‘The Embryonic Culture of Images’ by Crag Hill
Before the word there was the image.
Behind the word there is the image.
Between and within the words are images; between and within the images now are words.
Before the word there was one image. The one image expanded and accelerated and formed many images. Images were teeming and seething with images. Time and space were born and became one.
Before the word many images contracted and formed images of worlds and worlds of images. Time and space were teeming and seething with images.
Before the word there were worlds of images. The worlds expanded and accelerated and concretized. Images begat the world.
In the flux before the word, in a world of image, consciousness was born but it did not know it was born and did not know for eons.
Before the word the knowing began with image. Consciousness looked and imbibed the world of images and the images of world and knowing expanded and accelerated and concretized. A word was born and the knowing that it was also was born.
Within the maelstrom of images words were born and words died. Words were born and words died and words were born. Words were born and attained maturity and diversified and died while images remained constant (never fixed in knowing but always with substance, with a weight born of words). With each word, each life and death of a word, the knowing grew.
As the knowing grew it began to connect word with image and image with word and as the knowing connected image with word knowing spread and words spread in and out across images. Singular words coupled with recurring images expanded and accelerated and concretized into constellations.
The knowing guided these constellations and these constellations guided knowing. Words gained their own time and space (never fixed in the knowing but always with substance, with a weight born of image) and gave images roots and trunks and branches as images gave words veins and blood and bodies.
For the knowing images and words became inseparable but not yet impermeable. For the knowing this was the source of energy necessary to create more knowing.
In the knowing words flourished, became writ in stone and on scrolls and on as many pages as there were stars marking time and space. Images flourished, became wrought in stone and on walls and on as many canvases and pages as there were stars shaping time and space.
Knowing moved out along branches and veins and became many knowings. Words were born and words died and words survived in one knowing that another knowing could not comprehend but this was not incapacitating. Across and around the world words were born and words died and words expedited knowing.
But soon knowing forgot words were images and words were privileged. Knowing came to rely more on word than image. Disconnect was born and thrived and words were born and words died and words impeded knowing. Words intensified and calcified and choked out other words.
Words learned how to grow anger and unrest and war. Words left tattered images in their wake. Words planned revolution and dissolution against other words, one knowing pitted against another. Words died and were not reborn. Words died and their meaning lost in time and space. Knowing doubted and starved and diminished and more words died and were never reborn.
Yet while knowing had come to disdain image, image never atrophied, never faltered. In this chaos and entropy of word there grew up a small yet widespread and vibrant knowing that believed in image and forged knowing rooted in image.
While knowing contracted image persisted within and without and at the edges of knowing scored by words being born and words fighting and dying.
When knowing finally looked beyond word within and without knowing, spurred on by the knowing that believed in image, small yet widespread and vibrant, knowing saw beyond the ruins of words that image existed. Image never atrophied, never faltered.
For the knowing liberated of the tyranny of word doubt subsided. Words were born rooted in image and were reborn. Balance of image and word and word and image was restored and replenished.
Before the word was the image. Behind the word there is the image.
Between and within the words are images; between and within the images now are words. A small yet widespread and vibrant knowing that believes in image grows.
Crag Hill has been exploring the world through the prisms of verbal and visual language since his re-birth in the 1970s. Writer of numerous chapbooks and/or other print interventions, including 7 x 7 (Otoliths Press), Dict (Xexoxial Endarchy), Another Switch (Norton Coker Press), and Yes James, Yes Joyce (Loose Gravel Press), he also edited Score Magazine, a publication seeking the edges of writing from 1983-2006. His latest book, co-edited with Nico Vassilkais, is The Last Vispo Anthology, the first major anthology of visual poetry in 30 years. He teaches English education at the University of Oklahoma.