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! 😉