Asemic: The Art of Writing
In recent years, asemic writing—writing without language—has exploded in popularity, with anthologies, a large-scale art exhibition, and flourishing interest on sites like tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Yet this burgeoning, fascinating field has never received a dedicated critical study. Asemic fills that gap, proposing new ways of rethinking the nature of writing.
Pioneered in the work of creators such as Henri Michaux, Roland Barthes, and Cy Twombly, asemic writing consolidated as a movement in the 1990s. Author Peter Schwenger first covers these “asemic ancestors” before moving to current practitioners such as Michael Jacobson, Rosaire Appel, and Christopher Skinner, exploring how asemic writing has evolved and gained importance in the contemporary era.
Asemic includes intriguing revelations about the relation of asemic writing to Chinese characters, the possibility of asemic writing in nature, and explanations of how we can read without language. Written in a lively style, this book will engage scholars of contemporary art and literary theory, as well as anyone interested in what writing was and what it is now in the process of becoming.
How does the noncommunicative communicate? This is the seemingly innocent question Peter Schwenger unpacks. At once storehouse and treatise, Asemic has the clarity of a dictionary entry, its sagacity delivered with deceptive ease, revealing a domain vaster than anyone would have thought: a Copernican marvel. — Jed Rasula, author of History of a Shiver: The Sublime Impudence of Modernism