Drawing a Line in the Sand

In a publication by Wave Books giving sneakpeeks of recent books, Renee Gladman’s Calamities was featured. She wrote about trying to write about the line drawings she drew. “I was talking about how it was to write, but doing it through drawings (but drawings were language) and using wires to spell it out, but I was doing this on a foggy morning, where there were neither drawings nor wires.” She writes that writing and drawing are the same gesture. “They entered blank space and made a problem for the page…”

I am drawn (sorry) to this illusion/confusion, this in-between world in which line establishes itself into thing, and sometimes that thing is a word.

I encountered her again in Granta, in which she wrote: “Recently, I have been playing around with the idea that there is a spectrum along which sentences become drawings.”

Somewhere between word and line is asemic writing, but one could almost say that all “drawing” that does not resolve itself into legible words is asemic. Asemic is not a word in my dictionary, as apparently it was coined quite recently. But other sources declare it as meaning having no specific semantic content, semantic meaning meaning; its source the Greek for without sign, unmarked, or obscure. Which is itself confusing. But a drawing of a discernible object, what is that? A communication, yes, but does it have meaning? What does a bouquet of flowers in a glass jar mean? Must things mean? Mute, uncontexted, does it mean more than or less than this: bouquet of flowers in a glass jar?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the worth of a picture of a word? What is the worth of a thousand words? Why have I cut these zinnias and put them in a an old glass jar in my living room, which tends to be dark, so the ruby and blush of the petals glow against the honeyed wood of the coffee table? Is it enough that I just tell you I’ve done this? I feel compelled to show you, as if words are not enough. How can that be?


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