Archivi tag: tim gaze

of course the asemic is absurd / jim leftwich. 2021

If I am writing about the word “asemic”, I am thinking about patience and persistence. I am thinking about failure as a source of energy, as that which keeps an absurdist idea of enlightenment alive and almost thriving. Standing in the absurd center of the asemic universe, we are surrounded by unexamined exits and entrances, unexplored starting-points, multiple escape-routes leading out in all directions. 
We need to synchronize our watches, then throw them all away. We need to get on the same page of the same map-book, then throw all the maps away. We need to set our compasses, and throw them away. We must promise each other to get together, at some unspecified time and place, later in our lives, to define our terms and make public our consensus definitions. Until then, we have some exploring to do, some making and some thinking, some reading and some writing.
Tim Gaze wrote, in an email responding to my recent texts (05.21.2021), that “asemic is an absolute state, whereas desemantizing is a process or matter of degree”.
He also wrote in the same email that he “consciously let go of asemic writing several years back”.
On January 27, 1998, I wrote to Tim, saying “the asemic text would seem to be an ideal, an impossibility, but possibly worth pursuing for just that reason.”
Desemantized writing is not an ideal, is not an impossibility. It is a very specific kind of writing, produced for very specific reasons. To desemantize writing is to intentionally make it less readable, less capable of participating in the language-game of giving information. 
We might aspire to the absolute state of asemic writing, producing beautiful and/or provocative failures in our quest, but we achieve desematized writing, to one degree or another, whenever we choose to do so.
In response to my recent texts, John M. Bennett wrote (05.20.2021) “i like ‘desemanticized’ better than ‘asemic’ myself; the latter term was always a bit misleading, even downright wrong sometimes, I thought; except perhaps in a few situations…”
In the late 1990s, “asemic” was not the word I wanted or needed, but it was the best I had at the time. For the past 20 years or so I have been exploring alternatives to the word “asemic”. For now, and for my purposes (which are not necessarily the same purposes as those of some likely readers of this text), “desemantized” (or “desemanticized”) is an improvement, a step in the right direction. It is a provisional solution to a problem.
These days, the term “asemic writing” is very widely used, and is surely in no danger of being discarded or replaced. My thoughts about the term “desemantized writing” will circulate, if at all, within the context of the global asemic writing community. As I write this, in the late spring of 2021, the theory and practice of asemic writing are not in any sense dead, the possibilities have not been exhausted. The Sisyphean struggle to attain the absolute state of asemic writing, absurd though it may be, continues to yield moments of existential fulfillment, and perhaps every now and then even a kind of happiness. 
My hope for my recent writings is that they might invigorate an increasingly faceted vision of the world of all things asemic.

jim leftwich, may 2021

a brief note on desemantized writing / jim leftwich. 2021

Jim Leftwich_ Desemantized Writing

Jim Leftwich_ Desemantized Writing

Desemantized Writing

For me, the practice of asemic writing began in processes I was using in the mid-to-late 1990s to write textual poems. Beginning with a large variety of source texts, those processes included syllabic and phonemic improvisation, varieties of cut-and-paste recombination (of letters, of morphemes, of words, of phrases, of sentences, and of paragraphs), varieties of misdirectional readings-as-writings (moving through paragraphs from right to left, from top to bottom and vice-versa in columns, reading multiple lines in wave patterns, reading paragraphs and pages diagonally, etc), and formulas for extracting, replacing and/or omitting letters from poems and paragraphs. The poems and paragraphs I was writing during those years were constructed, we could say, for reasons other than that of producing meaning.

Sometime late in 1996, I was warned that if I continued on the path I had chosen I would eventually wind up producing asemic texts.

In January 1998 I wrote the following to Tim Gaze: “An asemic text, then, might be involved with units of language for reasons other than that of producing meaning.”

If I had known the term “desemantized writing” at that time, I would certainly have used it, rather than “asemic writing”. The term ‘desemantized writing” is much more accurate, much clearer, much more precisely descriptive of the processes from which my “asemic writing” emerged.

Again, let me emphasize that this little note is accurate in relation to my own processes and practices, and I am fully aware of the fact that it does not apply to the relationships
that many others have with the theory and practice of asemic writing.

If I had known the term “desemantized writing” in the 1990s, rather than the term “asemic writing”, then Tim Gaze and I would have been using the term “desemantized writing” in our correspondence. The term “desemantized writing” would have been used in our international exchanges through the mail art and small press poetry networks. Chances are that Tim’s magazine would have been named “desemantized writing”. Then, sometime around 2005, when Michael Jacobson encountered the magazine and the word, maybe instead of “asemic writing” he would have used the term “desemantized writing” in his interviews and essays.

It’s interesting (again: speaking only for myself) to rewrite this imaginary history, but unfortunately, here and now, in 2021, it is only a kind of game. I didn’t learn of the term “desemantized writing” for another decade-and-a-half, when Marco Giovenale told me about its use among Italian verbovisual poets in the 1960s and 70s.

jim leftwich

post-asemic press sound poetry

Post-Asemic Press is a book publisher of asemic writing and beyond. It is based out of Minneapolis and is run by Michael Jacobson. The Bandcamp site will be for sonic works of sound poetry and experimental poetry and other related forms. Here is the Post-Asemic Press blog:


part 3 / tim gaze. 2020


from SHAPES, sound poetry by Tim Gaze

lots of asemic books are actually available

Michael Jacobson:

Here is an updated list of almost all the asemic writing books available at Amazon. Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing which often appears as abstract calligraphy, non-verbal writing, illegible writing, or damaged writing. This list also contains all Post-Asemic Press titles (7 so far) and other related works published by other presses.
Authors and their works included on the list are by Tim Gaze, Michael Jacobson, O Mayeux, Anneke Baeten, Volodymyr Bilyk, Rosaire Appel, Spencer Selby, Mirtha Dermisache, Federico Federici, Sam Roxas-Chua, Denise Lach, Jose Parla, Lucinda Sherlock, Xu Bing, Henri Michaux, Brion Gysin, Timothy C. Ely, Jay Snodgrass, Israel F Haros Lopez, Paul A. Toth, Max Ernst, Luigi Serafini, Rory Link, and The unknown author of The Voynich Manuscript.


asemic writing – scrittura asemantica / marco giovenale. 2013

articolo in “l’immaginazione”, n. 274, mar.-apr. 2013

materiale citato per l’incontro del 2 maggio 2018: CONCRETA – festapoesia,
incontro all’Accademia d’Ungheria, intervento su Scritture di ricerca e scrittura asemantica, h. 9:30 circa


asemicbient (asemic writing and ambient soundscapes) / eugenekha & tim gaze. 2012

asemic writing: “offline and in the gallery”, an asemic writing exhibit at minnesota (march 10th – may 28th, 2017)

Featuring Asemic Writing & Book Art from: Tim Gaze, Rosaire Appel, Luigi Serafini, Carlos M. Luis, Israel F Haros Lopez, Paul A Toth, Alain Satié, Jose Parlá, John M. Bennett, Marco Giovenale, Cecil Touchon, Scott Helmes, Derek Beaulieu, Brion Gysin, Satu Kaikkonen, Cheryl Penn, Raymond Queneau, Logan K. Young, Steve McCaffery, Xu Bing, Geof Huth, Gene Kannenberg Jr., Christopher Skinner, Max Ernst, Timothy Ely, Charles Stein, Gazaliel, Lucinda Sherlock, Volodymyr Bilyk, Catherine M. Bennett, Henri Michaux, Spencer Selby, Jim Leftwich, Louise Tournay, Abdourahamane Diarra, Joe Maneri, Michael Jacobson, Robyn Ellenbogen, Donna Maria De Creeft, Marilyn R Rosenberg, Francesco Aprile, Bill Beamer, Nuno De Matos, Lynn Alexander, Tony Burhouse, Scott Ross, Axel Calatayud,  Henry Denander, Jean-christophe Giacottino, Lin Tarczynski, Tom Cassidy, Ricky Brett, Edward Kulemin, Phil Openshaw, Kerri Pullo, Anneke Baeten, Benji Friedman, Laura Ortiz, John McConnochie, Kimm Kiriako, Sam Roxas Chua, Steven J Fowler, Tatiana Roumelioti, Ekaterina Samigulina & Yuli Ilyshchanska, Nico Vassilakis, mIEKAL aND, the unknown author of  The Voynich Manuscript, all the authors & artists in Asemic Magazine, everyone in John Moore William’s asemic issue of The Bleed, & including everyone in Paul A. Toth’s ALPHA BET A TEST: The Eye Am Eye Asemic Anthology: Language In The Act of Disappearing.

un appunto ulteriore sulla scrittura asemantica/asemica

Forse è non banale un appunto ulteriore sulla scrittura asemantica (o asemica), che potrebbe essere annotato a margine, a completamento e revisione di quanto scritto, riproposto o linkato nei giorni scorsi ma soprattutto qui.

L’appunto dovrebbe dire: al chiudersi degli anni Novanta, soprattutto negli Stati Uniti, un’idea di “asemic writing” nasceva in effetti da sgretolamento sillabico di scritture lineari, e dunque da una perdita di peso semantico, di singoli versi, spezzoni di frasi, prose, in alcuni autori che (ancora) non pensavano ad un versante specificamente grafico dei materiali abbracciabili dall’espressione “scrittura asemantica”.

Parlando dunque di sgretolamento sillabico, di microfratture interne a frasi leggibili, vediamo bene che (nel contesto statunitense di quel periodo) ci si trova di fronte alla precisa accezione in cui “asemic writing” viene recepita (erroneamente) oggi in Italia. Allora. Se io insisto nel sottolineare invece proprio e precisamente l’aspetto grafico (cfr. qui per intenderci) di ciò che è “asemic writing” non è soltanto per indicare il versante forse maggioritario che ha preso a diffondersi entro il movimento dell’asemic writing (grazie a Tim Gaze, per esempio) in seguito, ossia un versante prettamente legato a glifi, grafie, graffi, e non a spezzature di parole e frasi redatte in alfabeti (riconoscibili). Non è solo per questo. Io insisto sull’aspetto grafico anche perché, sebbene slegate dagli esperimenti di fine anni Novanta e inizio nuovo millennio, occorrenze e sperimentazioni molto precise e connotate (e proprio definite “scrittura asemantica”, cfr. Dorfles 1974) erano in campo in Italia e in Brasile già vari decenni prima. (Cfr. anche Caruso 1966 e Binga 1972-74).

Che non esista legame diretto o perfino indiretto di filiazione fra quelle esperienze grafiche e quel che è sorto e si è sviluppato tra USA, Australia e Italia negli ultimi quindici-vent’anni (sempre in ambito grafico, non alfabetico), non significa che non si possa dire che persone diverse, nell’arco di quasi un secolo, hanno dato nomi simili ad esperienze non dissimili.

Nel momento in cui – poi – in Italia si prende a misinterpretare l’espressione “scrittura asemantica” o “asemica” o “asemic”, intendendola come scrittura alfabetica solo privata di significato (dunque non come una scrittura aliena a ogni alfabeto noto), è doppiamente importante sottolineare con precisione cosa è e cosa non è in campo, da diversi anni ormai, sotto l’etichetta “asemic writing” in Italia. (Personalmente, almeno dal 22 marzo 2008: cfr. qui e qui).


[r] _ asemic writing / scrittura asemantica

In rete è stato più volte espresso – recentemente – interesse per la scrittura asemantica, o “asemic writing”. E si sono create delle confusioni, sul tema, che è opportuno dissipare.

Questa pagina, che se ben ricordo si deve principalmente a Michael Jacobson e Tim Gaze, è una buona summula, in tema:

In termini di interesse e importanza, per l’area italiana il primo riferimento che mi viene in mente è alle Scritture illeggibili di popoli sconosciuti, di Bruno Munari; il secondo è a Gillo Dorfles, che scrive sul lavoro di Irma Blank:

Attraverso i motori di ricerca si possono trovare dozzine di blog e siti utili. I lettori curiosi si imbatteranno in molti materiali. Di nuovo in inglese, molto chiara è la pagina

Un piccolo articolo – corredato da un’immagine di Rosaire Appel e una di Michael Jacobson – si può leggere ora a p. 41 del recentissimo numero (247, marzo-aprile 2013) de “l’immaginazione” (Piero Manni Editore).


(*) le immagini di questa nota sono mie: quella in basso a destra viene da qui,
Quella in alto a sinistra è un asemic ring del 2011:

(**) segnalo alcune interviste da The New Postliterate (blog di M.Jacobson):

Michael Jacobson @ SampleKanon
Michael Jacobson @
Michael Jacobson @ Full of Crow
Tim Gaze @ Full of Crow
Tim Gaze @ Commonline Journal
Marco Giovenale @ Suxulf
Marco Giovenale @ 3:AM Magazine
Marco Giovenale @ Moria


“asemic magazine”: new issue (tim gaze ed.)

After a long delay, a new edition of Asemic magazine is available, printed on demand in Adelaide, Australia, using environmentally friendly ink & papers. Price: $AU15 + postage.

To buy:

Contributors: Elynn Alexander, Roberto Altmann, anonymous, Rosaire Appel, Roy Arenella, Roland Barthes, Billy Bob Beamer, Tori Bedford, Volodymyr Bilyk (Володимир Білик), Jeff Crouch, Marc van Elburg, karen eliot, Jesse Ferguson, Tim Gaze, Marco Giovenale, Rob Grant, Janet Hawtin, Christine Huber, Ronald D. Isom, Satu Kaikkonen, Evgenij V. Kharitonov (Евгений В. Харитоновъ), Eduard Kulemin (Эдуард Кулёмин), Sveta Litvak (Света Литвак), Constança Lucas, Serse Luigetti, Billy Mavreas, Willi Melnikov (Вилли Мельников), Andrei Molotiu, Sheila E. Murphy, Moulid Nidouissadan, Fernando Ocampo, Marilyn R. Rosenberg, Ruan, Shmuel, Christopher Skinner, Tommasina Bianca Squadrito, Carol Stetser, Morgan Taubert, Miron Tee, Mike Di Tommaso, Troylloyd & Emma Viguier.

A short sample (the first 6 pages) can be viewed here.

irma blank’s asemic writing

Thanks to Nerida Newbigin (and Tim Gaze), an English translation of Gillo Dorfles’ text on Irma Blank’s “Scritture asemantiche” is now available. See the updated post @ gammm:

(Courtesy Coromandel Valley Books, 2014)

a kick in the eye