I got to use abecedarian in a book review about dementia. When I looked up the word’s meaning to make sure I was using it correctly I came across abecedarium, which is more or less another word for alphabet. The reason I was looking into all this was that every chapter of Damian Rogers’ book starts with a sequence of words in alphabetical order that together form a kind of poem. That and my reading of Russian poetry were enough for my mind to spin out and ruminate on letters and their sequence.
I brushed these thoughts away for a few days but they kept pulling at my sleeve. I spent a couple hours putting together a playlist with a song for each letter. But in the process I found too many songs I wanted to include, so I added two songs per letter. I sequenced them in a palindromic pattern, so you begin and end with A. I was completely exhausted afterwards. But now, when the men with the butterfly nets come to take me away I’ll be secure knowing my skills at killing time.
After finishing the playlist I turned on the TV and watched a weird documentary about twin girls who may or may not have invented their own language. There’s no way all this alphabet business didn’t influence that choice. Our minds are trained to find patterns. Once you spot one you start seeing it everywhere——like Punch buggy.
Letters, words, and sentence fragments have been part of my paintings since before I tried to write anything aside from homework. Their forms act as punctuation and rhythm apart from any literal meaning. That’s what Rogers’ alphabetical chapter titles made me thing of——how the order of words can have meaning and form apart from dictionary definitions.
Reading poetry has made me pay attention to how words look on a page the same way I look at marks in a painting. It all starts to run together. I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up on this track but it feels like there is a definite direction.
Something where words and pictures are one.
—In case you’re wondering, the image up top is an avatar someone commissioned me to paint for their MySpace page 13-15 years ago.