TABELLION.

I mentioned a while back that I was reading Proust to my wife in the evenings (in the Moncrieff/Kilmartin translation), and I’ve come across a word so obscure and entrancing that I had to tell you about it. As Swann is ascending the staircase to the Marquise de Saint-Euverte’s party (in the “Swann in Love” section, on p. 354 of my edition), he is followed by “a servant with a pallid countenance and a small pigtail clubbed at the back of his head, like a Goya sacristan or a tabellion in an old play.” Tabellion is taken straight from the French (“comme un sacristain de Goya ou un tabellion du répertoire”), but it turns out to be English as well; the OED says:

[ad. L. tabellio, -ōnem, one who draws up written instruments, a notary, scrivener, f. tabella tablet, letter, etc.]
A scrivener, a kind of subordinate notary; esp. in the Roman Empire, and in France till the Revolution, an official scribe having some of the functions of a notary. In 17-18th c. used as a recognized designation of a vocation in England and New England.

The citations go back to the fifteenth century; you can see the New England use in a 1735 quote from C. Hazard, Life T. Hazard (1893): “I Joseph Marion Notary and Tabellion Publick Dwelling in Boston in New England” (all the citations are quoted here). What a fine thing, to be a tabellion!
A couple of pages previously, Swann is examining “the scattered pack of tall, magnificent, idle footmen” in the entrance hall:

One of them, of a particularly ferocious aspect, and not unlike the headsman in certain Renaissance pictures which represent executions, tortures, and the like, advanced upon him with an implacable air to take his “things.” But the harshness of his steely glare was compensated by the softness of his cotton gloves, so effectively that, as he approached Swann, he seemed to be exhibiting at once an utter contempt for his person and the most tender regard for his hat.

(For those who think there aren’t enough hats in this blog.)
Addendum. Spammers seem to have latched onto this inoffensive entry, so I am (with deep regret) closing the thread. If anyone wishes to contribute further to it, please e-mail me and I will reopen it for that purpose.

Comments

  1. Beautiful!
    There is also a Russian табельщик – that’s a person who keeps records (tabs, as it were) of work time by the individual employees, say, at a factory.

  2. Siganus Sutor says:

    On hearing the word tabellion I cannot but think of my dear Brassens, who implored in one of his songs to be buried on Sète’s beach.

    Trempe dans l’encre bleue du golfe du Lion,
    Trempe, trempe ta plume, ô mon vieux tabellion,
    Et de ta plus belle écriture,
    Note ce qu’il faudrait qu’il advint de mon corps,
    Lorsque mon âme et lui ne seront plus d’accord,
    Que sur un seul point : la rupture.

    (Language Hat’s post has just made me listen to the Supplique and, once again, I had to note how strange it was to feel the same emotion each time. Probably due to the deeds of this damn Saturn…)

  3. Siganus Sutor says:

    Sorry, something went wrong between the verses and blockquote. Let’s try again, without it:
    Trempe dans l’encre bleue du golfe du Lion,
    Trempe, trempe ta plume, ô mon vieux tabellion,
    Et de ta plus belle écriture,
    Note ce qu’il faudrait qu’il advint de mon corps,
    Lorsque mon âme et lui ne seront plus d’accord,
    Que sur un seul point : la rupture.

  4. …who implored in one of his songs to be buried on Sète’s beach.
    What, to go one better than Valéry?

  5. Hah, Noetica, it looks as if you know the song, in which Brassens also says that if his poetry is not as good as Valéry’s, let at least his cemetery be more maritime.
    Déférence gardée envers Paul Valéry
    Moi l’humble troubadour sur lui je renchéris
    Le bon maître me le pardonne
    Et qu’au moins si ses vers valent mieux que les miens
    Mon cimetière soit plus marin que le sien
    Et n’en déplaise aux autochtones
    Incidentally, someone who valiantly tried to translate this text in English didn’t dare keep tabellion and used ‘scrivener’ instead.
     
     
    PS — There was a grammatical mistake in my previous comment (a mistake that is in the lyrics coming with my CD): the past subjunctive should have been used here: “Note ce qu’il faudrait qu’il advînt de mon corps”.
    It changes everything, doesn’t it?

  6. Hah, Noetica, it looks as if you know the song,…
    No, I don’t know the song. I worked out from elementary first principles that Valéry ought to be mentioned therein. Both wanted to be interred as near to the baleinedrome as possible, yes? See also the penultimate stanza of Le Cimetière marin:
    Oui! grande mer de délires douée,
    Peau de panthère et chlamyde trouée,
    De mille et mille idoles du soleil,
    Hydre absolue, ivre de ta chair bleue,
    Qui te remords l’étincelante queue
    Dans un tumulte au silence pareil,
    This hydre absolue is an alpha and omega, n’est-ce pas? In its beginning is its end. Like a parlingdream.

  7. The last time I saw baleindrome written somewhere I thought it was there for palindrome, the verbal worm having no head nor tail. It looks as if the tedious tabellion crepidamated in the wrong direction. Could it simply mean “the sea”?
    I don’t know if the hydra is particularly known to bite its tail (with which one of its several mouths?) but classically the mythological monster is supposed to re-grow any one of its heads if it is severed. So it rather means an evil which is hard to eradicate, doesn’t it?
    Parlingdream? Whatzat? A dream during which a sleeping person talks about dreams? You seem to be an English-speaking upside-down counterpart of MiniPhasme, the ghostly creature that nobody understands at times, and I have no hydromantic diviner around, alas.
    (Sorry for being so stubborn today, as on some other days, but with the northerly airflow that we are having at the moment the heat is just going up and, obviously, my boiling brains can’t cope. Could have Mr Gore been right, in the end?)

  8. The sea (yes, one sense of baleinedrome), in Valéry’s stanza, is characterised as a serpent eating its own tail. Or by a well-justified poetic shift – “La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée” (stanza 1) – as a perpetually self-renewing hydra. It (and, note, the poem itself) is therefore like a palindrome (or, if you like, a parlingdream, with its seeming free association of speech elements in the service of a hidden structure), since, in the words of TS Eliot (famously, in Four Quartets), in its beginning (its mouth) is its end (its tail – or tale).
    Some critics observe, incidentally, that hydre absolue is to be taken as meaning free, or “absolved”, hydra more than absolute hydra. The former makes fine sense in the context.
    Any questions?

  9. Siganus Sutor says:

    Errr… I should probably go back to my old brown shoe. The head — the only one I have — has been overheating already. I’ll wait for a few hours, till dusk comes and it kools down a bit…..

  10. marie-lucie says:

    1) “tabellion”:
    in French this word is old-fashioned but familiar to those who have read earlier literature, unlike in English where I, like Mr Hat, don’t recall ever encountering the word even though I have read a fair amount of English literature.
    In present French usage, “tabellion” seems to me to have a homey, even slightly derogatory connotation as opposed to the neutral “notaire” (who is a type of property lawyer, a more important person than a notary in English). This could be because, according to the Robert dictionary, the word was originally for a senior clerk for a notaire, rather than for the notaire himself. Therefore the translation of French “tabellion” by “scrivener” seems to be appropriate in the context of the quotation – an old-fashioned legal word that many people would be familiar with from their reading – rather than the foreign, practically unknown “tabellion”: the type of person referred to is a member of a law office, going to visit a client on behalf of his boss.
    2) “hydre absolue”
    I confess that I have only read the very beginning of the Cimetière marin (in school many years ago) and I realize that I did not properly appreciate the power of its poetry at that time. I will have to do something about the book of this title, received as a gift way back when, still sitting on my shelf.
    However, “hydre absolue” cannot possibly mean “absolved hydra”, whatever this might mean in the context: “absolu” means “absolute” and is not a verb form in French any more than in English; “to absolve (eg from sin)” is “absoudre”, and its past participle (= adjective form) is “absous (masc), absoute (fem)”, so that “absolved hydra” would be “hydre absoute”. Perhaps the critics mentioned by Noetica confused the morphology of “absoudre” with that of the less irregular “résoudre” (to resolve), the past participle of which is “résolu”.
    My understanding of “hydre absolue” as a metaphor for the sea is that it has an infinite, ever-renewing number of “heads” (the waves) such that it cannot ever be destroyed or even stilled, unlike the nine-headed Greek hydra which was killed by Heracles.

  11. However, “hydre absolue” cannot possibly mean “absolved hydra”,…
    Marie-Lucie, I appreciate that the past participle of absoudre is not absolu, but that is not the end (nor the beginning) of the matter when it comes to a poem like this, and a poet like this. We think of the noun absolution, and our thinking of it is intended and proper. I cannot now traverse all of the commentaries on Valéry, but the thing is neatly put in the little glossed edition of Charmes by Robert Monestier (in the series Nouveaux Classiques Larousse). The notes on lines 136 and 137:
    136. Hydre. Comme dans “Au platane”, Valéry joue sur les deux sens du mot: “eau” et “monstre”. Absolue. déchaînée (latinisme);
    137. Le serpent qui se mord la queue est un symbole classique de ce qui est à la fois limité et toujours recommencé;
    Gustave Cohen also speaks of the freed hydra, but I confess I have to hand only a Spanish translation of his essay on the poem, in which Cohen’s phrase is rendered as hidra liberada. Incidentally, the three Spanish translations of the poem that I have just now consulted all have hidra absoluta. Spanish for absolved hydra would be, I believe, hidra absolvida. But again, for what sensitive Spaniard would absolución not be called to mind?

  12. But an implication, a calling to mind, is not the same as a translation, and I think to baldly render the phrase “absolved hydra” would be a mistake.
    I must say, I never expected this little vocabulary tidbit to bring forth a learned discussion on Valéry!

  13. Quite so, LH. Absolved hydra would be ugly and inept in a nuanced literary translation. I myself though have a hydra freed in my version, faute de mieux. It would equally be a mistake to have absolute hydra, it seems to me. Doesn’t work in English, for this context anyway. Choices must be made, alas and dammit.

  14. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica, I cannot match your erudition, and I will grant you that “absolue” may have a double meaning in this case, although I question bringing in “absolution” – from what sins? perhaps I am insufficiently sensitive, but to me “absolu” and “absolution” belong to different semantic domains altogether, so that the one does not call to mind the other, and in any case the Christian concept of absolution seems quite out of place in the context of the poem.
    To return to the possible Latinate meaning of “absolue” as “déchainée” (sorry, I can’t put the circumflex on the i), in everyday speech “déchainée” does not mean “libérée” (“freed”, which would imply a previously bound state) in spite of the etymology (literally “unchained” – but what chains were binding the Hydra?) , but rather “raging out of control” – the word is often applied to the violence of wind or water as well as to people in the grip of strong emotions. Perhaps something on the order of “unbound” or “unfettered” would be a better translation than “absolute”, since those words do not necessarily imply a previously bound state, and would agree with the Latin meaning of “absolue” proposed by one critic (in terms of English literary echoes, “unbound” would also call to mind the poem “Prometheus Unbound”).

  15. …in any case the Christian concept of absolution seems quite out of place in the context of the poem.
    Hmm. Not sure about that. Yes, the poem clearly addresses pre-Christian philosophical themes and figures. For example, Zeno of Elea, with attendant tortoise and Achilles, in stanza 21:
    Zénon! Cruel Zénon! Zénon d’Êlée!
    M’as-tu percé de cette flèche ailée
    Qui vibre, vole, et qui ne vole pas!
    Le son m’enfante et la flèche me tue!
    Ah! le soleil… Quelle ombre de tortue
    Pour l’âme, Achille immobile à grands pas!
    And in stanza 3:
    Stable trésor, temple simple à Minerve,
    But remember that the poem is set in a Christian cemetery, and there is certainly Christian imagery deployed. Consider the shepherd and sheep, and the doves, in stanza 11, suggesting the Son and the Holy Spirit (in the conventional dove symbol fixed above graves), the angels, and the distancing from idolatry (surely at least a monotheistic concern; cf. the idols we saw in stanza 23: De mille et mille idoles du soleil):
    Chienne splendide, écarte l’idolâtre!
    Quand solitaire au sourire de pâtre,
    Je pais longtemps, moutons mystérieux,
    Le blanc troupeau de mes tranquilles tombes,
    Éloignes-en les prudentes colombes,
    Les songes vains, les anges curieux!
    The whole business of plunging into the sea for regeneration may well be seen as a Christian redemptive move (a baptism; a liberating recommencement; an absolution). See, in stanza 22:
    Courons à l’onde en rejaillir vivant!
    I do like it that you analyse déchaîné with such care. Remember, though, that this is just one gloss from one commentator, and not a word occurring in the poem. In any case, I’m not yet convinced that the word conveys no sense of coming to be unchained, which appears to be quite a natural reading of it, and is supported by my ready-to-hand Harraps: déchaîner [...] 1. To unchain, to let loose (dog, etc.). Being freed from the chains of sin would seem relevant here, yes? Or some analogous sort of freeing. Both the poet and the sea are freed at the end of the poem: the poet from Zeno’s stasis-inducing conundrum (which was originally conceived as an argument against the very possibility of movement), and the sea from its noontide inertia, by the renewed movement of the wind (cf. the spirit).
    I also liked your mention of the many heads (waves) of the sea, earlier.
    A subcommittee of LH’s commenters should perhaps undertake a detailed treatment of the whole poem, at some appropriate location. Yes? It is so deep and rich.
    One last thing: to get î conveniently on a standard PC keyboard, type ALT-140 (using numbers on the numeric keypad).

  16. “Baleinedrome” means ‘the sea’? Goodness! Is this by any chance derived from Anglosaxon ‘hronrade’?

  17. î: on a Mac, you type alt+^, then i.

  18. Terry Collmann says:

    A quick google reveals that Tabellion is also a Franch surname, albeit rare:
    http://www.nom-famille.com/nom-tabellion.html
    which says that “en France 552 personnes portent le nom de famille Tabellion selon nos estimations Le nom Tabellion est le 18 328ème nom le plus porté en France.”
    Interestingly (well, I think so) Scrivener as a surname is more than three times as common, at in excess of 1,700 holders,in the UK as Tabellion is in France, according to the total for Scrivener at
    http://www.yournotme.com/
    which can find no Tabellions living in the UK at all …

  19. I wrote this:
    Consider the shepherd and sheep, and the doves, in stanza 11, suggesting the Son and the Holy Spirit (in the conventional dove symbol fixed above graves), …
    But I should have added the Father, from the shepherd that is mentioned (le pâtre).
    “Baleinedrome” means ‘the sea’? Goodness! Is this by any chance derived from Anglosaxon ‘hronrade’?
    Not by any chance, no. Just an instance of palingenesis. A bilinguedrome.

  20. Siganus Sutor says:

    Noetica: But I should have added the Father, from the shepherd that is mentioned (le pâtre).
    Indeed pâtre looks similar to pater — especially when one has in mind some English pairs like centre/center or metre/meter —, but is there a link (other than phonetic) between these two words? Le pâtre is the one who envoie paître his flock, which apparently and ultimately comes from the Latin verb pascere, to send grazing. So I ask a question to the erudite* Noetica: apart from the fact that a priest is sometimes called “father”, is there a link between “pastor” and “pater”?
    * for once I’m not trying to joke

  21. …but is there a link (other than phonetic) between these two words?
    First let me offer the opinion, Siganus sutor, that the phonetic and anagrammatic connexion between pâtre and pater would be sufficient to introduce an element of God the Father into the stanza. Of course I was thinking of that. Within the constraints of Valéry’s tightly structured stanzas (with their foreshortened decasyllabic lines, as opposed to the usual dodecasyllabics), things have to be pretty compressed. Look again at our hydra stanza for evidence of that. And there’s so much more in there to explicate.
    I hesitated at first to include the Father, though, because of the identity of Christ the sacrificial lamb (answering to the lamb which stood in as a stunt double for Isaac; Genesis 22) as the good shepherd (John 10:11). But then, the story of Abraham and Isaac, along with so much else in the Old Testament, does seem to point to a father–son relationship between shepherd and sheep. Who would be expected to offer a living sacrifice, if not a shepherd? (Remember also the usual reading of Abraham as the archetypal father: father of many [nations], or exalted father, etc.; see Genesis 17:5). So it seems quite natural – doesn’t it? – to identify the father–god of the old dispensation as the shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd…” (Psalms 23:1), and all the rest. And after all, given the doctrine of the trinity the three are all one in any case. (Let there be no heresy at LH’s blog, thank you very much!)
    A bit loose, but there you have it. More could be said, as ever. (And thanks for the complement, SS. I like your work, too.)

  22. …see Genesis 17:5).
    If there is a God, He will tuck that full stop in to left of the bracket for me.

  23. DAMN! And spell compliment correctly for me. I’m outta here.

  24. Siganus Sutor says:

    …see Genesis 17:5).
    If there is a God, He will tuck that full stop in to left of the bracket for me.

    That’s certainly a sin — half-forgiven already — after three Pater Noster. And if He exists, he would have forbidden you to read any more French: “connexion”? Mon Dieu!

  25. Siganus Sutor says:

    … or maybe would forbid you to read French
    … or “ought to forbid”…
    Anyway, His axions are generally shrouded in mystery.

  26. SS, whatever else connexion is, it is good English. That’s how David Hume spelt it, and several later anglophone philosophers. It is better etymologically than connection, and I use it wittingly and “politically”.
    Axions shmaxions. What do I know from particle physics, already?
    Now I’m outta here.

  27. is there a link between “pastor” and “pater”?
    Not etymologically, if that’s what you mean. The former is from the Indo-European root *pāsk-, the latter from *pāter- (ignoring those pesky laryngeals for simplicity).
    I swear, I should pay you guys a salary. It’s like watching some crazed Marx Brothers show with poetry, philology, and religion in place of false mustaches and Maurice Chevalier.

  28. Siganus Sutor says:

    Language Hat: is there a link between “pastor” and “pater”?
    Not etymologically, if that’s what you mean.

    Yes, that’s what I meant. I kinda got my answer when I was writing my question, but thanks to the two of you for confirming that this apparent kinship turns out to be a mere convergence, more or less like the one called convergent evolution illustrated, for instance, by the morphological resemblance of Chiroptera and Aves. (Noetica, sorry for coming back to biology, Latin names, etc. — chassez le naturel…)
    Now, regarding salaries, I hope it’s tax free?
    Noetica spoke of “my work”, I know, but she was probably being polite in so doing. Work as a buffoon maybe, as a more or less successful clown, but nothing more than that I’m afraid. I’m already being paid to manufacture concrete components in a factory, and I’m not learned in whatever branch of the humanities that might exist. Maybe, if you wish, as a wishy-washy, fishy blog-catalyst if sometimes, by pure fluke, I manage to trigger some out-of-subject discussion; but that’s about it.
    Now, I’d be ready to pay someone a good fee if he/she/it was able to tell me what kind of exotic particles “axions shmaxions” could be. I’m supposed to have studied some physics a long time ago, but at the moment I’m left to conjectures only.
     
     
    Noetica: Dear David Hume used to write “connexion” with an -x? I didn’t know that — thanx for the info. But being born a barbarian* in some hyperborean country, he wasn’t really English, was he? Anyway, isn’t there something weird between connecter and connexion?
    I hesitated at first to include the Father, though, because of the identity of Christ the sacrificial lamb (…) as the good shepherd
    You could try, maybe, to read René Girard. He’s written very interesting things about the original sacrifice which lies in the foundation of each society. (Even some atheists take pleasure in reading what he says.)
     
     
    * not to be confused with more southeasterly barbarian thinkers — http://www.fabrugby.com

  29. I swear, I should pay you guys a salary.
    No need to swear. But I suppose that the odd celery now and again wouldn’t go astray.
    Noetica spoke of “my work”, I know, but she was probably being polite in so doing.
    At the risk of shattering illusions I should point out that my webname is not from the Greek feminine singular νοητική, but from the neuter plural νοητικά. This should not be taken to imply that I am either neuter or plural. In fact, on the web I am resolutely without both gender and number. And no, I was not merely being polite.
    I’m already being paid to manufacture concrete components in a factory,…
    Me, I manufacture abstract components.
    Now, I’d be ready to pay someone a good fee if he/she/it was able to tell me what kind of exotic particles “axions shmaxions” could be.
    Now you’re getting the idea.
    An axion, SOED informs us, is to be defined as follows:
    A light neutral pseudoscalar particle postulated in order to account for the rarity of processes which break charge-parity symmetry.
    But – oy veh Maria! – what do I know from that? Shee(p)sh! (Oves Mariae?)
    As for Hume, septentrional or no, he, she, or it was a stylist to be reckoned with. I’ll hear no word against Hume (or Hurme, as the case may be) in this connexion.
    Turning to René Girard, I have no idea who they are. I’ll investigate a little.
    The rest (in the interest of semibrevity, and unquaveringly to minimise crotchetiness) is silence.

  30. Terry Collmann says:

    Connexion used to be house style for the word at The Times of London until the mid-1980s, about the time of the paper’s controversial move from near Fleet Street to Wapping (whether there is any connexion/connection between the change to the more usual spelling and the shift to east of the Tower of London I do not know …)

  31. Can we nominate this for, like, thread of the year/century?
    PS. I’ve been to the Times HQ at Wapping (Shadwell). Sheesh! What a dive!

  32. Connexion used to be house style for the word at The Times of London until the mid-1980s, about the time of the paper’s controversial move…
    O tempora.

  33. marie-lucie says:

    (sorry for the delay, but I don’t have as much free time as I had a few months ago to post messages)
    back to Pastor > pâtre and Pater > père:
    - in the poem I don’t see that “pâtre” entails a connection with “père” just because the word resembles Latin pater; the context of the stanza does suggest the Good Shepherd, but that phrase is always applied to Christ, not to the Father; but I am not at all familiar with the exegetes of Valéry’s work;
    - however, historically both “pastor” and “pascere” could have a remote relation to “pater” in that the pa- component is possibly related to a root meaning “food” or “feed” (since English, German etc f- initial words usually correspond to Latin p- initial words). This is not my idea but I have seen it suggested in works on Indo-European – there might be something about that in the appendix (also published separately) to the American Heritage Dictionary : try looking up FATHER, FOOD and PASTOR (I can’t find my copy of this work).

  34. marie-lucie says:

    p.s. to those who advised me on how to do the circumflex accent: merci! but my problem is that when I am going to use French words, I work with the Canadian French character set, which used to place the circumflex quite well but now insists on writing the Greek character for “pi” whenever I want it to do a circumflex. Any ideas?

  35. in the poem I don’t see that “pâtre” entails a connection with “père” just because the word resembles Latin pater; the context of the stanza does suggest the Good Shepherd, but that phrase is always applied to Christ, not to the Father;…
    Ah, Marie-Lucie, that’s the sort of reason I had for hesitating in the first place. But we needn’t be literal about such a link. Note the other points of circumstantial evidence that I adduce; and note also that in the broader context the purpose was to support a Christian current in the poem, collateral with the pre-Christian, generally Greek, elements.
    On speculation concerning a PIE connexion [sic] between pastor and pater, see LH’s comment from above (above on this page, that is; I don’t say that he needs to exercise either paternal or pastoral control over his flock, though the case could be argued):
    Not etymologically, if that’s what you mean. The former is from the Indo-European root *pāsk-, the latter from *pāter- (ignoring those pesky laryngeals for simplicity).
    Your AHD source gives the roots under the heads pā- and pəter-. (No evidence is presented for any hard link between these two; but the very fact that the question arises – including for you! – is interesting and germane.)
    I too use the AHD, for its appendix; and I also have that appendix in the form of the expanded separate book that you mention. Lovely to browse in, and for quick reference. You’ll find all of those roots at the Bartleby site, and Semitic roots too. Click on IE roots (in English) and Semitic roots (in English), in LH’s eminently useful list of language resources.
    As for your înquiry, sorry: I can’t help. I’m sure others can and will.

  36. On speculation concerning a PIE connexion [sic] between pastor and pater, see LH’s comment from above
    Ah, but marie-lucie is a working historical linguist, which I am not, so if she thinks a historical connect/xion is plausible, I take that much more seriously than vague ideas tossed off by you rabble. (No offense intended; you lot are my very favorite rabble.)

  37. marie-lucie says:

    LH, you are giving me away! but I am not a specialist in Indo-European and will have to double check in actual sources (unless others on this list are doing so already) instead of relying on my memory. I am not retracting my suggestion, only emphasizing that “possible” or “plausible” do not mean “demonstrated” any more than they mean “disproved”.

  38. marie-lucie says:

    “tabellion” again:
    the quotation from Proust, referring to “un sacristain de Goya ou un tabellion du répertoire”, is meant to suggest a conventionalized, slightly ridiculous stock figure, as is the valet who greets Swann until his behaviour shows his contempt for the highly placed guests. “Le répertoire” does not just mean any “old play” but the standard stock in trade of acting companies, in which certain characters recur predictably – in such plays the “notaire” or his “tabellion” are likely to be in attendance every time an inheritance or an impending marriage are involved, also standard subjects in many older plays. This is why the English translation needs to provide a recognizable word associated with these legal family matters, not one that most readers would have no associations with. Even if “tabellion” was used in some early US contexts, it would probably be unknown outside of those now forgotten contexts, as LH’s posting attests.

  39. marie-lucie says:

    (sorry, I mixed up the 2 valets – my comment is about the first one).

  40. Ah, but marie-lucie is a working historical linguist, which I am not, so if she thinks a historical connect/xion is plausible, I take that much more seriously than vague ideas tossed off by you rabble. (No offense intended; you lot are my very favorite rabble.)
    Well, it’s independently worthwhile to speculate about possible very ancient links between the two roots. I’ll certainly want to learn of any such results. (For the record, I’ll bet that no hard evidence can be found.) But they would in any event be irrelevant to the function of pâtre in Valéry’s poem. The poet was not knowledgeable concerning PIE, and even laid no claim to being an adept Hellenist. What is most important for the interpretation of the poem is Valéry’s own understanding of his own words and allusions – explicit, implicit, subliminal, or what you will. If a newly deciphered Linear A tablet appeared to cast unique philological light on Shakespeare’s sonnets, we should immediately dispel that appearance as illusory.
    In this connexion I shall quote a Valéry critic who writes concerning rebirth and the sea in stanza 22 of our poem:
    ¿Quién es el artífice – directo o indirecto – de tal renacimiento? El texto lo dice sin ambages: es «une fraîcheur» – un «aura fresca» – procedente de la mar, de la mar materna y material (mar-mater-materia…), de la mar principio de vida, de la mar que, ya desde el título y desde las primeras estrofas del poema, se opone al símbolo de la muerte que es el cementerio. (Renaud Richard, a translator of Le Cimetière marin into Spanish; bibliographic details available on request)
    Certainly mater, along with all of its IE cognates, is linked to materia, matter, etc. (PIE māter-). But there is no common source for these and Romance words for the sea (those cognate with Latin mare, which are from PIE mori-). Does this diminish the potency of Richard’s asserted association? Not a whit. Certainly Valéry, like a thousand poets before and after him, accepted the association of the sea and motherhood, and found it strengthened by the phonetic similarity that Richard, with a thousand other critics, points out. And let us not forget an extension of the association to include the name Maria as a further Christian element, if one were needed; it has exactly the spelled form of the Latin word for the plural seas.
    So many continuations suggest themselves. We could look back to Valéry’s gem-like early sonnet Naissance de Vénus:
    De sa profonde mère, encor froide et fumante,
    Voici qu’au seuil battu de tempêtes, la chair
    Amèrement vomie au soleil par la mer,
    Se délivre des diamants de la tourmente.
    Son sourire se forme, et suit sur ses bras blancs
    Qu’éplore l’orient d’une épaule meurtrie,
    De l’humide Thétis la pure pierrerie,
    Et sa tresse se fraye un frisson sur ses flancs.
    Le frais gravier, qu’arrose et fuit sa course agile,
    Croule, creuse rumeur de soif, et le facile
    Sable a bu les baisers de ses bonds puérils;
    Mais de mille regards ou perfides ou vagues,
    Son oeil mobile mêle aux éclairs de périls
    L’eau riante, et la danse infidèle des vagues.
    There is evidence. If Valéry elaborated on the mer-mère theme in such a way, why should he not also play on pâtre-pater? Given his habit of mind, he might almost feel obliged to do so!
    Or we could talk about the sea itself as a feminine, pre-Christian, Dionysian feature of the world and of the poem ([...] grande mer de délires douée, [...] Hydre absolue, ivre de ta chair bleue, [...]), set alongside the land with its monumented cemetery as a masculine, Christian, rational feature, the nature and appearance of both features being modulated by the circle-singularity of the sun at and after noon.
    But no. Enough for now, from the rabble!

  41. drhfocei tgnhkwml jspi khutoc dytaznej pvnbeqytm eysxifpca

  42. drhfocei tgnhkwml jspi khutoc dytaznej pvnbeqytm eysxifpca
    Posted by: bce*** cmk*** at February 2, 2007 03:36 AM

    I suppose it’s the poetic equivalent to abstract painting. Noetica, anything to say about it?
    Noetica: I’ll hear no word against Hume (or Hurme, as the case may be) in this connexion.
    No need to worry too much: in spite of the disturbing fact that I’m not particularly fond of the frequently grandiloquent semi-gods known as “philosophers”, I do have a good deal of sympathy for Mr Hume, even if I have never really met him. After all, wasn’t he an empiricist with a healthy dose of scepticism? And didn’t he think, very down-to-earthly and like Montaigne, that something as unexciting as mere habits (custom, use, tradition… all these boring words) was the driving force influencing the human mind and human societies? Someone like this can’t be too evil.
    Turning to René Girard — now de l’Académie française despite the serious handicap of having worked in the USA for most of his life —, you could start with Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque (Deceit, Desire, and the Novel), his first book in which he tries to show the importance of the triangular “mimetic desire” that pushes us to imitate the person we see as a model. Violence and the sacrifice (“make sacred”) of the adored one become more evident at a later stage.
    At the risk of shattering illusions I should point out that my webname is not from the Greek feminine singular νοητική, but from the neuter plural νοητικά.
    Maybe you have neither a well-defined gender nor a fixed number, but even if Noetica is not… er… a hydra but, say, an organisation, I would be tempted to think that there is just one set of not-so-abstract little grey cells, in just one single brain, to post comments on languagehat. And even though I lack a grandiloquent philosophical theory about identities, my empirical self has noticed that those who want to conceal their gender are often double-Xed daughters of the Creator. (Bathrobe, for instance, said straightaway that we were wrong when some of us thought of him as a feminine bro.) I will therefore continue to think of — and refer to — Noetica as she, if you don’t mind.
    Incidentally, somehow like Marie-Lucie, it’s not evident to my mind that hydre absolue could mean either ‘absolute hydra’ or ‘freed hydra’. However, I confirm that une mer déchaînée is an image that is very frequently used when the sea is what the Martian Meteorological services describe, in English, as “phenomenal”. Thank God, we recently escaped the kind of phenomenon a he/she/it called Dora could have brought. It would nonetheless have been nice to have an “unchained sea” yesterday, the first of February, the day on which we commemorate the 1835 abolition of slavery.

  43. Siganus Sutor says:

    Ah, Noetica, some time ago I thought I should share some information about a certain cemetery with you, but I forgot to do so.
    I don’t remember if Paul (Valéry) has been canonized by the Holy See, but it’s quite unlikely that the town of Saint-Paul has been named after him. Anyway:
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimetière_marin_de_Saint-Paul
    For some years I used to drive past this cemetery on my way to and back from work, usually stuck in a solid traffic-jam. If I knew these poems well enough, after a couple of stanzas on drunken hydras, solitary shepherds and undecipherable baleinedromes, I could have shouted these verses, just to try to get things moving:
    Zénon! Cruel Zénon! Zénon d’Êlée!
    M’as-tu percé de cette flèche ailée
    Qui vibre, vole, et qui ne vole pas!
    Le son m’enfante et la flèche me tue!
    Ah! le soleil… Quelle ombre de tortue
    Pour l’âme, Achille immobile à grands pas!

    The gendarmes, though, might have made me blow in a bag to test my ivresse*…
     
     
    * “des profondeurs”, for sure

  44. Siganus Sutor says:

    the poetic equivalent to abstract painting
    Might “the poetic equivalent of abstract painting” be better?
    Grrr! these damn little English prepositions! I’ll never get to have them right… Vive les prépositions tueuses ! those which, like a cane toad, can invade a whole territory (of language).

  45. Siganus Sutor says:

    ego: it’s not evident to my mind that /hydre absolue/ could mean either ‘absolute hydra’
    Ahem… of course I meant ‘absolved hydra’ — and I humbly ask for absolution, even if this morning I haven’t had any ablution yet (la mer, l’amère, toujours recommencée…).

  46. …anything to say about it?
    Yes. My response is this: fi tjk lk9 rtmd.
    I will therefore continue to think of — and refer to — Noetica as she, if you don’t mind.
    As you wish. We have no objection to any of the standard English pronouns. We would, however, prefer the Hungarian third-person pronoun ő (or its plural, ők), which is genderless. That way the issue need never arise, and the web-entity Noetica could remain a neutral cyber-cipher, as God intended. (Note: Noetica, not Nőetica.*)
    * Note: The Hungarian word for woman is .
    Incidentally, somehow like Marie-Lucie, it’s not evident to my mind that hydre absolue could mean either ‘[absolved] hydra’ or ‘freed hydra’.
    How interesting, and how particular of you and Marie-Lucie. Allow me to enquire, though, whether it is evident to you that it could not bear such meanings? After all, that semantic connexion was evident to Gustave Cohen, who in 1928 lectured for a whole course, in French, at the Sorbonne, solely concerning le Cimetière marin, in the presence of Valéry himself (and Valéry was happy to endorse his interpretations; supporting reference available on request). It was evident to Robert Monestier (a distinguished Valéry exegete), as we have seen above. It is evident in the fact that Valéry is much given to Latinisms (as Walter Putnam points out in Valéry Revisited). To show just two other famous examples: Charmes itself, the title of the collection that includes le Cimetière marin (Latin carmina, meaning songs or spells, to add to the common meaning that suggests something charming or engaging); altitude, in stanza 4, meaning depth as well as height, and also unfathomableness or secrecy, as the good Dr William Smith reminds us, fitting superbly well with the peculiarity of inversion that opens the poem: the low-lying surface of the sea as a roof. That same venerable preceptor, Smith, begins his gloss of absolutus like this:
    absolutus, a, um, Part. [absolvo] loosened, or freed from, freed, unfettered: see verb.
    Smith then goes on to list the derived adjectival senses, including finished, complete, unconditional. See also for absolution, perfection and consummation, along with the more modern acquittal.
    I myself, as one who spends a good deal of time studying and translating the poetry of Valéry, consider that all of the senses given above are relevant, in the context of the poem’s shift from the grand immobilité of purely noetic contemplation to the Bacchic, raging, windy maelstrom of life lived to the full.
    As for your own recent lucky escape from the windy maelstrom Dora, Σωτήρ, do not think that you must imitate it here by fearing these δώρα, for they are not borne by a Greek.
    Ah, but my own fear is that we have failed, yet again, to present any adjunct to the muse’s diadem, as Pound might have put it. For alas, ours is th’unletter’d muse. Still, let not ambition mock our useful toil, till Marie-Lucie’s learnèd return will silence the ignoble strife of the unruly rabble that we amount to.

  47. Siganus Sutor says:

    We would, however, prefer the Hungarian third-person pronoun ő (or its plural, ők), which is genderless.
    For that matter, if need really be, I wouldn’t mind using a language that sounds far less exotic to my ears: Martian Kreol, a.k.a. “Morisyen”. As I was saying in a previous post (last comment), in this French-based creole there is just one word for he and she: li (plural zot). And unlike French, M-creole words don’t have a gender — not even a hidden one I believe.
    {Incidentally, the slaves who were the true inventors of the language may have had a hidden agenda as (like in Hungarian maybe?) the verb ‘to be’ doesn’t exist (at least according to Charles Baissac*), thus making it impossible for creolophones to subscribe to the French-revered cartesian Cogito. (At that time the shakespearian Hamlet was still something much too distant to be cared about.)}
     
     
    Allow me to enquire, though, whether it is evident to you that it could /not/ bear such meanings.
    Noetica, Esq., is allowed to enquire. However, what I can give li is just some run-of-the-mill personal sentiments. Those who have never been to the Sorbonne (they might just have had a quick glimpse of what this sacred place looks like, seen from outside, while going once through the Quartier latin); those who barely know three words in Latin (not to mention Greek); those who are no specialist of whatever poet could be found on this planet; those who tend to find humble troubadours more in concordance with their feelings and with their basic understanding of what could come close, however little, to poets; those who, apart from a few hits, are not even really fond of poetry; those who, though having fun with language, are absolute (but not freed) laymen in this field; obviously those people can’t be relied upon to work out a proper “rule”.
    But as some people (call them rabble, why not) like to open their e-mouth here and there, stuffing generous blog owners with their logorrhea, they will nonetheless say from the top of their sole** head that, for them, absolue is primarily used to refer to something which is not relative, something which is not compared to something else, something which stands up by itself as if in the middle of the desert — or the ocean. Or to something which is finished, complete.
    Sometimes these people also like to open fat books which can be called dictionnaires. And if one has a look at what is said about absolu in the excellent Little Bob, he/she/it will see this:
    I. Adjectif
    1. Qui ne comporte ni restriction ni réserve. (e.g. noir absolu (i.e. total), confiance absolue (i.e. blind), alcool absolu (i.e. pure), pouvoir absolu (i.e. dictatorial), etc.).
    2. Parfait, aussi parfait qu’on peut l’imaginer. (e.g. l’amour absolu (i.e. ideal)).
    3. Qui ne fait aucune concession, ne supporte ni la critique ni la contradiction. (e.g. un esprit absolu (i.e. uncompromising), un ton absolu (i.e. blunt, rude sometimes).
    4. (Opposé à relatif) Qui est tel en lui-même, considéré en lui-même et non par rapport à autre chose. (e.g. majorité absolue, arme absolue, température absolue, emploi absolu d’un verbe transitif…).
    II. Nom masculin
    1. Philosophie. Ce qui existe indépendamment de toute condition ou de tout rapport avec autre chose. (Sometimes l’Absolu, with a grandiloquent capital A.)
    2. Locution. Dans l’absolu : sans comparer, sans tenir compte des conditions, des circonstances.
    3. Alchimie. La matière unique d’où dériverait tous les corps.
    Apart from meaning I. 3. which looks a bit obscure to me (and, to a certain extent, the abracadabrantesque*** II. 3 to the alchemist that I am not), I agree with all these acceptations, I. 4 being seemingly the one I’d use most. But I don’t see where it could mean ‘freed’.
    Oui, grande mer de délire douée…
    Hydre absolue, ivre de ta chair bleue…

    Well, yes, it is possible to imagine that the hydra has been set free to eat its own flesh (se repaître de sa propre chair, if you will), but I think that it wouldn’t come by itself to most people’s mind.
    I’ve had a look at Dauzat’s etymological dictionary: “Absolu – 1080 Roland (asolu) ; latin absolutus, achevé, parfait, de absolvere, absoudre.” Okay, one can therefore imagine the following sequence: absolute => absolved => free (from sin). But you can’t expect a reader — a “normal” reader — to naturally go through that type of reasoning. And if reading and appreciating poetry becomes primarily a specialist’s business, something is lost on the way, don’t you think so?
     
     
    At least this totally out-of-subject but absolutely charmante discussion has confirmed some of my suspicions: I really am from an archaic species. Further up I used the word ‘verse’ as equivalent to “a line of metrical writing”, the French meaning of vers (no, not the worm, not the hydra again). An impromptu look in the New Penguin Dictionary tells me that in English this meaning is archaic, ‘verse’ being rather “one section of a poem, song, or hymn, marked off by a particular set of rhymes or assonances… = stanza”, or what is also a verset (of the Bible or the Koran). But hopefully a stanza can also be a stance — though archaic, strophe being the word used since eighteenth century. Ouf ! on ne se mord pas complètement la queue…
     
     
     
    * Étude sur le patois créole, 1880
    ** nothing to do with the Soleidae, these distant cousins of the Siganidae family
    *** © Jacques Chirac

  48. [How absolute the knave is!]
    Just a quick line or two of reply, Soter, since life presses me to ax on other fronts right now.
    Thank you for your diligent presentation of the quotidian understandings of absolu from nôtre petit frère Robert, who always speaks “by the card” lest equivocation undo him, as a great man once said in the presence of clowns.
    But if the deliverances of your Robert were enough, the world would be void of poets, and tinkers would pass for thinkers.
    If Robert, Marie-Lucie, and your good self are not able to compass Latinish add-ons, I can only reply by a parrot-phrase of Lord Russell (that grandiloquent Human): “You fail to grasp it? Well, that is your concern, and not my own.”
    Any more must await its season – except to say that I am probably the only Ozlander I know to have actually set foot on Mars. The local patois was to me an indecipherable baleinedrome, “For Frensh of Port Louis was to me unknowe”. Good to see that the Hungarian diaspora has borne such useful pronominal fruit in so far-flung a clime, in any case. (Pace Emerson of Misdirection, it was the Hungarians, not the Dravidians, who determined the better moiety of the world’s history.)
    Have you visited our Nouvelle Hollande, by chance? A low country only the sense of being southerly.
    Mais ça suffira; à la prochaine.

  49. Siganus Sutor says:

    I can only reply by a parrot-phrase of Lord Russell (that grandiloquent Human): “You fail to grasp it? Well, that is your concern, and not my own.”
    Are you referring to the first or the third Earl Russel? Anyway, one or the other, grandfather or grandson, they were both from a very prominent, very high-caste, very powerful and very wealthy family. With such a background, this category of people should take care — I think — not to be seen speaking with too much arrogance, too much morgue, too much haughtiness, or too much lordliness (if you allow me to use this word here). And if they do so, they’d better be dead sure of what they are saying. In this case I think milord spoke somewhat hastily.
    “drhfocei tgnhkwml jspi khutoc dytaznej pvnbeqytm eysxifpca.”
    You fail to grasp what I’m saying? That is your concern, and not my own.
    But wouldn’t it be somehow silly from me to speak words nobody understands? What’s the point of speaking then? I might as well make bubbles in an aquarium, or indulge in glossolia together with a bunch of sym-pathetic happy-clappies.
    There are two concepts to be considered here: one is subtleness, the other abstruseness. There is a delicate balance to be found between the two and if Zarathustra, or whoever, is not cautious enough when he/she/it speaks, the second can easily prevail over the first. Is the Logos, the Word, the Speech always better when it is understood only by a handful of initiates? I’m not sure about that, sincerely — but that is just a personal opinion.
    I presume it can be great fun, when it comes to such or such writing, to make a freudian, a marxist, an existentialist, a cynic, a gymnosophistic or a scientologistic analysis of the text. But you can’t expect the whole amazed world to gaze at all this with wonder. Nor can you despise the awful lot of people who find a lot of poesy in the songs of Pink Floyd, MC Solaar or Edith Piaf, and who prefer this type of “poesy” (inverted commas needed?) than the one found in serious anthologies.
     
     
    Good to see that the Hungarian diaspora has borne such useful pronominal fruit in so far-flung a clime
    You are absolutely right. For years, even before the Soviet Union was dead, there has been a Magyar community here, since a Hungarian construction company decided to set foot on our planet. Some of these visitors even married Martian females, and I believe their union has borne fruit in most cases.
     
     
    Have you visited our Nouvelle Hollande, by chance?
    Yes, for one day (understand: between sunrise and sunset). I was on my way to another new Netherlandish province (Nieuw-Zeeland) and in a town some call “Melboorn” I was suppose to be given a ticket to continue my journey to Ok Land. But apparently the lady at the counter didn’t like my Martian face, since she kept on saying that she had no ticket for me, despite a booking that had already been made. So I had to hop a kangaroo flight instead, and wander up and down the banks of the Yarra river for a while, untill the marsupial took off.
     
     
    Now, I said yesterday that there was no verb ‘to be’ in Morisyen. That is partly true, but in connection with this particularity I vaguely remember reading or hearing something about another language (and I seriously wonder whether it wasn’t Hungarian) in which it was also the case. I haven’t been able to find it back, alas. Does someone around know something about it? Bulbull, Michael Farris or somebody else? Languagehat, don’t you have a map of the worldwide distribution of the existential verb par excellence?

  50. So I had to hop a kangaroo flight instead, and wander up and down the banks of the Yarra river for a while, untill the marsupial took off.

    Ah, so that was you down near the Yarra. Thought it might have been.
    As for verbs like our to be (or not to be, as the case may be, to continue the Hamlet* theme that runs like a Shakespeare-coloured fibre through this thread), very many languages lack them altogether. Others have two where we get by with one (for example Spanish and Portuguese, both having ser and estar), and still others deploy their dominant equivalent quite differently from the way we use to be (for example: Latin, esse; Hungarian, vanni; and putonghua Chinese, 是 shì). The field is too heterogeneous for a mapping of the sort that you request.
    Anyhow, az idő pénz, as the magyarity of Hungarians say, without using vanni: time is money. And I have too little of either.
    *Or Thelma, as the case may be.

  51. Siganus Sutor says:

    I presume that you mean the Thelma of Thelma and Louise, the two women who, in the end, choose not to be at all rather than to be just females in this males’ world.
    To be this or not to be that: a choice facing people who can afford it. Some can’t. Like it or not, you sometimes have to be this or that — and sometimes this and that —, feminine or masculine, mother and wife, young or old, black and white, vertebrate or invertebrate…
    But, according to what you said previously, to be doesn’t seem to be a universal concept. Some are in a way, others in another way. Some barely are at all. I am not, we are mostly not, probably, when we speak our langaz: nou nek bann nam — we are just spirits (or souls, if He/She/It allows us to be some) — literally, “we just “a-plural” spirits”: “nous [sommes] seulement des ‘âmes’”.
    If the Hungarian verb to be disappears only in the present tense when the 3rd person (singular or plural) is used (at least according to Wikipedia), in Creole such van-ishing is widespread.
    Mo enn zom moi — lit. “I a man me” — Fr. Je suis un homme moi.
    Mo ser sa — lit. “my sister this/there” — Fr. C’est ma sœur (ça).
    To ti dan lakaz ? — lit. “you “past-marker” in home?” — Fr. Tu étais dans la maison (case) ?
    Pa fassil sa boug la ! — lit. “Not easy this guy there” — Fr. Ce n’est pas un type facile.
    Li pou trankil aster — lit. “He “future-marker” good now” — Fr. Il sera sage/tranquille maintenant.
    Li ti enn bien mové garson — lit. “He “past-marker” a very bad boy” — Fr. C’était/il était un très mauvais garçon.
    To enn gran dimunn aster — lit. “You an adult now” — Fr. Tu es un adulte maintenant.
    Etc.
    On some occasions some people would use été (obviously from the past participle of être). For example “Ki li été sa boug là ?” — what is this guy ? (not “who is this guy” — “ki sann na sa boug la”). It is not really a standard use, though, and it is rather derogatory: in essence “who/what is he to speak/be/appear like this?”.
    For a thing: “what is this mark on your forehead?” could be said “ki été sa mark la lor to fron?”, but a more standard way of saying it would be (or would have been, maybe) “ki sassa sa mark la lor to front”. I cannot translate “sassa” but it is not the verb to be. It is never used alone. In fact I should probably write “kissassa”, in one word, even though “ki” is normally “what” (ki ena pou manzé tanto? — what is there for supper this evening?). “Kissassa” could then be “what is” — like the abovementioned “kissann-na” could be “who is” —, the verb to be being hidden in the expression.
    Oh God! How all this must be boring for everybody around. Sorry Steve, I won’t do it again. (But since I’ve typed all this already, I might as well post it…)
     
     
    Ah, so that was you down near the Yarra. Thought it might have been.
    Yes, your guess is good: it was me, and it hasn’t been easy to escape some venomous polyheaded creature down there, just as I was swimming past a rowing club. I couldn’t even make out whether it was male or female, would you believe it?
     
     
    Back to Valéry: in the back of my mind there was this book I used to read to the children when they were in bed. After digging for a while in a cupboard, grumbling heavily, Mrs Sutor managed to find it. It is called Ça suffit, Lucie ! (not Marie-Lucie will you note) and it is about this little girl who is not understood by her family, everyone telling her to shut up and be quiet. So she just goes wild after a while:
    Mais Lucie prend ses pinceaux.
    Et blanc ! Et rouge ! Et vert !
    Sur les mots de colère.
    Jaune et bleu sur les regards sévères
    et les langues de vipère.
    Rivières et dromadaires
    sur les murs de pierre,
    lierre et fougère dans les cimetières.
    Panthères ! Éclairs ! Fleurs lunaires !
    C’est la grande roue solaire,
    la danse de l’extraordinaire.
    It’s not just because there is a cemetery mentioned, but it somehow reminds me of Valéry’s poetry, not you? Was it done on purpose, or subconsciously? And who knows if one of the two authors is not Noetica — or at least part of it. A part which, for what she said, can obviously induce funny reaxions when it comes to maximizing crotchetiness.
    But for now and for me it’s bonne nuit les petits — dodo

  52. Oh God! How all this must be boring for everybody around. Sorry Steve, I won’t do it again.
    Don’t be coy, or coi either—you know I love this stuff!

  53. I presume that you mean the Thelma of Thelma and Louise
    Heavens, no. We need no recourse to pop culture to find a connexion between Hamlet and Thelma. Still, ingenious theorising.
    To be this or not to be that: a choice facing people who can afford it.
    O yes. We are at one on this, at least. How I pity the myriads upon myriads (sic; I will defend the nominalisation of myriad against the pedantasters) of those who, through sheer impecuniousness, do not come into existence at all. I could name names, if respect for the never-born did not command us mute. I cannot forbear, however, to exhibit one illustrious example. I refer to that great musical genius of the High Classical florescence, Ignaz Keindorfer (17??-17??). One weeps to imagine the limpid quartets he would have bestowed upon the world (including the exquisite but hauntingly elusive quartet for oboe and strings, in D); the forever missing bassoon concerti; the twenty-three piano sonatas that would certainly have been taken as presaging, and once or twice even eclipsing, the banally extant efforts of Beethoven. But alas, he never was. For the want of a penny to pay the incoming ferryman (the outlandish revenu-man of the poet*), he missed the Boat of Being. Was this his good fortune, not to exist? One modern philosopher has puckishly suggested that the “few” who never exist are indeed fortunate. Quoting an old Jewish anecdote, he remarks: “Who has such luck? Not one in ten thousand!” But no: they are many, and their lot is to be lamented.
    valéry, of course, must have the last heart-rending word, from la Jeune Parque:
    Non, vous ne tiendrez pas de moi la vie!… Allez,
    Spectres, soupirs la nuit vainement exhalés,
    Allez joindre des morts les impalpables nombres!
    Je n’accorderai pas la lumière à des ombres,
    Je garde loin de vous, l’esprit sinistre et clair…
    Non! Vous ne tiendrez pas de mes lèvres l’éclair!…
    Et puis… mon coeur aussi vous refuse sa foudre.
    J’ai pitié de nous tous, ô tourbillons de poudre!
    …to escape some venomous polyheaded creature down there
    O, that must have been a bunyip. Sort of an antipodean hydra. Neuter plural, the lot of them.
    Don’t be coy, or coi either—you know I love this stuff!
    LH understands: we do it “just for the halibut.” We must fill in the time somehow, en attendant Marie-Lucie.
    *I quote from A season not even in hell, by that consummate poet of the never-existent condition, Well-I-am Unworldsworth (17??-18??).

  54. Dear Noetica, you mentioned “one modern philosopher [who] has puckishly suggested that the “few” who never exist are indeed fortunate.” Who he is in particular remains a mystery, but some can imagine it is the one who gave his books titles like De l’inconvénient d’être né (The Trouble With Being Born) or La Tentation d’exister (The Temptation to Exist). There has been some controversy about his life but sometimes you can’t help thinking that he might have been right in writing what he wrote. Desperately right.

  55. …the one who gave his books titles like De l’inconvénient d’être né
    Non, ce n’était pas lui. It was Bernard Williams, I think. In fact, while a huge number of non-existent philosophers have written, or, to be more precise but to run the risk of rubbing it in, would have written on the subject, very few born philosophers have addressed the matter at all. I’ll have to research this Emil Michel Cioran of yours. (Is he of the existent school, by the way, or a non-existent-rights separatist?) One thinks also of Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be. Then of course there is the prostatic Milan Kundera’s fictional treatment of a related theme, The Unbearable Slightness of Peeing.
    Another fascinating topic adjacent to all of this is raised in the question Why is there anything at all? This furnishes the title for a couple of excellent philosophical articles and chapters, around the place. Unfortunately they are not on the web, I think. And they are a bit technical.
    Aren’t the connexions marvellous? (“Only connex”, wrote EM Forster.) In fact Le Cimetière marin and La Jeune Parque are both really about this grand theme of being and not being – lettres et le néant. Tabellion or not tabellion?

  56. See this encyclopaedia entry on philosophical aspects of nothingness, which makes reference to a couple of those articles.

    But you know, ESuToRAGON, I’ve been thinking. What if… you know… is it possible that…

    nah.

  57. [Days pass. An echidna ambles onto the stage from the right, looks around as if for one of its fabled offspring – feared unfree, feared tangled in a thread – and exits stage left. More days pass.]

  58. Siganus Sutor says:

    Isn’t this a good, concrete illustration of what nothingness and emptiness can be?
    If Language Hat could be kind enough to let the lights on and leave the theatre doors unlocked, the show might go on, God willing. But at a later stage, please.

  59. The doors will be left unlocked. Godot might show up at any moment, after all.

  60. Siganus Sutor says:

    > Language Hat
    Steve, it is not because I mentioned God — “s’Il est”, as this Jesuit priest dared say every time he mentioned the Supreme Being in private — that you should feel compelled to bring the elusive Godot onto the stage, even if we are still waiting for Marie-Lucie to come back to the little table*. For what I remember of a distant interview given by Mr Beckett to some French periodical, Godot wasn’t supposed to be God**, as people were tempted to believe. “Sam-God (El***)” — or is it “God (El) of Sam”? —, the author, was apparently thinking of the word godasses, shoes, when he coined the name.
    Now, as one Al Mighty has been kind enough to speak personally to me and refresh my memory, I should probably say something about Estragon, one of the characters waiting for an old brown shoe to appear before him. But about a week ago I had been looking for my copy of this white little book (edited by Les éditions de Minuit if I remember it well, the original publisher maybe), to no avail. [Who knows if it is not in the cupboard in which Lucie has been sleeping en attendant Madame Sutor...] I must say that the whole thing hasn’t left a long-lasting impression in that feeble memory of mine. Probably because it lacked some axion.
    Anyway, thanks for allowing some rabble to use your neat blog as their playground. (But if they start squabbling too much, you should probably intervene and give them a good spanking regardless of who says the other one started it all.) Let’s hope however that this dialogue will eventually turn out to be a tetralogue, at least.
     
     
    * maybe we could write her a letter, on a tablet
    ** I pray that the Deus ex machina who sometimes uses His “Godly editing powers” to fix problems will forgive me such a blaspheme
    *** and some still think of God as a male person…

  61. Siganus Sutor says:

    > Noetica
    My dear neutral lot, when you ask for something you manage to get it, don’t you? Except that this time your question hasn’t been able to make its way to my “aire de Broc Ha! Ha!”, the Comprehension & Illumination Centre which is probably (very well) hidden inside our frontal lobes and which sometimes allows the elected few to become bodhisattvas, the illuminated or enlightened ones. So, please, proceed, express yourself (as clearly as you can), don’t be coy, and tell the supposedly nocturnal echidna not to fear the limelight too much.
     
     
    I quote from /A season not even in hell/, by that consummate poet of the never-existent condition
    The non-birth date of this unborn poet is inexistent, of course, but wasn’t it wrong nonetheless? I thought he didn’t open his genius’ eyes in the nineteenth century instead. Bah… distorted space-time once again, probably…
    I am quite relieved however to learn that this one too, even if stuck in limbo, is finally known in the Land of Oz. About twenty-four hours before going as low as to liken some cheap pop culture to a major, existentialist Shakespearian play, I was having supper out of my cave as it happens once in a blue moon. And had it not been for my better half, I would have been completely all by myself amongst a congregation of New-Hollanders. [--It has been exhausting to speak and listen to all this English anyway.--] My table neighbour was someone who gives herself up to the making of these œuvres-not-d’art that are screened in dark rooms where a lot of people gather for God knows what reason and, though having of course an “utterly plebeian” culture (to use Naipaul’s words), she mentioned a poet — “Rumbəh”? [no, not Sylvester Stallone!] —, a French poet, who had been featured in a movie. But despite the indigenous knave trying to work out if it was the guy who lived with Verlaine before becoming a trafficker in East Africa and dying in Marseilles, it has been impossible to be sure whether it wasn’t this one or yes.
    This particular one whose verses obviously can’t start a story, written and drawn by Hugo Pratt, in which an officer belonging to the King’s African Rifles reads and says:
    Si je désire nul [sic] eau d’Europe, c’est la flache
    Noire et froide où, vers le crépuscule embaumé
    Un enfant accroupi, plein de tristesses, lâche
    Un bateau frêle comme un papillon de mai…
    — … Ce fou faisait du trafic d’armes dans la région, le saviez-vous ?
    — Il a vendu un grand nombre de fusils aux derviches du Mad Mullah, qui maintenant s’en servent contre nous.
    — Maudit Français… Mais… c’est un grand poète.
    [-- A hopeless rabble could then be tempted to suggest in petto that le ‘Mad Mullah’ était fort mal armé par Rimbaud. --]
    The main character, who has been patiently listening to this monologue, then says with his usual irony: “You’re surprising me. I don’t know why but I thought that regular officers of the British Army liked just Kipling.”
    We are therefore left with this evidence: Noetica has never been one (i.e. a British army officer).
    But it seems that we are just once again singing the same old tune: “to be or not to be…” C’est finalement un peu has been*, non ?
     
     
    * en français dans le texte

  62. SS, a very ignorant question from someone who can probably only pretend (to be) sub-rabble at best: is “kissassa” “que ca” such that: “ki sassa sa mark la lor to front” would translate “qu’est-ce que c’est que ca, cette marque sur ton front ?” (what is that, that mark on your forehead?) making “kissassa” a cataphoric deictic? [Sorry, I can't figure out how to do accent marks at all].
    BTW, I’ve found this whole thread absolutely (in the sense of “completely”) paronomazing! This is the word I would also use to describe Valery’s polysemia such I fall into the camp of more inclusive interpretation: absolution, absoluteness, father etc. I think it is all in there.

  63. Welcome to the Thread that Wouldn’t Die, Blue Genes, and I hope our sly shoemaker will return and answer your question, and that Noetica will then slip the Dagger of the Dialectic under his answer and flip it upside down.

  64. Noetica says:

    [Scene: the front room of an inn in Keindorf. An old silver watch lies on the table. A platypus – portrayed forever as the "other" monotreme, and as a gallimaufry of unfried leftovers of creation to boot (if boots will sute) – staggers onto the stage.]
    THE PLATYPUS: I am as spinefooted as the rest of them! [Rubs his eyes with an otherworldliweariness.] Cataphora? Tell me about it! [Looks at her – or as the case may be his or their or perhaps its – watch.]
    THE WATCH: Az idő pénz.
    THE PLATYPUS: ¿Qué?
    THE WATCH: Ooze, idle pens.
    THE PLATYPUS: No time! No time! My neural pewter brain is blent on other things, for now.
    A VOICE UNDER THE STAGE: I swear I should pay those guys, or girls, a celery. [Takes on the character of Bugs Bunny.] Dis-staff is proNOMinally interesting.
    ANOTHER VOICE UNDER THE STAGE: Swear! Swear!
    THE PLATYPUS: Who was that, I’d like to know? Now, I’d give a trifle to know who he is. Always someone turns up you never dreamt of.
    THE WATCH: Mene mene tekel, or in Farsi…
    THE PLATYPUS: Yeah, yeah, got that. I’m outta here. A bientôt.
    [Exeunt the watch and the platypus, hand in hand. Days go by.]

  65. [Scene: the back room of a bed and breakfast in Trouville. A new golden metronome stands erect
    on the piano. A wombat--incessantly characterized as the "alter" marsupial, and as a hodgepodge of
    leftover particles from the big bang--stumbles onto the Planck.]
    THE WOMBAT: I am as pouchbellied as the rest of them! [Scratches his snout with an
    overdeterminationationality.] This game, it’s over, Anaphora! [s/he listens to the metronome]
    THE METRONOME: toc, toc, toc, toc
    THE WOMBAT: Whazzat?
    THE METRONOME: Talk, talk,talk, talk.
    THE WOMBAT: I’m late! I’m late! My neural syn-naps overslept. I’m so siestardy!
    A VOICE UNDER THE STAGE: Curse it all, should I give ‘em a thousand franks!?
    [Takes on voice of Elmer Fudd.] Hot diggity dog, those (p)laymen
    are amateurs, not wieners.Aught is what I ought to give them! Talk,
    talk, talk… Same proNOUNcements VERBatim… Not content! Monotonous, dis-enchanting,
    dis-consonance!
    ANOTHER VOICE UNDER THE STAGE: Diss a vowel! Diss a vowel!
    THE WOMBAT: I’d like to know your id/(ent)it-he. I’d give a penny for your “aughts”. Sem-pater-nally
    Freud I ever dream of.
    THE METRONOME: Out, out of this damn spot! or in Aramaic, the injunction…
    THE WOMBAT: No injections, you prick! Hasta la vista.
    [Exeunt the metronome and the wombat,pendulum in appendage, adagio. Toc, toc.]

  66. Also, thank you for your warm welcome, Language Hat!
    Noetica, is there another layer to this palimpsest? I’m not quite certain I know myself what it was I tried to pastiche.

  67. Ah, you have discovered the inmost secret of the Hattery. No one here knows exactly what is being pastiched at any given moment, or how many balls are being juggled. Just try not to let any of them come down on your head. (This is why I wear hats.)

  68. Siganus Sutor says:

    O joy! le cadavre exquis bouge encore…
    [Steve, I want to let you know that your words have been carved on a marble tablet, the Thread that Wouldn't Die, and put into a notary's safe to serve as an eternal legal reminder.]
     
     
    > 23 Blue Pairs (or any other number*)
    It is very likely that kissassa has a French origin, like the overwhelming majority of M-creole vocabulary (“MFE” according to Ethnologue). I’d say that even today most new MFE words are borrowed from French, English being only second despite the fact that a substantial part of technical novelties have an English name in the beginning, even in France, the Land of the Rebel. For instance I very often hear “enn ordinatère” for a computer, though “computer” — pronounced very much like in English — might be used as well (it’s shorter, isn’t it?). One of our previous Prime Ministers, a man who didn’t speak French very fluently, famously said once “Li enn konnri sa!”, c■nnerie being then a rather unknown word in Kreol. (Yes, when you’re a real one you’re supposed to use Ks, not Cs.)
    You may be quite right in saying that kissassa, “what is”, is likely to come from “qu’est-ce que ça”, or “qu’est-ce que c’est que ça”, even though an additional intermediate -k would probably reinforce this hypothesis. On the other hand, I am left wondering about the possible origin of “kissannna” (pronounced ki-sann-na, the final -na being phonetically detached from the preceding sann-), “who is”. “Qui c’est celui-là” wouldn’t do it I think. I’ll try to investigate this existentialist matter — Mater Dolorosa in my opinion —, if some body (dead or alive) knows some thing about it nowadays.
    Now, why do you speak Martian to me? Kissassa sa “cataphoric deictic” là? What on Earth can this catastrophic monster be? Even the ornithorynque himself, despite being paralleled with the divine Immanu-El by an Eco-nomic philosopher, doesn’t seem to know much about it. I now have to lift the most carnal part of my other self to grab an alien dictionary, the SOED as it is. “Cataphoric”, or “cataphoria”? Inconnu au bataillon. (But then it’s just the Shorter.) “Deictic”? Invisible. (We should probably ask the god in the machine mentioned above to make His voice heard.)
    Regarding Valéry, Michel Galabru, a popular French actor, recently wrote a book in which he bares this absolute and n▼ked truth: “Paul Valéry avait lu tous les livres, et quand il mourut, il désigna du regard sa vaste bibliothèque et murmura: ‘Décidément, tout cela ne vaut pas un beau cul.‘”
    Does someone think it is apocryphal?
    Yours,
    The nazty SS**
         — (i.e. Sly Sutor)
     
     
     
    * from an unforgettable but nonetheless forgotten book:

    ESTRAGON (vivement). — Nous ne sommes pas d’ici, monsieur.
    POZZO (s’arrêtant). — Vous êtes bien des êtres humains cependant. (Il met ses lunettes.) A ce que je vois. (Il enlève ses lunettes.) De la même espèce que moi. (Il éclate d’un rire énorme..) De la même espèce que Pozzo ! D’origine divine !

    [The little white book was right in front of my eyes, above the computer. Given such keenness of vision, one might not see Godot if he suddenly appeared in front of him, as in any Lourdes or Međugorje.]
    ** poor me…
    _____________________________
    God! tell me what is the “questionable content: 11080″ that blocks the machine! I’m getting mad!
    [God spoke and it turned out 11080 (in the link) was the Number of the Beast at LH.]

  69. Blue Genes:
    Noetica, is there another layer to this palimpsest? I’m not quite certain I know myself what it was I tried to pastiche.
    At the risk of raising more questions than I answer:
    Nautical, Esther? An utter Lear to this parlingfest? Aim? Noetiquite – thirteen Ainu mice, else war-tit. Was I to write to pass, Tisch?
    In shorts, your gas is as good as mine.
    Sauteur:
    I too was wondering what a kiss-asser was, butt I was afraid to assk. Now, give me a little time* and I’ll have something to say in response.
    *Or money, as the cash may be.

  70. Natzy SS: Sorry about the Martian. Hope it didn’t put you in that nasty mood. Noetica filled in one of my holes actually with her “Dis-staff is proNOMinally intersting”. In proper Martian, I should have said: “cataphoric deictic pronoun”. Now for the Martian to Blue Genetic translation:
    Cataphoric means a word that is anticipating another one yet to come. In “It’s over, this game” “It” is a pronoun that anticipates “game”. The opposite is anaphoric: “This game, it’s over” where “it” points back to or recalls “game.” Deictic means “pointing to,” or indicating. A deictic requires co(n)textualization to be understandable. In both examples above, the pronoun “it” designates nothing without pointing to or referencing “game”. The referent for a deictic can also be extra-linguisitic: I walk into a toy store, I point my finger at a game and whine, “mommy I want that!” (I’m still in my terrible twos).
    I hope to have restored interplanetary peace. If only I could do the same for the international, interracial, interminable etc. (I threw in “interminable” so as to be sure not to violate the sacred mystery in which these posts are to be shrouded). Here’s the irony: Language wears his hat so the juggling balls don’t fall on his head. I tried to be as clear as possible in this post, creating a moment of stasis in which it might have been safe for Language to remove his hat to quickly scratch his head, should he have had a cranial itch. Normally, however, one scratches one’s head before what is unclear…
    For those who might be interested, I proposed an interpretation for a derivative of kiss-asser in an entirely different context in the following post on my blog: http://thewayitisnt.blogspot.com/2007/01/between-iraq-and-hard-place.html Whatever you do, do not check it out if you are averse to politics or my peacemaking efforts will surely be obliterated. I don’t want to provoke any mad hattery.
    Should “the thread that wouldn’t die” be put in a notary’s box or rather entrusted to a tabellion?

  71. Noetica says:

    Does someone think it is apocryphal?
    Décidément, if we are to understand apocryphal SoIG(A)NeUSement.
    Valéry perhaps then recalled the words of his mentor and examplar, at the start of Brise marine:
    La chair est triste, hélas! et j’ai lu tous les livres.
    (Et comme c’est beau, ce petit bijou de l’art poétique. Vous voulez voir ma traduction, mes vieux? Faut qu’j'cherche…)
    Blue Genes:
    Noetica filled in one of my holes actually with her* “Dis-staff is proNOMinally inter[e]sting”.
    *Or their, its, or his, as the guess may be.
    Really? I wouldn’t want any of this stuff to fill any wholes, or even parts, of mine. Now, shall we elevate the tone?
    NOETICA: I have of late – but wherefore I know not – been considering a question. What if… you know… I mean, it hardly bears thinking about, but what if… ?

    Nah.

  72. Siganus Sutor says:

    NOETICA: I have of late – but wherefore I know not – been considering a question. What if… you know… I mean, it hardly bears thinking about, but what if… ?
     
    Nah.

     
     
    Yes?
     
    Yes! Yes! Yes!                  — nooooow… [pronounced “no-ouh”, not “now”, apparently not now]
     
    Yes?……………………………….. or not yet?
     
     
    Come on! bonhomme*! stop all this foreplay and finish it off!
     
    La chair serait-elle si triste que ça ?
    [By the way the only verse... oops... line of Steve's poetry — a jewel indeed — that I could quote off the top of my sole shoemaker's head. I wonder if there's something Freudian to it.]
     
     
     
     
    * you will certainly appreciate that this quasi interjection could be used while speaking to/shouting at Martian females as well: it has somewhat become neuter (i.e. “castrated”, probably)

  73. My apologies to Noetica if he/she/it/they think(s) I misused his/her/its/their post content in any way. And please attribute the typo in my citation to my state of bedazzled admiration (currently New York since ” Le vieux Paris n’est plus(la forme d’une ville/Change plus vite, helas ! que le coeur d’un mortel); ”
    Look at that: We all know Baudelaire was a visionary but he even anticipated the emoticon!
    As a Martian speaker (though not permanent resident–you’d be amazed at how difficult it is to obtain a red card) I would like to inform the bonhomme that I am pro-foreplay.

  74. Noetica says:

    Good to see you here, Blue Genes! Nice puns: do you work out? (Hey Sator – the kid’s all right!)
    Mes bonhommes, ou soit-il* mes bonnefemmes ou bien mes bons-n’importe-quoi-de-contenus-pluriels-ou-non-de-l’univers,** je suis désolé (mais pas détruit, grâce au Tetragrammatonomonton). There will be a small delay in unveiling the question.*** The world importunes me to engage in other axion, right now. But I promise: soon enough the question in question will be exposed, accompanied by a brief ceremony attended by certain dignitaries, in this very thread.
    * Ou bien soit-elle, etc.; et en tout cas peut-être-ou-n’être-pas ne soit-il (par exemple, bien compris) pas.
    ** Y compris ceux qui n’existent pas.
    *** “Oh do not ask what is it. Just you wait: it is exquisite.” – Toilest, TS Eliot?
    Now back to work, everybody. You too, TS.

  75. Siganus Sutor says:

    νοητικά: soon enough the question in question will be exposed, accompanied by a brief ceremony attended by certain dignitaries, in this very thread
     
    We are just drooling in expectation of the coming feast. I hope it’s gonna* be juicy. But don’t make us wait for too long as we may run out of fuel.
    (Time is also running out for the sad and sadistic ones who would like to be more frequently dialectically stabbed in presentia at LH. But as a fellow Martian once said: “I’ll be back!”)
     
     
     
    * Since my internet browser has been acting funny this morning, switching off from time to time as it sometimes does, I had to save this wee comment in Word if I didn’t want it to become part of the large family of the non-existent entities. What is surprising is that the orthographic corrector (or chastityser?) wants me to write “gonna” this way: “I hope it’s gonad be juicy.” I didn’t suspect Monsieur Portails to be so full of second degree humour.
     
     
     
    PS: “Tetragrammatonomonton” — Isn’t there a mistake in this word? Shouldn’t it be Tetragrammatonomontonton instead, ± like in “Si mon tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton tondu sera”?

  76. Siganus Sutor says:

    νοητικά: soon enough the question in question will be exposed, accompanied by a brief ceremony attended by certain dignitaries, in this very thread
     
    We are just drooling in expectation of the coming feast. I hope it’s gonna* be juicy. But don’t make us wait for too long as we may run out of fuel.
    (Time is also running out for the sad and sadistic ones who would like to be more frequently dialectically stabbed in presentia at LH. But as a fellow Martian once said: “I’ll be back!”)
     
     
     
    * Since my internet browser has been acting funny this morning, switching off from time to time as it sometimes does, I had to save this wee comment in Word if I didn’t want it to become part of the large family of the non-existent entities. What is surprising is that the orthographic corrector (or chastityser?) wants me to write “gonna” this way: “I hope it’s gonad be juicy.” I didn’t suspect Monsieur Portails to be so full of second degree humour.
     
     
     
    PS: “Tetragrammatonomonton” — Isn’t there a mistake in this word? Shouldn’t it be Tetragrammatonomontonton instead, ± like in “Si mon tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton tondu sera”?

  77. Siganus Sutor says:

    Oops! sorry for the bi-posting. (Blame it on my browser!)
    What is surprising is that the orthographic corrector (or chastityser?)
    I think I got it wrong: it should rather be a “chasti-teaser” busy chastising the chastest ones. Naughty, naughty thing(y)!
    (A tabellion rebellion by any chance?)

  78. “Nice puns: do you work out?”
    Why thank you. As a matter of fact of I do:
    http://thewayitisnt.blogspot.com/2007/01/for-many-years-i-was-one-of-those.html
    The Way It Isn’t: Judgmental Gym Equipment
    I highly recommend “Buns of irony.” But this ass in debt on me, not helpful. My para lips is not too bad either but I’m too modest to go on and on about my s(i)mile.

  79. Siganus Sutor says:

    Blue Genes: someone who can probably only pretend (to be) sub-rabble at best
     
    I’m afraid you’re on a wrong path if you want to become a member of this particular sub-caste. The genuine rabble is not as archlearn’ed and presumptuous as to throw around some bl☻☻dy cataphoric deictic pronouns probably full of lethal germs. Or is it? Well, at least the rabblest part of it isn’t. Sure, really sure? Ach! who — or W.H.O. — knows in the end… Les voies du saigneur ne sont-elles pas impénétrables ?
    Anyway, the by-products of catabolic degradation being of an unspeakable nature, they are better left untouched, even by the Untouchables. (But if you really are in your terrible twos… And, moreover, an amateur of foreplay…) Thanks for the lesson however, as it is always a great pleasure to be less ignorant for a few minutes — and somewhat longer if Memory, this capricious mistress, decides to grant you some favours for the night & beyond.
    By the way, deictic is visible in my inherited auld edition of the SOED [“A purely academic word”, they say]. But being not very far from deific and deity, is tends to be somehow invisible every now and then, depending on the weather and the phase of the moon.
     
     
    Noetica: An old silver watch lies on the table.
     
    Something to do with a kind of artwork done by some crazy Catalan saviour I presume. I can’t totally recall what its title is but it could have something to do with la persistance de la mémoire. Now whether the things “represented” in surrealist paintings or wordplays exist or not, be it in our dreams & imagination, is another layer that can be added to the existentialist question, isn’t it? Le cadavre exquis et al., for instance, is it, absolutely, is it “something”? Or is it just pure abstract delirium? du blabla, du vide quoi — not like the kids.

  80. “Sub-rabble”? How did that happen? I had typed in “sub-rabelaisienne”–it must have been that damn autommatic speling corrrecter–you know the one that turns “gonnas” into “gonads”–that’s why I turned mine off (unless it was all those onions that did it).
    Yes, I’m in my terrible twos and yes, I advocate foreplay; the latency period hasn’t hit yet.
    Eh, tonton, écoute tata (ou Dada):
    Tas de riz tentant, tas de rats tentés
    Tas de riz tentant tenta tas de rats tentés
    Tas de rats tentés tâta tas de riz tentant
    What *isn’t* abstract delirium?
    “Les voies du saigneur ne sont-elles pas impénétrables ?” Sade-ly, yes.

  81. du blabla, du vide quoi
    Is that anything like Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da? I think I have the hang of that better than of this. But now that we speak of songs, and because Blue Genes has just vexed lyric Al, I am put in mind of an old crooning from the sixties, which goes something like this (if my memory is not playing tricks on me, since Total Recall is for me too just a fading souvenir of Mars):
    They-he-or-she is-or-is-not Venus with blue genes*
    Mona Lisa with a bony tail**
    A tocking*** talking Himmelfahrt
    The end-time rapture of our heart
    Trev’s p**** (and Eugene’s)
    And every fella’s, I’da sworn…
    It beats a celery-stick or two:
    That furry tail-cum-trou
    They say there’s seven meanings in each word
    But what they say is out of date
    There’s more than seven meanings in each word
    Just hold tight and wait…
    Our Venus in blue genes
    Is everything we hoped she-he-it-or-they might be or not be as the case may or may not be
    A metrognome we’ve grown to love
    Who sure deserves to be…*****
    Toins toins!
    * See The Humean gene known, Eugene Niemalsein, 20??
    ** Thought to be a reference to a species of Siganidae osteura
    *** LA toc: “to toke”
    **** Don’t ask.
    ***** or not… etc., etc.
    I certainly hope that doesn’t make anyone squirm too much. It sure as hell brings back mammaries for me!

  82. Siganus Sutor says:

    Abstract delirium isn’t always the opposite of concrete delirium, which itself can be Soviet, Gaudian, Le Corbusian, Arcosantian, Curepipian or what you will. But is… [God! why always this -s in place of the tee?] But it frequently is.
    ——————————
    Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: gu*de.com — Again?
    “Rabble”, someone said? Méfiance de rigueur

  83. Well, I just hope I haven’t vexed Noetic Al to whom I feel much OB-Liged. If s/he, it/they is/are (or isn’t/aren’t as the case may be) I’ll try (or not) to find him/her/them a good vexerinarian to clear things up and just have to take solace in the fact that OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA life goes on. Perhaps I just plain didn’t get it and there are things I should have squirmed at but as a Gene -eral rule I squirm at violence and reproach but have a very high (toc, toc) tolerance for pretty much anything else that might be porn out; though I admit that one part seemed a little fishy. So milk those mammaries for all they’re worth!
    Who me-gene niemals sein ? Let’s not skip straight to the “or isn’t (as the case may be)” without at least entertaining the possibility of the “is.” I think Siganus Sutor has left the question very much open to de-bait–again fishy.
    Concrete delirium is itself abstract delirium from a post-structuralist point of view, no?

  84. Siganus Sutor says:

    Blue Genes : Concrete delirium is itself abstract delirium from a post-structuralist point of view, no?
    From a structural engineer’s point of view it definitely is, be it either post- or pre-tensioned.

  85. That’s not anything that I can pretend to know about (beyond the link you provided–thanks).

  86. Noetica says:

    Well, I just hope I haven’t vexed Noetic Al to whom I feel much OB-Liged.
    Not in the slight-test, Blue Genes: not in the sly-test. You’ll be pleased to know that you have passed the audition.
    And *str-, how I love this saigneur. Bloody good! An effort of semantic condensation worthy of Valéry himself.
    In news just to hand, the Question will be revealed on Saturday, Australian Eastern Summer Time. Tickets are not necessary, since we have booked infinite space for the occasion. After the warm-up entertainment and the ceremony itself, merchandise will be available for purchase in the foyer.

  87. Siganus Sutor says:

    Thank you for your warm hematinoglobulinous congratulations, NoeticA+. I could do the same — a little bit less gorily however — with your remix. I didn’t know the original lyrics but thank the Internet I have been able to get them. And this morning, before sunrise, I had a good laugh in the kitchen while reading the two versions side by side. There’s nothing like a good cackle to make you feel that that you are really alive; ergo, that you really exist. Je ris donc je suis, that would have probably been a better one.
     
     
    **** Don’t ask.
     
    Now I am pretty sure le/la petit/e cachottier/e that you are know Brassens’ songs as well, at least some of them, les plus croustillantes sans doute. This one for instance: P… de toi. (Its jazzy version is a jewel.)
     
     
    Is that anything like Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da?
     
    Could be. But it could also have something to do with a little book written by a philosophy teacher: Sur le blabla et le chichi des philosophes. I wonder if you have read it. It’s fairly amusing.
     
     
     
    PS: Shall I wear my tie on Saturday?

  88. Noetica says:

    Shall I wear my tie on Saturday?
    O, er… I hadn’t thought about that. Your “tie”, yes…
    Sure! Can’t be too careful these days, eh? Now that you mention it, I think I’ll strap on a complex suite of ligatures and stays, myself. These occasions can be pretty rugged.
    Bloodge, I’m putting you in charge of security, so you can wear the regulation black polo-neck, and black jeans, OK?

  89. Thanks for your kind words, Noetica and for specifying that Blood(/)ge-nes should be in black. Although, for some reason I’m thinking red to match saigneur. Either way, not blue is great, I’m already quite worn out as it is.
    Note to kind friends: please remember, don’t be the one who blue it as that’s still my signature color. Thanks!
    And thanks for the links, Sang-anus Sutor. Hope no squirming here! Absolutely no offense intended, it’s just that “Shall I wear my tie?” perhaps is (or isn’t as the case may be) not so innocent a question coming from a saigneur. It’s the tie-p of question that makes me wear-y/worry given the context: “I think I’ll strap on a complex suite of ligatures and stays [...] These occasions can be pretty rugged.” But maybe this just has to do with Noetica’s past (past, past, past, past ad infinitum) experience of having had to book infinite space at the Big Bang (still a bit troublesome). And to think, I often can’t even manage to book a good dinner reservation! (Probably my fault though for not appreciating Native American cuisine.)
    Non sequitor back to the links. Much appreciated; they added a whole new dimension. Although I guess we would have had said dimension on Saturday since Noetica has booked infinite space…

  90. [Scene: infinite space. Nothing whatsoever sits in the middle of the stage on a small table, next to an old silver watch. Almost a whole day passes. Muted shuffling is heard offstage to the left. Moments later a platypus enters, rampant, brandishing a stick of celery, with which he or she prods and steers a precariously rolling looped echidna – hooplike, hydralike – tail in clenched teeth. The monodreamatic duo take their seats next to the table – cross-legged on the floor. They fidget and twiddle their thumbs. The Mereman Tabernacle Choir (MTC) files in from the left, and takes up its place on an elevated dais at the rear. Another thread, another gig; all in a life's work.]
    FIRST MEREMAN: Is she to be buried in Christian burial?
    SECOND MEREMAN: Nay, goodman Utahsen. That’s tomorrow night, at Idiocentrism. Here we are to assist in the revealing of a most weighty question. Argal, we must sing a song or seven, sirrah.
    FIRST MEREMAN: Arrgh… and illiterate the while, brother Saltlack?
    SECOND MEREMAN: Know’st thou nothing, sirrah? Art o’ the rabble? Illiteration is yer least insincerest form of flattitude, yer-grace! [Il pète comme une baleine. The two guffaw heartily, and trade cheap buns and parrotnomastries. Blue Genes emerges from the shadows, in black polo-neck and jeans, sable, and pulls open double doors at the right. The invited guests begin to make their entrance.]

  91. [As a seemingly endless succession of distinguished personages from all walks of what passes for life in this vale of tears God help us all files in, the director of the MTC taps with his baton; the MTC rises as one, and launches into its first, eminently part-riotic, number: the Battle hmmmm of the ακυβέρνητη πολιτεία. In deference to the females and pluterneurals among tonight's guests, the words have been expanded, generically.]
    MTC [Singing, or what you will.]:
    Hm hmm hm hm hm hmm hm hm hm hmm hm hm hm Hmmmmm –
    Hrr hr hr hr hrr hr hr hr hrr hr hr hr hr;
    Hm hmm hm hm hm hmm hm hm hm hmm hm hm hm hmmmmm,
    Thr thrr thr thrr thr thrrrr.
    Glory, glory halleluuuujah,
    Glory, glory…
    etc.

    [Blue Genes is tansfixed. He loves this sort of thing. De gustibus, &c.]
    MTC: …marching ooooon.
    [The MTC bows as one, or at most two, as the guests who are gathering in great numbers applaud with une chaleur inattendue. It's going to be one of those nights.]

  92. *orders in extra supplies of mezedhes and beverages*

  93. [Social butterflies that we all are, or as the case may be aspire to be, maybe, we discern among the gathering guests certain well-known figures from popular culture, literature, antiquity, and... well, you know... Brighton. We see Bernard Williams, the Third Earl Russell, un bonhomme who identified himself at the door only as le Cimentier Martien (wearing a magnificent red plush velvet cravat, asserted by a simple pin, and one large brown boot; but his Insulo-Gallic charme is indelible, and ensures that all eyes are fixed on him – at least, all pluterneural and female eyes). We see also Bugs Bunny, God, Tatyana, Bono, Bill and Ben, Gore Vidal, Mrs Beamish from down the road with Mr Placket from number 58 with the cousin in the navy, Condolentia Reich with a lankylooking galoot in a mackintosh she identified only as "her husband", and a coupla zebras called Fifi and Trevor. And they continue to stream in. The MTC rises, and begins its next number.]
    MTC:
    Guantanameeeeero… ¡Gor blimey cuánto amaaaaargo!
    Con los pobres de la tierra
    Quiero yo mi suerte echar;
    Sin embargo estos pajeros
    Guantanamericaaaaaaaanos… pajeros Guantanamericaaaaaanos!
    Prisioneeeeeeros… ¡O cuantos prisioneeeeeros!
    Los presos silencioooosos…

    [Condolentia Reich, Tatyana, God, and Bill and Ben all take to their feet and walk briskly out through the double door. If they had wanted politics, they would have stayed home and read the New Yorker. Condolentia Reich storms back on stage, pulls the lankylooking galoot up by the ear and leads him out. Everyone is utterly mortified. The MTC brings its puerile philippic to a dismal and faltering end, to complete silence from the audience. A pin drops. Le Cimentier Martien bends over to pick it up. Un mauvais quart d'heure. The second Mereman, unnoticed by all but the echidna, swoons dead to floor from sheer embarrassment. The Country Women's Association leaps to the rescue, with mezedhes all round. Too many to munch-on! The diversion is successful, and all is primed and set for an exhilarating continuation.]
    [[[But worse, my modem is refusing to work properly. I can't do this now. Seriously! Back when it starts behaving itself. -N]]]

  94. Siganus Sutor says:

    Shall we wait?
              — Wait for Marie-Lucie I mean.
    I hope the Master of Ceremonies, or his deputy, didn’t forget to send her a tall, magnificent footman with soft cotton gloves, a silver tray and a gold-edged invitation card.

  95. And to think I kept my mouth firmly clenched this time!
    Do nothing – and somebody as sure as not will stick you in among the most bizarre company; the only person making sense is Fifi, poor dear; and so admirably old-fashioned in her B&W a la Pygmalion.
    LH, speaking of mezedhes: Yanny’s at the end of the block is selling oven-baked “artisanal breads” now. And Renee is coming to town on the 29th, To Confer. Just saying…

  96. …that is if you find our company (mine and Renee’s) dubious enough to join…
    I will be wearing my cloche.

  97. I’m definitely tempted, by both the bread and the company!

  98. ["Swoons dead to the floor" I meant. Hours pass. Tatyana and God have meanwhile returned to the stage, and have distributed artotyritic cheese buns from Yanny's to the audience, in a gesture of reconsueliation. A commotion erupts at the double doors. Blue Genes is in earnest hand-waving discussion with a tall, magnificent footman wearing soft cotton gloves and carrying a silver tray and a gold-edged invitation card. The footman shakes his head (or heads as the case may be) with resignation. Blue Genes shrugs heartily. Meanwhile, infinite space is rapidly filling up. Leonard Cohen has replaced the disgraced MTC to provide entertainment. Watched by all, even by a transfinite crowd of non-existents outside of infinite space on a giant axion-plasma screen that would have been installed for the occasion, Leonard Cohen eases into the early and unsurpassable classic Stories of the Street.]
    LEONARD COHEN:
    The stories of the street are mine,the Spanish voices laugh.
    The Cadillacs go creeping now through the night and the poison gas,
    and I lean from my window sill in this old hotel I chose,
    yes one hand on my suicide, one hand on the rose.

    [The crowd is delighted, and hangs on every word. Among them are seen Georges Brassens and Paul Valéry, Shem and Shaun, Beaumont and Fletcher, Abbot and Costello, Conrad, Bathrobe, a fact-finding mission from the Albanian Poststructuralist Society, and Tina Tuna. But peer as we will, one face eludes us. She is not here. Will she be here? The song winds to its magnificent conclusion.]
    LEONARD COHEN:
    With one hand on the hexagram and one hand on the girl
    I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world.
    We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky,
    and lost among the subway crowds I try to catch your eye.
    Hmmm mm mmmmm.

    [Toin toin. Applause and stamping of feet, spiny and otherwise. Leonard Cohen bows and retires to an elevated seat of honour. But the time has come.]
    THE SILVER WATCH: Could we move things along, please? I have an appointment at Idiocentrism.
    [The official party makes its august way to the centre of the stage. Thelma is first to speak.]
    THELMA: Jeez, thanks Len. But now to our main business here tonight. Some of you will already have ideas about what the question must be, and some of you think there have been… signs. But only Noetica knows the question. Noetica, the envelope please.
    [Noetica looses a ligature or two and hands Thelma a grey-edged envelope. Thelma peels open the envelope, unfolds the paper. Everyone leans forward two inches; the echidna tips over and rolls forward across the stage. Thelma stares horrified at what the paper shows. She faints into the arms of Al Gore. Noetica takes the envelope and paper, screws them into a ball, and throws them after the echidna. Noetica speaks.]
    NOETICA: Damn. OK, I’ll do it myself. The question is…
    [The crowd holds its breath.]
    NOETICA: WHAT IF THERE IS NO MARIE-LUCIE?
    [All is still. God with a retinue of shady figures in dark glasses barking orders into their walkie-talkies hastily retreats through the double doors, murmuring angrily. The platypus rocks gently forward and backward, and sucks his or her thumb. It is all too much. No one had expected this. "The theological implications alone!" as Linus of Peanuts once put it. The platypus thinks: "The ethological implications alone!" The Anhui Province People's Tourist Bureau thinks: "The hotelogical implications alone!" Stockmarkets crash on the horizon. Somewhere far away a dog barks; a shot rings out, and a yelp is heard. One cliché too many bites the du... another shot rings out. All eyes swing from Le Cimentier Martien to the grassy knoll; then back to Le Cimentier Martien. Somehow... just somehow... he may find a way, thinks the crowd, to restore hope.]
    A VOICE UNDER THE STAGE: Nu?
    ["Nu indeed," thinks the crowd. A stalemate has been reached. All eyes remain fixed on Le Cimentier Martien.]

  99. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, Noetica, there is a Marie-Lucie! here I am. Let me explain:
    I have been so busy in the last few weeks that although I have been reading new articles as they came in, I have not revisited old ones, and I thought that this particular thread must have been terminated by now. Thanks to Siganus and Mr Hat for pointing me back in the right direction earlier today. So, tonight I sat down to bring myself up to date. I had almost got to the last posting (then) when the power went off! fortunately not too long – 45 minutes, long enough to find a flashlight, light kerosene lamps, and have a cup of tea.
    I am very flattered to be invited to participate – looks like you multilingual virtuosos have been having a ball. I enjoy reading the stuff but I must tell you that I have always been told that I had no imagination whatsoever (I think that is a slight exaggeration, but still). In fact compared to some of you I feel I have been somewhat pedantic. But I will be the fascinated audience.

  100. [The crowd breathes once more with an almighty wheeze that threatens the integrity of the space-time continuum. The relief is palpable – nay, concrete. Thelma, the second Mereman, and a dog somewhere in the distance are miraculously revived. A tohs sgnir in. Another. World peace is declared. On the horizon stockmarkets ascend with a resonant doiiiiing. The echidna rolls backwards into their wonted position. Blue Genes wheels in a pallet-load of Moët et Chandon. A dull imaginary roar is heard from outside of infinite space, as transfinitely many non-existents cheer, hoot, and caper around like so many tourbillons de poudre. Days pass. Calm is eventually restored. But throughout, eyes remain fixed on the enigmatic Cimentier Martien.]
    NOETICA: Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered! We thought you had been abducted by Belgian semiologists!
    [Marie-Lucie takes a seat of honour next to Leonard Cohen. Le Cimentier Martien appears almost ready to speak. Silence resumes. Le Cimentier Martien clears his throat. The echidna inclines forward once more, but is help back by a swiftly held-out platypaw.]

  101. No worries about being pedantic, Marie-Lucie. I created a diversion with my “bloody” (as the saigneur called them) cataphoric deictics.
    [Blue Genes is trying to man (or woman or hermaphrodite, plurineuter as the case may be) the doors. *She is confronted by an angry wombat holding a golden pendulum and a homemade Mars soup for y'all that s/h(e)/it wanted to be (or not etc.) served with the artotyritic cheese buns.]
    THE WOMBAT: “I was almost on time, this time!”
    THE METRONOME toc, toc!
    “but I must say that I found your directions to infinite space to be (or not to be as the case may be) quite UNCLEear and the fine print too amBIGuous!”

  102. Ahem…
    Ruck… thooo!    [A disgusting habit noticed in the movie Shakespeare in Love]
     
     
     
    My Lord Shepherd;
    trans-oceanic Mailboots and inter-net Femalewares;
    Ladies, Gentlemen and Others;
    It has been an infinite pleasure to see our Sister act so heavenly, so brilliantly and so noetically in front of our rolling eyes. Without blowing an old trumpet, it will undoubtedly be a difficult task now to keep the ball rolling as cunningly and as squarely as it has been doing shofar. But — inch’ the Ribbono Shel Olom — who knows what might happen in the near or distant future if the seventy-seven-foot, 11080-pound halibut is feeling high enough.
    Before going any further, I must ask for your absolution since I have been late in answering the weighty question, for a good reason though: you cannot be absolutely free when you have to mind a thing called “belle-mère”, which, as the case may actually be, is still far away from le cimetière — G.d willing —, and still far from le scanner too. But Easter, la jeune Pâques, the moment when death itself dies, is about to come, anyway.
    You may think that today being the day of the Moon the industrious lunatic won’t be able to keep off the concrete grass and answer The Question, once again. But you ought to have faith in le Cimentier Martien for he is in the Heart of Redness en ce 12 mars. Because today is an absolute day, a free day, and would have been an absolutely Labour-free day if it wasn’t for this damn so-called “Servant of God” (Ram Goolam) and his bunch of cronies. Several decades ago, all non-existent blood ties were cut with la perfide T. Albelion and, in memory of this day of March on which Mars marched out of the English monarchs’ orbit without the smallest hint of Revolución, we have been allowed, quite uneconomically, to stop working, relax and enjoy your distinguished company without having to see plumes of cement dancing in the trade-winds like candles in the wind. (And, sheesh, let other archpatriots damage their gills in singing too loudly: “Glo-ory-y to thee, Motherland, O Motherland of mine…”)
    Therefore, I am able to tell the absolute truth about Marie-Lucie.
    What if there was no Marie-Lucie? The world would be absolutely different, no doubt about it. For a start the birds wouldn’t be allowed to sing; the sky and Blue Genes would both never be blue anymore (thank to Al Gore); all circumflexes would be sent to the gulag; shoeless footmen would have to walk on stinging spines; Bathrobe would be left completely and forever undressed; hats would be banned (even cloches); ton tonton ne pourrait plus être tondu (Tif non plus); Larousse serait teinte en brunette; we wouldn’t be able to read Hurtaut’s De l’art de péter (like I’m presently doing) and we would have to read Prout to our wives instead; les belles-mères would no longer be beautiful baleindromes dancing le long des golfes clairs and would have to share the house of their zoons-in-law (who wouldn’t be allowed to just swim away); Conrad would be coerced into joining a religious order, would be dressed like a Goya sacristan and would then be known as “Brother Bear”; Sister Noetica wouldn’t be allowed to foreplay with words anymore; English would have to be spoken in the whole of the Francosphere; Idiocentrism would really have to become Finnish; le Petit Robert would fall in the hands of paedophiles (absolument déchaînés); the concrete wouldn’t set and, last for today* but not least, potatoes wouldn’t grow. Les sainctes gens connoistront l’Apocalyse et l’Hydre Absolue sera appelée Araignée.
    But we, the lucky ones, can praise God — to Whom we shall speak “in tongues” — because we have been given Marie-Lucie to look after us. Therefore, hosanna au plus haut des cieux !, the world will not end (too) soon and the human and other rat races will not be doomed to extinction. I can testify, before a judge, a notary, a tabellion or what you will, that Marie-Lucie exists. I have seen her. I have met her.
    She was in her garden, dressed in a mauve churidar, a straw hat covering her loosely plaited hair, busy watering the last variety of “aspartame potatrons” she had just created after thinking of the poor children who were bound to eat chips while sheepishly watching “Language Hat” on TV. There you go…
     
    It’s been a pleasure to see all of you here. Be good, hang loose and don’t pick your nose. I’ll be back.
     
    Leucéhaime
     
     
     
     
    * Sorry, there are certainly many other things that would (or would not) happen in a world without Marie-Lucie, but I cannot list them all now because I have to go to see Friends (overseas Friends). I’m sure however that every one of you here can add something to the list. Please do, it’ll save me time.

  103. [Le Cimentier Martien takes two steps back into the crowd. Standing well to the rear is a small liaison group from the Ebenezer Prout Fan Club, which wipes a furtive tear from its pleuronutroid collective eye, and wonders which of their idol's textbooks this mysterious master rhetorician and virtuoso cement-man had in mind, for spousal conjugal thalamic reading in the intimate confines of the home, of an evening. Could it be his Double Counterpoint and Canon, Augenor, 1891? Yes: that must be it. But the moral implications alone... still, they are married, after all. Trevor the zebra begins a slow clap. Belatedly, still stunned from being gifted the gift of common sense and wisdom they have been given, with such flair, pomp, and circumflection too beaut, a bit, blinks into consciousness of a sort. Applause begins rapidly to ripple, ripening to a roar ("tobealion", bien entendu) of approbation. "Jeez what a guy," thinks Fifi.]
    TS ELIOT: It was not, we remember, the ‘immense spaces’ themselves but their eternal silence that terrified Pascal.* It is fitting, if we are to adopt such a view of the matter, that our distinguished speaker speak at so great a length. This place is, after all, a place of infinite space. Or is it? I should say rather that, contrary to the deliverances of Mr. Richards concerning…
    *”The modern mind”, in The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, Faber & Faber, 1933.
    [The crowd, knowing poison gas when it smells or sees or hears it as the case may be, will hear no more from TS, and begins an insistent chant:]
    THE CROWD: Ci-men-ti-er… [crescendo]… Ci-men-ti-er… [poco a poco più ostinato] Ci-men-ti-er…
    [Can the man be persuaded to cast more swearls before pine? Are the hoi polloi ready – tabellions de poudre qu'ils soient, ou que nous soyons tous, pour vrai dire – and worthy of even MORE? Could there, indeed, be any more to say? Fifi knows:]
    FIFI: Not bloody loikely!

  104. The Voice (of Armorika) under the stage says:

    There is always more that can be said, petite Fifi. Or the same things, but differently, if desired.

  105. The Fifilosoph may ask “but is it worth the philopena?” But shofar so good, Siganus Seder (except for the poison gas, prout, prout). Perhaps we can have some poisson gas instead, Siganus? That’s my educated gas at any weight. Infinite Space is sophed; I’m not quite ready to Pâques it up; logorrhea in my Blue Genes, Marie-Lucie help me!

  106. marie-lucie says:

    Meanwhile, Marie-Lucie has been sitting in stunned silence in the place of honour next to Leonard Cohen. At first reassured by his presence – a familiar face, he is from Canada after all – she noticed that he pointedly moved his seat a few inches away from her when he heard Siganus mention “aspartame potatrons”. She was horrified – in spite of wearing a business suit at the party (she did not have time to change) she is really a Natural Woman and not a Material Girl – she would never feed chemicals to her plants, let alone children. Could she deny being the person that Siganus saw (but misunderstood)? but the attaché case at her feet has popped open to reveal billows of a purple-looking silky material. In this predicament there is only one thing to do: call for some of this Moet & Chandon which Blue Genes was passing around a while ago – assuming there is some left…

  107. [Blue Genes comes forth and proffers a potration of organic Moët to the ever-lucent pratron of our thread, Marie-Lucie. "Aspartami morire", languishes montevertically the MTC, in an attempt to re-assert its musical credentials. An anonymous benefactor passes a note to Mari-Lucie indicating that ë is to be got with ALT-137. Blue Genes goes back to the door, where a pallet-load of cocklebread from Yoni's has just arrived. LH fixes an aberrant link to Misdirection, which somehow amounted to a Misdirection, earlier, in all of the excitement. The MTC sings unto le Pâtre a new song:]
    MTC:
    Tabillions de poudre, oui,
    Mais Poudre d’Or-igine divine!
    Wir betreten feuertrunken,
    Himmlische, dein Heilichtum.

    Tell me where is fancy bread?
    Not Rourke’s the baker’s, try instead
    Yanni’s! Tip. Just mind your hats
    Or goan in, or goan out.

    Cloches are in but bérets out,
    Which must leave us with no doubt:
    Blue’s metrognome will win the day.
    But now, dear friends, we must away!

    [The crowd claps half-heartedly, still not convinced. Trevor holds up a card with 6.5 written on it; and Fifi one with just 5. Then silence, yet again. Pas un oiseau ne passe en fouettant de son aile / L'air épais ou circule un immense soleil.]

  108. [Suivi de pas un autre oiseau.]

  109. Siganus Sutor says:

    Hum, sorry for blowing my own trumpet again — I’ll try to make it short and sweet —, but yesterday I had something cata-strophically wrong with Mr Hurtaut’s ethereal magnum opus (in D major): its title is more directly L’Art de péter, not “De l’art de péter”.
    And since we are already hearing about the brass wind instrument, I might as well quote some particularly poisonous passage, juste pour vous mettre au parfum:
    « Il y a aussi les ennemis de la société dont le pet arrête les efforts. Par exemple, dans un cercle nombreux, un petit maître trouve le secret d’ennuyer : depuis une heure, il étale ses grâces, montre ses dents et dit force impertinences dont il assomme ses auditeurs. Un pet échappé l’arrête tout court et vient fort à propos tirer tous les esprits de captivité, en faisant diversion au babil assassin de leur ennemi commun. »
         [My lazy and incompetent self leaves the translation to a much more accurate and prolific expert, la fameuse et dévouée Noetica K., Petite Sœur des Bauges.]
    So, if at any time someone feels that I am being too tiresome a “little master”, a pompous bore monopolizing the conversation, he/she/it knows what to do: a clearly e-audible “tproupt”.
    However, it musn’t be forgotten that, in any case:
    Trompettes de la renommée
    Vous êtes bien mal embouchées
     
     
     
    [I hope to come back later today for the final chorus.]

  110. Grrr! another error… Tprut to the “Trésor” this time! Some perfumes don’t seem to last very long. “Session expirée”?
    — Ah, moi, Session, j’akespeare, plein de larmes et de regrets, au pied d’un chêne déchaîné en lui murmurant à la racine : “Hêtre ou ne pas hêtre?”
    Frrr! let’s p[r]ut it here then, so that everybody can decide whether it smells fishy or not: Mettre quelqu’un au parfum. Informer, renseigner.
     
                *  *  *
     
    she would never feed chemicals to her plants, let alone children
    I don’t know for those children, but when it comes to plants it’s not a matter of feeding them chemicals. It’s much worse than that, since some wise people see a terrible evil contained in a mere trigrammaton: G.M.O. (cf. the “protato”). But if some blue genes can make a sweet potato produce aspartame instead of sugars, it couldn’t be too bad after all, despite what Astérix may say.
    Now if we apply the same to children, we can reasonably guess that Leonard Cohen received some koala genes once upon a time, for all human beings (as well as other beings), grandiloquent or not, seem to love him to bits, just like these little grey furry creatures that everyone wants to hug. And this brings us to this infinitely open question: What if now we can’t just either be Leonard Cohen or not be Leonard Cohen? What if we can choose our child to be, say, 25% Leonard Cohen, 10% wombat, 3.33% sperm whale, 6.66% Condolentia Reich, 48% Bugs Bunny, 0.07% José Bové, 1% Moët and 2% Chandon, 7% Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, 3.5% Justine, 0.5% Martian and the rest halibut. Whatever the parents may think, Thelma, the bunyip and the hydra would look like Miss Worlds when compared to such a petit chéri. Hmmm, I’d rather go to bed, only hoping not to have too many surrealist dreams, thanks to the omnipresent Marie-Lucie who is also known to appease those suffering from nightmares.

  111. What if now we can’t just either be Leonard Cohen or not be Leonard Cohen? What if we can choose our child to be, say, 25% Leonard Cohen, 10% wombat,…
    Ah yes, Siganus sartre. This is your Martian existentialoid anti-essentialism, n’est-ce pas? But how does this new opinion comport with a view you expressed earlier? I mean this:
    To be this or not to be that: a choice facing people who can afford it. Some can’t. Like it or not, you sometimes have to be this or that — and sometimes this and that —, feminine or masculine, mother and wife, young or old, black and white, vertebrate or invertebrate…
    Here it seemed there was more of an essentialism in play (ou soit-il at work), and there was no allowance for these more subtle mélanges of flavours of being. It is as if proto-Thelma were to soliloquise like this:

    To be a bit of this, and (or or, perchance) a bit of that, or not a bit of it! That and this constitute, in varying degrees, the or at least a question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind (or in some measure out of the mind) to suffer (or perhaps to get off on, un peu) the slings and arrows (each of which participates anti-essentially in the being of the other, in effect, with the effect that each is the other, but only a bit)…

    It would all end in tears, I fear. Some might say that we are, as a matter of practical necessity, compelled to categorise ourselves (and our bébés projetés: “Congratulations: it’s 73% a boy and 27% a girl; 15% Leonard Cohen, 38% Tina Tuna,… mais, hélas, seulement 4% de toi-même…”) quite rigorously. And we are indeed compelled to be a wombat, a Leonard Cohen, une baleine, etc. This is, perhaps, our galvanic response to the anguish of being compelled to be free. La vie humaine (et la vie baleinienne, je dirais) éxige des limites comme ça, pour être supportable. This, against the New Age mystical sentiment expressed in the apophthegmatic rhetorical question “Is not oil wine?”.

  112. Jette an otter (into the water). Je suis un autre and I think he’s beginning to get rather annoyed; finds me too Rimb-unctous or not Rimb-unctuous enough. Why? Parfum? Par faim ?
    ODOR: Stop following me!
    ME: Stop whining oil the time!

  113. Isn’t it just that (like all of us who delight in the abstract) inevitably le cimentier must still necessarily also make piece(s) with the concrete?

  114. David Marjanović says:

    What the fuck.
    What are you people smoking?

  115. David Marjanović says:

    (Ah, so the spam filter is as trivially easy to circumvent as that of Scienceblogs. Good.)

  116. Siganus Sutor says:

    David: What are you people smoking?
    Halibut. And occasionally some smuell bucketts of godoid fish, just for the hake of it.
    (If someone smells a red herring here, it’s probably because there ought to be one. Maybe Sista Nauetica will take the divagational bait…)

  117. An anonymous Martian informant provides a link to explain various fumes emanating from Clupea spp. (read herring), whose hearing appears to be pétuliarly well adapted to farternalising release of meteorism for communicative purposes.
    But to answer David’s question more… directly, I should once more cite Valéry. Stanza five of Le Cimetière marin:
    Comme le fruit se fond en jouissance,
    Comme en délice il change son absence
    Dans une bouche où sa forme se meurt,
    Je hume ici ma future fumée,
    Et le ciel chante à l’âme consumée
    Le changement des rives en rumeur.
    So you see, David? That smoke you detect is what is to become of us all: une vapeur vaine et vide de l’avenir. Disquisitions concerning presence and absence. The thread is a eschatalogico-literary study by an excruciatingly select cabal of tabellions, or scriveners. It is as Charles Lamb explains, in his own apologia from Oxford in the Vacation:

    Methinks I hear you exclaim, reader, Who is Elia? Because in my last I tried to divert thee with some half-forgotten humours of some old clerks defunct, in an old house of business, long since gone to decay, doubtless you have already set me down in your mind as one of the self-same college – a votary of the desk – a notched and cropt scrivener – one that sucks his sustenance, as certain sick people are said to do, through a quill.

    So ’tis a quill, and no bong, that you see in use hereabouts. Scribimus, ergo sumus.
    Read through all of the thread, and tell us where you begin to lose the sense of it. We’ll explain!

  118. An alternative understanding of tabellia and their smoking habits may be gleaned from the words of a character in Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Let me jog the memory of some older readers here, for whom texts read long ago are but hazily recalled, perhaps through a film of that very smoke:

    ‘Just then the crowd lapped them up and closed them in, and I saw no more, being called by my master, who was in a rage because a joint that the scrivener had ordered was forgot,…’

    Ah, such echoes of King Dagobert and Saint Eloi

  119. Siganus Sutor says:

    Ah, ma bonne Noetica, où va ce bas monde… Les choses ne sont plus ce qu’elles étaient, tout est has been dorénavant. Aujourd’hui, en ces temps troublés, brouillés, mal définis, qu’ouïs-je, que vois-je, où vais-je, dans quel état* j’erre…
    Je préfère ne pas y penser, ne rien entendre, ne rien voir, ne rien savoir… [Puts his pectoral fins in front of his eyes, but peeps through a tiny hole made between two spines.]
    But how does this new opinion comport with a view you expressed earlier?
    I dunno… I dunno… I know nothin’ now. See what happens these days: “these more subtle mélanges of flavours of being”, and all these frightful percentages. Nowadays, why can’t we simply follow Mother Mary-Lucy’s words of wisdon and let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be?
    In the past, things tend to happen by themselves, for the better and for the worse (often the worse, especially when it came to the belle-mère your parents chose for you, but…). Now we have all this choice, all this terrible choice which is (nearly) entirely ours.
    Maybe we’ve become too rich now, don’t you think so? “To be this or not to be that: a choice facing people who can afford it. Some can’t.”: you see, we’d rather be choice-poor. Imagine, just imagine, in a momentary lapse of reason, that you, Sister Noetica, you’ve become pregnant “by accident”. Obviously, someone like you can’t bear and raise a child, yes? What would you do? In the past, nothing much than crying and moaning — and being kicked by your Reverend Mother. Today, even if you are not absolutely pro-choice, you still have the choice! this terrible choice of modern societies. To let it be or not let it be?
    In the good old days a cute girl like Fifi would be the plain (well, just black and white), simple, natural, organic type of zebra you would see all around Pennsylvania and elsewhere. See right now what she looks like instead, with her bright orange ponytail, her over-sized mammary implants, the piercing she had fixed in her polytongue, all her camel toes in place of more decent run-of-the mill hooves, and that mane! that mane of hers she dyed absolutely mauve. Now every time you tell her something about it she goes on singing relentlessly:
    Purple mane, purple mane
    Purple mane, purple mane…
    I don’t think such nonsense was inspired by this neutral — in the sense of ‘undefined, vague’ — but so sweeet King of Lollypops, the famous Jaïkal McSon himself, but it could be, who knows, since the poor thing may have been influenced by his careless “no matter if you’re black and white”. “No matter”, doesn’t it mean that you have no physical existence whatsoever if you are black and white at the same time?
     
     
     
     
    * Note how funny it can be that the word État, State, from the verb être, to be, has been chosen to speak of those “things” we — nearly all of us — are supposed to belong to. You know what I mean: abstract components like the Commonwealth of New Holland, the United State (something to do with the state/status of being united with your own self I presume) or the United Kingkong, and more comical entities like the Vatic Can, the Martian Banana Republic, the Principality of Hutt River, etc, etc.

  120. Well, I’ll have to perpend on this last offering from Sejanus. Meanwhile, though, votaries of the tabella may wish to wend their Lamb-like way to TRAPEZIUM/TRAPEZOID. There we are reminded that “the Greek etymon trapezion is a diminutive of the word for ‘table,’ trapeza,…”. Snap!

  121. “An alternative understanding of tabellia and their smoking habits may be gleaned…”
    What of these smoking habits? Sig. wore his tie to the big celery money mais personne n’était habillé en smoking que je sache.
    Pro- or anti-choice, Sejanus remains at the Cesarean section of the table unless he takes the choo choos to the “Vatic Can” to make a prophet. Even then Euclid more likely find him trapped in Pisa, annoyed, or in Algeria listening to Camusic or perhaps Si Su is reading Cixous. You ether love her or think she’s Hélène earth. Not sure about her Mars appeals, not koalafied to judge.

  122. Ah, bien sûr. Ouais! Le smoking, une sorte d’habit. Un habillement pour les tabellions qui fument… ceux qui ne veulent ni quitter l’habit ni se défroquer, non?

  123. “An alternative understanding of tabellia and their smoking habits may be gleaned…”
    What of these smoking habits? Sig. wore his tie to the big celery money mais personne n’était habillé en smoking que je sache. Bon, peut-être la prochaine fois. Even for our cimentier, you see, mon tiers, (tux, tie, tie-dyed up if he is sage and tie-dyed down if he is Sade la pro-chaîne foi) not everything is set in stone, not even the pierreries féeriques. As for what is or isn’t stoned as the case may be, might Marie [Lucie] [Sorly] Juana smoking as a Tolkien of the brea(d)th of our appreciation?
    Pro- or anti-choice, Sejanus remains at the Cesarean section of the table unless he takes the choo choos to the “Vatic Can” to make a prophet. Even then Euclid more likely find him trapped in Pise, annoyed, or in Algeria listening to Camusic or perhaps Si Su is reading Cixous. You ether love her or think she’s Hélène earth. Not sure about her Mars appeals, not koalafied to judge.

  124. Sorry for the *almost* double posting. I thought the first one was lost so started over. Defrocked virgin two is a bit expanded ; ex! banned! dead! what the phoque do I care once I seal the deal?

  125. Le problème avec les tabellions qui fument, c’est que puisqu’il s’agit du « thread that wouldn’t die » at the end of the day, the threads they are wearing don’t matter even if they’re black and white. Mais je ne veux jamais devoir écrire nous fûment, en fin…

  126. Errrrr, Blooj… Nous autre tabellions, nous fûmes (ou soit-il ne fûmes pas) ou fumâmes (ou bien ne fumâmes pas). (C’est ça que ce mec voulut dire? “Nous fûment”??? Attention au passé simple. Nous, on est des gens cultivés. En Australie, je voulus dire.)

  127. Le passé n’est jamais simple, quand on a l’âme qui fume. Quand on aime un homme (ou une femme, pleurineutre etc.) qui fume, quelqu’un qui demande toujours du feu, et qui devient feu M. (ou Mme etc.) ***… c’est à rendre fou furieux. “J’akespère,” qu’un jour les futurs tabellions diront que nous fûmes (ou ne fûmes pas) habillés en smoking, élégants (et les gants de soi !) ; soit. Qu’on chantait et dansait à perte d’haleine (pas à perte d’Hélène), Poe-êtes, Beaux de l’air, parfois Prou[s]tiens, Auster-liens… tout ce que nous fûmes, mais pas que nous fumâmes. Ester ou pas Ester ? Veuillez excuser ma faute d’inattention, “nous fûment” et mon ton moralisateur ex-aspirant. Je venais d’apprendre que ma cousine était atteinte (et sera bientôt éteinte) d’un cancer. Je plaisante pour gérer la douleur mais ce n’est malheuresement pas une plaisanterie. Encore plus « blue » que d’hab. Allez, faites-moi rire un peu !

  128. Sorry to hear that you have bad tidings to digest, Blue Genes. It seems that the present is not simple, either. Te faire rire un peu? Next time, perhaps.

  129. Noetica says:

    Very well, Blue Genes. It is now next time, and we have to make you laugh. I, of course, completely lack any sort of a sense of humour, and will not be able to accomplish such a thing. I know only six jokes, three of which I am permanently incapable of remembering.
    So there’s the challenge: produce a joke to make Blooj crumple in mirth.
    As Jackie Mason liked to ask: “Anybody?”

  130. Rien à faire.
    *waits*

  131. Riez : à faire.
    *Ouais !*
    Thank you LH!

  132. So. We have not succeeded in making Blooj laugh. But that was at least a smile, I think.

  133. So. We have not succeeded in making Blooj laugh. But that was at least a smile, I think.
    Therefore you are as opposed to or are not as the case may be.

  134. Siganus Sutor says:

    Now that smoked fish and other variously per-fumed creatures can sit at the little table again, farting around like a shoal of herrings, they must find something to say, to fill in the time somehow, en attendant… — even though free time can be as rare as free money these days. Flu, a pain in the back or too many thoughts keep you awake? Tobealion is the solution. Tired of thinking of being or not being, of living and dying or of sea monsters, mad poets and Englishmen? Come here and roar-meet: join whoever is around and willing to share a few crude or cooked oddities with you. Call it a curse, a cure, an amusement, eine kleine Nacht’s Music or what you will, but if you don’t know what to say just say the same things all over again. Or import something from elsewhere. For instance what Marie-Lucie wrote on the walls of the Kanak academy about the most fearsome verb of all:

    About the lack of the verb “to be”, it is true that LOTS of languages don’t have a “copula”, that is a verb that has basically no meaning except to join two parts of a sentence together, as in “i am a teacher”, so that it can easily be dispensed with, as for instance in the Kreol examples earlier. But does that mean that you could not express the same idea as “Je pense donc je suis” in a different manner? here “je suis” means basically “i exist”. In many languages it is possible to affirm existence without the equivalent of “to be”, often by using a verb of position equivalent to “sit”, “stand”, “lie”, etc depending on the context, or a verb of even vaguer meaning. Similarly, many languages don’t have a verb meaning “to have”, but they can still express the type of relationship implied by that word, eg instead of a literal translation of “i have a house” or “i have a brother” they can say something like “my house stands” and “my brother exists”. It is always dangerous to state that such-and-such can’t be said in language X – not in so many words, perhaps, but (excluding puns, rhyming and the like) there usually is a way.
    Posted by: marie-lucie at March 11, 2007 10:42 PM

    “Stand” (like “lie”) is sometimes involved in some sort of copulative business? Well, as N. suggested earlier: de gustibus etc. But I am pleased to read this under an expert’s pen as it’ll help me correct the inaccuracy I made above: “the word État, State, from the verb être, to be”. Ahem, so far nobody has been kind enough to say that it wasn’t quite so. État, thus state, comes from the Latin stare, to stand. State (or état) has indeed a lot to do with to be: “Condition, manner of existing” (SOED); “Manière d’être” (LPR). But état is not from the verb être. At least neither in French nor in English.
    The old form of état is estat, which doesn’t seem to stand that far from one of the two Iberian verbs to be: estar, which is the Spanish copula and which comes from stare too.
    To stand or to (sit, lie, kneel…), another way to be or not to be?

  135. marie-lucie says:

    The two Spanish verbs for to be, the bane of the beginning student!
    Spanish estar is not exactly a “copula” verb as it has a more specific meaning than just “to be” or “être”: either to be in a location (permanently or not), which continues the original Latin meaning of stare as a verb of position, or to be in a certain (temporary) state, as in estoy cansado/a “i am tired”. This second meaning is an extension of the first, compare for instance the use of to lie in English as a more precise but quasi-equivalent of to be, for example the town lies X miles from the sea (permanently) but also he lies sick in the hospital (temporarily): lie in the second example is rather literary, but if it was in common usage it could eventually evolve towards a be-like meaning as with Spanish estar.
    Verbs of position seem to be prone to drift into a vaguer, more general meaning, as in English We stand ready to …, or I stand by my previous remark or My previous remark still stands and other uses in which the connection with the positional meaning is very tenuous. Note that We stand ready is a stronger but essentially equivalent statement of We are ready, but only stand is possible in the other expressions even though the use of a positional verb there is merely metaphorical.
    In the Romance languages there is less emphasis on position than in English or German (and Russian too, I believe), which tend to use positional verbs where French would just use être. The Spanish verb estar with its positional ancestry is a leftover from an earlier distinction in Latin. Spanish estado and French état (and English state) are from the past participle of the Latin verb stare, not from the verb esse which has the vague meaning of to be.

  136. Glad that copulating is not to be taboo on Tobellion. That sorry state I could not stand nor bear (no lie)! Porte-trait of an estartist.

  137. And could it be? The hydra… denizen of that cyberspheric wasteland of nipped threads (the cimenteric sous-marinic resopistery of abandoned hattitudes), long “immobile à grands pas”, stirs in its dread slumber and rises lumberingly, megalumbrically, inexhorribly, almost impreceptably, towards the anthroposphere. The echidna wakes in its (or their) corner, rubs its eyes, and blinks in wonder(whathe)meant.
    Yes! It is that time of year, when we celebrate the resurgent emergence of the mighty deathless best thread of all time:
    Tabellion the Manificent!!!
    (Nu?)

  138. Siganus Sutor says:

    One year on…
    What are they now, all the lovely people, where do they all belong?
    Some [far-fetched] hypotheses*:
     
     
    Yuri is about to reappear, being finally let out of the [chocolate] factory.
    Bathrobe is now fully dressed, at last, and in blue Chinese silk – a rich, lucent, deep hronrade blue.
    Conrad is in a dark Æthiopian jail after having been found guilty of media manipulation and his blog has been closed down by the authorities. (He is still a member of the House of Lords though.)
    David is smoking dinosaur tongues that he sells under the brand name “T[Rex]-Bone Bill Tongue” (même si la langue n’a point d’os et même si Hill a ri). It has been such a tremendous success that the species is now on the brink of extinction.
    Terry Collmann is at Times writing connexion and keeps on having fun each time someone tells him it’s wrongly spelt.
    Tatyana is considering buying a new hat, a Stetson that would match her new pair of Colts. The AT&T Company doesn’t like this at all.
    Le Cimentier martien, suffering from a rare disease called “cimentite chronique” by his friend’s doctor, has quit. Nowadays he is raising sheep (and a goat) on the rocky hills of the West Coast.
    Blue Genes is gone on foot to the Antipodes**, to touch the feet of her Guruji in sign of profound respect, and she hasn’t touched a computer for many, many months. She (mentally) swears she will be back on time though, hand in hand with Godot.
    Language Hat – who is finally not a reincarnation of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – is not reading Proust to his wife anymore and has turned his attention to swearing instead. The CIA has shown some interest.
    Noetica is now a hairdresser (un dresseur de cheveux quoi, entre autres hydres, ornithorynques et diverses têtes ou bêtes sauvages) and has opened a beauty parlour called “Chez Fifi (et ses amis)”. He/she/it is trying to feed genetically modified arrowroot to his/her/its hairy tortoise, to no avail.
    Marie-Lucie… Ah, Marie-Lucie is… She exists, like she always did…
     
     
     
     
    * Which need to be confirmed, or denied.
    ** More is to be said on the absolute (and abusive, i.e. unabsolvable) use of Antipodes, capital A-.

  139. The spammers are finding this post again, so if you tabellionites don’t start playing again, I’m going to have to close it again. You have been warned.

  140. marie-lucie says:

    (Siganus, Noetica),
    I recently came across Jean Giono’s Ennemonde et autres caractères, a slim book in two parts. The first and longest part takes place in a very craggy, windy, isolated, etc mountain village. The second and shorter part begins with an amazing, overwhelming description of the natural world of the Camargue – in many places I was sure he was writing about the HYDRA.

  141. That sounds engaging, Marie-Lucie. Was there by any chance a mention of Hamlet, or echidnas, or the musicopedagogical works of Ebenezer Proust, or Fifi and Trevor? We must always be vigilant for new material.
    So Mediterranean, that Hydra. The Camargue must surely be a natural domain for everyone’s favourite polybeast – it being so close to Valéry country, and all.

  142. Siganus Sutor says:

    LH: The spammers are finding this post again
    How can it be? Language Hat must have hundreds of posts and it is this venerable one, which is more than a year old, they choose as a playground to wallow in their dirty activity? They are quite like the hydra I suppose: they have several heads and each time one of them is cut a new one grows to replace it.
     
     
     
    Marie-Lucie: in many places I was sure he was writing about the HYDRA
    Then maybe an article could be written about this book in the next issue of N2H4, the magazine devoted to the well-known monster, no?
    And is there a place in the fishing net where we could read what Mr Giono has written?
     
     
     
    Siganus Sutor, writing from the Antipodes

  143. Iakon, I’m so sorry, I accidentally deleted your comment! Please repost it. It’s these spammers, they deprive me of my wits and I hit the wrong buttons.

  144. Whew!

  145. John Cowan says:

    Just reminding Siganus, Marie-Lucie, and Noetica that the Tabellion Games are ripe for continuance.

  146. Where is Noetica, anyway?

  147. John Cowan says:

    Good question. He last posted (as Newetica and various other pseudo-pseudonyms) in “Up or Down” on January 4, 2013. His last regular posting as Noetica was “Lexical Dark Matter” on June 7, 2012, eighteen months ago.

  148. Perhaps he’ll be back under another sewdoughnim to wish us another happy nuyère. We can hope.

  149. Yes, I’ve been missing him.

    I bought a manger for savage birds today.

  150. John Cowan says:

    By the way, now that I have a snapshot of old-format Language Hat from July 31, 2002 through October 18, 2013, I can answer factual or statistical questions about the corpus with comparative ease. For example:

    During that period there were 4844 posts, one every 20 hours and 18 minutes on average.

    112,265 surviving comments were posted to LH, one every 49 minutes on average. (Some comments were lost in the Blogspot to Movable Type transition; though almost all spams are gone, some few did survive.)

    March 3, 2009 was the busiest day for comments, with 156 posted; on the other hand, on 43 days only one comment was posted.

    “Gender-Neutral Swedish” has the most comments, 487 of them. The median number of comments on a post, however, is only 13. 232 posts have no comments at all.

    The poster with the most (transparent) pseudonyms is AJP Crown, with 1341 of them.

    The top 20 comment posters (other than His Hatness, who tops us all with 12121 comments) after my best effort to consolidate pseudonyms are:

    AJP Crown (7609 comments)
    Marie-Lucie (5907 comments)
    John “Zizka” Emerson (5173 comments)
    Grumbly Stu Clayton (4841 comments)
    John Cowan (3571 comments)
    Nijma (2726 comments)
    Bathrobe (2634 comments)
    Ø (2060 comments)
    David Marjanović (1816 comments)
    MMcM (1743 comments)
    Jamessal (1436 comments)
    Dearieme (1416 comments)
    Sashura (1314 comments)
    Noetica (1302 comments)
    Trond Engen (1285 comments)
    Read (1215 comments)
    J. W. Brewer (1127 comments)
    Michael Farris (1527 comments)
    Bulbul (876 comments)
    Siganus Sutor (775 comments)

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