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+Commentary: Every last one of these fascinates me, and well beyond what this 2013 article can express. This is a glossary basically of some lexicograhic flourishes really. None of them essential to language, but in an absurdist philosophical way they search for meaning, or invoke code-switching & lavender linguistics to add camouflage. Yet each one reminds me of Poetry as well, and more specifically the personal fascination in Typography, Fonts, Graphic Design, Scrabble, Dictionary aficionados, bibliophile, lover of linguists, poet, artist, street art photography, graffiti defender & aficionado, armchair linguist, logophile, miscreant, ne’er do well, and grown-up with a misspent youth. Most of which included trips to the Public Library and sitting in piles of books that encouraged all of the previous.
Whom having just reviewed this tortured poem (from a series) that was greatly inspired by & homage to the cut-up techniques & ‘zines of the Beat Poets filtered through the punk era had a lightbulb moment. It is no wonder that stumbling across the link this morning, it would get this click and set my synapses alight like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Basically the Google Dictionary plug-in has to be trained to keep up with my vocabulary, making it hard to tell which words I’ve misspelled and those many (several during the writing of this alone) which are actual, arcane, or proper but not widely used enough for Google to get with the program. Each time feeling like I’m playing some crazy game of figure out what that Cockney Rhyming Slang means.
Even reading the above work, this many years removed there are little puzzles built in there, which at times make sense to me, and on other readings it like a challenge equal to that of Google’s Dictionary plugin challenging me. It makes me think, reformulate, stand firm, like figuring out a puzzle. That mental activity can be frustrating but ultimately rewarding. When I’m right, which is often, then I mentally high-five myself, and on those occasions my spelling is shite, then I say that tomorrow is another day.
The poetry-word twister connection is very real though. Because, when you are reading a poem and meandering through it, a writer working with so little can invariably leave clues hidden throughout like easter eggs in games/movies/etc… these days. They are and can be a delight, or hidden treasure, like the easter egg hunt that just concluded. A rebirth in ways of the text that it can operate on two, or more levels. Just like code-switching, camp, or lavender linguistics. Today with Twitter, and social media in general there is a rapid adoption of words, a twisting of their meaning s as they become a trend or a fad, but to those of us using terms like shade, tea, etc… longer than their current occupants have even been alive, it is amazing. To have lived to see it make that circle, to ascend to become something brands on twitter tweeting like people would adopt when just 20 years ago they were in the business of supporting those that called us an aberration.
People rarely say what they mean or mean what they say. In a political election cycle that bell is rung true daily, but that is why New York City holds such a great part of my heart, because oft even when you don’t want them to, especially then, they will tell you. This was my personal M.O. before moving here, and certainly is the only place that has embraced me in its bosom and allowed me comfort others find more naturally. Even for all the overstimulation it produces there is a charm found here that you can’t manifest anywhere else.
Google too has reduced us to seeking out information, details without stringing it semantically into coherent knowledge. It has come a long long way, but still has far to go. That doesn’t mean I’m critical of it, but of its uses recently as the repository for “knowledge” and not for what it is, an index of information. Having started life as an assistant in a library, you realize that people know or search for meaning, not just information. When that is in service of what you already know, that is one thing, but when you are learning something for the first time, biases and preconceived self-evident truths can burden on in their search, and add that to all the others who will seek out or popularize conspiracy theories, half-truths, or even faux science and you have the perfect storm sometimes for deeply ingrained cognitive dissonance.
That is what the times feel like to me, often jumbling the words, letters, ideas, phrases up and then cutting & pasting them into a coherence or a sly commentary on the age, the ideas, the psychological & sociological underpinnings of the philosophical nature of our lives in this modern all too bifurcated sense of who we are. The digital poseur posting selfies & thirst traps, or the person struggling behind that & the memes.
Writing, word play, tumbling these things around helps for writers. Some days the words joyfully tumble out, other times they are like pulling teeth, and other times like running your tongue over that aching cavity which needs relief, and the constant reminder of the pain is only a springboard for what you want to accomplish. It isn’t ready yet, you are not there yet, and when it is done you’ll wonder why you waited so long. Just like figuring out the locked meaning or concurrent meaning embedded in something. I dreamt my teeth were scrabble pieces and that Freud was helping me figure out what that meant.
This is what writing is like. Why we do it, and continue and carry on, to make meaning of, and then when reviewed later to find even more meaning layered in the spaces or lines, betwixt and between meanings. It meant something then but now we see it as having a wholly different one. Like searching for a word, and wondering where it comes from, sound, meaning, fury all signifying something.
This is me holding a mirror up to that process and figuring out where the meaning goes.