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, September 20, 2007


Or "Ouvroir de litérature potentielle,” a type of writing, and a group, founded by a bunch of French folks who felt the need to explore, as a community, the possibilities or potential in language, which they felt might be played with or put together in new forms than the ones we’ve already found and adopted. Many of their members were mathematicians, I suspect linguists, and while their idea is serious, their manner recalls children set before Legos.

The systems they’ve come up with they call “constraints,” or rules they set for themselves before the production of a piece. In the manifestos I’ve read so far, the OuLiPians point out how language-use is already based on constraints, such as the clause or sentence, or in poetry—forms such as sonnets, haiku, and so forth. Because of this, OuLiPians claim that to follow the idea of “freedom” or “going with the muses” in writing is to become slave to the rules we have internalized and play out within our thoughts with or without our consent. Paradoxically, they seem to feel that using constraints brings about a consciousness of choice, an awareness of action, that in the end replicates free will.

One example of a work that uses constraints is a novel (by Perec) that entirely does away with the seemingly necessary vowel “e”. That is, not an “e” to be found in the entire book. Another example of a constraint is “N+7,” a system that takes every noun and replaces it with the seventh noun found after it in a dictionary of choice.


Yep, so I’m sitting-in on a class about this stuff. Auditing it, I guess, with the agreement that I do all the work and don’t use my nonstatus as a reason for not showing up, if not on time, at least then in a timely manner. Since the teacher is Beth Nugent, my favorite mentor, the phrase “timely manner” is certainly debatable.

For our first assignment, we had to write down a random animal that comes to mind.
Do it.
Go on.
I’ll give you time.

Now that you’ve done that, for five minutes, write a description of that animal using none of the vowels to be found in the animal’s name.

As per my luck, I thought of “sea lion”:
Why lusts thy tummy, lump?
Why munch musty guts?
See. Fun.

Now for my second assignment, using a constraint of my choice, and a line from three of the photocopied favorite texts provided by the other students in the class and myself:
The female person or animal being discussed, or last mentioned, even then carried or had on the body or about the person as a covering, support, ornament, or the like, her cosmetics for the face or some part of it, and the unusual or extreme paleness—as from fear, ill health, or death—of the front part of her head, from the forehead to the chin, brought into existence by shaping, or changing, either of the two fleshy pairs or folds forming the margins of the mouth (in the primary color at one extreme end of the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 610 and 780 nm), appeared to the eye as specified: made by human skill and fastened in position by thrusting a point or end into something.

Any of various plants belonging to the genus Tulipa, of the lily family, having lance-shaped leaves and large, showy, cup-shaped or bell-shaped flowers in a variety of colors (in the primary color at one extreme end of the visible spectrum, an effect of light with a wavelength between 610 and 780 nm)

having life, being alive, not dead, into their end of life

having a sudden rise of emotion or excitement with a not tamed or domesticated pure color of a clear sky

The permanent upright constructions having a length much greater than the thickness and presenting a continuous surface except where pierced by doors, windows, etc., were coated, covered, or decorated with a substance comprised of solid coloring matter suspended in a liquid medium—in the pure color of a clear sky; and a pure or nearly pure, extremely hard form of carbon crystallized in the isometric system (in a bright, metallic yellow color, sometimes tending toward brown) and a piece of furniture often with shelves and drawers for holding articles of table service were located toward the rear.
Can you guess my constraint? (Or in this case, the two constraints).

See. Fun. And one of the important points of emphasis for OuLiPo is that it seeks the creation of "potential" in language, not the production of great literature. A humble and generous idea, no?

Oh, and my friend cc told me that for my birthday, I should ‘break-up’ with school. She said it would be a nice gift to myself.
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