It’s been so hellishly busy here, what with my pirate treasure map talk and numerous real life issues to deal with *sigh*, that the list of Cipher Mysteries posts I need to write is now about thirty entries long. I’ll try and clear this over the coming months… but please bear with me as I do, ’cause I’m only ‘uman, geez. 🙂

Anyway, #1 on my list is a review of “An Anthology of Asemic Writing”, edited by Tim Gaze and Michael Jacobson (Uitgeverij, 15 euros). (You may remember my 2010 review of Michael Jacobson’s asemic “Action Figures” and “The Giant’s Fence”.)

The present anthology’s structure is of a long sequence of single-sheet images of asemic writing, arranged alphabetically by author’s surname (Reed Altemus, Miekal And, Rosaire Appel, etc). There’s a surprising range of categories represented: some are obviously inspired by Arabic, Chinese, or Japanese calligraphy, while others come across more as works of art with vaguely language-like scrawls (closer to an edgy kind of linguistic madness) or just scribbles.

In many ways, I’d say, the way the book ended up is more of a ‘showcase’ than an ‘anthology’. With my own book editor hat one, I’d have preferred the pages to have been grouped thematically or stylistically rather than alphabetically. Basically, it’s always going to be tough on “readers” (“observers”?) to jump from Hélène Smith’s Martian to Lin Tarczynski’s brutal black and white forms, and I found such sharp page-to-page contrasts more annoying than enlightening.

For me, Michael Jacobson’s “The Giant’s Fence” still remains a properly asemic work, in that it actively plays with our expectations of form and content, while not taking itself too seriously. Many of the artists and creators highlighted in this work seem far too deadpan and only peripherally asemic for my personal taste: but perhaps that’s the many-headed nature of asemicism (?) – perhaps the best to be expected from this book, then, would be that everyone will get flashes of different things from it, while fast-forwarding past the remainder.

As with asemic writing in general, make of it what you will! 😉

7 thoughts on “Review of “An Anthology of Asemic Writing”…

  1. Dear Nick, please don’t have a nervous breakdown while trying to translate/decipher otherworldly handwriting! I’m laughing so hard I’m crying! Here I’ve been worrying over the changes in my handwriting because of disabled thumb (as far as if my will should be challenged after my death). Time to submit new signature samples to our tax consultant and my husband’s and my attorney (and our bank’s safety deposit vault).
    Are not the asemic writers at all concerned about some of the problems I have outlined? Thanks for the belly laugh of the day! 🙂

  2. BTW, I luv yur ap*lling “asemic?” poetry! Any resemblance to various Cantabrigian poems?

  3. Or Goliardic?

  4. Nick, I’m trying to alert you to a recent (2013) magazine publication by National Geographic, entitled “100 greatest mysteries REVEALED”. Upper half of page 30 (item 21):”What is the meaning of the VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT?” The Editors cite the Boenicke for this mis-leading, blurb-like article.
    Perhaps you could use my help in organizing your blog-notes for your sequel publication?
    I am still organizing my notes, translations, and commentary for publication by our local small press. Several of their publications are on the shelves of our local public library. Subject matter varies but usually contains a mystery element.
    Actually, I’ve gone through two reams of paper in order to document my contributions to your various blog presentations. I’m re-reading Forster-Roider’s publication for the third time. I’ve also downloaded a page (H33) from “Hammond/s Historical Atlas (MCMLX): two maps are portrayed: “The Growth of the Ottoman Empire 1299-1672”, and “The Decline of the Ottoman Empire 1699-1923”. With these maps, I am able to track the Ottoman advances and retreats over some 300-odd years. “Osman’s Dream”, by Caroline Finkel, pretty much covers it all. I don’t think she’s going to object to my citations from her work (per copyright statement).

    As far as I can observe, many contributions of serious discussions on your various blogs get derailed and/or buried by often non-related and sometimes facetious comments from one of your longest-term fans. I do my best to be non-controversial when posting. I will try to restrain any of my on-going posts (starting after this one) to brief references which will be relevant to whatever your Topic may be. Sincerely,

  5. Bd1dr
    Not sure I understand the foregoing. Do you mean you intend publishing an ascemic mystery based on the plot of your Busbeq-Voynich notions?

    I’m trying to see how your post is not irrelevant to Nick’s, or to any other here.

  6. bdid1dr on October 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm said:

    No mystery. Brevity’s sake. LARGE PRINT. Boenicke folio #’s. No illustrations.


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