TRANSLEXICALIA

TLex

The Journal of the Institute for Lexical Ecology (ILE)
An organ of ISOCPHYS.
Founded in 1992 by a “sestina of polylexical exiles.”
Translexicalia V
A Journey to Norlia and Environs, by D. I. Swopes.
D.I. Swopes   –   A Journey to Norlia   –   I
A Journey to Norlia and Environs
by
D.I. Swopes


I.

The real Norlia I have never been to, and perhaps no one has; but the Norlia whose terraced glebelands and sturdy stone and timber rooftops unfold steeply out of the mountainous memories of her farflung and strayflown offspring: how many sun-dappled afternoons in the shade of her ancient neemoms, pinkpurply abloom with spring, have I listened to Xwarpo Agisteo weave intricate Sne Beray tales as infinitely figured as the scrollwork of the thick topchan rugs on which we sat crosslegged quaffing cup after fluted cup of steaming golden tea perfumed with sweet vineslimosa blossoms and bitter wild rue! how many giddy riverbank evenings beneath the delicious full moon of summer have I swayed ecstatically to the trance-plucked arpeggios and swirling passages — staccato, legato, calando, stringendo — of the three-stringed ktar and thrilled to the liquid epics that two of her most famous bards, Babur Atta and Glemep Anatilo, poured out as ceaseless and untiring as the sabled and silvery, star-flecked rapids which droned nearby with a throbbing force as irresistibly potent as the glacier-strong liquor distilled from the fruit of the vineslimosa shrub we sipped from carved wooden oenyutuyliia, the name of which liquor, I was pleasantly surprised to learn, is also ktar! how many pale autumn mornings have I strolled her ever vibrant agorebar to barely control my joyous weeping over questo kid-bound vellum treasure or codesto rare exemplar of rime argile or quel exquisite ammine chunk of Medoi griffin that the irrepressible antiquarian Ala Akbar Nod veritably leapt at me with dès que j'avais franchie le seuil de son petit magasin literally bourré floor to floor, wall to wall, with fantastic troves of priceless testaments to the glory that was Norlia; or crossed, swaying high above the city-shearing abyss, the cruel plankrope bridge of faith to climb her narrow winding stepstone byways between hedge and ledge to pick saffron apricots, blushing peaches, dark plums, persimmons the color of a Buddhist's dhoti, pomegranates bursting with menarcheal rasa, greengreen redred yellowyellow apples, kohl-eyed grapes and the tart tan drupes of the poison-spiked vineslimosa with Srai Miano Driec and his family in their ancient walled orchard on the cityís eastern slopes; or scrambled across the talus, scree and tundra of the dawn-clad western heights of Mount Oria, chasing goats with the shepherd cousins, Saian and Tawrim, while still higher above us could be seen the thousand black eyes of the famous moanzy aeries from which, just below the blinding whiteness of never-melting snow, the fire-fangled lazy geese would dive down over our heads, screeching irixesrmiwa! irixesrmiwa! . . . and how many interminable winter nights have I cuddled gloriously sleepless with her most beautiful daughter, Nirusa Yerisoa, my own little ivre badw, and whispered herebeca in the heterosexual dormitory (in which lesbianism was not unheard of!) of the family compound, one roof under which the whole dre bnwie is gathered to celebrate the communion of sleep, dream, nocturnal murmerings of space-transcending story and time-defying ritual! — Norlia is a region, Norlia is a river, Norlia is a mountain range, Norlia is a valley, Norlia is a city, Norlia is a woman, Norlia is, if you get my drift, anything but a man (I think Iím saying that right). I came to her as a humble scholar, a timorous okiao; I left, a disabused native, a sated child. And, like all of her children, irredeemably exiled. As the Norlian proverb, in translation, parsimoniously states: The real Norlia is as unknowable as the mythic, but only the mythic can be told. So let us proceed. Anidy bnyeud ikky.
D.I. Swopes   –   A Journey to Norlia   –   II


II.

The first of Norlia's many exiles I myself came to know so well was Professor Bernard Vighdan, founding faculty member of the Institute of Sociophysiology in Owlstain. This would have been across the Arathu, in Agua Prieta, at a popular seaside cha'abran called Ecadence (with which I'm sure you're all too familiar) and, despite the four heavy years, stacked, like the dusty grand tomes of Dahl's Russki Yazik, between that lofty institution's founding and our auspicious meeting, the professor's command of any of the Tetrastics's primary languages was still rather halting. He had, however, mastered the romantic copula.

"Esto libro," I heard a smoke-maculated male voice intone, "es," and exhale a beery haze of cigarillo fumes into my left elbow, "mi vida." I looked up from the Ficciones of Borges. The canary yellow hulk of the Aseli-Abenaseli ferry was rounding the jetty to enter the dull harbor of the Porto Vecho. Backgrounding my intrusive sinistral terrace mate's Mesopotamian nose, the aquamarine diamond of the Arathu glinted in late afternoon sunlight. "Esto," he repeated, dunking for emphasis his jet black Yazidian mustache into a dahlia head of Ebeyl, "libro es mi," he swallowed, "vida." "How do you mean?" I inquired politely. "I (but not, evidently, the germanic), Norlian exile. Vacation." "New Orleans?" (A city I'd never been to.) "No. Owlstain. New institution. I suck fizz." "Man, he's terse," I thought and, shivering with a slight frisson, almost bent back to my book.

But no matter how orphic, delphic or manic that discourse-ultimate trisyllabic he'd uttered, that enigmatic potential terminus of the subway of our public intercourse and, thus, nipping in the bud of this book, — yes, his provocatively deictic words begged for some sort of appropriate vocal response on my part, and so I, not being cruel, said, "I can see." And now you, too, dear reader, will see just what imaginary picture, framed by empirical fact, had shivered me so, and checked my impulse to retreat from the almost lunatic glint of those bice-flecked eyes of espresso into the labyrinthine sanctuary of Borges.

Frame: a conjunction of beer foam and maxillary crinosities. Picture: a possibly more fruitful conjunction between that thick top-lip brush of maleness (rhymed by a single brow) and my own more nether coils of womaninity.

I kept my head up, and angled my knees encouragingly.

Lee See (or was it See Law? I never could tell those twins apart) gracefully unloaded from her top-heavy, though artfully balanced, tray a tall glass of refreshing local brew, handed it to my table while onto that of my optimistic prospect she let flutter down from her slender fingers a wan leaf of haiku invoking date price time, and, bare breasts bobbing, turned to simultaneously bus my dextral table qui venait d'être libre and take an order from celle d'à côté where a trio of boisterous Huerta-Fukari had just seated themselves. The ferry, it was evident, had docked. We clinked and sipped. Yes, yes, possibly quite fruitful. . . .

It was summer. And sunset on the beach with wine did not make his syntax any more supple, but in bed, the picture pleased. (I have rarely been disappointed by older men.) "My language. You must learn. I recite. Poésie."

What follows should be a transcription of the most mellifluous harmony of vowels I had ever before heard in my life, the most dreamily impossible clustering of consonants which was pure music to my Norlian-ignorant ears, a most magnificent manipulation of syllable and tone, dentals, interdentals, labials, gutturals, pharyngeals, surds and sibilants, — but I could not then, of course, put sense to this marvelous welter of sound (more beauteous even than the Tlaatlaata croonings I'd been privy to on dark-moon nights in Iagip), for I had not then, of course, acquired either "the interdisciplinary outils demanded by the thriving field of sociophysiology," as Bernard's ISOCPHYS brochure deemed them, or the direct schizomythology of language, culture, history I was to imbibe straight from the source, beginning, of course, with this masterful man athwart the plum satin sheets of my four-poster, thence other exiled Norlians in person and, extemporaneously, on native soil proper, that is, Norlia herself, and so for the sake of verisimilitude, I'll save transcription, translation and elucidation of this magnificent poem (a cobla, actually, from the epic of Anim û Kali) for a more appropriate place in my Bildungsroman à clef.

In bright counterpoint to the decrescendo, then rubato, of this bed-bound foretaste of his delightful facility for oral performance, a warm swelling graced my thigh. "Bernard!" I gasped. "Do you. Think. We could," he nibbled my ear. "No se — sin oleo. . ." "Yes. I know. Without oil hat. . ." "No, no, you silly, I didn't mean that," and reached over his bearish chest to withdraw a small blue bottle of the orange-scented stuff from my bedside cupboard. We began to lube each other adequately to our purpose and perhaps here I should interpose the exact passage of what I'd been reading when this wonderful man approached me at Ecadence. It is not, I think, without import to all that will follow in the rest of this book and, without it, you would have absolutely no more understanding than I did of what this hirsute specimen of virility meant when he said, "Esto libro es mi vida."

Debo a la conjunción de un espejo y de una enciclopedia el descubrimiento de Uqbar. El espejo inquietaba el fondo de un corredor en una quinta de la calle Gaona, en Ramos Mejía; la enciclopedia falazmente se llama The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia (Nueva York, 1917) y es una reimpresión literal, pero también morosa, de la Encyclopaedia Britannica de 1902. El hecho se produjo hará unos cinco años. Bioy Casares había cenado conmigo esa noche y nos demoró una vasta polémica sobre la ejecución de una novela en primera persona, cuyo narrador omitiera o desfigurara los hechos y incurriera en diversas contradicciones, que permitieran a unos pocos lectores — a muy pocos lectores — la adivinación de una realidad atroz o banal.

From far off down the passageway, the mirror watched as, well-oiled, we worked the hinges free, completely removed the door from its frame, and entered the secret depths of a more private form of transport.

D.I. Swopes   –   A Journey to Norlia   –   III


III.

Writing myself as I was then — slipping fingers hands arms shoulders into a diaphanous coverlet which I began button by button from my lap to my collar to button (coastal nights in Agua Prieta can be quite chilly) and trying to imagine how many more days would this man, spent, softly snoring, share my bed, and would those days, I wondered, draw out into how many weeks spent, with emerald Arathu lapping the pebbly playa, sweating on the sticky plastic straw of particolored beach chairs, and would those chairs shuffle through all manner of metamorphoses (ottoman, fauteuil, tabouret, barstool, hassock, recliner, rocker, to name but seven of the species I've sampled) till how many moaning months had gone by, culminating, I thought, in a sighful sinking down into the soft chaises longues of years — writing myself as I was then, from the gold velvet perch of a chaise longue in Glamporium where I am now, I realize that, yes, the senimalistic techniques I've acquired have not gone to waste. You see, intense collaboration (in which I am an active participant) among researchers at both the Institute of Lexical Ecology (ILE) and the Center for the Analysis and Clitalysis of Altarity (CACA) (both of which thrive beneath the umbrellical shade of the Institute of Sociophysiology (ISOCPHYS) here in Owlstain and with all three of which I am associated) has revealed the existence of three species of words: airy words, which fly like birds; flat words, which crawl like worms; and round words, which swim like fish. Furthermore, it is only in the abstract realm of theory that (but see Kidjaki and Raymond's That Theory) words exist in isolation; in practice, as first demonstrated by Flamingo, Hamiltonian and Turbo, words necessarily inhabit a specific substrate or niche, called, in general, world. World itself actually consists of three genera, called, respectively, air, flat and round. The process by which a word adapts to its world is governed by the push and pull of two forces known as semanticity and formedium, and the resulting niche-specific constellation of forces, world and words is known as the island of lexical ecology (ILE). A vibrant ILE begets a work; a moribund, a master's thesis. It is only the former to which we will direct our attention. Let us continue.

On the one hand, thus, airy words tend to inhabit a world of air, and, while buffeted by the semanticity of wordism, maintain equilibrium through the formedium of epic formalized orality (EPO); in the twiggy nest of the resultant ILE, one cerulean, ovoid work in particular gleams: the Odyssey of "Homer" (more on those quotes later). Flat words, on the other hand, would prefer nothing more than to crawl in the mud of a flat world, where the dull semanticity of paperism besmirches them, and the plot-driven formedium of roman traditionnel (RT) goads their misty slither-slather; Bleak House by Dickens may be considered to be the ophidian work of such a murky ILE. And now, from behind the crimson curtain of collaboration, a third hand comes into play! It is to a round world that round words are drawn, lured like so many pulsating shoals of glittering fish; and, buoyed as they are by the semanticity of senimality, and bathed in the formedium of serious novelistic encounter (SNE), I can direct your gaze to no more thrilling a work spawned by this nektic ILE, no more enthrallingly piscatory an exemplar than this one by — you guessed it! — ME.

Which is why, in addition to négligé and oil (the sheets were my own purchase, bought at discount in Calle Obrádav, Agua Prieta), I also borrowed a bit of, shall we say, style, from two of my more womanly colleagues at ISOCPHYS, Kiko Devi and Gennifleur Schlame. Although each is author of her own uniquely seminal contribution to the ISOCPHYS research program — Devi opposing her strikingly sociophysiological strut to Schlame's voluptuously translexicological moue (their respective obras have pleased critic and consumer alike throughout the Tetrastics) — I prefer to treat you to the languorous tang of their more furtive, though no less joint, foray into the heterolexical interstices of senimalistic rhapsody, "Be(com)ing: The resonance of character" (Translexicalia VI, 1995). Two paragraphs discussing works by the Parisian Tagma, proto-senimalist and much less conventional contemporary of Alfred Jarry, Karl Daubigny, should, I think, suffice to shed light on my own fancy technique — always confident, always on the mark — and thus clue you in to how, as Bernard and I crossed the threshold from ardor into bliss, their two characters became resonant in mine.

The epigeal impertinence of Karl Daubigny's Wrath on the throat of mandrake (1893, collection privée) descended from, but far transmigrated, its bisexual folio. The work of which Wrath is but a fractional, though no less pivotal, component, Daubigny's seminal collaboration with Jarry, The Ornithology of sperm, knitted emulsions by its champerty of Tagma, condensing the gens of mandrake and annelid; but the ligule gibbeted in Tagmaism immobilized a venatic tetany of humoresque intricacy. Daubigny, and, to a lesser degree, Jarry, in ego ipsis egestam, cultivated the proclitic proclivity of cursorial character [my emphasis]. A cerement, lawless, we chalk the ramtils of his convalescence in all sederunts of kudos, from atavism and chemotropism to linnets and the stumbling blocks of cuneiform. For each ecclesiastical sabbat — whether Molotov cocktail, cellophane or induction; galingale, sockeye or speck — previews aspersions of the beamy, sapphic Processional of be(com)ing.

At any mongrel, or crown of tint, an orifice (mauve sacrament) powers some studio or injunction. Certain changeable aspirations of this reek evocatively uncouth in diligent tint-mongrels and contest the enraptured arithmetic, or be(com)ing, of entropy. Into this be(com)ing impregnates the epicure and his turpitude, the stoats and lobworms ("strokes") against which the orifice retaliates. The retaliations to any pasty epicurean insemination are devolved by the argument at that pasty tint. Mousily, retaliations are ad hoc (homophobic) and transverse (rheumatic) and contend the be(com)ing of the sacrament. But rheumaticism is perhaps never compressible; and, under arbitrary confections of interconnection or repression or mediation, the retaliation to exposure behaves malignantly itinerant. This seductive or curvaceous resonance of character [my emphasis] in the lovely "tint-seed" contends the dharma or hobgoblin or excision of the sacrament — its be(com)ing. Daubigny chided Throat with the Processional of be(com)ing, a fatefully more winsome opus than the Excision of Tagma.

D.I. Swopes   –   A Journey to Norlia   –   IV


IV.

But enough of introduction! Exploration of my own SNE has led me to the discovery that I, like all too few a good senimalist, by both cultivated habit and native inclination alike (in fact, my own inclination is perhaps more nativer than most), possess gifts alternately theoretical, practical, analytical, synthetic, critical, clitical and creative (to limit myself to listing but seven of the myriad in my armamentarium), which I may, at turns, like any an adept toxophile, let fly as I choose, aiming now this way, aiming now that, or even, Pandava-like, mix them up willynilly in all possible combinations. My arrows, you see, are as inexhaustible as they are profligate, as precise as they are protean. (Observe my skillful deployment of the parastic principle of pe-words (PPP).) In other words, the above three ILEs, telescoped, for the purposes of discussion, according to their respective semanticities as, respectively, wordism, paperism and senimalism — I have discovered, in other words, that these three ILEs delimit simply the pure constellations (and we all know how jejune purity is!), and that mixed constellations are not only possible, but potentially even preferable! (PPP again.) I have discovered, in other words, the existence of perched wordism! I have discovered nested wordism! (Both of which I intend to describe in my Treatise on Ornithicity and Wordism.) I have discovered kafkaist paperism! I have discovered erautist paperism! (And you would not be mistaken if you smelled the eructative odor of a Critique of Paperism and Recedeatism in the making!) And, lastly, I have discovered the existence of both hyper- and hyposenimalism! Some perspective is in order.

Perched wordism is the semanticity employed when airy words adapt to a flat world. Two disparate, though related, formedia are required to facilitate this adaptation: the formedium of epic poetry (EP) conducts to an ILE resulting in a work such as Dante's Commedia Divina; the formedium of epic (w)riting (ER), a work such as Bocaccio's Decameron. Airy words successfully adapting, on the other hand, to a round world, employ the semanticity of nested wordism; the two facilitory formedia are either epic interminable (EI), in which case the Mahabharata spills from the ILE, or epic iterative oral poetry (EIOP), in which Orlando Furioso obtains.

As for the mixed types of paperism, we have the following. A work such as Don Quixote represents an ILE in which, by the semanticity of kafkaist paperism and the formedium of roman allégorique (RA), flat words have successfully adapted to a world of air. Gargantua and Pantagruel, however, is a species of kafkaist paperism wherein flat words have opted for a formedic strategy of roman didactique (RD) in order to adapt to what otherwise would be an inhospitably airy world. Likewise, when flat words, seeking to abandon the comforts of their flat world for the exhiliration of a world of air, and become, thus, by force of the formedium of roman intellectuel (RI), a third species of kafkaist paperism, a bone fide rara avis raises not just its hands but its head: Nabokov's Pale Fire.

Which brings us to the heretofore and hitherto undescribed morphologies of erautist (descending, through the female line, from ειρος, 'wool' and ειρω, 'to say, speak, tell' (this latter having a maternal uncle, ερεω, 'to say; to ask, inquire, question), and, through the male line, from εραω, 'having to do with love' and (my personal favorite) εραω, 'to vomit, pour forth;' a second patriline also managed to insinuate itself when, ερευγομαι, 'to spit, spew out, disgorge, belch; to surge, break in foam; to bellow, roar,' the paternal uncle of ειρος, incestuously dandled his elder sister's daughter (by his brother ερεω or εραω), ερεβος, 'a place of nether darkness,' on his knee) paperism, which is the semanticity that obtains when flat words descend into the liquid world of round. Three formedia are possible — roman arborescent (RA), roman expérimental (RE) and roman interminable (RI) — encompassing ILEs that express, respectively, works such as Tristram Shandy, Finnegans Wake and Bouvard et Pécuchet (or Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften).

Despite the bitriadic nature of the formedia (resulting in a total of six) employed by flat words adapting to worlds in which otherwise one would expect them to fall and flounder, to drown and deliquesce, it is actually the case that round words taking to wing (in air) or leg (in flat) have produced by far the most fertile solutions to the problem of lexical adaptation to world (LAW), and it is precisely my colleagues at ISOCPHYS to whom we owe gratitude for granting us varied and various proofs of such fertile solutions to LAW as touching upon mixed ILEs involving round words. For example, two species of hypersenimalism have been achieved by, on the one hand, McLaughlin, Methuen and Sagarch, and, on the other hand, the six founding faculty members of ISOCPHYS, Devi, Flamingo, Hamiltonian, de Queiros, Turbo and Vighdan. Each of these two species of hypersenimalism (we use semanticity, remember, as a generic term of discussion) have been achieved by successfully adapting round words to a world of air. The solution posited by McLaughlin et al. employs the formedium of serious ballistic inquiry (SBI), and the proof of their work at this ILE may be gleaned from Town City Plain (1993 to the present). Devi et al., conversely, employ serious tracheal (e)xperiment (STX) as a formedium conducting their round words in a world of air to the hypersenimalism of the Sestina trials (1992–1993), a scaly work that soars forth like a moanzy from its rarefied aerie of ILE.

Getting down to earth, however, Dado Udidi's absolute work, The Compass of that Sea (1989–1998), veritably commands its round words to walk march crawl run slip fall get up fall again across and through and in and atop the flat world of be(com)ing epileptic modernism. This spectacular achievement, combining a lucid economy of means with a lurid extravagance of expression, is brought about by the semanticity of hyposenimalism and the formedium of serious banausic (from βαναυσια, 'handicraft, the practice of 'mere' mechanical art') itinerary (SBI). Likewise, hyposenimalism may be combined with the formedium of serious toponymic divastigation (STD), as has been and is still being shown by Ouida Willoughby Johnson's serial publication, beginning in 1999, of Divastigations (in Agua Prieta, before the instigation of my encounter with Bernard, and owing, perhaps, to cognitive dissonance deriving from the ubiquity of Tagmaism, I had conflated divastigation with diaspora and divagation; once across the Arathu at ISOCPHYS, however, Georges Perec revealed to me, through the Traumgewebe of his Disparition, that divastigation is actually an 'avatar d'un noyau vital dont la divulgation s'affirmait tabou;' a designation which Ms. Johnson has been employing with great effect to explode the received denotations of the term such as I had been suffering from in Agua Prieta) in which round words prove, once again, the alacrity with which they adapt to, and thrive in, a flat world.

To help clarify our dicussion, I include a table (which I intend to submit with my article on "Mixed Constellations of Lexical Cladistics") summarizing all the possible islands of lexical ecology, below (and by the time you peruse this table, Translexicalia, the journal of the Institute of Lexical Ecology, may already have, one can always hope, accepted and, who knows?, even published my article!): Table 1.

Copyright © 1996 Translexicalia and the Institute for Lexical Ecology (ILE)