Friday, July 09, 2004

Signs of Regard (Arenellanism # 286)

I received a card from Roy Arenella about signs, and I expected that it was referring back to some blog entry of mine about signs. As far as I can remember, my last word about signs was way back on June 30th on my dbqp blog, so that doesn’t seem a likely source of inspiration. Of course, it did occur to me that Roy could have decided to create a card about signs for his own independent reason.

The photocard before me is mailing number 286 for this year, dated 7 July 2004. The pseudo-cancellation is filled with what appears to be a cork stamping—one perfectly positioned to obliterate the real cancellation printed over it. The stamp on the card is a 32-cent “Cub” stamp (Piper Cub, I assumed). I’ve no idea why this stamp was chosen, but I’m sure it has intentional significance. Maybe the fact that 32 is the opposite number of 23, the value of the stamp Roy should have used for a postcard. Everything is backwards, signs don’t make sense—maybe that is the message.

The photo on the obverse is a perfect example of naïve conceptual writing. Do sign writers not read their signs?

Roy Arenella, "Sign Testing" (15 Sep 2000)

On the reverse, Roy has carefully taped onto the card a small piece of asemic writing. This is a revelation. This piece is much different than any of the other work I’ve seen from him. Using primarily an invented alphabet, Roy writes an ingenious visual text. Some of the characters in the text resemble those in the Latin alphabet (an M, an o, and an E—just to take characters from the first word). Others resemble nothing in any writing system I can think of, though one obviously resembles a delta. There is a sense of spacing in this text that I find lacking in much asemic writing. Roy has added spaces that allow character strings to have a fairly natural variation of word size. And the last world (and last line) consists of one large string of concatenated letters, as if the last thought of the writer has to be squeezed into a too-small space.

Roy Arenella, from "Continuing Signs" (26 Jun 2004)

un violon d’ingres

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