Four questions about asemic writing, #05: Jim Leftwich

Responses to Questions about Asemic Writing from Marco Giovenale

  1. Anthologies, exhibits and web pages collect very different kinds of asemic works. Some of them resemble scribbles and calligraphy, so they fit the definition of “writing”. Others do not, since they include recognizable letters and symbols, or abstract art. Do you think asemics can include these areas or not?

In my experience, asemic writing begins with text. The text is subjected to a series of processes. Some processes are recombinative, others are subtractive, others are improvisational and associational. A text is a mutagen when fed to itself repeatedly. In my experience, the origins of asemic calligraphy are in the shapes of the printed letters. The poem had already long ago broken the word into its syllables. We can say as a kind of historical shorthand that Marinetti broke the syllable into its letters -- and from the Italian Futurists to zaum, and on to Zurich, only 1909 to 1916 so far in this story, then out of that war and into the next, out and into Isou, and everything begins to unravel and replicate, concrete, constellations, the mimeo revolution (THE MIMEO REVOLUTION!)... to too much of everything, everywhere, all the time... the road of excess leads to the road of excess... Marinetti's parole in liberta as ornaments in our immersive environments... on billboards... on buses... on t-shirts... Text, even radical, avant-garde text, has become a weapon in the war against us, in our wars against ourselves... in the end was the word, and the word was SHIT. What to do in such a wor(l)d? Well, we have thought, some of those among us, more times than we can count, that maybe the time has come to wage war against the weapons, against the weapons being used against us... So, this is how we come to the current configurations of the concept of asemic writing... We were thinking about creating a temporary autonomous zone deep in the crevices of our minds... and then we were thinking about taking it to the streets. The practice of asemic writing was to have been a small part of our training manual.

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