Sunday, June 01, 2008

A cryptic script: My answered exercise

It's time to reveal the inspiration behind my last drawing (see Interactive Exercise to catch up). I did my best to pick an obscure subject in order to provoke a wide range of responses, and the comments didn't disappoint. In fact, I like many of the suggested titles better than my own.

A couple weeks ago I received a very curious piece of mail. It arrived in a wax-sealed envelope, and consisted of a single small sheet with a message composed in an ancient script. Only after some Internet-based research was I able to identify the computer-generated font as a cuneiform alphabet. After several fruitless hours spent trying to translate it, I discovered by reading a few other blogs that it was most likely part of a promotion for an upcoming HBO series.

The drawing was my attempt to replicate in typically fractured style one of the letters found on that mysterious missive (you can see images of the four-different mailings that went out on this site named after the Japanese word for blood ... the one I received is on the far right). As it turned out, the words held much more sway over my imagination while their likely meaning and origin remained unkown, and I think that speaks on some level to the power of art, language and myth. I haven't pursued the mailing's meaning any further out of a desire to maintain some sense of lingering uncertainty.

I really appreciate all of the very creative titles offered up, and to show my gratitude I'll be writing a series of poems inspired by each participant's take on the drawing's meaning (with a fitting attribution and dedication to their authors). To get the ball rolling, here's the piece I built around the phrase initially on my mind.

A cryptic script

By Francis Scudellari

A cryptic script
By unknown hand
Knowingly penned

Aged symbols dusted,
New-pulled from yawning gaps
Of a bookish slumber

Inky smooth, slithering lines capped
With ever hungry heads, feeding
On preyed-upon partners' trailed ends

Intricately cut keys
Unchained, distance-scattered
From forgetting's locked vault

Treasured meaning
Now only found
In not knowing
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