We Just Aren’t Made of Atoms, but Letters that Form Stories


( Photos by Emilia Leigh-The Last Beginning Blog)

Dear Reader:

886France seems to be calling me as I have now read three novels with different geographical locales situated in France. In my last story, the main character, Katherine, travels to Antibes and there discovers the sculpture known as “The Man of Letters.”

When I first read about this unusual sculpture, nicknamed Nomade/ “The Man of Letters” I was picturing letters as in stationary and envelopes….not alphabetical letters.

Instead this unusual sculpture is made of bent steel painted white to contrast with the blues skies of the French Rivera. He is staring out at the harbor and Mediterranean Sea with his upper torso bent forward as his hands embrace his knees.


This sculpture was created under the amazing umbrella of talents belonging to an innovative sculptor-Catalan artist Jaume Plensa. It is one of a series of “lettered” sculptures found around the world by this same artist. It is a favorite of both residents and tourists of Antibes and looks out over one of the richest harbors in the world (Port Vauban) with more large yachts anchored there than any other harbor…

A spectator can walk inside, completely immersed in letters, sit, climb, and find themselves lost in reverie trying to find a secret code or pattern to the letters. Many people end up in the same position as the “Man of Letters” -stationary…holding their knees and leaning forward in a seating position.

One tourist said that the brain naturally wants to match letters  to our own individual schema of known words and thoughts. Another tourist said the experience was like looking for that first word in a crossword puzzle…the word that  unlocks the puzzle for all the other clues.

(Speaking of crossword puzzles, an interesting anecdote that our Pastoral Intern, Pat Jones, shared with us yesterday, involved a man on a train working on a crossword puzzle. Absent-mindedly, he spoke one clue out-loud which read:

A four-letter word that displays a strong, emotionally charged feeling towards an unknown person.”  

“HATE”  a nearby fellow passenger yelled out. There were several nods followed by a pause from a woman across the aisle…”No…LOVE.”  What a thin line separates love from hate in this world! Perception and understanding are key to both.)

Plensa’s  perception of his “Man of Letters” artwork is explained in his own words:

“It’s an open piece, inviting people to enter it, like a grand-mother embracing her children.”

“I always imagined that our skin is permanently tattooed with text – our life, our experiences – tattooed, but with invisible ink. And then suddenly, somebody is able to decipher these tattoos; that person becoming a lover, a friend. That is probably why I work with sculptures like this, this human form composed solely of letters, like cells. It’s almost biological.”

“People believe that a letter is nothing, that it is anonymous, but in relationship with other letters they form words, the words with other words create texts, the texts with other texts create culture, and so on.”


Isn’t life fascinating? It all begins simply enough…a single-cell divides itself and aligns with another becoming more biologically complex with each passing day…with each new part of the body being formed and added.

In this case…there is a single letter that decides to align with another random letter and a single word emerges. Then that single word connects with another single word…and a thought begins to form…and so on and so on and so on.

So until tomorrow…How anyone can not believe in a Supreme Being in charge of so many complexities in man, animal, and plant behaviors Who can simplify this over-whelming realization of Creation by one thought…one unconditional feeling…LOVE for each and everyone made in His image.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Late yesterday afternoon I walked out in the garden and it looked like the rain shower morphed into a moon flower shower….so beautiful it took my breath away!







About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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