Welcome, one and all to the latest entry into the ever-expanding “Book of the Dead” that is my “Famous Last Words” project.
Today’s subject is 19th century anomalist and neurological pioneer Dr. George Miller Beard. Dr. Beard spent a career in close contact with cranial contents and is best remembered for defining neurasthenia, a medical condition caused by the stresses of modern life and expressed in symptoms like fatigue, impotence and depression.
Beard believed that the depleted nervous system could be re-energised with electrical stimulation. He took a dim view of the death penalty, arguing for leniency in cases where condemned men displayed signs of mental illness. Perhaps these points would’ve interested previous “Famous Last Words” entrant, James French?
American History reports that before “Dr. Beard passed beyond further speech” he uttered the line:
“I should like to record the thoughts of a dying man for the benefit of science, but it is impossible.”
Keep this in your jolt-sharpened mind when reading today’s featured quote:
“Rain had always been a harbinger of tragedy for me.”
Correctly attributing these particular words to Dr. George Miller Beard may be “impossible” but it certainly won’t stop this intrepid designer creating something engaging out of them.
The pieces below hope to illustrate how a state of neurasthenia-derived depression could make a light-to-moderate shower seem like a sign of impending doom.
The typefaces in use are Ollie and Changing. They’re used with dull palettes (maybe they need few jolts of Dr. Beard’s re-energiser?) and matched to an illustrated figure who has just suffered an unexpected shock from on high. That umbrella isn’t going to offer much shelter in this situation!
Each colour scheme is inspired by the subdued, gloomy hues of public information posters from the 1920s and 30s. I think I’m developing neurasthenia just looking at them.
The character on the receiving end of the unwanted electrical stimulation is inspired by Soviet safety propaganda. These works were economical with their lines for the good of the motherland!
Now, brown rain is definitely a harbinger of tragedy. Just ask anyone who lives on the flightpath of a major airport.
Right, I’m off for some shock therapy. Do feel free to share your comments or suggestions for future entries in the section below. I’ll read them once I’m unplugged from the energiser.