How To Read

How To Read


Times New Roman text: The written word.

In some sense, a word is a collection of letters, 

which themselves are understood as meaningful images.


A word can mean something,

but only to someone who understands that language.


And who even knows what a word really wants to say.

Words demand some sort of materialization,
some liberation
as an oral or written expression.

What is it to write?

Making marks on a surface,

                           illustrating a language. The action of it drags one material over or through another, either adding or subtracting the precise, peculiar, three-dimensional shapes of the characters.

Some characters,  like  those in the  Latin  alphabet,  are phonetic, speech written down, while other characters are   formal,   developed with extreme attention to the visual minutiae that define the word.

To write is to create the alphabet in the tangible world, and not just the alphabet, but all the dots and slashes and curves that signify and construct the grammar and punctuation symbols, spaced out intentionally,          evocatively          in the most extreme sense.

                           Writing feels immortal, words feel immortal, even though their written form is not. All of this magic was based upon the tangibility of the written word, its presence in the world as truth, a movable set of images more officially sanctioned than any other by archival history. 

Times New Roman text: The written word.Writing by handheld instrument, be it a brush or a chisel or any other such thing, was in a sense holy; to master that kind of dexterity and precision made you a creator, a typification of God or at the very least a prophet. Even manual printing, a longstanding art and manufacturing medium, maintained the physical integrity of the written word by adhering to the same processes:

one surface

   impresses itself upon

another surface,

stamping its mark into or onto that object 

and forever redefining it.

The dissemination of the Gutenburg printing press across Europe and then the Western world expanded the social importance of the written word, enforcing the importance of its intellectual ownership by the name printed alongside it. 

To ‘write’ something was to conjure an idea and also to circulate it, to wider and

wider audiences. Its innate holiness and the necessary agency of its creation remained

central to writing while shifting them from a more tangible basis to a conceptual one.


What is a word? What is it to write, really? 

Will we ever pierce through this veil of ambiguity?

Times New Roman text: The written word.

Intrinsically, inevitably, writing was importantly physical. The materiality of writing may just be the source of its power, separating the written word from spoken and granting it a permanent presence,                   distinct from its speaker, 

and certainly less temporary.

The feeling of using a typewriter marries these two creator types, translating your own ideas into a decipherable visual artifact with each progressive                   drum                   of the stamped character                   upon the paper.

Even the HP printer in my childhood home functioned with very many odd rollers and stamps and (very expensive) ink, as I found out when I tried to take it apart. 

Words, I knew then from my elementary school classes, were mostly meant to be put onto something. Even the projector’s          light         painted them, for a moment, onto a tangible thing (the wall, the cloth screen, or onto the roundness of your own body), and the shapes on our TV were made   from  the    tiny    lightbulbs     that     you     could     only     see     if      you     got       so            close            to        the        screen        that        your      head       began      to     hurt   .

These processes of placing words in the physical world —
were they all still writing? Is the .jpg image of the text on a billboard which I downloaded off Twitter still 

‘the written word’?

What is it to write? To sit in front of a glowing collection of lights and to punch little buttons, constructing words and ideas, tracing their lineage through so many different 





The written word, and its fashionable appearance. It hardly seems like we’re doing the same thing, but the visual language remains recognizable. Lines and shapes against a background, hopefully legible, hopefully meaningful. Formed with the knowledge of its own limits, easily immortalized on temporary surfaces, but proclaimed nonetheless.

Does a sentence drawn by hand know how exactly or essentially it can be copied? Should a digital sentence know about the hand-written others, and be allowed to wonder how it stacks up? Do either of them know how easily they are tossed away and forgotten?

The written word wants more from its reader, and in return provides more of its essence.

Times New Roman text: The written word!


It must be happy in its ambiguity. 

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