IAN’S LETTER OF THE ALPHABET: Notes to Shaun Pictures 9
Curiously, in the title a letter was left out of “Alphabet”. By way of invitation? By way of inviting me to focus my attention on and about the slender line of a letter ‘l’? Does the absence of ‘l’ change the meaning? No it didn’t. In a recent email conversation Ian, in response to a question from me, suggested I read his essay about the Alphabet. And it wasn’t until a rereading that I noticed the essay’s title was “Letter of the Aphabet”. A letter is absent. It could have just as well been misplaced as in Aphlabet or Aphabelt or Abtaphlet or Laphabet.
I rarely sit down and casually read anything by Ian Hays. I attempted to casually read “Letter of the Aphabet”—but I cannot read it that way. It deflects me unless I give it full attention. Then I experience the very thickness he describes, the filo pastry thickness of multiple thin layers and the potential spaces between layers. Parts of the essay are sweet and enticing, some are strong with the satisfying flavor of root, some lightly spiced with suggestions of cardamom and citrus.
Ian’s work here is a mixture of obscure and comfortable. But the effect is an enticing boundlessness, a randomly shaped space inviting my participation and exploration. The randomly shaped space crafted from serpentine curves, short straightaways and long extending curves that transform to spirals with mirrors, the randomly shaped space with sliding, bouncing interacting focal points. Out of this a heightened awareness of parts that combine to make wholes and wholes that are parts.
His essay is an invitation to go further in the effort to communicate, an invitation to complexity that has no need of simplification. Who knew that the space left by an absent ‘l’ was a portal inviting the reader into a zoomification flight with a warm-hearted wizard at the hem? A hem!! Toward the mleh on the mehl and into the graceful ehlm at the end of random space. Photo please! Pease a photo. Where the hel is the cat with the camera?