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Against Lucida

We all love to hate Comic Sans, and that’s probably fair enough. If you don’t hate it then you probably haven’t spent that much time looking at it. Even so, there are worse things than unsightliness; and one of those things is a seemly veneer that hides a hollow soul.

Meet Lucida Handwriting:

This is the font that Comic Sans wants to be when it grows up. Lucida Handwriting thinks that watching the film is the same as reading the book, and it sent its best friend a virtual hug when they didn’t get the job. You know there’s that conversation that goes:

“Hi, how are you doing?”
“yeah good thanks how are you?”
“yeah fine thanks how are you?”

Lucida Handwriting is the typographical equivalent of that conversation, except Lucida does it every single time and it doesn’t even flinch. We all have that annoying friend who corrects you whenever you misuse the word “effect”. Meet Lucida Handwriting: the friend that will correct you even when you get it right.

So, yeah, I’m not a fan of Lucida Handwriting. Its one redeeming feature is that it gets it wrong in the sort of way that reminds you that there is a right.

Take the tittle on the i — that’s the little dot that becomes a little heart if you’re Minnie Mouse, or a little flick when you’re in a hurry. With Lucida Handwriting the dot of every i and every j is flicked in exactly the same way every single time.

“honestly I’m in such a rush”

This font goes to a surprising amount of effort to make you think that it’s hastily using the nearest felt tip — the sort of effort that makes you wonder whether it’s really effort at all, or whether it actually just doesn’t understand how writing works. Is it deceptive or just foolish? Probably both.

But perhaps the biggest clue is that it describes itself as ‘handwriting’, as though handwriting were something you could type. Maybe we shouldn’t have expected anything better from a font that tells a lie in its own name.

lol, nope.

Of course, in its attempt to miscategorise itself, Lucida Handwriting is far from alone, joining the ranks of the Red Panda (an orange weasel), the Killer Whale (a dolphin), and the Horny Toad (a lizard, and one with no great reputation for its virility either, though it does have spikes). To which we say: fine. Frustrating, but ultimately fine. We can cope. Yet where all these claim to be something that they aren’t, Lucida Handwriting has gone one further: it claims to have done something that it didn’t.

Here’s what Lucida Handwriting doesn’t get: you can’t skip the doing and get straight to the done. Human work isn’t just a means to an end, because it’s never just about the end result. It isn’t just about the process, either, but the process is certainly important; because when a human gets involved in something there’s a sacrifice taking place. It’s a sacrifice of time, and energy, and so much more besides, and that sacrifice fills the end result with meaning. Skip the doing, and the done gets emptied.

So Lucida Handwriting: you shouldn’t skip the process. You mustn’t try and say something you can’t mean. You don’t type handwriting.

And it’s right here where there’s that faint whisper of redemption. It’s just a whisper, but it’s there; because even when Lucida Handwriting is wrong, it’s mimicking what’s right. In many ways that’s the problem: you look at Lucida Handwriting and you know that it’s seen the real deal — yet still it errs. But if its name is a mask that hides who it really is and what it’s really done, at least that mask is aspirational. If its biography is a lie, well at least it has dreams.

There’s this sense in which each handwritten letter you receive is an act of worship: literally, an act that attributes worth. Someone has taken time over you, figuratively offering their minutes to you in the form of handwriting, because they wanted to give you something that was theirs. A sacrifice has been made so that you will know how much time you’re worth to them.

If it’s written in Lucida Handwriting, it’s cheating. It’s an act of worship that didn’t involve a sacrifice. That isn’t worship, that’s hypocrisy. I suggest you reply with two words:

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Ollie Lansdowne

Ollie Lansdowne

this ain’t a culture | it’s my religion