Michael Jacobson is a driving force in the Asemic art and writing community. As the founder of Post Asemic Press (https://postasemicpress.wordpress.com), his vision for the future of asemics is as inclusive and inspiring as his art itself. Each of his works feels like a small universe seeking to expand itself by allowing the viewer to experience rather than analyze. ~ Sylvia Van Nooten
Sylvia Van Nooten: What is behind your artistic vision? (Why do you do art?)
Michael Jacobson: As far as my personal vision goes I make art to get to the essence of the soul-seed of raw creation. I do art and writing because it is my reason for existence. I try to learn from the totality of experience and pluck out interesting details to run with, and then make up my own interpretation of the duality of hallucinations and reality. One thing I picked up on from other writers such as James Joyce, Xu Bing, Mirtha Dermisache, Basquiat, and Brion Gysin is to make art that pushes boundaries, but still has an entertaining quality, experimental but in a way that spiritually excites and is more interesting to read than accounting numbers. My long hieroglyphic asemic tale Action Figures tells my story from the pit of my mental collapse, and the Action Figures are what helped me climb out of the abyss of schizoaffective hell. For many years I self-medicated with alcohol, but I’m sober now (since June of 2020) with the exception being my meds, but I started to drink non-alcoholic beer to commune with the spirits on holidays.
SVN: How does being an artist help you communicate with the world?
MJ: Everything seems to communicate something, and nature, art, poetry, and music are the pinnacle as far as communication goes. I use my art to amuse myself and as a therapeutic process for coping with existence on this planet. There is so much pain and death in the world and in my personal history, and art helps me get through difficult times. I don’t know how to pray sincerely so I make art, writing, and music to cope and get through the bad days. So far I have published two books: one of asemic writing and one of senryu poetry: Works & Interviews and Hei Kuu. Two other books I am working on are Somnolent Game (2022) and id est (2023). Somnolent Game is a prose poetry novella written in a stream-of-conscious writing style. It’s about a bot maniac who has achieved sentience due to someone else's memories, and is trying to quit violence and start a new life as a clone in paradise. Id est: neo scribalist asemic expressionism is a book I just started working on; it’s a wordless pan-theistic illuminated manuscript (ok no gold is involved) painted using gouache paint on watercolor paper. I plan on working on it through 2022 and publish it through Post-Asemic Press in 2023.
SVN: Have you built or joined a community of artists around the world? How did you do this?
MJ: I founded the Asemic Writing: The New Post-Literate Facebook group in 2008 as a FB platform for my blog The New Post-Literate: A Gallery of Asemic Writing. Over the years it has been interesting to watch it grow from a small group of kindred spirits, until now where the scribal tribe of Asemica has expanded to the size of a small city. It is completely out of my control now in a good way, especially since I am not as involved with FB as much as I used to be; so thankfully there are others who help administrate it. The widespread community on the internet for asemic writing was first collected by Tim Gaze and Jim Leftwich. I stumbled into the small and dispersed group of asemic writers back in 2005 when I first gained an Internet connection. But I had been inventing symbols for a long time before I learned the word asemic. When I found the online asemic community I realized that I had located my creative home.
I also hang out and drink tea with my fellow Minneapoets Terrence Folz and Jefferson Hansen. We talk about the writing life in Minneapolis and the vibrant local literary community. I am also involved with many authors through Post-Asemic Press which I founded in 2017. On average, I’m publishing 4 books per year of asemic writing and visual and experimental poetry. I’ve published 15 titles so far with another 10 in the works. I may stop when I get to 30 titles or keep on going if the press eventually takes off. So far it is almost self-sufficient as far as money goes, but it’s asemic art and poetry so I’m not expecting to get rich. Recent titles from PAP are Glyphs of Uncertain Meaning by Tim Gaze, Unwritings by Laura Ortiz, and due out in October 2021 is Intimate h&s by Karl Kempton.
I am taking a semester off from college to get caught up with my writing and publishing, and to take a Finnish language class (my mother has Finnish Ancestry). I plan on returning to college in January of 2022 to continue studying creative writing and painting. In the future I would like to travel more and see the world like Anthony Bourdain was able to do.
Michael Jacobson is a writer, artist, publisher, and independent curator from Minneapolis, Minnesota USA. His books include The Giant’s Fence (Ubu Editions), Action Figures (Avance Publishing), Mynd Eraser, The Paranoia Machine, his collected writings Works & Interviews (Post-Asemic Press), and his autobiographical collection of senryu poems Hei Kuu (Post-Asemic Press); he is also co-editor of An Anthology Of Asemic Handwriting (Punctum Books). Besides writing books, he curates a gallery for asemic writing called The New Post-Literate, and sits on the editorial board of SCRIPTjr.nl. Recently, he was published in The Last Vispo Anthology (Fantagraphics), and curated the Minnesota Center for Book Arts exhibit: Asemic Writing: Offline & In The Gallery. His online interviews are at Full of Crow, SampleKanon, Asymptote Journal, Twenty Four Hours, David Alan Binder, and at Medium. In the past he created the cover art for Rain Taxi’s 2014 winter issue, and as of 2017 he has become a book publisher at Post-Asemic Press. In 2019 he was written up in the book Asemic: The Art of Writing (University of Minnesota Press) by Peter Schwenger; it has an entire chapter dedicated to Jacobson’s calligraphic work. He also founded and administers the asemic writing Facebook group. In his spare time, he is working on designing a cyberspace planet dubbed THAT. His Ello studio can be found here: @asemicwriter.
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