Vegan writing

Writers and readers like to eat letters and words. Elisions, ellipses, “saut du même au même”, omissions occur in nearly every act of handwriting and human reading, either intentional or not, leading to words being unfastened from the page. But the letters and the words themselves also like to eat. They eat off the surface of the page, feeding off the material which supports their incarnation. The history of writing is also a history of word diets.

The body of a text is not a slight thing. Words have bodies and these bodies feed off the environment they are in in order to survive and preserve their shape. Put words on papyrus with a reed pen and you’ll have a vegan diet. Take those words off the sedge and plant them with a feather quill on parchment and you’ll have a carnivore diet.

The passage from the papyrus in the Mediterranean to the parchment of more northern European regions was a transition from a vegan diet to an animal regime, like the movement from cooking with olive oil in the south to cooking with butter in the north. With the introduction of paper in the diet of European letters, and the removal of gall nuts and other non-vegetal derivates from ink formulas, writing in Europe slowly recovered its vegan roots. Most words today no longer need a diet as they are discarnate, voices without bodies, shouting at us from the digital page.

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