Wednesday, 31 January 2007

The Four-Cornered Universe

Sunday 4th Feb at The Foundry,
84-86 Great Eastern Street EC2,
near Old Street tube.

YT COMMUNICATION – A MANIFESTO
STEVE CLARKE & IAN McLACHLAN – IMPRO DUO
THE DUBLO – ANARCHIST HYMNS
SKALEPTRICKS – RAP DUO
PAUL HILL – LUPUS
NIGEL BURCH – SOLO UKELELE
GIRL – SPIRIT SONGS
ART WORK FROM GEOFF MOWLAM & FRIENDS

Free admission
Art view from 6 – performances from 7.30

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

From "Matthew 25"

41: Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44: Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45: Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

From "Once, Maybe"

By Ogden Nashberry.

[...] Maybe. But what with the parakeet always yammering, I couldn't
practise the bassoon anyways, so what was the point? The sky
had come out and looked nice, floating around like an old sweater.
Buns arrived, heaps of them, but nothing you could call 'a person'.
Nothing you could tell your endlessly ugly nephews and nieces back home on
the farm, where things, already, were starting [...]

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Open Mic Tonight

Live music and poetry open mic night tonight (Sunday) at The Stoke, 139-141 Stoke Newington Church St (old Vortex Bar), from 7. Possibly up to three bean soup. Everyone smiling at you.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Give Resonance FM Some Dosh

Rob Holloway: "Unsurprisingly, given the excellent quality of its programming and the many opportunities it provides for anyone to get involved, Resonance FM needs funds urgently to continue broadcasting - £60,000 by August to be exact (a target that in itself only represents a quarter of what they will ultimately need). Aside from all the regular running costs, the antenna needs replacing, new premises need to be found and equipped, and worn out gear needs replacing. As of today, £3,000 has been raised online. If you've got anything spare, please go to http://www.resonancefm.com/ and donate (Paypal, or debit/credit card). Also, if you're in and around London, look out for benefit gigs in February."

Friday, 26 January 2007

Squacht

So assume all the signs in some language are arbitrary, uncontaminated by onomatopoeia let alone psychomimes. All it needs to evolve motivated signifier-signified relations is users who sometimes mutilate signifiers during acquisition, and who may pass on their modified signs without piquing corrective mechanisms (see note 1). This seems obvious but is scarcely mentioned in the stuff I’ve read. Any capacity to misrecognise, misremember, misspeak or mispronounce while speaking a language may be a pressure on that language to evolve such relations. A certain kind of capacity for neologism turns up the radiation dial; so does the segmentation of the language-using community by solid but not impermeable membranes (the kinds that paper over classes, generations and comparable social groups – see note 3).

Note 1: In a system of very few signs, for example, any sign that is new to a competent user might be recognised as new to the language. Depending on the culture such signs might be rejected or embraced with jaded sick glee at the total expense of the spawning sign. Both responses are “corrective,” although it’s easier to see why in the former case.

Note 2: What would it be like if me and my friends went to Hogwarts?

Note 3: ... such that an agent may stray through a membrane and dump a load of mutilated signs with an emissary's swagger. If the formulations of a signifier veer randomly and automatically since any given Olden Days, then the splitting, isolation and reconciliation of social groups will also create pressure to evolve motivated signs. If two social groups are locked into different practices and worlds of things (e.g. one group interwoven with napkins and horses, the other with tills and serviettes), that pressure will receive support (or at any rate lack of a specific counterpressure): very similar signs - candidates for parsimonious cull - may survive by virtue of tribally-sensitive discrimination of signifieds. (Also cf. fates of coexisting signifiers for initially identical signifieds, in the case of Chicken v. Poultry (CA, 10 Sep 1066)). Keyword: trope.

Note 4: I’m looking for someone creepy. What I really want is a man who can freak me out.

From "I Want To Change The World"

By Charles "Chuckles" Owen.

"The best option available to me at the moment is to go and get my master’s degree in Performing Arts Management once I graduate from college, then move to England where people actually go and see theatre when they’re bored, not just flip on the TV. It’s much more affordable and popular to go to the theatre over there than it is in the United States, so that also means that there’s more work and more opportunity for a show to get seen by larger crowds."

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Squat

"c.1410, "crouch on the heels," from O.Fr. esquatir "press down, lay flat, crush," from es- "out" (from L. ex-) + O.Fr. quatir "press down, flatten," from V.L. *coactire "press together, force," from L. coactus, pp. of cogere "to compel, curdle, collect" (see cogent). The adjective sense of "short, thick" dates from 1630. Squatter "settler who occupies land without legal title" first recorded 1788; in ref. to paupers or homeless people in uninhabited buildings, it is recorded from 1880. Slang sense of "nothing at all" first attested 1934, perhaps suggestive of squatting to defecate."

"Sound symbolism is an affective or expressive language use working at a submorphemic, sometimes subphonemic, level and predisposes evaluative, pejorative use and meaning change. Sound symbolism ascribes non-arbitrariness to, typically, sub-sections of the vocabulary containing lexical-semantic forms such as onomatopoeias, sound-symbolic lexemes and templates. An example of a sound-symbolic schema specific to English is the onset cluster /skw/ [...] with the semantic component 'compression' present in, for example, the lexemes squash, squeeze, squat, squish, squiggle."

sits scan scorbutic rot reef scuttlebutt scribbles bot scrubber slob spat squirrel scad stem skivvy skit scales squareness spur forgot seer scuffle scramble sank scarify scarves sews skate squelch scarf sine scathingly scan soar skew scorbutic squeamishly sulk stun sung scratch skulduggery scullery SQUAT skirmish spar scherzi skin-deep skilful schoolchild rot scolding scrofula sell rot screenwriting squeamishness sin squawk screwy shot sham rot coin swum skinflick scoliosis plague scantiness spew scat scrapyard stumpy schoolchild scat skate snob shed scrap sub scrabbler spot lot sue squalidness scratchy skies sink black schoolgirl spit scalloped scriptwriter scorecard sans spot schnapps squatty scatological shot sea scrivener french schoolboy sty schoolroom skittish scrim sow saw sore smurf schoolmaster sink schuss schmaltz set skid scrunch skinny-dip squiggly sere semi job scattering skeet skillet bell scorch skycap swan tot scoliosis scattered sip plague slew scoop scantiness see scruff plague big squad screwdriver sculpture scurvily tot scout sock skyjack dot scornfully sign sung schmaltzy scutcheon scratch gut sap shot skulker sub knot sham scruple soon soy squat skewed schism schoolmarmish suey scapula step scared scolding scone skimpy swap scissor scholastically soak snug knot sculptural swum sit scurvy squad spud scorn big sods scientist skull underslung screw skirmish scotch shun scathingly scam seat bought skywriter lot skulduggery sue scorch scoreboard shot crot mug schnitzel jump scornfully site skitter skate stag schoolgirl schoolmistress scarily sake sect sin scurfy scrapbook saw soul schoolmate sir sate scout skim scott self quote skyjacker scrawniness see lat screwdriver squamous smug scholarship scaled soar yacht knot scar shot sax scruffy suey screenwriter scissors sculpt one scrub shot snob flot- snap skyjack walk sits skiff scatterbrain scots sync scintillating sits reef big skittish skittishly cogs scree smog sac squall scholastic sol schoolbook sway scallop sole sell lotte slot scuffle skinniness squawk skype skylight squeaky scream skivvies slam screamer skinny-dip sag scared lotte SQUAT scapegoat snub scruff scoreboard screwdriver skate watt rot skis skinniness skinflick down swam big sloe square-dance flot- swig scattering spot scald scripted squaw spit crot schoolmate scapegoat scoop scorer squirmy squick scatological sketch job skaff scraps scornful yacht skedaddle quack sine scavenge gawp sly got sag saps alot schoolbook hot scree soak skit sore schizoid scandium cot scald sky-high yacht sold long shot soil seed self sows scrabbler crot hut squirmy scab shot shot scarecrow schwa skipper skullcap squeaky scrupulous slow sobs science skirt scorekeeper saga squalidness scatterbrain gob screenwriting squeal swap not subs squalid walk crot spur scrubber bot skittish scarify skimpily reef sun forgot save sadat soak spat scumbag smut scrabbler scarification scratchy shun surf reef lot squelchy sue skaff skeptically skin-diving scrota schnauzer scripted screamer skimpiness sty scapegoat duck sale serf scurry squash jot whole scholarship knot skunk scally scum shun square skinny some cot duck skype schoolchildren SQUAT slut spas sag shiv said squeamishly knot squad low chunky crot scrabbler soft skywriting squish scarce scarlatina drop gawk sax scramble stumpy, skilful scad schematic spec squeakiness scrapper surf stet scoreless slag scenery scavenger sues schnauzer self sheep sway sun says sculptured scally brown sort scad bought got slew sang scrawniness skincare scheming scaliness soar scarification skinny scoreless scrunchy scorer scarves schizoid spas schnozzle trotts soot stet schizo scourer schoolboy scold scarf seq save scarf not blood scent squalor coin seam she squiggle screwball scherzo skinny-dipping skit spot soot seek suet squeamish scrubby sir squat skit slurm scow spot skyrocket squawk snag knot skwattakamp squirmy skin sort scrambler sage scotch sue scholastic spew scott skid shot trot sketchily smurf scared smog scriptural skimpily squeak scouting ring squawk skimpiness scoliosis squeak squat sculptural scatterbrain scrooge sketchiness sub shot schnauzer skilful scad short squatter scroungy solo scurrilousness sag squashed blot scoreboard skewed ska suey scarcely scantness sack skylark schematically scholar scriptural lot scintillation scantiness screenwriter skyline rot squareness schnozzle scar scoop scrupulous skids scrabble scrapbook may skeptically scurrilous shot skimpiness shy skew shot skeptic sobs cannot scavenge crot squirmy squeak screwiness schooling silo scar french shad knot hut skier bot sky-high swam scalawag SQUAT not sun sync scruff spun scraps shot cob scientist schmooze scribbler suds she scandalous skater schuss ska sin slug shot skis schmuck swig scurfy squiggle scenery scabbiness screamer scar squalor lot skydiver sash soul schuss schnitzel bird snot scat scullion scam schnoz says scum scram sac sky-high scrota shod skinniness skin-dive scrapyard spur silk scoliosis schoolmarmish scapulae scurvily stub squat sit scree rot quiff square-dance squeezer sect scrupulous scalawag scram scroll sail schmooze soul skimp scrabbler got schoolbook sons scraper swam scrubber seal scrooge sods squishy spat scrumptious root skwonk scullion scorched square sell swum shot whole squat lot scrimshaw sane gawk soon crouch sift stop scentless scrupulousness said drop scrofula spot spew sup scuba sobs sir scuttle scupper scrimmage slap scribal knot skepticism skinflint a sine swam scapegoat squeak scalloped serf scramble scabby allot slur swan scantiness slur scot-free sculler squib scalding skillful quondom scram stir skinny-dipping squirt soap soda spy knot skullcap shot sawn schnauzer scrutinize spun duck schoolmarmish sketchy squareness soft knot scraper scripted down schemer schizoid slog squarish scaliness gawp squally skywriter spay scruff scalding snow skim skit squirt self lott stop scrunchy schizophrenia skinhead stag swab tot spot jog scouting sass rot scant scar suet same skate scary scabrous skunk squamous squib skive shah scuffle lot spy sped seam schooner scantly said scatterbrain caught stir scribbler schlocky sex sis saga scantily sculpt slum pine squabble scumbag scorbutic scoff scolding scratchily lat spew skyjack shot sow school scaffolding crot stab schoolchild stud scandalous skimmer shot slue ska smug scentless knot knot schist squawk seta squeegee sky-blue skincare smut skeet scabies squeaky squashed screech round send scattering skip sure sulk spur snub such squawker skate scrapper squamous slag snip say SQUAT rot swab schnozzle scold lot schoolteacher soil scott scout sews skedaddle swam glut scornfully shah skateboard skids squat skill scrofulous scrotal snip swot schoolroom dunk sure sconce squeezer slaw skater scruff skunk time save skim schizo scone hook spit not scrunch scram skintight slot knot squat slum scion knot schlep sign schoolwork scabbiness scrimshaw skin up scab flat scrota shut scenarist baht schmuck not squeamishly sofa small skeet

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Faulty methods for ambling

Ambling is a peculiar kind of pace, wherein a horse's two legs of the same side move at the same time.

There have been various practices and methods of discipline for bringing a young horse to amble. Some choose to toil him in his foot-pace through newly-plowed lands, which naturally inures him to the stroke required in the amble. Its inconveniences are the weakness and lameness that such disorderly toil may bring on a young horse.

Others attempt it by sudden stopping, or checking him in the cheeks, when in a gallop; and thus putting him into a confusion between gallop and trot, so that losing both, he necessarily stumbles on an amble. However, this is apt to spoil a good mouth and rein, and exposes the horse to the danger of an hoof-reach, or sinew-strain, by over-reaching, etc.

Others prefer ambling by weights as the best way. To this end, some overload their horse with excessively heavy shoes, which is apt to make him interfere, or strike short with his hind feet. Others fold lead weights about the fetlock pasterns, which are not only liable to the mischiefs of the former, but put the horse in danger of incurable strains, crushing of the coronet, and breeding of ring-bones, etc. Yet others load the horse's back with earth, lead, or other heavy substances, which may occasion a swaying of the back, overstraining the fillets, etc.

Some endeavor to make him amble in hand, ere they mount his back, by means of some wall, smooth pale or rail, and by checking him in the mouth with the bridle-hand, and correcting him with a rod on the hinder hoofs and under the belly when he treads incorrectly. However, this is apt to drive a horse to a desperate frenzy, ere he can be made to understand what they would have of him, and to rear, sprawl out his legs, and make other antic postures, which are not easily stopped again.

Others think to effect it by a pair of hind shoes with long spurns or plates before the toes, and of such a length that if the horse offers to trot, the hind foot beats the fore foot. But this occasions wounds of the back sinews, which often bring on incurable lameness.

Some attempt to procure an amble by folding fine, soft lists (flanks of pork) straight around his hocks, in the place where he is gartered for a stifle strain, and turn him thus to grass for two or three weeks, and afterwards take aways the list. This is the Spanish method, but is disapproved, for though a horse cannot then trot but with pain, yet the members must be sufferers, and though the amble is gained, it must be slow and unsightly, because attended with a cringing in the hind parts.

Monday, 22 January 2007

“A year ago, I got really sick and had to stay out of school. I was so bad that I could not even eat my favourite foods without feeling sick in my tummy. My mum took me to the doctor. He showed me a drawing of what my stomach looks like inside and said I had a problem eating normal food. He said, for little girls like me, he had a way of getting ‘special’ food into my body through a tube. Getting my food through a tube was strange at first, but soon I was feeling better. I could play and go to school again.”
Sophie and Catherine Readings are now friends. 2:46pm. There are six million squatters in Mumbai.

From "Death of the Party"

By Blur.

Go to another party
and hang myself

Sunday, 21 January 2007

From "Love and Limerence"

By Dorothy Tennov.

• intrusive thinking about the object of your passionate desire (the limerent object or "LO") [...]
• acute longing for reciprocation
• dependency of mood on LO's actions or, more accurately, your interpretation of LO's actions with respect to the probability of reciprocation
• inability to react limerently to more than one person at a time (exceptions occur only when limerence is at low ebb – early on or in the last fading)
• some fleeting and transient relief from unrequited limerent passion through vivid imagination of action by LO that means reciprocation
• fear of rejection and sometimes incapacitating but always unsettling shyness in LO's presence, especially in the beginning and whenever uncertainty strikes
intensification through adversity (at least, up to a point)
• acute sensitivity to any act, thought, or condition that can be interpreted favorably, and an extraordinary ability to devise or invent "reasonable" explanations for why the neutrality that the disinterested observer might see is in fact a sign of hidden passion in the limerent object
• an aching in the "heart" (a region in the center front of the chest) when uncertainty is strong
• buoyancy (a feeling of walking on air) when reciprocation seems evident
• a general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in the background
• a remarkable ability to emphasize what is truly admirable in the limerent object and to avoid dwelling on the negative, even to respond with a compassion for the negative and render it, emotionally if not perceptually, into another positive attribute.

From "Continuing Against Closure"

By Lyn Hejinian.

My intention here is to link fate with incipience, or to suffuse the limiting condition known as fate with the limiting condition known as beginning in such a way as to allow the limits to cancel each other.

From "Writing Crime Fiction"

By HRF Keating.

If, it appears, you tell a subject to watch out for a certain item in a series of random sights the subject will seldom be able to recall whatever immediately preceded the watched for item. You can adopt this device for your own evil purposes.

From "Walking"

By Stephen Vincent.

[...] In the courthouse the man's second wife
stood up and faced the judge. "I must say," she said,
"my husband did not kill his wife. I must confess.
Both of us are witches, the first wife and I. At night,
after he had gone to sleep, it was common for us
to lift our mosquito nets and become large, dark moths [...]

Note on "Anacoluthon"

“Anacoluthon” has exactly that knack of giving you a lot to think about without thinking it for you, a stylistic virtue easy to lose sight of when it is called “defamiliarisation” / “a pluralist assault on Romantic ego-personae and their creepy authenticity gambits” / “a fractal speck of gift-economic-structured signification” (though it may be all these things – but meh).

I think this sound clip begins just after Lisa Samuels defines the title word. Anacoluthon is grammatical interruption or lack of implied sequence within a sentence. That is, a sentence begins in a way that implies a certain logical resolution, but concludes differently than the grammar leads one to expect. I warned him that if he continues to drink, what will become of him? In its most restrictive sense, anacoluthon requires that the introductory elements of a sentence lack a proper object or complement. For example, the beginning of a sentence sets up a subject and verb, but no direct object is given. Essentially this requires a change of subject or verb from the stated to an implied term. The sentence must be “without completion” (literally what anacoluthon means). (A sentence that lacks a head – that supplies instead the complement or object without subject – is anapodoton).

To be confused with anacoloutha, the substitution of one word with another whose meaning is very close to the original in a ‘non-reciprocal’ fashion – that is, one could not use the first, original word as a substitute for the second.

Anacolouthon is characteristic of speech or thought, and thus usually suggests those domains when it occurs in writing. Such density of anacolutha might occur in extremely excited or agitated thinking-out-loud, the kind borne out of a paradigm in mid-usurpation. Almonds are only mildly bitter and even the lemons are kinda like meranguey. “Anacoluthon” is the output of a smudged bell, very dreamy stuff indeed, so indolence is perhaps a more obvious hypothesis than usurpation. Its sentences might be akin to half-thoughts trailing into languor a.k.a. the difficulty of praxis in a hammock – “If I had a temple to relax in, it would be almond trees”; “That’s that island there and I am not the day recedes.”

The idyll potential in this imagery is a reason not to rule out the first option. Anacoluthon comes from the Greek anakolouthon which derives from the prefix an (not) combined with the root akolouthos (following), which incidentally is precisely the meaning of the Latin phrase non sequitur in logic. In Classical rhetoric anacoluthon was used both for the logical error of non sequitur and for the syntactic effect or error of changing an expected following or completion to a new or improper one. So the poem deals in at least two different modes of variously competing, collaborating and supervening normative sequentialism (i.e. different ways of it being all right for something to come after something) with a particular (soft) focus on utopian moments. Thinking through a utopian moment means thinking from what such a moment can follow until you hit what can follow from it; tough, though I guess “if I had a temple to relax in” covers it. Perhaps this toughness is behind the temporal drifts and twitches: “The news is over before it can be called” etc. I think this is roughly what the poem gives you to think about, and there it stops, apart from (1) encouraging nods and (2) arbitrary suggestions at cusps where little is at stake. Does that make sense?

From "Karloff's Circus"

By Steve Aylett.

"Silence! Nothing can influence me, ladies and gentlemen [...] I'm loose as a flag."

As his mouth was open to say "flag", a steam train came bellowing out of it, about which his head expanded and snapped like a rubber band. His body was obliterated under the carve of wheels and machinery as the enamelled engine screeched across the tarmac, rocketing through the front of Snorters Café and bunching to a stop in a boom of steam and earth. The train had come to rest in a zigzag pattern and the scattered crowd closed in again hesitantly, slipping in goofer fuel.

Unsung Projects

"Unsung Projects is a would-be album of unrealised poetic projects to intervene in public spaces; the dormant states of these projects might be conscientiously elected, pointed gestures in of themselves, or the result of contributors' lack of funds, collaborators, materials, space, time, and/or permissions necessary to bring them to fruition. The initiative emerges out of a concern that the diminishing complexity of public communication is increasingly limiting our range of practicable personal, local, and global action."

From "Pantoume"

By Kai Fierle-Hedrick.

The tacit pass of this or that prat,
always a slimmer foot-print, thine,
and yes, is it to do with the brand of breasts —
their pitched drawl, relational squabble?

Friday, 19 January 2007

Bad Press Serials 5.X

Everybody's Cup of Tea #1 will be "Tuesday is fine" (Ian of Clearaprint). The miscellany is on the web site. I did this one by myself. Hopefully the next one will be me Jonathan & Marianne again. That'll probably be in no more than 1,000,000 years, meanwhile I'll be stapling together whatever Frances tells me to.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Moneybroking Exam - Classic

Candidates are asked to stand with their legs a minimum of shoulder width apart whilst having one ear pressed into a mobile glancing at their reflection before entering the examination hall.

1. Del, Dean and Locko are socialising in a bar. They each require a bottled beer at £3.50 each and a bottle of Pinot Grigio for some birds at £15.00. How much money do they have to give the barmaid ?
a) £30.00
b) £25.50
c) “take it out of that luv”

2. Place the following items in order of importance: watch, car, belt, colour of credit card, reflection.

3. How many ponies in a monkey?
a) 20
b) 0.5
c) What am I a rocket scientist?

4. One of your customers has demanded a reduction of brokerage fees on the understanding that this will increase business volume. Do you:
a) refuse to adjust your rates and do less trade?
b) reach a compromise and do less trade?
c) agree to their terms and still do less trade?

5. How many units of alcohol do you consume in a week?
a) 35
b) 50
c) zero, because if you drink again you will end up in another fight and lose your job

6. A new trader has started at a bank and no broker has been assigned to the line. Do you:
a) pretend to know them
b) pretend to know them well
c) pretend to know them really well

7. You spend a Thursday night with a newly acquainted young lady, you awake at 6.30 on Friday morning and realise you are soon due at the office. What do you do?
a) thank the lady for a lovely evening and exchange email addresses
b) phone your boss and ask for a day’s holiday so that you can enjoy a post-coital day of romance
c) get out of bed, scratch yourself, break wind loudly and utter “sorry love I gotta go it’s non-farm payrolls”

8. On a Friday morning you feel the urge to use the lavatory. After securing Rupert Murdoch’s finest, which cubicle do you choose?
a) The one with no paper
b) The pebble-dashed one
c) The one blocked to the rim with toilet paper
d) The one with no seat

9. How many monkeys in a pony?
a) .075
b) .05
c) I’ll be back.

10. Your desk is considering employing a female trainee. What is the most important reason for making her part of the team?
a) The relevance of her degree
b) Her dynamism and character
c) Does she go over?

On completion of the paper please hand it to the examiner and ask him if he’s “avin it at 5.00”.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

From "Talk Poetry"

By Mairéad Byrne.

I see the city’s pain map. It’s not as I thought.

From "Talk Poetry"

By Mairéad Byrne.

[...] watches feel like they were strapped on. I mean strapped on by someone who is not you. Some huge thug who had to kneel on your chest to get enough leverage [...]

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

The Unconditional (5/8)

“(‘Oh yes alright then I can/cannot doubt
(tick one) the simple fact of sensing this
this this, this this which you tell me again
is this red patch or objected example
inducting me into the world of all
dry goods afloat in their negated world
whose exemplarity is all they are
and where the concept only holds up for
so long as the shrunk qualia verify.
A Red Patch instantaneously replied.
‘I this now here present myself to cs. […]”
(27).

Note the placing of the quotation marks.

“[I]nstantaneously” would usually be the wrong word. But not here, I think.



OK on my copy of the form, beside the tick boxes, just below “I can/cannot doubt”, it says ‘See Note 4D,’ & Note 4D turns out to be the Cartesian theory of mind, plus its many and various critiques. The Cartesian theory of mind holds that each of us has privileged access to his or her mental experiences, such that they are indubitable and self-founding. Your beliefs about the physical world will never be as well-founded as your beliefs about your mind. Likewise, my beliefs about your mind will never be as well-founded as your own beliefs about your mind. You could always be mistaken about the causes of your pain, or about the appropriate way to describe it to people, but never about the pain itself.

The Cartesian theory of mind often goes further, holding that subjective experiences are caused by a realm of external objects. There is a clear division between these two worlds, the mental and physical. The mental world is discriminated, for instance, by virtue of being indubitable and self-founding, as well as lacking spatial extention, etc. Sometimes the Cartesian theory of mind also holds that the subjective experiences are like ‘pictures’ or some other representations of the external objects.

{… need to describe this in more Analytic language: externalism etc.}

‘Cartesian’ is a word a bit like ‘Christian’ or ‘Marxist’; it has less to do with Descartes than you might think. As far as I can tell, the Cartesian theory of mind is articulated almost entirely within its own critiques. {Counterexamples -- Fodor in his Hume thing? Searle???}. One reason for the plenitude of Cartesian strawmen is that it is extremely hard – perhaps impossible – to completely get rid of the Cartesian theory of mind. It is turns up in the prejudices, language and outcomes of philosophy which was never intended to approve of it.

(Here is a similar complaint: “Cartesian materialism is the view that there is a crucial finish line or boundary somewhere in the brain, marking a place where the order of arrival equals the order of ‘presentation’ in experience because what happens there is what you are conscious of. Perhaps no one today explicitly endorses Cartesian materialism. Many theorists would insist that they have explicitly rejected such an obviously bad idea. But as we shall see, the persuasive imagery of the Cartesian Theater keeps coming back to haunt us – laypeople and scientists alike – even after its ghostly dualism has been denounced and exorcized” (Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained, p. 107)).

{…}

Simon is interested in why we imagine Cartesian categories like subject and object in the first place, in how they seem to urge themselves onto us, and in why we so often revert to them even when we explicitly try not to. In the following passage, a Mobïus strip becomes a metaphor for the collapsed subject/object. The notion is sarcastically (and spookily) contradicted in the final line.

“The single strip which in a single kink
portrays a sidedness against itself
triumphantly records without a mouth
long after Euclid how there is no two
because a single slippage sings its one
perfected twist of surfacelessness best
& snuffs you out with me & me with you
or overcomes Cartesian dualists
in which meer outside if I utmost learn
to gasp, choke, gag & know I hardly breathe
then ‘utmost’ is the costly motto which
reserves in its hyperbole a small
yet-yet existing remnant which in truth
is just the absolute prohibited.
So say the Two in this inactual breath.”
{+}

The “inactual breath” is an example of how “the Two” is restored, displacing the fantasy of integrated subject/object. Even in thinking the thought of a “single strip which in a single kink” dualism is established through the distinction between and co-dependency of speech and internal, unvoiced language. {I’m not sure what all that other stuff is about (except that “yet-yet existing remnant which in truth / is just the absolute prohibited” sounds like a Zizekian theme), which is a sign that I’m probably wrong about this.}

“Instead, we are to understand the radical gulf between two bodies: the subjective & the objective body, between that thinking body the last singular hue or odor of whose experience I cannot possibly doubt, since it is what I am, & whatever that body points at or refers to or surmises about. […] What is essential, instead, is to keep open a difference which can only ever be closed in favor of one of the terms.” (Simon Jarvis, An Undeleter for Criticism, pp. 9-10).

{Perhaps a little more on this?}

“[…] this this, this this which you tell me again
is this red patch or objected example
inducting me into the world of all
dry goods afloat in their negated world
whose exemplarity is all they are
and where the concept only holds up for
so long as the shrunk qualia verify” (27).

So this contemptible “this” . . . it’s the material of a professed material-ism, isn’t it?

“[S]hrunk qualia” evoke fading qualia.

The concept only holding up for “so long as the shrunk qualia verify” is part of a sarcastic complaint. I’m not sure of its contours, but I don’t think it’s the complaint I’d make: the sensuous is ‘embedded’ in the conceptual, and not merely a condition of the possibility of the conceptual, right? What exactly is the difference? {…}

“The more I strip the more I offer blood
to every toxin loving to come in.
Propensity of poisons to invade
the naked surface I propose to them
could reach this word, this breath, this bloodied est?
I rip the surfaces from my inside
only to know the surfaces are there
to know which is to know they are not me
(not disowning but remembering all
that could not only be inscribed in this):
My pronoun spews to offer no inside
since none can show I have no side to me”
(21).

Monday, 8 January 2007

While there is a tendency for all groups to over triage patients at the risk of overwhelming limited resources.

The Unconditional (4/8)

A different potential source for the title:

“Finale. – The only philosophy which can responsibly be practised in the face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption. Knowledge has no light but that shed on the world by redemption: all else is reconstruction, mere technique. Perspectives must be fashioned that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be, with its rifts and crevices, as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light. To gain such perspectives without velleity or violence, entirely from felt contact with its objects – this alone is the task of thought. It is the simplest of all things, because the situation calls imperatively for such knowledge, indeed because consummate negativity, once squarely faced, delineates the mirror-image of its opposite. But it is also the utterly impossible thing, because it presupposes a standpoint removed, even though by a hair’s breadth, from the scope of existence, whereas we well know that any possible knowledge must not only be fi rst wrested from what is, if it shall hold good, but is also marked, for this very reason, by the same distortion and indigence which it seeks to escape. The more passionately thought denies its conditionality for the sake of the unconditional, the more unconsciously, and so calamitously, it is delivered up to the world. Even its own impossibility it must at last comprehend for the sake of the possible. But beside the demand thus placed on thought, the question of the reality or unreality of redemption itself hardly matters.” (THEODOR ADORNO, trans. E. F. N. Jephcott)

Let’s say you bang your shin again.

The Unconditional (3/8)

The name of the protagonist, =x., may come from Kant: “We can lay at the foundation of psychology nothing but the simple & in itself perfectly contentless presentation I, which cannot even be called a conception, but merely a consciousness which accompanies all conceptions. But of this I, or he, or it, who or which thinks, nothing more is presented than a transcendental subject of thought = x, which is cognised only by means of the thoughts that are its predicates, & of which, apart from these, we cannot form the least conception” (Critique of Pure Reason, B404).

Yeah, Kant-nap, scholars. Kant sought to transcend a futile stand-off between Rationalism (e.g. Leibniz) & Empiricism (e.g. Hume, Locke). “Leibniz intellectualised appearances, just as Locke […] sensualised all concepts of the understanding”. Kant proposed that neither the innate structures of the mind, nor a sensuous manifold, is alone sufficient for us to gain knowledge of the world. The first can supply form, the second can supply content, but only in their conjunction is knowledge of the world possible.

(Where does the =x. paragraph fit into Kant’s philosophy? Kant warns against trying to gain knowledge of conditions of possibility as though they were ordinary objects. However he does allow a form of familiarity with the conditions of possibility which he does not count as knowledge. I think. Kant does not in fact treat “the simple & in itself perfectly contentless presentation I” as one such condition of possible experience, although he quite easily could have done. The paragraph quoted above is part of a sustained account of why he does not. Anybody want to explain this to me? Simon, Keston, Josh, Drew, David, Tim, are you out there? For now anyway I'll ignore the broader Kantian context, and fix only on the paragraph itself).

If =x. “cannot be called a conception, but merely a consciousness which accompanies all conceptions” (q.v.), he could be the thing which interferes with efforts to translate first-person facts into third-person facts. Let’s say you bang your shin – could a complete account of your experience ever be made in terms of its constitutive somatic and neurological processes? Or would such an account necessarily overlook what it’s like to bang your shin?

This overlooked ‘mark of the mental’ is roughly what Brentano meant by intentional inexistence. “Every mental phenomenon is characterised by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, & what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction toward an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity. Every mental phenomenon includes something as object within itself” (Brentano, Psychology, p. 88). (Inexistence here does not mean ‘not existing’; it’s more like ‘existence-in’). In the spirit of Brentano’s use, intentionality has come to denote the ‘aboutness’ or ‘directedness’ of mental states. A desire is a desire for something, a belief is a belief that something, a sensation is a sensation of something. Rocks and trees aren’t about, towards, for, that, of, etc., in quite the same way.

So perhaps =x. is ‘intentionality,’ the ‘aboutness’ of mental states which discriminates them from physical states. Keep in mind that, in himself, =x. would be “perfectly contentless”: not bound up with any particular content; more like the fact of consciousness’s being bound up with various particular contents. In other words, =x. might be connected with, even identical with, the “Unconditional” of the poem’s title.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

The Unconditional (2/8)

One of The Unconditional’s favourite conditions is flesh, the condition of knowledge. The Unconditional is fascinated by knowledgeable flesh. Loves the stuff. There is a risk here that we sweep some vulgar Cartesian dualism under the boundless twister mat. Thinking about how the hand or face ‘possesses’ knowledge is quite close to thinking there existeth cognition goo, the brain abrim with it, but the body splotched with it. That superstition can be broken down into a midden of more or less sensible suggestions.

(Every suggestion in the following midden is supposed to have something to do with knowledgeable flesh). You may not be able to remember your PIN, but ‘your hands remember’ which keys to punch. / You may be walking through a tangle of lanes, your thoughts elsewhere, & find yourself safely arrived at your destination. / You may be well on your way to work before you’ve ‘woken up properly.’ / You may find it difficult to scan poetry unless you count the syllables with your fingers. Try: “perpetually signifying there” (109). / You think differently depending on how you have eaten, slept, drunk (coffee? Spirits?), whether or not you have a cold, or a stomach ache, or a headache. / After a sharp blow to the head, your personality may change. / Once you have learned to ride a bicycle you probably won’t forget, but nor can you prove to yourself that you remember how to ride one, except by riding one. / You do some things ‘by reflex.’ / Some reflexes seem to operate independently of higher-order knowledge: e.g. flinching from curry thrown at your face. In others, the status of higher-order knowledge is ambiguous. For example, before you ‘know what you’re doing,’ you might grab a bottle of bleach out of your baby’s hand. The act implies access to information about the likely behaviours of babies & the likely effects of the substance on their bodies, as well as a prejudice that babies should be stopped from poisoning themselves. / “A baby of fifteen months opens its mouth if I playfully take one of its fingers between my teeth & pretend to bite it. & yet it has scarcely looked at its face in a glass, & its teeth are not in any case like mine. The fact is that its own mouth & teeth, as it feels them from the inside, are immediately, for it, an apparatus to bite with, & my jaw, as the baby sees it from the outside, is immediately, for it, capable of the same intentions.” (Marcel Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception 410). / You may not actually ‘feel’ nervous while speaking in public, but notice your hand is trembling as you raise your notes. / “My mind says no, but my heart says yes.” Or, “my mind says no, but my body says yes.” / “If my hand traces a complicated path through the air, I do not need, in order to know its final position, to add together all movement made in the same direction & subtract those made in the opposite direction” (ibid. 161). / There exist special sunglasses which flip incoming light, so the wearer sees an upside-down world. This experience of the world is temporary – rather than getting used to moving around in an upside-down world, after a few minutes the wearer starts to see the world the right way up. (If you then remove the shades the world is seen upside-down again, until another readjustment takes place). / You may not remember how to do something on a computer unless you actually do it; you may make it surprisingly difficult for yourself by only adopting an unusual posture (turning the computer screen 45 degrees away, for example). / Some tasks which are second nature to you may become difficult to achieve if you attempt them in different clothes, in a different posture, while putting on an accent, or while unusually excited or melancholic. We usually describe these difficulties as ‘being unable to “get inna the zone”,’ ‘being distracted,’ that kind of thing. / A lot of your mental processes could plausibly be organised by spatial metaphors. Could these mental processes take place if you’d been born a brain in a vat, & never had an experience of a body in space? Could a thought as obvious as ‘getting through the day’ be compromised, no longer work correctly?

A final example, which I find the most confusing of the lot, is about interpretation. ‘The restoration of the bodily to the conceptual’ could be part of a procedure for ideal interpretation. E.g. ‘When you feel as I do, you truly understand me.’ (That particular formulation is a bit rubbish; how could you recognise that you feel as I do – maybe, only with the help of your true understanding of me (a special case of the hermeneutic circle)? The “as” of “feel as I do” is also an astonishingly complicated cusp. I don’t think it can just indicate a relationship of resemblance. But what would do instead? & the way in which “ideal interpretation” might generate attainable benchmarks needs sorting out. You can see however that the intuition might be worked up into something meticulous & robust).

These suggestions have various amounts of purchase on the ‘knowledgeable flesh’ theme of The Unconditional. Some are probably more persuasive or familiar than others. They may all seem like special cases, perhaps distributed within the fault-lines between subject & object, or between body & mind. But my hope is that some will seem not to be exceptions, or seem only exceptionally clear examples of why certain attitudes to subject & object, & to body & mind, will not do.

The sense in which they will not do in The Unconditional develops from a Heideggerean context. I don’t think I need to know Simon’s Heidegger or anybody’s Heidegger very well to grasp this sense, but if any of this is new to you, you might want to add a pinch of salt because it’s new to me too. Heidegger is notoriously difficult. I don’t intend a generalised whine about how difficult he is: I am pretty persuaded there are good reasons for it. But partly because of this difficulty, I am going to sneak up on him quite gradually, by way of some of The Unconditional’s other philosophers and characters.

The Unconditional (1/8)

About The Unconditional, by Simon Jarvis.

“hyperpedagogical sublime” (p. 115) “castrate Manhattan in a double smash” (p. 71)? Slash?

For a person, this poem is probably mysterious & moving if it is anything; for a public, it is forbidding rather than difficult – it’s much harder to make unverifiable statements about than (for example) a lot of late Prynne, so it’s tricky to appear to be talking about.

The grumes which flare throughout a first reading are predominantly Horatian satire (via Pope); fretful narratives of walking or driving around or it raining (as if John Wilkinson had completed Wordsworth’s Recluse – equally, such anxiety might be simulated if you were supposed to be on a quest to find a certain goblet but had forgotten); & weird embedded set-pieces which rupture the dominant prosodic form with chants, lists, & garbage (p. 236, ‘OaaneS / FrierJ / Aonaea / Rmwntr / Oaedhv / Stlsai’).

“(Several such at this point exited. / ‘Still wouldn’t Cortot have been better if / he hadn’t played so many wrong notes?’ ‘No.’ / Several more departed.) The lecturer / warmed to his task of driving every one / of these professionals to leave the room.” (p. 55).

The Unfinishable phenomenon also has a lot to do with its perverse lack of conventional subdivisions. When I put it aside & came back to it, I found I had to sort of take a run-up, flipping back a few thousand pages & then advancing with a scorned earth policy, hoping that I’d somehow pick up a thread or two before rupturing the membrane into new hermeneutic accomplishment.

The lack of organisational clarity is exceptional. On a Robinson College Open Day in 1997 I attended a ceremony in which cultists quartered a terrier on Clare Bridge to honour Simon’s custom of dividing his lectures into four parts. Perhaps the cantolessness is part of the attempt to strong-arm epic into a lyric mode. The Unconditional advertises itself as “A Lyric.” I have an unfounded hunch that to understand why this is not (or not only) a misnomer would be to complete my initiation into the poem’s world. I’ll make a suggestion about this later on, & I’ll mention now that I’ve found J.H. Prynne, “English Poetry & Emphatical Language” (1988), & Simon Jarvis, “Prosody as Cognition” (1998), useful in developing some background appreciation of the contentious modality. {I also meant to look into a possibly-relevant reading list from one of Simon’s lectures; I never got round to it but I can at least reproduce it: “Ulrich Broich, The Eighteenth-Century Mock-Heroic Poem, trans. David Henry Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Gregory G. Colomb, Designs on Truth: The Poetics of the Augustan Mock-Epic (University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992); James Noggle, The Skeptical Sublime: Aesthetic Ideology in Pope & the Tory Satirists (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Colin Nicholson, Writing & the Rise of Finance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).”}

“’How can a critical intellectual use / the very terms that she at once / subjects to a searching criticism?’ / The same way I fall asleep when you talk” (p. 171). “please sing your song of the soul into the sink” (p. 31). “Corpse-dinner Homebase” (p. 33). I think Peter Riley mentioned that the poem is full of disdain, but that it is not clear what for. I sympathise with the grumble. There’s been talk of The Unconditional as a work of great commitment & ardour, & though this is probably true in some senses – e.g. it feels like, where the verse is blank, the rhyme scheme is not xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx but e.g. abcdefghijkclmnom – it isn’t true in the sense of ‘meticulous cares taken that those who are likely to read it are also likely to understand it, at least if they read it hard enough.’ I sometimes get the impression of someone just fucking writing a massive poem OK. I conjecture that nuanced concepts, painstakingly gestated & road-tested, have been given a violent & whimsical last-minute tweak, & a pat on the rump into the spotlight. Things kilned, then tie-dyed. I also suspect that, here & there, the poem splurges on in the way satire can splurge on without necessarily being all that pointed or public or funny, & in the way metrical verse can splurge on without saying much.

But I can think of three responses to this somewhat ramified grumble. First, reducing any poem’s misty satirical targets to real world figures is an historic & greatly diverting pastime. Second, the charges which this poem levels are often philosophically sophisticated, & the targets constituted therein will of course not be stock characters, pre-assembled & available in culture, they won’t be recogniseable by their minutest gesture. This is a very good thing unavoidably associated with an only slightly bad one. Finally, the poem is pretty obviously filled with the same topics as Simon’s published critical work & what we can well imagine to be his life. Things like pain, purple, prosody, hermits, idols, aesthetics, anthropology, capital, language, ontology, music, football, driving, dreams, thinking about the War on Terror, writing poetry & criticism & theory & hanging out with others who so do. We need only follow his critical work or at worse follow him around a bit.

(This third point probably brings to mind the pseudo-recuperated Language poetry of American academia, especially as it is constituted within some of its critiques. (For example, the critique that fully integrated poet-critics risk their poetry being ignored or (merely) consumed by those paid (or paying) to read (and think & write about) it. (Contrast the scattered, discreet, & miscellaneous critical prose of baffling bard J.H. Prynne, or the shrug poetics of Tom Raworth (cf. also Tom Raworth {xox} & The Collected Critical Prose of J.H. Prynne ed. kms20@hermes.cam.ac.uk (forthcoming?); it’s really a matter of manners (and degrees)). “Some [Language] texts which I have liked greatly seem to promote inferred relations well outside the [Language] schedule, whilst others (which I have not cared for) have seemed every bit as restrictive in their ideological conformity as the most bourgeois texts written to satisfy the expectations of a predefined market […] consumption to be renamed as production: the open text, the inventive, selective reader, free to opt for useful waste or wasteful utility […] Isn’t it the classic freedom to eat cake, to diversify an assumed leisure & to choose out of a diversity which is precisely the commodity-spectacle of a pre-disposed array, clearwrapped in unitised portion control?” (J.H. Prynne, ‘A Letter to Steve MacCaffrey,’ The Gig 9). “Although it is ‘free’ to all appearances, the reading actually works by remote control” (Rod Mengham in Textual Practice I think)). Conventionally after ‘Oh no! The valleys of death have become hopelessly tangled! Can you match each stanza to its prose explication?’ comes ‘Spot the difference!’. That is, you exploit the haze of heremeneutic free-for-all (which all poems are required to carry like identity cards), envisioning in this haze (for example) an Unconditional homonculus which problematises, extends & critiques its Adorno: A Critical Introduction dancing partneress, & thus you supposedly dignify the poem as primary data and/or the dialectical advancement of the prose, but you in fact install, with an immense sense of relief, a critical fetish object which probably lapses into one of the positions examined & rejected by Adorno: A Critical Introduction in the first place. Man! Here’s Simon on roughly this sort of critical procedure, as it might happen in relation to For the Monogram: “Its difficulties hardly arise from the extent of its lexicon. On the contrary, a reader may seize avidly on any out of the way items as a chance to disappear into the dictionaries & other compendia, so as to bring some scraps of determinateness back to his task, or, viewed less sympathetically, so as to replace Prynne’s own text with others that are found easier to read.” ("The incommunicable silhouette," http://jacketmagazine.com/24/jarvis-tis.html). I only make the comparison with the Language poetry situation to help to rebut any systemic accusation of The Unconditional’s irretrievable obscurity, not to bagsie a putative poetomachiac Simon for the Language team (‘Shirts’), nor really in any way to stipulate what methods I think criticism should or should not use for the poem. Such upfront stipulation would be especially ridiculous in the case of The Unconditional, since the poem’s relationship with critical method is so eccentric. It is obviously underlain by a lot of research (though probably not ‘for’ the poem) & some readerly reproduction of that research seems appropriate. Simon says, “These considerations do not mean that Prynne’s work is cavalier about the question of accessibility. But the routes of access that are offered to these poems are not falsely immediate ones: rather, they discover […] that linguistic understanding is necessarily socially mediated […] working with the poems will not be only a question of reading them off against a competence which has been accumulated in advance; readers are asked to become researchers, to take purchase on the whole body of the language & the history & polity sedimented within it, rather than acquiescing in their dispossession in the name of the figment of a common readership” ("Quality & the non-identical in J.H. Prynne’s ‘Aristeas, in seven years’" jacketmagazine.com/20/pt-jarvis.html. Worst ‘Simon says’ ever). The Unconditional’s layout involves a lot of marginalia-soliciting white space. The unattributed, untranslated epigraph is the philological equivalent of a maddening itch (Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve ahh). On the other hand, the poem is dedicated to “the Auditor.” {…}. Additionally, the fact that the poem is metrical, & the fact that it is known by its author by heart (at least to an unusual degree), indicate some ambition exists that the poem be knowledge. In other words, the task we are set is not to accumulate knowledge about the poem, but to experience the poem as knowledge (I’d heard of this idea before but I’d always thought it ridiculous, until I read The Unconditional (more on this later)). (The first time I read The Unconditional I ignored the multiply-nesting parentheses, which I now think was stupid. Like it or not (I hate it), The Unconditional is a hypertext, & counting up & down the parentheses & occasional quotation marks makes it much clearer what’s happening)).
Does anybody want me to help them carry anything. Something that it’s not even that it’s that heavy, it’s just it’s so bulky I can’t get a proper.

From "The Inheritors."

By William Golding.

The new people were flitting to and fro. There was anger and fear. "Liku!" The stag was swaying violently in the dim light. Fa was tugging at Lok and muttering at him. The people were coming with sticks, bent and straight. "Quickly!" A man was beating savagely at the bush to the right. Lok swung back his arm. "The food is for Liku!" He hurled it into the clearing. The lump fell by the stag's feet.

From "Virgin Mistress"

By Malcolm Jamal-Warner, a.k.a. Theodore "Theo" Huxtable.

[...] While our hips slow wine to the rhythm of bliss
Can you imagine this? Feeling life through my kiss too?
Taking one simple breath makes me miss you, let alone death doing us part
Shooting magic serum darts past the womb aiming straight to your heart
Will be your light when it's dark,
I make love to your core
Make this session faithfully yours, stone the whore with an unmatched affection
Poke and probe with an unmatched erection
Announce my arrival strictly for your protection
Cuz I'm liable to blow your mind...into little tiny pieces
When I release this pent up passion that will leave you gasping for more
Of what you've been yearning for, legs tingling, juices mingling, clit throbbin' and insides burnin'n for
Robbin' you of your chance to gather your senses
Because once your arrival commences and your soul tenses
There's no turning back...except you...on your back again
Beggin' to be lightly slapped again
Insides willing to be tapped again
My emotions are trapped again because as much as I try to do this without them
I can't seem to
I need to wean you before I start to explode and unfold this spiritual load that becomes poetry in motion
(Truth be told this is why I spit the type shit that makes mermaids do back flips in the ocean)
Cuz when I let go, it's a force that I control not, giving you all that I've got
Exasperated that you've taken each and every shot like a trooper and a half
But as we'd bask in each other's aftemath, both radiating in mutual glow
I'd once again grow sad because I'd already know how far this is gonna go
Don't wanna be a playa no more-but not that bad
For I've had far too many trials and two too many tribulations caused by incredible vibrations
Followed by heart-stopping sensations created by gyrations of which only God could approve [...]

Saturday, 6 January 2007

From "The Effects of Local Phonetic Contrasts in Readers' Responses to a Short Story"

By David S. Miall and Don Kuiken.

The sound of the language in a literary text is often thought to contribute to its meaning. We hypothesize that this is due not to fixed or universal phoneme properties, as theories of phonetic symbolism have supposed, but to the use of local phonetic contrasts to elicit meaning. Writers may set an overall range of phonetic tones that are distinctive to a particular text and then introduce significant variations to achieve local effects. In the present study, an analysis of phoneme distributions developed by Miall (2001) and an approach to phonetic symbolism developed by Whissell (1999, 2000a, 2000b) were applied to a Katherine Mansfield short story. Readers' responses to the story were obtained using Semantic Differential ratings. The findings show the influence of phonetic patterns consistent with the hypothesis that phonemic contrasts elicit local changes in feeling tone. The effects of phonetic symbolism, while evident, were much less pronounced.

From "An Essay on Criticism"

By Alexander Pope.

True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance,
'Tis not enough no Harshness gives Offence,
The Sound must seem an Eccho to the Sense.
Soft is the Strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth Stream in smoother Numbers flows;
But when loud Surges lash the sounding Shore,
The hoarse, rough Verse shou'd like the Torrent roar.
When Ajax strives, some Rocks' vast Weight to throw,
The Line too labours, and the Words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the Plain,
Flies o'er th'unbending Corn, and skims along the Main.

From "The Life of Pope"

By Samuel Johnson.

This notion of representative metre, and the desire of discovering frequent adaptations of the sound to the sense, have produced, in my opinion, many wild conceits and imaginary beauties. All that can furnish this representation are the sounds of the words considered singly, and the time in which they are pronounced. Every language has some words framed to exhibit the noises which they express, as thump, rattle, growl, hiss. These, however, are but few, and the poet cannot make them more, nor can they be of any use but when sound is to be mentioned. The time of pronunciation was in the dactylick measures of the learned languages capable of considerable variety; but that variety could be accommodated only to motion or duration, and different degrees of motion were perhaps expressed by verses rapid or slow, without much attention of the writer, when the image had full possession of his fancy: but our language having little flexibility our verses can differ very little in their cadence. The fancied resemblances, I fear, arise sometimes merely from the ambiguity of words; there is supposed to be some relation between a soft line and a soft couch, or between hard syllables and hard fortune.

Motion, however, may be in some sort exemplified; and yet it may be suspected that even in such resemblances the mind often governs the ear, and the sounds are estimated by their meaning [...]