent that requires anyone to actually do anything about it.
I know some designers who have avoided designing typefaces, because of the possibility that they might be used nefariously.
T.M. Cleland could have been a great type designer (he actually was involved in a couple of fonts), but preferred to keep his lettering skills devoted to one-off custom work. Here is one of his ads promoting American capitalism.
One can deplore, or at least regret, the effects of an overwhelming Western dominance that leads to other cultures being neglected without attributing it to colonialism or any other form of aggression.
Of course, the fact that movable type was first invented in China does remind us that some technical limitations are real.
People also over romanticize the Arabic script much (I’m guilty as anyone), the fact is most Arabic manuscripts are terrible and very hard to read, except the very few that were done by highly skilled calligraphers, and movable type is a huge improvement in readability over any mass book production method that predated it no matter how some people feel about the mechanization of the script.
Also I find many of the movable types used in Istanbul or Cairo to be very elegant and beautiful, the uglification/simplification came from typewriters and newspapers and had very practical purposes and I fail to imagine much better and practical solutions given the technology of that time.
That's easy for us to say in the industrialized Western world. People living in poor countries don't have enough money, so they have to worry about it.
And, on the other hand, if the people of the Arabic script world were a mercenary lot that concentrated on commerce while giving short shrift to their own traditions... a great deal of recent unpleasantness in the news headlines would never have happened.
People use the tools which they have available to do the things they need to do. And mass literacy and mass education were very rightly esteemed as urgent tasks by Iran, Pakistan, and the Arab world.
Money versus culture? Bad if it's the money to buy a second yacht. Not so bad if it's the money you need to feed your kids. So I think you're raising a dichotomy that serves to produce, rather than dispel, confusion.