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ASEMIA

Must writing be understood as a human activity? What qualifies as a writing instrument or surface?

Asemic writing is a form of literary composition comprised of illegible script; in other words, the visual material of the composition identifies as letter-forms, but there is no decode process available to confirm phonemes or semantic attachment to the visual. My interest in asemic writing is born of an asemic reading practice amongst more-than-human writers, where I situate myself amongst biotic and abiotic entities to see if I can touch that ages-old enthusiasm to interconnect with an environment by recognizing the linguistic within its body. When I submit my estranged self to the power of listening and sensing within an ecosystem, I strive to stretch beyond semantics but also to witness my constant impulse to construct meaning. In these moments, I dream it's possible that a world of signifiers explodes the dominant human language used to name and to know them. In this dream, asemic writing populates and inscribes landscapes. Through Gibber, I actively question embedded notions of what bodies (be they human, water, weather, other) are capable of or even constantly composing as well as how to ethically read, converse with, collaborate with, and/or interpret non-human entities.

Within Gibber, I took several photographs of an environment-based 'text.' I did not know what it communicated to me, except that I had a notion a communication was being proffered. Certainly, there were forms, lines in repetition. Something imposed on top of another (instead of ink on paper, here we have barnacles on rocks, fungi on bark, paths forged through sand). Distinct forms linked with other forms.

Similar to immersion in foreign human languages, immersion in foreign bioregions heightens one's capacity to sense environments partly removed from the immediate superimposed semantics we inherit. Looking at organic litter on a beach, I know little more than cursory names like leaf, shell, seed. In Queensland's Daintree and, later, Magnetic Island, complex patterns of little balls of sand littering beaches mesmerized as tides receded. It took two days of studying to eventually spy heavily camouflaged crabs scuttling amidst the balls and into the holes nearby them. The sand-balls and their intricate arrangements indicated a deep logic at work, but one as yet I was not equipped to decode.

Within the field of cultural geography, 'reading' a landscape or an environment has become a popular metaphor— though asserting that landscapes are passive texts waiting to be actively engaged by readers is ethically spurious. If we hover for a moment, though, with the notion that an environment can be interpreted (read), then the implication is that the environment itself is comprised of (or, better yet, actively composing) meaning (possibly as a written text). In this case, ecosystems and their biotic and abiotic components embody the capacity to write. The literary output of more-than-human writers offers humans to develop a practice of asemic reading (where we find ourselves unable to comprehend what is composed, but assured that it holds its own inherent logic and that it is, indeed, communicative). Such an ideological shift away from the superiority of speciesist anthropocentrism allows a poethical repositioning to ecocentrism where biotic and abiotic entities are capable agents for communication.

LAND: LANGUAGE OF HERE

Again: what is the poem or, better yet, where is the poem? Is the photograph the poem? Does the poem commence once a bottle is introduced into the image? Does the poem commence once words are inserted into the bottle? Is all of this a process working towards a poem not yet composed? Is the process the poem? Does this documentation of the process form a kind of poetry suite, long poem, meta-poem as the signifiers arc to signified? What happens when the Real is juxtaposed with the Symbolic?

Again: what is the language of any here? How do we grow awareness of our own linguistic predilections as we sense our ways through English in an unfamiliar environment? I fear that my intimacy with signifiers— with the English language— has distanced me from a connection with the signified. When I think "ocean," a subconscious ocean of metaphor, referents, allusions, and memories well inside me. When I am with the ocean, I think "I am with/near/by/at the ocean" and my subconscious intermingles with the moment where I am now. I am here but not here. I am here with or through the elsewhere of my subconscious. I find it difficult to be with how I am here and only here, but I crave that aware gesture. This is a field of text. This text may be a field. Through the field we perceive the ecosystem on and in which we're interdependent. Through this field we perceive being-ness. We witness; we listen. We listen to our own urges to comprehend, to name.

If we listen and witness long enough, may our anthro- transform to eco- through poiesis embodied by not just by the field, but by the field.

HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH A LANDSCAPE

  1. Learn about the landscape before you enter into it.
  2. Begin by introducing yourself.
  3. Be aware of your internal monologue.
  4. Listen.
  5. Be genuinely interested.
  6. Give the landscape time to think and respond.
  7. Synchronize.
  8. Maintain the equilibrium.
  9. Know when the conversation is over.
  10. Practice having conversations.