The Friday Fillip: Drawing Characters

What does the Byzantine musical symbol kai apothes look like? Unicode knows. Because we human beings do love to “scribble, scribble, scribble” that computer industry standard boasts “more than 109,000 characters covering 93 scripts,” according to the Wikipedia entry. Fear not, however: I’m not about to regale you with tens of thousands of squiggles. No, I’m going to let you do it yourself.

Actually, I’m pointing you to Shapecatcher, a modest little website that invites you to draw any shape you like and promises to find you the unicode character nearest in outline. So, for example, I gave Shapecatcher the drawing you see below:

(Yes, I know. Other people have told me the same.)

This most closely matched the kai apothes I referred to above — ā€” which is a kind of neat lightning bolt thingy. (I have to use a graphic to show it to you because your average computers/browsers/websites will only make a limited selection of the unicode trove available to you, and it doesn’t include Byzantine material for some reason.)

Does this have any utility? I should hope not. It does, I hope, give you a chance to waste a little time and to be gently surprised by the wealth of characters that are out there, even in Shapecatcher’s very limited collection of 10,000 or so elements. I’m particularly taken with the various Tai Xuan Jing tetragrams I discovered this way. There’s one for “contrariety”, one for “ease”, another for “bold resolution”, etc. Draw a rectangle with maybe another line or two inside and see what happens.

Scribble, scribble, scribble.

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