Monday, April 06, 2009

when rivers or roads look like words...

wordscape

wordscape2

when i was in ny a few weeks ago i managed, as always, to get to the strand bookstore, and it was there i purchased a used copy of arcanum 17 by andre breton (along with a small horde of other books!), which i am now in the midst of reading (i should also mention it is published by green integer, one of my favorite presses, and one i would highly recommend...).

arcanum 17 begins with a hallucinatory description of one of breton's wife elisa's dreams.

"our attention was caught by the sight, defying the imagination, of the abrupt wall of the island, step after step fringed with a foam of living snow and endlessly reworked wide and whimsical scrapes of a blue trowel. personally, i found the scene gripping: for a good quarter of an hour my thoughts just wanted to be white oats in that thresher. sometimes a wing, ten times longer than its counterpart, consented to spell out a letter, never the same one, but i was immediately taken with the extravagant character of the whole inscription. the word symphony..."

this image of sea foam forming letters as the water hits an island, creating secret letter messages, is something i can't get out of my head. it brought to mind a kind of a visual equivalent of that scene in cocteau's orpheus where poems are mysteriously sounding from a car radio. i keep thinking of breton's implied visual moments in nature where letters might be revealed in all kinds of landscapes through motion.

sunday morning, i was, as usual, at the flea market, and started thumbing through some old photo albums and scrap books when i found the above image. it was pasted into a small scrapbook with several similarly fuzzy landscape photos circa 1900. there were enough beautiful images for me to cough up five bucks so i could carry it home. after thumbing through the book a few times i noticed the road (or is it a river?), in the middle portion of this photograph that seems very much to spell out a word in cursive writing.

sometimes i can see "entrance", sometimes "extinct", and sometimes "enxurie", which isn't much of a word at all, but could certainly still be considered writing... i kind of think breton would be quite happy with this idea of trying to read rivers' paths as words, or roads as phrases (something perhaps the situationists might also have done). unlike rorschach blots which use stains to generate words based on the suggestion of images, rivers and roads (as well as sea foamed edges at the tips of waves) generate words through their curving linear trajectories, i.e. they sometimes simply look as if they could be writing, laid down upon the earth as if intentionally written...

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5 Comments:

Anonymous 三法印 said...

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12:21 PM  
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