Excerpt from A to Annoy,
by Leslie Sutcliffe in AGNI magazine, Number 64, Fall 2006

In the fall of 2006 Leslie Sutcliffe was the featured artist in the literary magazine AGNI published at Boston University and edited by Sven Birkerts. Included was the essay A to Annoy. Below is an excerpt from that essay.

“When books combine words and pictures, our roles as viewer and reader can conflict—as if the words were written in one language and the images in another. Translating back and forth can trip up even the most facile linguist. When I become self-consciously aware of the shift from reading to looking, I can lose the thread of what I was reading, like the trapeze artist who thinks, This must be what it feels like to fly, just before tumbling into the net.

A picture can be the best or only way to describe a thing. Maps are a perfect example. I am not adept with them, but for most people the easiest way to find a place is to consult a map. Similarly, if you’d never seen “jodhpurs” or “herringbone,” it would be hard to imagine them from written descriptions. It seems, though, that charts, diagrams, and illustrations are also included in dictionaries or encyclopedias as a visual respite from pages of uniform text, and are otherwise unnecessary or decidedly unhelpful. I delight in such images.”

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