via negativa and asemic writing / jim leftwich. 2022

Mysticism, whether atheistic or otherwise, has always welcomed a spectrum of experiences valued primarily for their absurdity and futility. The experience of asemic writing, whether one is attempting to write it or attempting to read it, is fundamentally a mystical experience. It is The Face That Is No Face, the Via Negativa.

Let’s say I make a sequence of tangled squiggles, with baggy loops here, jagged-edged bulges there, poncruated with curatorial punctuation marks in the form of randomly tilted ascenders and descenders, moving suggestively from left to right on the foundation of an imaginary baseline. It looks like writing, but we can’t read it, says the entry at Wikipedia. It must be asemic writing, says a contextualized leap of faith.

What if it is, in theory and in practice, experientially, a kind of quasi-calligraphic drawing?

This is not the Via Negativa. It is direct experience of the mystery. Direct Experience of The Mystery. There is no wrong reading, judged and condemned by official authorities on the matter. There are no Official Authorities on the matter. And there is no range of acceptable interpretations of the experience, no spectrum of permitted discourse about the acceptable interpretations.
There is no attempt at reading, not of any variety, and therefore there is no writing, of any variety, asemic or otherwise.

Asemic writing, in its absolute failure to exist, can function in our lives as a kind of pagan spiritual discipline, one designed to give us greater access to the experience of experience.