Sunday, April 26, 2015

Les neiges d'avril

Sébastien Dulude, "neiggggggggge" (April 2015)

The edges of a word are not necessarily clear. Its extent is uncertain. When does is stop meaning one thing and turn into other meanings? When does its meaning divide? Where does one word end and the next word begin? In the classical age, writing was all of a mass, a single string of letters, not so much as a sliver of space between words, as if the spoken language had no pauses between words--which it often does not. Children, whose minds are an articulated grey clay, listen enough by the sounds of words that the boundaries of them become impressed in their minds, but it is a long process. If a word is written where does it end? We assume at its last letter, but some words come to us in two strings of letters. I always spell the word "no one" as "no-one" to make this point: it is a single word.

So the French word for "snow" ("neige") written with its g nonupled and imbricated as a vertical line through the word is still a single word, one silently or not so silently extended by its reaching northward and southward from the horizontal plane of the word.

All of it snowing, dark and black, stark, in a medium blue sky.

The two-storey g's are sifting, shifting, out of the sky and through the word "neige" itself. The nonuplicated g's can be perceived as entirely silent (nothing but a visualization of snow) or as the continuation of the soft hum of a French j, the sound of snowfall, almost silent, but not, and an enduring sound.

It all works. A little beauty. The simple mise-en-page. The sound that lingers in our heads. Something that reminds us that even April sometimes snows gently upon us.


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