Darkness: A Semiotic

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Darkness is not one. It is a symbol system, varied and relational within itself and throughout existence. It moves, like spilled ink, in constant communication with itself and the world around. The darkness in a deep wood in summer speaks something different than the 3 a.m. darkness of a tenement hall littered with bottles and papers and junkies. The shadow of an ex-lover at sunset signals a portion of reality that is not signaled by the shadow cast by the moon during a total eclipse. And vice versa.

A man once tried to create an alphabet of darkness. He sought the individual phonemes that constituted each morpheme of darkness. He explored the connections that generated a syntax of shadows. He observed the conversations that arose from various states of gloom and how these were transformed into acts of symbol-generation. At first, this task was merely a side-project for this man, whose career heretofore had been devoted to creating works of art using the combined mediums of excrement, song, textiles, and hummingbird feathers. Renowned as he was for these works, the dark-alphabet soon consumed his every waking hour. His wife left him and his children took to slashing at themselves with diamonds. Friends turned against him and accused him of dealing with demons. His mother donned black and keened outside his door day and night. Still, he persisted. And when he thought his task nearly accomplished, he was struck blind. The darkness became one, undifferentiated. The alphabet he had envisioned lost all meaning and he passed from this earth in illusion.

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