Calligraphy is an enigma. Its enduring, popular appeal may let us take it for granted, obscuring the question of why, in the age of mechanical text, we revel so conspicuously in it.
A human being, wrote sci-fi writer Robert Heinlein, should be able to fight, write poetry and die gallantly, among 18 more things. Specialisation, he famously said, is for insects.
You see it everywhere, absolutely everywhere: rough-and-ready brush lettering or something like it. It’s proudly imperfect and knowingly naive. It’s bold and inkily raw; its voice can be raucous and assertive or tremulous and quivering. It’s on posters, packaging, banners and trademarks of food brands and political movements; on literary book covers, at conferences, and perhaps most of all as messages on social media.
In a saucepan, on medium heat, bring to a boil 3 cups of milk, a cup or so of heavy cream, 3 inch-long cinnamon sticks, vanilla (bean/pods or vanilla essence) and a teaspoon of grated nutmeg. Switch off the heat. Separately, beat 5 egg yolks and sugar until thick ribbons form. Slowly whisk in the hot milk mix, until smooth. Add rum/bourbon/brandy and stir. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Garnish (grated nutmeg, cinnamon, or chocolate; feel free to improvise).