Verbol

Green on green on green
The light befalls me clean,
Beneath the birds.

And how I can capture
This mute green rapture
In blinded words? (7viii21)


Post-Performative Post-Scriptum

This poem is an attempt to describe the impossibility of describing the green light I saw falling through the leaf-layers of a chestnut-tree a few days ago. I wanted a title that compressed the most important images in the poem — trees and greenness — and I remembered a clever portmanteau I’d seen in a Spanish translation of Lord of the Rings. In the translation, the Ent Treebeard, a walking-and-talking tree, was called Barbol, which is a blend of the Spanish words barba, “beard”, and arbol, “tree”. I’ve tried to blend Spanish verde, “green”, and arbol. The resulting portmanteau contained more than I planned: it’s also got ver, Spanish for “to see”, and vēr, Latin for “spring, youth”. And it’s almost “verbal”, but with the “a” replaced by an “o”, representing the sun and its indescribable light. And come to think of it, there’s an important chestnut-tree in Lord of the Rings:

A little way beyond the battle-field they made their camp under a spreading tree: it looked like a chestnut, and yet it still bore many broad brown leaves of a former year, like dry hands with long splayed fingers; they rattled mournfully in the night-breeze. — The Two Towers, ch. 11

That’s when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are camping on the edge of Fangorn, the ancient forest where Treebeard dwells. The broadness of chestnut-leaves is why the light that falls through them is greened and cleaned in a special way.

Termed Out Nice Again

In 2013, I made a key discovery that disturbed and distressed core members of the non-conformist maverick community on a global basis dot dot dot… In America (or so it appeared) a key lexical marker of non-conformist maverickness was rapidly declining in terms of core usage, thusly:

At the same time, the non-conformist maverick community in Britain had maintained their core commitment to this key lexical marker of etc, thusly:

I expressed my puzzlement at the decline of “in terms of” in America. I couldn’t see a linguistic explanation and should (I now realize) have expressed doubts about the reliability of the data. Yes, in 2020 I’m very happy to report to members of the non-conformist maverick community that they need be disturbed and distressed no longer. The term has turned and it seems Google’s nGram wasn’t working properly at that time-period. Key statistics for core usage of “in terms of” are now in core accordance with key expectations, thusly:

“in terms of” (American English)

(open in new tab for larger image)


“in terms of” (British English)

Sadly, however, non-conformist mavericks in French- and Spanish-speaking countries seem to have stopped being non-conformist:

“en termes de” (French)


“en términos de” (Spanish)


Peri-Performative Post-Scriptum

The title of this incendiary intervention radically referencizes a key catchphrase of core comedian George Formby (1904-61), viz, “turned out nice again”. Formby’s home-county of Lancashire (England) was — and remains — a core hotbed of non-conformist maverickness dot dot dot

Core discussion around “in terms of”…

Seis Segundos de Salvador

“Será tan breve que ya he terminado,” — Salvador Dalí, Con la frase “Ja soc aquí”, Dalí abrió una surrealista conferencia de Prensa, El País, 25×1980

   Salvador Dalí […] once gave the world’s shortest speech – six seconds in duration. He said, “I will be so brief I have already finished,” and he sat down. — Edward O. Wilson


Previously pre-posted

A Seriously Sizzling Series of Super-Saucy Salvadisms — more good quotes by Salvador Dalí

Performativizing Papyrocentricity #67

Papyrocentric Performativity Presents:

Killer Chiller ThrillerNight Without End, Alistair MacLean (1959)

Above and BelowThe Archaeology of Underground Mines and Quarries in England, John Barnatt (Historic England 2019)

Wannabe Wonder-WeaverThe Best of Robert Westall Volume One, Robert Westall (1993)

All Glitter, No GlowA.C. Swinburne: A Poet’s Life, Rikky Rooksby (Scolar Press 1997)

Recycle, RepeatRevival, Stephen King (2014)

Gained in TranslationCuentos de Averoigne: Todos los Cuentos de Averoigne de Clark Ashton Smith, traducción de Enric Navarro (Pickman’s Press 2019)

Sean of the HeadAm I Evil? The Autobiography, Brian Tatler with John Tucker (2009; second edition 2017)

Posted at Overlord of the Über-Feral:

Maximal MozMorrissey in Conversation: The Essential Interviews, ed. Paul A. Woods (Plexus 2016)

Absence and EssenceAbandoned: The Most Beautiful Forgotten Places from Around the World, Mathew Growcoot (Ebury Press 2017)


Or Read a Review at Random: RaRaR

A Seriously Sizzling Series of Super-Saucy Salvadisms

Some good quotes by Salvador Dalí (1904-89), who will need no introduction to keyly committed core components of the quixotically contrarian community. The Spanish should be reliable, but the English translations may not be (coz i dun em).


• A los seis años quería ser cocinero. A los siete quería ser Napoleón. Mi ambición no ha hecho más que crecer; ahora sólo quiero ser Salvador Dalí y nada más. Por otra parte, esto es muy difícil, ya que, a medida que me acerco a Salvador Dalí, él se aleja de mí.
 — At six years of age I wanted to be a chef. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. My ambition has only grown since then, but now I only want to be Salvador Dalí and nothing more. Still, it’s very difficult, because the closer I get to Salvador Dalí, the further he gets from me.

• El canibalismo es una de las manifestaciones más evidentes de la ternura.
 — Cannibalism is a sure sign of affection.

• El que quiere interesar a los demás tiene que provocarlos.
 — He who wishes to interest other people needs to provoke them.

• …Es curioso, a mi me interesa mucho mas hablar, o estar en contacto con la gente que piensa lo contrario de lo que yo pienso, que de los que piensan lo mismo que pienso yo.
 — …It’s strange, but I’d much rather talk with or be in touch with people who think the opposite of what I think than with those who think the same as I do.

• Es fácil reconocer si el hombre tiene gusto: la alfombra debe combinar con las cejas.
 — It’s easy to tell if a man has good taste: his carpet should harmonize with his eyebrows.

• De ninguna manera volveré a México. No soporto estar en un país más surrealista que mis pinturas.
 — Under no circumstances will I return to Mexico. I cannot bear to be in a country more surreal than my own paintings.

• Hoy, el gusto por el defecto es tal que sólo parecen geniales las imperfecciones y sobre todo la fealdad. Cuando una Venus se parece a un sapo, los seudoestetas contemporáneos exclaman: ¡Es fuerte, es humano!
 — Today, a taste for the defective is so strong that the only things that seem attractive are imperfections and, above all, ugliness. When a Venus looks like a toad, the pseudo-aesthetes of today shout: “That’s great, that’s human!”

• Los errores tienen casi siempre un carácter sagrado. Nunca intentéis corregirlos. Al contrario: lo que procede es racionalizarlos, compenetrarse con aquellos integralmente. Después, os será posible subliminarlos.
— Mistakes almost always have a sacred character. Never try to correct them. On the contrary, you need to ponder them, to examine them from every angle. Afterwards, you will be able to absorb them.

• La Revolución Rusa es la Revolución Francesa que llega tarde, por culpa del frío.
 — The Russian Revolution is the French Revolution arriving late due to the cold.

• La única diferencia entre un loco y Dalí, es que Dalí no está loco.
 — The only difference between a madman and Dalí is that Dalí is not mad.

• La vida es aspirar, respirar y expirar.
 — Life is aspiring, respiring and expiring.

• Lo importante es que hablen de ti, aunque sea bien.
 — What’s important is that people talk about you, even if they only say good things.

• Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de la exageración.
 — The only thing the world never tires of is exaggeration.

• ¡No podéis expulsarme porque Yo soy el Surrealismo!
 — You cannot expel me: I am Surrealism! (After being expelled from the surrealist movement in Paris.)

• Picasso es pintor. Yo también. Picasso es español. Yo también. Picasso es comunista. Yo tampoco.
 — Picasso is a painter. So am I. Picasso is a Spaniard. So am I. Picasso is a communist. Nor am I.

• Sin una audiencia, sin la presencia de espectadores, estas joyas no alcanzarían la función para la cual fueron creadas. El espectador, por tanto, es el artista final. Su vista, corazón, mente — con una mayor o menor capacidad para entender la intención del creador — da vida a las joyas.
 — Without an audience, without a circle of spectators, these jewels would never realize the purpose for which they were created. The spectator is therefore the final artist. His eyes, his heart, his mind — whether better or worse equipped to understand the purpose of the creator — give life to the jewels.

• Llamo a mi esposa: Gala, Galuska, Gradiva; Oliva por lo oval de su rostro y el color de su piel; Oliveta, diminutivo de la oliva; y sus delirantes derivados: Oliueta, Oriueta, Buribeta, Buriueteta, Siliueta, Solibubuleta, Oliburibuleta, Ciueta, Liueta. También la llamo Lionette, porque cuando se enfada ruge como el león de la Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.
 — I call my wife Gala, Galuska, Gradiva; Oliva for her oval face and the colour of her skin; Oliveta, diminutive of Oliva; and its delirious derivations: Oliueta, Oriueta, Buribeta, Buriueteta, Siliueta, Solibubuleta, Oliburibuleta, Ciueta, Liueta. I also call her Lionette, because when she’s angry she roars like the MGM lion.

• Sólo hay dos cosas malas que pueden pasarte en la vida, ser Pablo Picasso o no ser Salvador Dalí.
 — There are only two things that can go wrong for you in life: being Pablo Picasso or not being Salvador Dalí.

• Si muero, no moriré del todo.
 — If I die, I will not die completely. (Compare Horace’s Non omnis moriar, I will not wholly die.)

• La inteligencia sin ambición es un pájaro sin alas.
 — Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.

• No tengas miedo de la perfección, nunca la alcanzarás.
 — Don’t be afraid of perfection, because you’ll never achieve it.

• Para comprar mis cuadros hay que ser criminalmente rico como los norteamericanos.
 — To buy my paintings you have to be criminally rich like the Americans.

• Hay días en que pienso que voy a morir de una sobredosis de satisfacción.
 — There are days when I think that I will die of an overdose of satisfaction.

• El termómetro del éxito no es más que la envidia de los descontentos.
 — The thermometer of success is nothing more than the envy of the discontent.

• Lo menos que puede pedirse a una escultura es que no se mueva.
 — The least that one can ask of a sculpture is that it stays still.

• Mientras estamos dormidos en este mundo, estamos despiertos en el otro.
 — When we are asleep in this world, we are awake in another.

• Yo no tomo drogas. Yo soy una droga.
 — I do not take drugs. I am a drug.

• Los que no quieren imitar nada, no producen nada.
 — Those who refuse to imitate will never create.

• Las guerras nunca han hecho daño a nadie, excepto a la gente que muere.
 — Wars have never done harm to anyone, except to those who die.

• Gustar el dinero como me gusta, es nada menos que misticismo. El dinero es una gloria.
 — To relish money as I do is nothing short of mysticism. Money is a glory.

• La existencia de la realidad es la cosa más misteriosa, más sublime y más surrealista que se dé.
 — The existence of reality is the most mysterious, most sublime and most surrealist thing of all.

The Power of Babel

“…par la suggestive lecture d’un ouvrage racontant de lointains voyages…” – J.K. Huysmans, À Rebours (1884).

The language you know best is also the language you know least: your mother tongue, the language you acquired by instinct and speak by intuition. Asking a native speaker to describe English, French or Quechua is rather like asking a fish to describe water. The native speaker, like the fish, knows the answer very intimately, yet in some ways doesn’t know as well as a non-native speaker. In other words, standing outside can help you better understand standing inside: there is good in the gap. What is it like to experience gravity? Like most humans, I’ve known all my life, but I’d know better if I were in orbit or en route to the moon, experiencing the absence of gravity.

And what is it like to be human? We all know and we’ve all read countless stories about other human beings. But in some ways they don’t answer that question as effectively as stories that push humanity to the margins, like Richard Adams’ Watership Down (1972), which is about rabbits, or Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves (also 1972), which is about trisexual aliens in a parallel dimension. There is good in the gap, in stepping outside the familiar and looking back to see the familiar anew.


Continuing reading The Power of Babel