Saturday. Snowing, cold. Staying in, apart from a quick trip out to buy provisions. What to do? Ah. Nothing can surpass twatting about with words for a quality distraction.
A Void, a magical book, originally and in translation, sought to avoid all invocation of a particular ‘prop of traditional syntax’, that which has its station with d and f at hand. In holding to its author’s constraints, it displays ‘linguistic virtuosity’, according to its bumph. For any fan of words, it is a publication worth noting, with fun, laughs, drama, and a scratching of scalps a distinct possibility.
In addition, it shows how taxing it is to any trying to copy its craft. It occurs to this aspirant wordsmith that his own work could stand polishing to such a high standard, on occasion. How difficult though! But how thrilling also to try, for a wordy sort. A stimulating inquisition of all skills that an author might hold! And so forth.
An additional Book, by Alan Watts, points us (‘us’ caring about such things, ‘us’ that honour scanning paragraphs, gazing upon word strings: us bookworms) at an intriguing conundrum arising in linguistics. In talking about dividing things into distinct parts, and its basic futility, Watts has an opportunity to imply that linguistics (particularly an Anglo-Saxon idiom) is:
full of spooks, such as “it” in “It is raining”…
His point, possibly, is that ‘raining’ should do. What is ‘it’? (“It’s it!” obviously).
A final bit of play: try avoiding primary pronouns also. Just for a day or so, do not allow that short, singular indication of individuality to pass your lips. Try to work around it. Stop waffling. Hungry? Simply say “Ah, food now.” Will that do? Possibly. Tough? It is diabolically imposing. But, an intriguing way to start changing round ways of thinking.
Although Watts was drawing on fashions of thought common to his days, holistic forms and so on, much of what is said in his book holds in 2013, at which point this writing is going on, in this author’s opinion.
So, what prompts such activity? This past fortnight saw words brought into publication by various sorts, on occasion paid for work, but much of it, mostly, rightly indignant back-chat from blogs and social forums. In short – and that is not to imply any diminishing of important affairs forming part of this back-and-forth, but to avoid wading again through commonly-known information – what was said was flippant and unthinking, unwitting, but to many ‘transphobic’. It was not a winning combination. A lack of apology from OP was inflaming a situation; attack hack Burchill wading in with customary unwitting, or fuckwitting, lack of tact; cuing continuous arguing, arguing, arguing. No gains, arguably, just barricading and dug-in thinking.
A maxim: do not go to Burchill anticipating impartiality or actual cogitation. Burchillian (Daily Mailish) writing is bombastic approximation, talking in a broad way with a lack of any thought as to its impact on individuals. Why sustain a voluntary affliction? “It’s shit, walk away,” as Bill Hicks might say.
And, ‘say good things or do not say things,’ as Yoda might say… finish of story, is it not? As a fact, though, just saying this is to start imposing what things humans can say, which is asking for anguish. But, ‘post-Burchill’ (snurk), many did do this. This antiphon was fascinating to catch sight of.
The projection of academic ideology on to minorities and marginalised groups, in denial of their own lived experience, is the very thing that feminists have been battling for centuries.
As quotation calls for invocation of prior-said syntactical prop, with no possibility of avoiding it, short of not quoting, sorry. Anyway, although outwardly aiming at ‘popular’ journalists, this point must apply also to thinking that claims to hold this journalism to account. By this, signifying authors who ‘call out’ Burchill and company.
An important part of this apt illustration is a notion of intruding. On both occasions so far that Mortal Bath’s author was at uni, it (voguish study) was all about no words having particular priority, or all words having similar priority, or both, a mix. Taking apart word formations and showing that, in all constructions, avoiding particular ways of thinking is formidably difficult, or painful, comparably. In fact, going as far as saying humanity is caging humanity with words, linking linguistic chains about its own wrists.
What is discomfiting about disputation to which this author is alluding is that much of it is not only an intrusion, but a circumlocution, a gassy arguing of connotations advancing nothing. Word juggling. Partly, slapping on ‘phobic’ as a suffix only prompts bristling – rightly or wrongly, but it is confrontational, in a way that might not start an optimistic discussion but maintain a war.
How about implications of possibly difficult, unfamiliar words (to “Joanna Public”) such as ‘cisnormativity’? Sorry, what? That is confusing for an author with a liking for thinking that coins original (buzz)words, who has a First Class MA in lit, to blow a farty horn of scholastic fury signifying nothing. Prior to sampling intriguing columns as wrought by an ‘angry woman’, say, a word such as ‘cis-’, indicating an individual’s biology aligning with that individual’s social construct of ‘man’ or ‘woman’ (or both, a mix, or not), was an unknown, to this author. Always glad to add to his vocabulary and familiarity with original notions, and quizzing own norms is axiomatic also, so, thanks for that.
But, partly, what is driving this writing today is a wanting to withdraw from such constrictions, from impositions and contra-impositions, from word juggling that is not about play but about malignant magic mind control, imposing thoughts on humans. “Not just him, you too, dig?” Importantly, in fighting subjugation, anticipating and fighting subjugation, again, to modish ways of thinking. Humans might say that all that is wanting on occasion is anybody to hark, to pay mind, in tranquillity, not just hold out ‘solutions’, or to add on classifications. Saying ‘Such-and-such is cis-’or trans-anything is as ludicrous as saying ‘Such-and-such is Aquarius’. It is ‘is’ that stands gloating, confining all to its own box. ‘Damn cyclists!’ ‘Stupid non-cyclists!’ Shaking fists across an imaginary gulf. Is that it, truly? It is not clarifying, just adding strata of tagging.
Naturally (if words occur ‘naturally’… a figuration), it is vital that in disputing phrasing such as this an author avoids falling into a trap of appropriating linguistic ways of approaching structural domination by such-and-such a group and making a particular word array sound as if it is unimportant, or daft. That is not what this bunch of words is trying to do. As humans try to bring solutions to misogyny (or misandry) into play, common ways of phrasing must follow, or no grasp of what is going on can form.
BUT, and it is a big but (ha ha)… …in a world of taxonomical tyranny – patriarchal, matriarchal, or from transhuman archons, for all that – taxonomical diminution of humans into opposing or linking groups, almost as in a maths diagram, in as good or bad a faith as it may occur, cannot assist anything. Arguably, it is only additional dividing, amplifying an atomisation – particularly financial, social, but all to do with squashing human passion – that is, stupidly, so much a part of living in this world today. Maintaining ‘us’ and ‘not-us’ group thinking, particularly if its actual aim is inclusivity, is a major fault, ground cracks amid us all.
It should stand that Mortal Bath supports fully Stav’s convictions and aims at solidarity against structural subjugation of humans, as far this follows Stav’s aims and writing without misconstruing. And an apology, this instant, if this formal syntactical constraint, occasioning short-form dubbing of ‘Stav’, imparts lack of admiration. Fandom is what brung it all out, straight up. This is not trolling, although it is a bit whimsical in layout, nor at all aiming to railroad a discussion from its important ambitions, particularly not as such actions might bring on high-quality acidic insults, linking this author with syphilitic warts… although that is highly comic.
Concluding, following that long and winding road, this is about an individual’s caution in approaching kinds of linguistic filtration, which is an optical glass or straining analogy. Sharing a small rock in a big cosmos, it is crucial that humans work on compassion, solidarity and at bottom having sympathy for what all humans might go through in day-to-day activity. It is crucial also, though, that humans quiz programming of all kinds. Within limits, naturally (again ‘naturally’), this author posits that using argot obstruct this.
Although fun, basically, mainly, words can also just fuck things up.
Now, a proposal: that humans stop talking and start dancing.