In connection to Hirsch’s essay on walking and poetry I discussed recently, here’s a snippet from Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style:
For all the beauty of pure geometry, a perfectly square block of type on a perfectly square page with even margins all around is a form unlikely to encourage reading. Reading, like walking, involves navigation – and the square block of type on a square block of paper is short of basic landmarks and clues. To give the reader a sense of direction, and the page a sense of liveliness and poise, it is necessary to break this inexorable sameness and find a new balance of another kind. Some space must be narrow so that other space may be wide, and some space emptied so that other space may be filled.
The connection between architecture and typography surfaces at a few points in this book, which is a connection worth exploring a bit. I wonder if that is a more apt comparison than Marshall McLuhan’s assertion that “the book is an extension of the eye… clothing, an extension of the skin.” That is, is the typographic environment (and more broadly the media environment) more an extension of the body, or a kind of social space that accommodates the body? More likely, it’s a bit of both; but I think the distinction is worth considering.