BEWARE THE JABBERWOCK, MY SON!

I’ve long been fascinated by the process – and effects – of reading writing. Waht’s gnoig on up tehre as you raed tihs txet? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit? Aliquam at mi eget nunc lobortis bibendum a a nisl?

I’ve worked in editorial, content creation and communications all my career (15 years now – gosh, that makes me feel old!). And, looking back, I realise how all the typos, errors, imperfections and fuck ups I strived to banish from the outputs I helped produce have influenced my ideas on hypnosis, manipulation and writing.

For instance, ‘lorem ipsum’ is filler/placeholder text used in design and publishing to show how written content will appear. I remember the first time I encountered this curious ‘language’ aged 21. The editor of the trade magazines I worked on called it ‘Jabberwocky text’ and explained its purpose as a placeholder. I was pleased to learn a new bit of publishing lingo and never thought about it again.

But I was recently tickled to learn that lorem ipsum is a scrambled version of a philosophical work by Cicero titled ‘On the end of good and evil’ (which seems rather apt). I’ve seen this Latin nonsense wind up in print so, so many times – lurking in small photo captions or hanging off the end of real text due to copy and paste glitches. When such mistakes creep into print, the usual Witch Hunt ensues – how could I, or some sloppy designer or proofreader, fail to see such glaring nonsense?

But I observed – especially since leaving the bubble of working only with people au fait with lorem ipsum and similar design/publishing conventions – that it fools you into thinking something is real. I’ve seen many a mad dash to fill a dummy design with actual written content after someone misunderstood the purpose of a concept. I started using this to my advantage – making something look so real people forget they can change or say ‘no’ to it, or substituting lorem ipsum for unapproved ‘real’ text in order to hasten its approval… or make it reality*.

(As a result, I’ve come to believe that the collective human endeavour of producing a publication is far more important than the actual written content – my rallying workplace cry is to start producing lorem ipsum reports to save us a lot of blood, sweat and tears on the words inside. No one wlil eevr sopt the diernfefce.)

I used to be a style-guide Nazi, but typos, consistency and grammatical conventions are now my playground. Embedded messaging, subliminal persuasion and making things ‘stick’ are, perhaps, my most notorious and nefarious hobbies. I’ve been experimenting wtih the phenomenon of typoglycemia in ciusnag ppolee to raed a msgesae jsut as if it wree tpyed preftecly, but with the assumption that decoding the mistyped word takes a fritcaon more processing time. I figure it’s the written equivalent of Uncle Derren doing this.

Bending or breaking the ‘rules’ of writing – ie, spelling grammar and Styling Conventions – also easily trips people up, and (mis)directs their attention, and thinking, in ways they cannot likely follow in real-time.

In conclusion, then, on the delicious possibilities that this presents: lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Maecenas quis felis eu ligula tristique suscipit. Fusce eu quam cursus, blandit mauris eget, cursus lorem. Suspendisse a elit sed sem facilisis luctus non eu lacus. Mauris suscipit, mauris at commodo congue, felis urna convallis mi, nec vehicula augue lorem at magna.

Ut a est ac lorem volutpat ullamcorper!

*I infamously dropped the ‘acting’ before the word ‘editor’ early in my career, and basically promoted myself in the knowledge that no one would adequately proofread my work – reality really is what you can get away with.

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