Friday, August 17, 2012

Portraits of Unicode Characters, #2 of a series — Pile of Poo

As you can see by contrast with the previous entry, the vocabulary of Unicode symbols spans the gamut of human concepts, from the gloriously abstract to the all-too-earthy. However, unlike mathematics where symbolism is in heavy use, and philosophy where it isn't but probably should be, talking about shit is an everyday activity where the use of typographic condensation has heretofor been minimal. And honestly, it kind of misses the point. Part of the point of talking shit about shit and pointing out the bullshit emananting from shitheads is the pleasure of saying the word, molding it to its subject as it were. So substituting a symbol is somewhat unsatisfying.

Like many other misguided efforts at formalization, this seems like it is something of a failure at capturing the richness of the concept that it claims to denote. On the other hand, it is perfect in its crudeness. If it were an elegant symbol then it would be an even bigger failure, but as it is – an unsophisticated pictograph, a rather unwelcome presence amidst all the quietly understated mathematical symbols, an insult to their air of aristocratic disembodiment…yes, it may be the first vanguard of a peasant uprising amidst the typographic populace. Calling bullshit is the first step in developing a more sophisticated form of critique, and feces-flinging is not only an old and noble primate tradition, but apparently an emblem of intelligence.

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