Before we begin, might I juſt ſay that even though
this is being half-wrote in a bye-bye corner
of a ſilly kingdom in a houſe of thatch & brick
& solipſiſm & whatnot,
yes even deſpite all that, never poor chump of a ſcribe
had more hope
from his ſcribbling than what I do from this here
joint-enterpriſe of ours.
All I ever wiſh’d for in life, my dahlink, was to be left
in peace to pick my own noſe
(& but one conjoin’d noſtril at a time at that!), & yet
I find myſelf quite happy to be here,
ſucking a humbug with my only tongue, while ſat upon
the comfortable horns of our get-together.
Would I venture too far off-piſte were I to mention thoſe
expenſive creatures ſnails again?
– how they ſlip ſo ſlowly upon their ſingle ſkis;
that tidy way they divvy up their ſoft & hard portions into
body & ſhell; how they ſail, & ſlide; how their antennae
are the ſticks
of two blind comrades reaching for, & ſhrinking from,
the future’s ſqueaky hum; how their humungous rage is hid.
–it muſt protect itſelf, but)–
a man ſmiles, —
The long S ( ſ ) has its histories, as do a handful of other letter forms that have
disappeared from use. In her recent piece ‘Noping,’ Caroline Bergvall discusses the traces
of the Old English thorn—-a seeming slipped ‘p’ or ambivalent ‘b’ that sounds like ‘th.’
Of this letter, Bergvall writes ‘It is a mysterious and tantalizing marker of the now
completely buried linguistic and inscriptive reality at the root of the English that I write
I juſt ſay
yes even deſpite all that
In 1789 Noah Webster published Dissertations on the English Language—-a manifesto
demanding, among other things, radical spelling reform—-and dedicated it to Benjamin
Franklin. Franklin wrote Webster a letter in response, in which he laments the loss of the
Certainly omitting the prominent letter makes the line appear more even; but
renders it less immediately legible; as paring all Men’s Noses might smooth and
level their Faces, but would render their Physiognomies less distinguishable.
I define a noſe, as follows—-from his ſcribbling
For by the word Noſe, I find myſelf
This long chapter of noſes
body & ſhell
ſomething to this Fragment of Life
and perhaps it is just one example of a general
smoothening as we remove trip hazards; as we, in
cleansing everything, scrub down the surface of the
world, rub out the hills and fill the valleys with their
debris; as we, with rapid little kisses, kiss each other’s
faces before we grind and bump, and by increments
inexorably breed away our distinct particularities;
as we deselect the differences in carrots; as we chop
down the trees; as we denude our hunkered genitals
which now look up at us shamefacedly – exposed VC,
bared to the hovering clatter of our glossy gaze
that hangs above their defoliated ground.
The triumph of the short s, that lesser letter,
represents an early contribution to this pervading
levelling as it can barely stick its tip above the sheen
that now lies spread like spread on the world’s once
tantalizing crevices and cracks. It plays its subtle part
as everything slips down and over us more nicely now.
My zipped-up inside is slick, it’s spittled-pretty as a
sucked-on lolly, and that’s the womby state we ache to
have around us as well as in. Might I ask, did you spy
your own lubriciousness? Did you peruse your own
consoled reflection in it? Was your visage bouncing
back? Were you looking slippy? I rest my case.
I am, good Sir, Your Well-wisher,
in a constant endeavour
why center over centre color over colour
‘…language, as well as government should be national. America should have her own distinct from all the world.’ (Webster, 1789)
at the level of the alphabet itself
theater or theatre
I spell my identity as Vanadium Carbide
In 1801, while travel(l)ing near Zimapán, Mexico, a minerologist named Andrés Manuel del Río found a new metal lurking in brown lead. Pardon me, I am fictionalizing. He may or may not have been travel(l)ing; the lead from Zimapán may have simply found its way into his laboratory in Mexico City. The labo(u)r of the laboratory; inside the lead, the colo(u)rs multiplied. The colo(u)rs reminded the scientist of Chromium, so he named it panchromium, which meant it was something that could take on any colo(u)r. Then he changed his mind and renamed the element erythronium (from the Greek ερυθρος [erythros] that means red), because the metal produced red salts when treated with acids. Four years later a Frenchman contested the discovery; he claimed the metal was just regular old lead chromate. Andrés Manuel del Río, upon hearing the news, fingered his m(o)ustache and did the hono(u)rable thing----he withdrew his claim of discovery. But the Frenchman was wrong! In 1830, two Swedish chemists 'discovered' the very same element. They named it vanadium, after the Norse goddess Vanadis, in hono(u)r of its beautiful multi-colo(u)red compounds. When its octahedral interstices are filled with carbon, when the metal atoms are cubic close packed: vanadium carbide.
Refractory black cubic crystals, not gray (grey). Cubic crystal structure, not rumo(u)r. Hard, black crystals, melting at 2800 C, boiling at 3900 C, not flavo(u)red. Available in numerous forms and custom shapes including Ingot, foil, rod, plate and sputtering target. High purity forms also include submicron powder and nanoscale, single crystal or polycrystalline forms. Fit into octahedral interstices in a close packed metal lattice at the harbo(u)r. A petrochemical cracking catalyst. A depolarizer. Experience in the manufacture of yellow glass. Experience as mordant in dyeing and printing fabrics. Experience in fixing aniline black on silk. Experience as a steel alloying agent. Side job in colo(u)r television tubes. Side job as a neutron moderator in atomic reactors.
VC (Vanadis Chat)
Goddess of the Vanir, a race of fertility gods, the gods of increase, rubbing out the hills with rapid little kisses. Love, the moon, the seas, the earth, the underworld. Mistress of Cats, shedding tears of gold. That’s the womby state. Historical innuendo, caught in a letter. She had to have the necklace of desire, the brisling made of multi-colo(u)red salts, and so slept with each one: north, south, east, west. The four short s’s. She is free with her favo(u)rs and favo(u)rs her neighbo(u)rs. Distinct from all the world.
VC (Vangelis Confab)
I’ve been fictionalising far and wide.
Not just in the photo-booth but also
in the lobby, the boudoir and the dungeons.
Apropos, how is it inside your material?
Is it carpeted? (My guess is it is.)
And how close are the walls?
Does it even make sense to talk about walls?
And if it does, are they papered; and if so,
in what pattern? What glue do you use?
Do you boil it from bones or from teeth
or from hooves?
I’m asking because on occasion I’ve
encountered Vangelis in mine.
He’s Greek all the way through, and dipped,
but in a sticky and crispy confection
that cracks and flakes off
like a coating of caramelised sugar whenever
he moves. I have some of it here.
Well, let’s just say I have one small flake of it
which I keep in a matchbox in my cabinet.
What I’m trying to tell you is
I don’t know how bad I should feel.
When you laugh, you add something. Not a circle, but a wandering line from the Center of Minor Planets. Your Greek brings us back to our starting point:
Epictetus untranslated, from his handbook for daily life, the Enchiridion. ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by their opinions about things’ Or ‘What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgments about the things.’ Or ‘Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things.’ Or ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things.’ Or ‘Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.’ Or ‘What disturbs men’s minds is not events but their judgments on events.’ Or ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things.’ Or ‘Actions do not disturb people, but opinions about actions.’
What Sterne did not include, was the illustration that immediately follows: ‘Death, for instance, is not terrible.’ ‘For instance, death is nothing dreadful.’ ‘Thus death is nothing terrible.’ ‘For example, death is nothing terrible.’
We wander away on that insistence.