The Wells Book Arts Center, housed in a classic college building with oversize doors and stone architectural details is a beautiful place to work. I had a studio room to myself with a Universal I Vandercook press. Cayuga Lake is just across the road. The letterpress studio holds a large collection of vintage and rare foundry type which I decided to utilize for a series of new prints in the vein of Small Fires. Poking around the drawers, I found one marked "Egyptian" and saw it was a selection of tiny Egyptian revival borders and ornaments, including two tiny Gardiner style icons, one of a bird, and one of a seated mummy.
I'd just reread Egyptologist and author Susan Brind Morrow's The Dawning Moon of the Mind, a poetic analysis of The Pyramid Texts and was thinking about her straightforward description of hieroglyphics as pictures that are letters and pictures that are pictures. They are both pictographic and phonetic. They are to be read individually to spell out words but also together in associated groupings to add important context and specificity to their meaning.
I'd also been thinking about this in relation to William S Burroughs thoughts on language as a method of control. He believed in order to break the control, one had to rub out the word. Nullify it. Find hieroglyphic silence.
Isn't it interesting that the Ancient Egyptian language of silences omits vowels from it's written form? And what is a language that cannot be read, if not pictures that are letters and pictures that are pictures?
I keep returning to Burroughs and Egypt in my thoughts. It is a conversation. I've felt an affinity to both for many years. Burroughs believed in dreams and I believe in dreams. Silent films removed from time. Burroughs dreamed of Egypt and I dream of Egypt. Crocodiles in mud. Crouched in a marsh, holding a frantic dog by the neck. Even a waking dream once, the sound of trickling water and the heat of an early morning sun on my face.
I once had a dream of standing behind him, very old and wearing his hat, before a very large book. My hand over his. Running our fingers over the words on the pages.