what i mean

the double equal is a punctuation mark invented by Alice Fulton.  in a 1997 interview with Alec Marsh, Fulton says,

I think it is a moment of transformation… It could also be a hinge; I see it that way too — the hinge that allows the door to open onto another realm.  That threshold is transformative… I also think of the double equal as the sign of immersion.  The single equal sign retains the separation of whatever is on either side.  We know that separate is not equal.  The double equal, as I said in one defining poem, ‘means more / than equal to = = within.’ It signals an absence of boundary, that two things are immersed in one another, as in metaphor.  A simile is separated by ‘like’ while a metaphor is transformative; one thing actually becomes the other.

consider the double equal:


Fulton’s poem titled, “==”:

It might mean immersion, that sign
             I've used as title, the sign I call a bride
     after the recessive threads in lace ==
     the stitches forming deferential
                     space around the firm design.
                             It's the unconsidered

     mortar between the silo's bricks == never admired
                             when we admire
     the holdfast of the tiles (their copper of a robin's
             breast abstracted into flat).

             It's a seam made to show,
     the deckle edge == constructivist touch.
             The double equal that's nowhere to be found
                             in math.  The dash
             to the second power == dash to the max.

     It might make visible the acoustic signals
     of things about to flame.  It might

               let thermal expansion be syntactical.  Let it
     add stretch

                             while staying reticent, unspoken
     as a comma.  Don't get angry == protest == but a

     comma seems so natural, you don't see it
     when you read: it's gone to pure
     transparency.  Yes but.
                                     The natural is what

     poetry contests.  Why else the line == why stanza == why
             meter and the rest.  Like wheels on snow

                     that leave a wake == that tread in white
                             without dilapidating
                             mystery == hinging
                     one phrase to the next == the brides.

     Thus wed == the sentence cannot tell
     whether it will end or melt or give

                      way to the fabulous == the snow that is
     the mortar between winter's bricks == the wick that is

                             the white between the ink

In her poem “Immersion”:

It’s sensual math

and untied railroad tracks = =

the ladder of gaps and lace

unlatched.  It’s staples

in the page and the swimmer’s liquid lane.

Those sutures that dissolve into the self.

Her poem, “Fair Use” describes how the fabric felt is made.  She uses felt as a metaphor for immersion, and can be represented by the ==.  She writes,

… As felt

is formed by pressing

fibers till they can’t be wrenched apart,

nothing is separate, the entire planet

being an unexpected example.

Felt, Fulton continues, is “a fabric of entanglement = = / my consciousness felted with yours… It is not metaphorical… what happens to others happens to me”.

the double equal is my very favorite punctuation mark.  this is a place in which things and people and ideas are felted together.


About thedoubleequal

TheDoubleEqual is interested in Anais Nin, Smut and subtext, Queer literature, Intersections of oppression, Jewish communities, Memoir, Poetry, All art, Subways, and Violent spiritual awakenings. View all posts by thedoubleequal

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