Monthly Archives: September 2008


An obvious choice, perhaps, but I have a complicated relationship with the letter.  Homophones are big for me; I like the play between sounds and definitions and contexts, as well as the sense of mistake or confusion or sleight of hand or pun that interchanging homophones brings.  Writing something like, “Bee, Leave Me Be” (a Vermont lyric), for instance, highlights words as objects to me.  “Bee” and “Be” and the confusion between the above statement and “Believe Me” make words into syllables – a type of exchange of objects and their meanings.

J and Jay have this connection.  Giving out my name, followed by my email address, jaypjohnson or jjohnson, can be very confusing and I often rely on spelling it out verbally.  Sometimes I consider the conequences of adopting the letter of the three-letter as my name, like J Mascis (actually Joseph).

The capitalization doesn’t affect my perception, unless it is the character alone.  Then, I do think of the above paragraph.  I do prefer the sans serif typeface, however.  If serif, full bar atop the cap-J and angled downslope on the front side of the lowercase version stem with a nice contrasting sphere atop.

With that lowercase preference, it seems both complimentary and unstable: sharp angles and perfect circles; a ball ready to roll backwards, against time and comprehension, towards the left margin.  With gravity, J is will always fall, rotating with the curve and getting stuck/achieving stability with the stem.  The hooked, inverse-J does give me hope, though the meaning of J would seem to be lost in that incarnation.