Last week I took a bag full of other bags to the Horniman Museum, and in each bag was a set of objects. There was a set of felt tips, a couple of dozen scrabble tiles, some pairs of brown tights, a tupperware of dried pulses and pasta tubes for vegetable soup, a handful of kitchen utensils, and a handful of haberdashery equipment. Each person picked a bag and I gave them each five minutes to put their set of objects into an order. Here are some of their orders:

soup

pens

qwerty

I wanted to cause the people playing to approach writing as an arrangement of objects. I thought if I could get them to impose some kind of invented order upon a set of objects that usually form an unordered group, then this might be a way to spill the field of their objects onto a plane of self-contained economy that might relate to the practice of organizing [whatever comes before writing] into writing. To reinforce the relation I asked everyone to briefly describe the arrangement they had made in writing, then make a couple of quick amendments to their arrangement, and finally to make the same amendments to their writing so that the two correlated once again.

It was interesting to see the different relationships that emerged between corresponding physical and textual amendments. Some of us scanned through our objects and texts alike, picking out particles to change while leaving the general gist in tact. Sometimes a slight amendment to the objects meant rewriting whole sections of a text, and sometimes a change to each and every object in a set could be expressed in a one-off replacement of one word with another. Below is my text in red, with the amendments in blue describing how I’d changed almost every one of the dozen objects I’d arranged.

clips

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