Monday, June 24, 2013

World's Major Languages Series, #16: Swahili & the Bantu Languages, Morphology - Highly Agglutinative Verb Morphology with Extensive Tense/Aspect Systems, Marking Unusually Granular Distinctions in Past Time; Numerous Noun Classes Each Marked with a Singular & a Plural Prefix which Agree with a Wide Range of Syntactic Categories; while I watched 'Untold Scandal' – or, On Non-Communicative Signs, Saying Fuck All this Bullshit about the Weather Every Day, and Not Caring at the Time Whether You're Indoors or Outside


World's Major Languages Series, #15: Yoruba Phonology, Complex Interactions between Nasal Consonants & Vowels and Adjacent Phonemes, Syllabic Nasal vs Nasal-Vowel String, Vowel Deletion, and Pitch; Though the Distribution of [n] & [l] Far More Complicated than Other Nasal/Sonorant Alternations, [n] Shown to be an Allophone of /l/, while I watched 'The Devil's Own' – or, Trouble: I Could Never Easily Perform Linear Thought Concerning More than 3 Variables, or Productively Make Complex Decisions Involving Logical or Chronological Interdependency of Heterogeneous Parts, You Can't Do Very Many Jobs in This Condition; Coffee is the Only Substance that Temporarily Removes Whatever This Block Is; That was Good News Until It Started Eating Away My Digestive System or Doing Something to my Kidneys or Whatever – There's Probably Other Substances, but I Probably Can't Use Them Without Getting Fired; I Sit at a Desk, I Still Got Over 25 Years Before Retirement, I Need Somebody to Pay Me a Full Time Wage to Do Whatever I Feel Like Doing Without Particularities, Pretty Soon


Saturday, June 22, 2013

World's Major Languages Series, #13: Malay Morphology & Syntax, Large Set of Derivational Affixes, More or Less Productive, Which Function as Nominalizers or Verbalizers, or Change the Syntactic or Semantic Roles of Verbs; Transitive Verbs Inflected as Agent-Oriented or Object-Oriented, the Latter Conditioning Various Syntactic Rules Depending on Whether the Agent is a Pronoun, Whether the Pronoun is 3rd Person, & Other Factors, while I watched 'Trainspotting'


World's Major Languages Series, #12: Korean Phonology & Morphology, Markedly Productive Nasal & Articulation-Point Assimilation of Consonants, and Extensive End of Word Consonant Neutralization; 7 Potential Suffix Positions for Finite Verbs; Numerous Forms of Derivational Causative & Passive Suffixes in Addition to Periphrastic Forms for Each; while I watched 'Ordinary People' – or, Lifestyle, the Things I Believe, What I Do Where There are Choices, What Entertains Me, How I Dwell, So That I Can Entertain, the Way That I Entertain, THAT I Entertain – It's So Hard, Lifestyle Features, These Days Quick Social Clustering Effects of Culturified People Culturing Now with SuperMedia - or Medified People Made Cultured, Either Way - Too Unpopular & You're Easily Evil Quickly – But Not to Lifestyle Exactly Like Everyone Else Either, These Days- Those Features are My Only Identity – Outside the Exclusive, Ignored but Exclusive Club that Does Such that They're Defined by What They Do is the Rest, Pervasive, Defined by Lifestyle Features – So Many Choices, but Those Social Clustering Laws – All the Same, Little Features Screaming for a Little Identity – Me, I Believe, I Like, Lifestyle Not Exactly Like Yours, Almost


World's Major Languages Series, #11: Burmese Phonology, an Aspirate and a Plain Set of Stops/Affricates, Fricatives, Nasals & Resonants; Voiced Consonants are Stops/Affricates & Fricatives Only, In Initial Position Restricted Mostly to Nouns; Various Sandhi Processes Distinguished by 'Open' vs 'Close' Syllable Junctures, with Different Effects on 'Major' & 'Minor' Syllables, while I watched 'Impromptu' – or, The Tale of the Man with Striped Fingers Who Always Flips Off His Fuckin Wife When She Comes in the Door


Friday, June 21, 2013

World's Major Languages Series, #10: Sino-Tibetan Languages, the Question of Whether Tonal Contrast is a Genetic Feature or Developed Independently in Separate Languages or Subfamilies after the Split of Proto-Sino-Tibetan; and Reconstruction of the Proto Form of the Tibeto-Burman Branch, Presumed Split Ergative System, the Gyrong Verbal Affix Forms Marking 3-Person 3-Number Subject/Object Agreement as the Attested System Nearest to the Original, while I watched 'Something's Gotta Give' – or, Why a Still Cropped Image in Crepuscular Light of a Dwelling, Symbol or Other Object of Functional Value, Cut Off From its Adjecent Spatial & Chronological Context, Fucks Up People's Sense of Their Situation in Time and Prompts the Illusion that Passion, Melancholy & Such Sort of Poorly-Targeted Catch-All Terms for Neural Activity Effects are Non-Relative, Discrete & Substantial


World's Major Languages Series, #9: Vietnamese Syntax – Nouns Commonly Identified by Preposed Classifiers Signifying Particular Semantic Categories or Nominalizing from Other Parts of Speech; Numerous Particles for Tense, Interrogation, Negation, Topicalization, Confirmation, Attitude Nuances, Intensity, Direction, while I watched 'First Wives Club' – or, Illustration Comparing Similarity Derived from a Common Source to Areal Likeness Caused by Diffusion or Assimilation


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

World's Major Languages Series, #7: Tamil,Various Tense-Marked Non-Finite Verb Forms for Clause Subordination & Coordination Due to Strict Limit of Finite Verbs Allowed in a Sentence; Widespread Nominal Compounding, Including Coordinate Noun Strings & Reanalysis of Prefixes as Nouns in Borrowed Compounds; Productive Use of Noun/Verb Compounds to Compensate for Lack of Proper Adverbs, while I watched 'How to Marry a Millionaire' – or, Still Frame from Thought at Last Second of Some Person's Life & so Appearing to Stretch into Infinite Dream about Holiday Party at Work in a Career where the Person Managed No Contribution within the Field or Made Any Difference to its Connections with Society or Environment, & Touched No Existence of Anyone Involved There



World's Major Languages Series, #6: Hausa Morphology - Tense, Aspect, Mood & Negation Carried by Inflected Pronoun Forms, with Partitivity, Transitivity, Reflexivity, Causality & More Carried by 7 Verb Grades, Each w/ 1 to 3 Forms Differentiated by Vowel Endings & High/Low Tone Patterns Across the Word, while I watched 'Old Boy' – or, Someday When People are Able to Load Files of their Neural & Nerve Mappings into Electronic Devices and Potentially Exist Forever Causing Everybody to Go Insane Spending Their Lives Concentrating on Securing those Files & Devices, and Insuring their Durability & Protection, then There'll Definitely be One Time Where There's Some Futuristic Gypsy-Style Hippie Girl Crouching Behind a Row of Houses Hiding from a Floating Electronic Search Probe


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

World's Major Languages Series, #5: Arabic Syntax, Suffixed Conjugation for Perfect Aspect & Prefixed Conjugation for Imperfect; Classical Arabic VSO, Focus Transformations Common via Fronting of Subject in the Accusative Case Following 'Indeed' Word; Modern Arabic Dialects Generally SVO – and, Hebrew Phonology, Modern Hebrew Lost Consonant Gemination of Biblical Hebrew; Root Alternations Resulting from Spirantization of Stops Subsequent to Biblical Hebrew are Reduced to 3 Consonant Pairs in the Modern Language; Impossible to Determine Phonemic Relevance of Spirantization, Length, et al Features in Biblical Language Due to Tightly Regulated Syllable Structure, while Eventual Loss of Length Distinction Resulted in Phonemic Status of Spirantization in Modern Hebrew, while I watched 'Runaway Bride'




World's Major Languages Series, #4: Arabic Phonology, All Consonants, Including Pharyngeals, Laryngeals & /r/, Can Geminate; Emphatic & Post-Velar Consonants Cause Lowering, Retraction & Centralization of Adjacent Vowels; Vowels Can Also be Short or Long; Has Preserved Proto-Semetic's Triangular System Based on the 3 Corner Vowels, with Dialects Developing Various Additional Ones through General Drift, while I watched 'The Piano'


World's Major Languages Series, #3: Turkish, Complex Verbal Nominalization & Subordinate-Clause Agreement Patterns, while I watched "Mona Lisa Smile" – or, Failing is So Easy, Almost as Easy as Fucking Breathing, but Do People Have to Keep Doing it the Exact Same Way Like There's a Manual for it?


Monday, June 17, 2013

World's Major Languages Series, #2: Pashto, Intricate Verb Inflection Pattern Distributed across Exceptionally Diverse Semantic & Syntactic Functions; End of the Indo-European Section – or, Start of the Uralic Section: Hungarian, Verbs Can Agree Simultaneously w/ Subject & Object in Particular Combos in Person (though Not Number); 1st Syllable Stress as in Many Uralic Languages; as in Finnish, Syllable Length & Stress Mutually Independent, Vowel & Consonant Length is Phonemic – or, O Bitch How Much Do I Really Have to Worry About a Particular Drawing When Its Presented in a Series or Will be Seen as Part of a Body Someday, I’m Just Keeping Up on an Individualized Form of Communication Which I Think is Sufficiently Recognizable By Now, Why is Everything Such a Fussy Pain in my Balls All the Time – or, What I Drew While I Watched ‘Love Impossible’ and ‘Punch’




World’s Major Languages Series, #1: Farsi, Very Symmetrical Phoneme Inventory; Lost Most of the Inflectional Morphology Characteristic of Its Relatives; Very Complicated System of Combining Tense & Aspect Markers for Signifying Generic, Specific, Definite, Indefinite, Topical, etc Properties -- or, the Erker Corner with a Rug and the 3 Windows 2 from which Staring Inside Are People I Worry I Might've Insulted, from the Left One On Purpose, Long Ago When I Was Ruder, From the Center One By Accident, if I was Drunk or Just Not Thinking Before Speaking, and from which Other is Staring Inside a Copy of All the Factors that Make Me Not Want to do Anything, Any Work, Nothing -- or, Hot Apt on a Street in a Boring Part of the City When Alternation of Being Alone & Not Doesn't Coincide with Needs of my Nerves & Attitude



Friday, February 1, 2013

The Very Best of Firmin Graf Salwàr dej Striës


MAGDALENA SMACKS FIRMIN IN THE MOUTH WITH HER NAPKIN

Ach, until then!” yelled Firmin, as if it were a matter of a half century, and you could clearly see how he was calculating in despair the weeks and months that he’d have to struggle with this difficult birth (i.e., his “Alexander” play) . . . “The odious part of it is,” he groaned, “that I always have to think about this thing, as long as I’m not finished with it. It never ceases, even when I put it aside and don’t really work on it for days. It grows – but not like grass that you can let grow until it’s ready to be mowed. It’s like having cancer.” “Pfui,” yelled Magdalena and smacked him in the mouth with her napkin. “It could be,” I said “that every creative process has something of a pathological growth. But it definitely has an equal amount of natural ripening and a methodological, compulsive and relieving birth. “Giving birth is pathological,” said Firmin maliciously, and The Cow released a deep primal sound of indignation. “You ass,” she said, without irritation, “maybe procreating too?” . . . “No,” said Firmin with the same calmness and equally amiably, “you’re the ass if you use an expression like ‘natural’ in opposition to pathological. Everything is natural, both the consuming cancer cell and the impregnating sperm. And everything grows and decays in a periodical rhythm. The only thing important is the fundamental matter behind it all, which is substantial only during its intervals of physical manifestation.”


Of course that type of laws exists,” Firmin replied [to my assertion that such natural phenomena are subject to laws which we're not necessarily aware of] in a bored tone, “although they’re not invariable; growth and decay or periodicity, as I’ve just called it, or however you like. But my law is advance pay.” “So,” I said irritated, “you have the nerve to claim that you write just because you’ve been paid to. And you couldn’t produce a single word – if you didn’t have to. “Of course I have to,” Firmin interjected,“in particular because I have 20,000 marks in advance.” “And if someone laid that much on the table, and then doubled if for you”, I yelled, “then you’d quit writing your ‘Alexander’ play?” “No one’s going to lay it on the table,” said Firmin and grimaced in ridicule, “without asking for reciprocation. So of course I have to write – in particular because I’m no longer free. That used to be the occupation of educated slaves, and even they had it better, relatively speaking, than we do.”

______________________________

LUNA

Anyway,” Firmin picked up the briefly interrupted conversation again, “Luna has very little of the good-natured aunt in her, despite her work caring for the hotbeds. She’s actually more of a malicious, vain and dangerous woman. She can’t stand small children. The peasants push the cribs into the corners where she can’t shine in, so the babies won’t catch wasting diseases . . . Also for grown-ups,” Firmin began again, “it’s supposedly not good to stare at the moon too long.” “Especially for poets,” I said. “Think about Kleist, Novalis, Lenau – “Shut up,” Firmin said in a friendly tone, and I did, because I couldn’t think of more poets anyway.


______________________________
 
 ISONZO

Suddenly we heard Firmin’s voice – he sat leaned so far back in his chair that you couldn’t see his face, and he spoke as if to himself. “I have to say something,” he began, “that doesn’t have anything to do with the war – but it keeps coming back to me, and I also dream of it often. – It was – when pushed down into Italian territory after the second Isonzo breakthrough,” – his hand briefly appeared out from behind the back of the armchair and drew an indefinite semicircle, followed by all of our gazes, towards the South and the thickening dusk, “we had come out of the mountain winter, it was raw and hungry, and we flooded down like melting snow and practically poured ourselves into the plains full of fruit and wine and bread and crops, and in the cellars we waded sometimes up to our knees in wine. Olive oil and corn and milk and fish from the rivers and from the Mediterranean. It was a timeless reveling and indulgence in the lap full of southern abundance – and we rolled over it – no different than the Goths and the Lombards, the Cimbri, Teutons and Normans -, the same way that the North, full of violence and greed, has always hurled itself onto the vulnerable South – only to become exhausted and succumb to it.” He was silent for a moment, then he added, “That’s what - Isonzo – means to me, and that really has nothing to do with the war.”. . . We were all cast into something like a cosmic intoxication from the few words spoken by Firmin and the oddly resonating emphasis with which he spoke the word “Isonzo” – into an elemental flurry, a dawn of the migration of populations, which descended on us with the growing darkness and sent shivers of the primeval world through our hair.


______________________________

TELEGRAM

God is sending telegrams. Now at least I have a reason to be nervous, and to not be able to work,” said Firmin. “If you make yourself dependent on such foolishness,” growled Magdalena furiously. “Without this dependence, there still wouldn’t be a single word written,” he said. “I don’t know what’s been written,” she yelled, “no one hears anything about it anymore!” “One is otherwise occupied,” said Firmin with a casual gesture . . . “The telegram is from the actress that’s going to play the leading role in Firmin’s new play,” explained The Cow [to Mario]. “If it ever gets performed,” Firmin added with an apathetic tone, “that is: if I ever finish it. Maybe my tendency to be fragmentary is actually stronger than my dependency on the foolishness of the theater industry in this case.” He accompanied the word “foolishness” with finger quotation-marks, but it was obvious that he was actually conceding that his sister was right. 


______________________________

FIRMIN’S STUDIO

…not even a ruler, a compass and a protractor were lacking, which especially surprised me. I would’ve never imagined such things would be needed for writing. “If you’re going to write, do it right,” said Firmin, who seemed to sense my thoughts, “a table with flowers, Etruscan bronzes and handmade paper won’t cut it for working. And it is work – just like calculating surface areas or bridge arches. Nothing more.” . . . “Why do you need a protractor?” I finally asked, just to say something. He laughed slightly and opened a drawer. “Look at this,” he said. He took out an elevation fastened to a drawing board – like the draft of a multi-storied building with all kinds of branches and intersections. “This was once the plan for this play,” he said. “But I can’t complete it. It’ll remain a fragment.” . . . “Do you think Weger can play the part?” Firmin asked me. “No, actually,” I said – “but that’s probably not so important. Ultimately she can read the text like anyone else, and the content speaks for itself. You shouldn’t place so much value on the nuances of the performance when poetry is the essential point.” . . .“That’s true,” Firmin said “but I no longer believe that I should create something like this for the theater. Of course the play wouldn’t be performed in such elevated language. For the actual dialog scenes, I had created a particular flexible, very flowing prose. And even carved out a certain sculptural form for the figures – so they’d become real and wouldn’t move around artificially in shapeless costumes – Still, it won’t work.” “Writers probably just have to go through this with all great works,” I said, “this bottom-out of doubt. It’s from this process that the real creative fury arises.” “This time it’s different,” he said calmly, “my model has died.” I didn’t know what he meant, and stared at him questioningly. “I don’t feel any more resonance,” he continued hastily, “and I’ve gradually lost the inner vision.” “Leave it alone for a few days,” I said, “don’t think about it, do something else, anything. Then it’ll come along on its own accord. Just don’t force it so hard.” “I really appreciate it,” he said with an absent smile, “and I don’t want to bother you with it anymore.”


 ______________________________

ISOLATIO MAJESTATIS

At that time Firmin coined the somewhat arrogant term “Isolatio Majestatis”, which he established as a postulate for any worthwhile existence

 ______________________________

GEINIUS-POOR EPOCH

Dr. Schramek is completely right,” said Firmin. “We’re really living in a genius-poor epoch, at least as far as the artistic and intellectual areas are concerned. As for the reason,” he added in a bored tone, “it’s safe to assume that we can set it aside as unresolved.” 


______________________________

FIRMIN GIVES THOMAS A POETRY LESSON

Why are you only rhyming the 1st and 3rd lines, you lazy ass?” asked Firmin. “Even that was hard enough for me,” I said, “I’m not a poet, you know.” - “that’s precisely why you should rhyme properly,” said Firmin, “only a real poet can get away with that occasionally, and even then it’s usually laziness!”

______________________________

ORDER AND FORMATION

Order and formation,” said Firmin after a while, “are completely separate disciplines. The powers creating order, who today are caught up in struggle and restructuring, represent different laws than the law of those occupied with formation, to which the human intellect is always committed. Formation – I could also say: growth or self-structuring – exists outside of the world subject to organization. Only there where organization ceases – that’s where the organic emerges.” “But what, other than this, is the military,” cried Mario, “what does it express other than the drive towards formed life? What else drives the young people into the armies – the Black, the Brown, even the Red Army? Even you – you who don’t take part – can’t avoid that. Also your sense of life is a military life – particularly yours, - and I think, among the best.” “Could be”, answered Firmin and it seemed that something invisible tensed up in his face – “and still, we stand alone – at an advanced outpost, if you will. Because in the masses there is no formed life. Where the masses undergo movement, they form themselves for death. Life is always structure – Death is eternal lack of structure.” “But you’re digging your own grave,” said Mario after awhile “your situating yourself outside of elemental occurrence!” Firmin shrugged his shoulders. “What is elemental occurrence?” he said, “a word that confuses. The farther people are separated from the actual elements of life, the louder they scream for the elemental. The more substantially conscious their world becomes, the more frantically they try to absolve themselves through apathy. But intellect and soul are elemental forces just like fire, water, air and earth, it's just that we apply the term elemental forces to the former because we don’t know what they are, any more than we know what the latter are. We’re only beginning to notice – what the great formers and creators have already known – where the sources of those forces originate, which we call supernatural and from whose secret parallelogram our entire world of existence is sustained and carried, along with the dead, the unborn, the plasma and the demons. Our knowledge is pure darkness; at best, it can spot small dancing sparks, without being able to determine whether they’re primeval lights or insubstantial delusions.”


Cause you see,” said Firmin to Mario late that night, “we’re not standing apart from our time any more than you or than your enemies, who are proceeding to create new order for the world in different, perhaps more promising ways than you. It’s just that today, we’re likely finally cured of the delusions of the progress story and know that reality isn’t succession, but rather a self-complementing simultaneity of growth – and that the imperative of the world’s rulers and renewers to box everything into a short sighted “first – next – and later” creates a most fatal, i.e. fateful set of relationships.”

______________________________


HÖLDERLIN

…since none of us had slept last night, one after another went to bed . . . until it was just Firmin and I left awake. We went to the bay-window room to drink one more whiskey. Firmin looked exhausted and grey. But he seemed to me to be in a happy, favorably fading mood. “Now they’re all leaving tomorrow,” he said, with an almost mischievous expression, “and they’ve totally forgotten my play, which is the reason they came here. Thank God they were too well entertained here to bother me with it. But I’m curious,” he said imitating the well-known archducal style of speech, “about when, now that they’re all gone, the first inflammatory telegrams will arrive. Whatever – let them keep waiting.” He laughed to himself, as if he had just successfully played a prank on someone. Then he sat against the back of a chair and flipped through the leather-bound Hölderlin book that was still lying there from earlier. “This is for me”, he finally said, “Listen! -

The pleasures of this world, I have tasted in full
The hours of youth, flown by so long!, so long! ago
April, May, and June are far behind,
I’m nothing anymore, no longer wish to be alive
"


______________________________


A LIVING DOG

“…It’s from the book of Job, and it’s carved on a tree, which had been split by lightning without being permanently destroyed, somewhere near Salzburg….back then I drew this tree, it’s entire fate in a wreath around it, how it first grew…became full-sized, how the lightning bolt hit it, almost destroyed it, and then how it began to sprout again. Firmin shook his head. “To me, that’s too euphemistic,” he said after a pause, “and painted far too pretty. It could’ve just as easily been destroyed. No, I’ll stick with the only person who has the last word – with the most optimistic pessimist there’s ever been, Solomon of Ecclesiastes.” With a few flips he found the page in the Bible. “Because everything that’s living has what one wants: hope. For a living dog is better off than a dead lion.”

______________________________

  
FIRMIN THREATENS THOMAS WITH HIS FIST

Symbiosis”, said Firmin suddenly and made a broad movement with his arm across water and land, “Symbiosis!” he repeated with an almost gentle tone, as if he were reciting a poem “I love this word, and it’s meaning”, he continued, “it conveys everything essential in nature and life. Here in these parts, such a jumbled blend of growth pervades – water and forest, marshland and barren rock cliffs, fruit, wine, grain, pasture grass – and all kinds of tree species stand there wherever they happen to have been planted, apple, plum, sour-cherry and apricot trees – underneath, clover proliferates, bushes bloom, oats and barley are sowed – nothing exists in isolation – nothing grows completely according to plan – there’s always room left for for error, the arbitrary and unforeseen. That’s why everything grows so well.In America, they keep planting the same fruit over enormous stretches – they stimulate the soil with their artificial fertilizers and chemicals – harvest apples and peaches as big as childrens’ heads – but the fruit doesn’t have any taste, and in a few decades the soil will be depleted and dead. Well, they do have quite a bit of room to spoil, and of course they’re too young to be wary of this. Here we’re old and young at once. Here we can sleep easy”, he said to himself, “everything already runs on its own accord.” “What brings up America?” I asked him. “Ritschelbei’s traveling over today,” he laughed “and he’s bombarded me with letters and telegrams telling me I should come with him. Yesterday morning I got a wireless message; it contained the fight connections with which I could catch the Bremen in the last moment before it left. He wants to show one of my plays on Broadway, and said I should be there and adapt the material for film. ‘Guaranteed doubled chances with personal participation', he says, 'all expenses guaranteed'” – He shook his head and laughed. “Listen up,” I said, “You really shouldn’t have let that slip away so flippantly. Sooner or later we’re all going to have to make the big leap across the ocean, and sooner is better than later. There’s still space and air over there – we’re being deprived of both here, slowly of course, but definitely – at least there, there’s still an overabundance of space – enough to waste, as you said before – therefore also enough space to thrive. And it’s precisely the superfluous -- our specialty – which could be fitting there, where so much bulging healthy reality is occupied with the tangible and present – and where the spiritual raw materials still spring from the earth like oil fountains. There, formation might be a fundamental necessity again, instead of a flaunt or embellishment. There there’s still vast hope. “Not for me,” said Firmin, “people like me are superfluous.” And before I could disagree with him, he cut me off: “I don’t mean those who write poetry, create form, or sculpt! Such people are more indispensable than ever – definitely, things can’t go any further without them. Whole generations of poets have to come along, just to make the unshaped material of the new earth visible – to breathe life into the new ‘men of clay’ and those who emerge from the seeds of the dragons’ teeth. Because here like there, this side the same as the other side of the ocean, only one thing’s important: filling the sky with gods again, - reconnecting the earth to enduring significance – saving the earth from the idle course of the senseless machines. That’s a great, straight-forward task - however convoluted the path to it might be – there’s nothing else to discuss about it. But to be part of it – you need either the unaffectedness of children or the strength of titans. I don’t have either.” I wanted to reply, but he just threatened with his fist, “You,” he said and shoved in a longer pause, “you, get to work! – And see to it that you get away from here soon,” he added in a friendly tone, “we’re bad company for you.”