Friday, May 04, 2007

Blue Squares and Asemic Calligraphy

Blue Cups 2
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao.

We lay there & looked up at the night sky & she told me about stars called blue squares & red swirls & I told her I'd never heard of them. Of course not, she said, the really important stuff they never tell you. You have to imagine it on your own.

"Blue Squares," a Story of the Day, from StoryPeople.

And to me that’s what art is about. You have to imagine it. Or, let it flow from deep deep inside. Or let it take you deep inside.

I haven’t been here this past week because I have been working on my art. Making some and getting my other blog (Silence: a Gallery) organized into something of a real online gallery. In that process I have discovered some very interesting things (?), ideas … which I will share here.

First off I discovered the term “asemic calligraphy.”
Turns out this is what I have been doing in my art these past few years.
I never knew that.
I never knew what to call these doodles of calligraphy.

I do not know either kanji (Chinese characters) nor have I studied shodo (Japanese calligraphy). So of course my calligraphic-like swirls are without meaning, that is asemantic or "asemic."

This type of calligraphy is by definition without meaning. But meaning is missing only if we restrict ourselves to the surface and most superficial level of language. There are other possibilities. Or to quote the Australian artist Tom Venning:

“The letters are illegible, invented, or primal. The text has no verbal sense. Through its formatting and structure, it may suggest a type of document, or coded diagram, thereby, hint at meaning. Asemic writing can be understood through aesthetic intuition… through gut feeling.”

I executed the “writing” as an exercise in Taoist meditation, the guided movements I have mention before, only these were movements writ small... so small that it was simply almost writing rather than the grand flow of postures and mudras demonstrated during the practice of guided movements, or spontaneous Qigong.

I called my doodling “intuitive calligraphy.” I consider it both “guided” by the subtle flow of energy within me, as well as “spontaneous” as it simply is what flows out once the attention settles inward.

To me “intuitive calligraphy” is a meditative practice stemming from Taoism.
To me it ties into my understanding of sacred language, and memory, and transcending.
I think of it as the manual version of speaking in tongues.
Then suddenly, I discovered this term “asemic calligraphy.”

There is this whole other tradition focused around asemic calligraphy. (See
It is a tradition peopled with poets, artists, children scribbling.

Check this out for very different (yet related) way of viewing the intuitive calligraphic.
Turns out the roots can be traced to surrealism too.
Am I surprised? – no, delighted!

1 comment:

Tom said...


Wonderful stuff you have written and very inspiring. It is nice to know there are like minds (many of them) focusing on this very deep and ancient Asemic Caligraphy idea. An astrist I love is the Australian Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. This guy brought abouriginal thinking closer to the west by "writing" or "mapping" abouriginal thought into an asthetic form westerners understand. I like it.

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