The Sound of the Letters, the Voice of the Page

“...thus it is that the writer of today is no longer scribe but wordsmith, an author whose verbal assemblies are committed to paper by way of mechanical processes that bypass the work of the hand. In typing and printing, the intimate link between manual gesture and the inscriptive trace is broken. The author conveys feeling by his choice of words, not by the expressiveness of his lines. ”

[Timothy Ingold, Lines]

Reading this passage it struck me immediately that I wanted to reinvigorate the link between gesture and writing. From the outset there is a physicality in the sounds of writing in the piece.

The writer is exploring his past. He is listening to the sound his quills and pencils make: the immediate, physical noise of the quill scratching, the pencil sliding across the surface. He begins to write about other things, including sounds and memories from his past. These are sounds he knows well; but he attends to them in new and different ways. Some he visits so briefly that what he hears is almost an illusion. Other sounds he settles on, and takes time to explore: isolating and amplifying. Through these and other repercussions there is a shift in what we hear or sense as real: the separation between action and meaning tends to dissolve, letters gather to form words, and gradually the sound of the letters becomes the voice of the page.

The Sound of the Letters,the Voice of the Page is dedicated to Alistair MacDonald


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