Writing comes naturally…

For those of you intrigued by yesterday’s article about writing as a technology – here I’ll attempt to balance it with another fascinating article supposedly providing an “opposing view” to Walter Ong, et. al.

Ingold - Lines

Drawing, Writing and Calligraphy by Tim Ingold

(chapter 5: pp. 120-160)

what do you think?

Is writing “technological” artifice natural or unnatural?

I’ll tell my thoughts in time…




Found Object/Subject: Self-Portrait

Inundated in end-of-semester bewilderment and projects….I riffle through book stacks and this catches my eye again…
lines - ingold


and I quickly recognize myself in the mirror:

Self-Portrait of Mind – July 2013


a tidbit on writing

“every thing is a parliament of lines”

I think many people sense a difference between typing, printing, and writing.  But very few, I surmise, might be able to speak clearly about what those differences are.  There’s the kinesthetic difference, the disjunction of flow between thought forming through the body into theories of letters on paper.  There’s a temporal difference, between the stenography of lightning-thought tapped like Morse code onto a keyboard, versus the individuated pacing of each writers body, hand, and facility of digits.  Some may even say there’s a personality difference between interpreting standardized typography as a communication, and the erratics and imperfections of the same terms from a writing hand.

My desk is dominated by books with titles like Chaos, Incompleteness, Complexity, Information, Emergence, Touch, Telling, Lines and Erasure.  Aspects of being human that glance across gaps or dawdle on edges – where knowledge isn’t comprehensive (and where might it be?) – are the processes and activities that fascinate my fancy.

Coupling an article I chanced upon (thank you Scholarly Kitchen) about Technology and Cursive Writing, with my current readings in Tim Ingold’s Lines: A brief history, I begin to slowly realize that how we interact with lines, with writing, is sourced far beyond and beneath our immediate experience.

Ingold begins with the consideration of what we understand by the words “song” and “music.”  How “music has become wordless; language has been silenced.”  In the past music referred to sonorous words set to harmony and rhythm, sounds alone were an embellishment to language, but not the principle purpose.  Language was the sound-filled reality, like animal chirps or barks, the human’s vocal verbality.  With inscription, language began to silence.  Sound encountered a gap with meaning, or took on meaning of a different kind.

Similar worldview realities are exhibited in ways of inscribing.  “In typing and printing, the intimate link between the manual gesture and the inscriptive trace is broken.  The author conveys feeling by his choice of words, not by the expressiveness of his lines.”  And writing experienced gaps in relation to drawing, language further abstracted.  

“Yet whether encountered as a woven thread or as a written trace, the line is still perceived as one of movement and growth.  How come, then, that so many of the lines we come up against today seem so static?  Why does the very mention of the word ‘line’ or ‘linearity’, for so many contemporary thinkers conjure up an image of the alleged narrow-mindedness and sterility, as well as the single-track logic, of modern analytic thought?”

“It seems that what modern thought has done to place – fixing it to spatial locations – it has also done to people, wrapping their lives into temporal moments…If we were but to reverse this procedure, and to imagine life itself not as a fan of dotted lines – but as a manifold woven from the countless threads spun by beings of all sorts, both human and non-human, as they find their ways through the tangle of relationships in which they are enmeshed, then our entire understanding of evolution would be irrevocably altered…It would lead us to an open-ended view of the evolutionary process, and of our own history within that process, as one in which inhabitants, through their own activities, continually forge the conditions for their own and each other’s lives.  Indeed, lines have the power to change the world!”  (Ingold)

Bringing it back to the inscription of language, it is easy to see the bias of expression in the meaning of signs – but that meaning abstracted into disconnected idea-banks of terms, rather than the entire gesture of activity of inscribing.  My talent diminishing to equational finesse – the fiddling and play or arrangement of alphabets like numbers – rather than a being expressing its thought through gesture and individuated agreed-upon symbols and signs.  Perhaps our sense of difference betwixt the typescript and handwritten is that there is a little less of ourselves as individuated organism, and a lot more of standardized general practices and beliefs.  Perhaps we feel a little less in- when our scripts are preformed?  I do not know, I am foraging the questions…

“every thing is a parliament of lines”

-Tim Ingold

Lines, Meshwork, Aether…

I’ve recently acquired (via Inter-Library Loan!  Woo-hoo!!!) a collection of writings exhibited below:

Vital Beauty: Reclaiming Aesthetics in the Tangle of Technology and Nature

which opens with an essay by anthropologist Tim Ingold who starts it off with a remarkable movement through slugs and storms, lines-earth-eather, Kandinsky, Klee, Merleau-Ponty, and others – investigating them through a concept of “meshwork.”

“By this I mean an entanglement of interwoven lines.  These lines may loop or twist around one another or weave in and out.  Crucially, however, they do not connect.  This is what distinguishes the meshwork from the network.  The lines of the network are connectors, each given as the relation between two points, independently and in advance of any movement from one toward the other…the lines of a meshwork, by contrast, are of movement or growth.  They are temporal ‘lines of becoming’…Life is a proliferation of loose ends.  It can only be carried on in a world that is not fully joined up.  Thus the very continuity of life – its sustainability, in current jargon – depends on the fact that nothing ever quite fits..”

-Tim Ingold, “Lines and the Eather”-

Journeying on from there through Deleuze and Guattari, mood and weather, meteorology and aesthetics he arrives at a conception of flesh as both meshwork (exhalation) and atmosphere (inhalation) – a whole-being experience of relation enabling and realizing animate life….

I’ve now been browsing numerous writings by Ingold, fascinated by the semiotic/anthropologico/ontological /scientific meshwork his production encompasses… Thankfully, he makes much of his work available full and free to us… if you’re interested – I risk the promise it will be worth your while…

Lines: A brief history by Tim Ingold

Being Alive by Tim Ingold

and a fascinating working paper as introduction:  Realities: Bringing Things to Life