The Purpling

a poem by Nick Montfort

Cast the eyes somewhere else; cast the eyes there but don't focus them; cast the eyes there and focus them but stare at one point and one point only; cast the eyes there and waggle them around in some way but not in the canonical left-to-right, top-to-bottom manner; cast the eyes and follow the lines but linger continually to admire the serifs and the pleasing bowls, so nicely kearned and leaded; cast the eyes and recognize each letter but none of the words; cast the eyes and recognize the words that the letters constitute but avoid recognizing the phrases by continually falling into etymological or personally associative reveries; cast the eyes and recognize something of the phrases but not the overarching syntax and structure that hooks them together in potentially complex, unnerving ways; read it so that you can repeat each phrase back again but so that you forget each phrase almost immediately thereafter; just read the table of contents; just read the acknowledgments and bibliography and index to see if your name is there; fix on what can be easily chewed as familiar and known.