22 July 2012

Book du jour

Continuing with the project on memorisation of sonnets, I've printed out a six-page alphabetical list of the lines in the ten chosen sonnets, and carefully torn them into 140 strips. Or rather - four of the six pages were available for tearing up. My previous great idea for using the alphabetical list of lines didn't pan out, so I used a couple of the pages for doing some doodling one lazy day.

The current great idea involves a flat-bottomed colander with large holes. My parents either bought it in Quebec in the early 1950s, or may even have brought it to Canada from Germany. Now it's in England, doing unimaginable things.

The lines are stuck through the holes, starting with A in the middle and going outward as far as they can go. I haven't counted all the holes, but the outer ring has about 64 and there are 8 rings - so the 140 strips won't entirely fill it.
Long ago, when the British Library was still in the British Museum, one item on display was labelled as a "chronological scourge". It looked like a sort of whisk, with strips of vellum on which words were written. I've never been able to find out more about it, but it has stuck in my mind, and may lie behind the strips of paper with words printed on them. But the ends, instead of being bound onto a handle, are dangling through the holes of the colander -
The next stage in this project is to fill the glass with tinted water (ink? dye?) so that the liquid wicks up the strips. I'm interested to see (a) whether it works and (b) how long it takes. Some time-lapse photography would be interesting...

Further possible developments are to make the lower part of the strip longer, perhaps use paper that's more absorbent, and to replace the colander with a simple plate that has holes in it.

It seems to me that  the way the memorised lines are mixed up is a visual analogy for the way lines of poetry interweave in memory - and the darkness of the ink/dye, eradicating the words, shows how they disappear...


Sandra Wyman said...

This may be totally irrelevant to what you're doing but might be of interest: when I taught English, one of the things I used to get students to do was to reassemble a poem which had been cut into individual lines (sounds odd but it made them look at the words and meanings more closely and ended up giving them a much greater awareness of what the poet was doing than through studying it by the conventional method)

Velma said...

re-surfacing after some time and i am enjoying looking here so much. fine work.