n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Thursday, January 19, 2006


----------------from Barth, "Echo"----------------

One does well to speak in the third person, the seer advises, in the manner of Theban Tiresias. A cure for self-absorption is saturation: telling the story over as though it were another's until like a much-repeated word it loses sense. This, a cathartic Tiresias himself employs in the interest of objectivity and to rid himself of others' histories--Oedipus's, Echo's--which distract him fore and aft by reason of his entire knowledge.
----------------from Attendé, "Making Things Up"----------------

As if by peculiar design, nothing she felt was of any consequence at all. Not only of no consequence, in fact her emotions had no bearing or relevance on reality; they did not change or effect one damn thing. Her love, nothing; merely the centerpiece of her mind, a means of constructing memory, a useless internal motion that did not exit her mouth (except by means of words, which hardly count), or act out upon her body. Her steps were not modified; she in fact did everything that took place afterwards precisely as she did them before, much in the same fashion that BC included violent acts of brutality, and AD ipso facto includes violent acts of brutality.

When she looked out at the world through her wide-opened eyes, she saw that while these feelings and thoughts that so gripped her, that taunted her night after night as she scrabbled at the bed covers and tried to compose, that fled around her body tripping lightly over veins and swimming through cytoplasm and riding neurons like roller-coasters off their skids, that while they truly composed her (and not the other way around), they had no bearing on anything else.

She wanted them to. She wanted her emotions to effect the way people treated her, the way they saw her, the way they spoke to her, and even better yet, the way they dealt with each other. She wanted emotions to mean something, to be verified as a scientific fact, which would point out that without love or sadness, no house would have a roof and no plant would grow and people would never touch each other. That her feelings, that their feelings, were in fact exactly the force (describable by laws or at least mathematical theories) that kept the world spinning along, dosey-doeing with chaos.

Perhaps, she mused, something had ripped free of itself, had broken right up and down. As if California had indeed separated from the rest of the reality (thus explaining the advent of one particular "I'll be back" governor). A moat had grown, deep down as China or whatever was underneath, and filled to the brim with murky brackish water which had flash-flooded down from unseen Arizona mountains, dragging along with it deer and lynx corpses with the fur wearing off in small patches. Into the moat it all went. And somewhere far within the hardwire of the earth, the things always unknown with no effect, a spark went up that electrocuted rabbit bones and black bear pink-mottled skin and even the staring green eyes of a two-year old girl who had been dragged out of her crib into the water before she could even look around for a nipple. Once electrocuted, crossing the moat became an exercise in dealing with slimy enlivened baby guts that broiled around in the fetidstench moat water and dared, yes dared, anyone to visit Hollywood-our land of dreams and dramatic creations.

Wouldn't the bonespur become unspoken, hidden and kept silent? Airstrips would disappear slowly, an evacuation of machinery, a cessation.

Yes, she mused, perhaps that is what had happened sometime in the past, who knows when, certainly before her time, since when she thought about it, her emotions had never made any consequential difference, and in fact had became mute and mulishly truculent. She went about her life, looking it over and deciding, moving her body and deciding, and continuing to run fabulous and neverbefore felt options through her head.

----------------from Barth, "Title"----------------

Wait wait. We're left with the following three possibilites, at least in theory. Horseshit. Hold onto yourself, it's too soon to fill in the blank...

The first is rejuvenation: having become an exhausted parody of itself, perhaps a form--Of what? Of anything--may rise neoprimitively from its own ashes. A tiresome prospect. The second, more appealing I'm sure but scarely likely at this advanced date, is that moribund what-have-yous will be supplanted by vigorous new: the demise of the novel and short story, he went on to declare, needn't be the end of narrative art, nor need the dissolution of a used-up blank fill in the blank. The end of one road might be the beginning of another. Much good that'll do me. And you may not find the revolution as bloodless as you think, either. Shall we try it? Never dare a person who is fed up to the ears.

The final possibility is a temporary expedient, to be sure, the self-styled narrator of this so-called story went on to admit, ignoring the hostile impatience of his audience, but what is not, and every sentence completed is a step closer to the end. That is to say, every day gained is a day gone. Matter of viewpoint, I suppose. Go on. I am. Whether anyone's paying attention or not. The final possibility is to turn ultimacy against itself to make something new and valid, the essence whereof would be the impossibility of making something new. What a nauseating notion. And pray how does it bear upon the analogy uppermost in everyone's mind? We've gotten this far, haven't we? Look how far we've come together. Can't we keep on to the end? I think not. Even another sentence is too many. Only if one believes the end to be a long way off; actually it might come at any moment; I'm surprised it hasn't before now. Nothing does when it's expected to.

Silence. There's a fourth possibility, I suppose. Silence. General anesthesia. Self-extinction. Silence.