accents on english | fall 15-winter 16

A Riddle of Signposts

word lovers' corner

A Riddle of Signposts

Arizona Crossword

accents on english

Newsletter of the Department of English
at Arizona State University

Fall 2015-Winter 2016
Volume 19, Issue 1

We see and follow street signs when driving or walking every day. We read them when necessary and understand clearly what they mean. Oak Street means Oak Street. They’re helpful and organized. But could there be another message, another meaning, some other direction being given beyond Oak Street? Could the regular be up to something else, something in plain sight—something more subtle or insidious or clever than at first glance? Is there a party going on to which we’re not being invited?

Salvador Dalí evolved something he called the “paranoiac-critical” method wherein when looking at something objectively one might simultaneously see something subjective, each quite different from the other. Pablo Picasso asserted that “A green parrot is also a green salad ... He who makes it only a parrot diminishes its reality.” We ourselves wear costumes on Halloween, stepping into other selves for the evening. Could street signs be telling us more than we recognize?

Thomas Pynchon, in The Crying of Lot 49, writes about the possibility of an underground post office—or, possibly, two competing clandestine postal delivery services. Can street signs, with their very sly, smaller directional indicators, their n-e-w-s, be telling us something more? Are they a kind of everyday map of the movie stars’ homes? Here are some possibilities.

Image of West Erie street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Where retired people live?

Image of South Oak street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Perhaps the weary should head over here?

Image of East Erie street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

The best Halloween street in the world?

Image of South Hardy street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Archeological clues to Tempe's past?

Image of East Campus street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Online is the future?

Image of East El Parque street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Electric Avenue?

Image of East Bishop street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

After the poet?

Image of South Dateland street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Boringsville?

Image of South Ash street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Where heads of state and Miss Americas live?

Image of East Bonita street sign / Photo by Alberto Rios

Online dating site?