Tuesday, September 27, 2016

William Bennett writes

A world without artists is a grey landscape, 
a painting of one shade, 
a Dada with only a da, 
a surrealist with no dream, 
a not so impressive impressionist,
an abstract with no expression, 
a poet with no "po",
      just an et, 
a deconstructivist with no construction 
     to tear down, 
a classist who is not classy, 
a surrealist who is merely real,
     and aint. 
Just a painter who is paint 
     on the side of the house.
 Shades of Grey -- Mickael Bruce


  1. A poet with no “po,” just an et. This is an interesting, if difficult, clause to explicate. Po, in particular, has a lot of possible meaningful denotations, each of which sheds a different kind of light on Bill’s point. For instance, the blind Master Po was the spiritual master of Kwai Chang Caine in the popular 1970s American TV series, “Kung Fu.” A typical exchange between them occurred in the first episode:

    Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
    Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
    Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
    Caine: No.
    Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
    Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
    Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

    A po was a Chinese percussion instrument consisting of two plates that are clashed together (like cymbals). In Maori and ancient Polynesian, po was the chaotic state of formlessness from which evolution occurred. It was also the outer robe or overcoat, often embroidered, worn by Korean men as part of their traditional hanbok clothing. And it was a term coined (as an extraction from words such as hypothesis, suppose, possible. and poetry, but could also refer to a Provoking Operation) by Maltese psychologist Edward de Bono as part of his “lateral thinking” technique: make a statement and see where it leads, thus moving a thought forward to a new perspective where new ideas or solutions may be found.

    As “poe,” the word has many slang usages: An artistic, creative, perhaps eccentric, person, especially one who enjoys reading and/or writing morbid or dark literature, or the literature itself that uses the style, method, or themes of Edgar Allan Poe; one who writes a parody of some religious tenet that is mistaken for the genuine article; a phlegmatic, morose person; a metrosexual who is completely unaware of his surroundings; a “pot-smoking hoe;” an obese person; “President of EVERYTHING;” an attractive person, or ad adjective that implies “cool,” “hip,” “fly,” etc.; a coward; Post-Orgasmic Euphoria; a vagina; strong-smelling marijuana; any nasty insult…

  2. The possibilities for “et” are more limited. As a suffix, “-et” indicates a “small one,” as in baronet, or a group, such as an octet or duet. And it is, of course, French for “and.” Any expression of “just an et” would be incomplete and ambiguous at best, since the purpose of any conjunction is to join two things. However, pairing the two terms, po” and “et” in a straightforward way does lead to some intriguing possibilities.

    In chemistry, an Et is an ethyl group, an alkyl substituent derived from ethane. Ethylation is introducing an ethyl group to form a compound. The most common instance is using ethylene to create benzene. In 1835 the Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius coined the name by adding "hyle" (stuff) to Aether, the first-born Greek god of air (a general term for any highly volitile compound). On the other hand, “Po” is polonium, a rare and highly radioactive metal with no stable isotopes.

    A petty officer (PO) is a non-commissioned naval officer. The title probably derives from the Anglo-Norman "petit" (of small size). Originally they were men who had some claim to officer rank, typically because of some technical specialty, but not enough authority to be regarded as sea officers. The midshipman and master's mate were high-ranking POs, with a more general authority and the right to walk on the quarterdeck; they both conducted themselves like officers, and midshipmen wore distinctive uniforms. On the other hand, an ET is an Electronics Technician, an enlisted sailor who repairs, calibrates, and provides basic maintenance of most electronic equipment on the ship.

    While an ET is an “extraterrestrial,” someone or something that is not from the Earth, in Chinese philosophy “po” (white soul, the phases of the moon) is the corporeal, substantive, yin soul which remains with the corpse of the deceased, as contrasted with the “hun” (cloud soul), the spiritual, ethereal, yang soul which leaves the body after death. Po expresses the idea of a continuous pressing urge, the governing of the emotions; hun is connected with the idea of weeding. Po is associated with the lungs and breath, hun with the liver and blood. The two aspects unit soon after birth to form the human essence: it is as though the physical body (“xing”) is the wick and substance of a candle, while the spiritual po is the force that keep it alight, and the spiritual hun is the light that emanates from the candle. In “Zhaohun,” Wu Yang summoned a man's united soul back from death:

    O soul, come back! Why have you left your old abode and sped to the earth's far corners, deserting the place of your delight to meet all those things of evil omen?
    O soul, come back! In the east you cannot abide. There are giants there a thousand fathoms tall, who seek only for souls to catch, and ten suns that come out together, melting metal, dissolving stone …
    O soul, come back! In the south you cannot stay. There the people have tattooed faces and blackened teeth, they sacrifice flesh of men, and pound their bones to paste …
    O soul, come back! For the west holds many perils: The Moving Sands stretch on for a hundred leagues. You will be swept into the Thunder's Chasm and dashed in pieces, unable to help yourself ...
    O soul, come back! In the north you may not stay. There the layered ice rises high, and the snowflakes fly for a hundred leagues and more…
    O soul, come back! Climb not to heaven above. For tigers and leopards guard the gates, with jaws ever ready to rend up mortal men …
    O soul, come back! Go not down to the Land of Darkness, where the Earth God lies, nine-coiled, with dreadful horns on his forehead, and a great humped back and bloody thumbs, pursuing men, swift-footed In Taoism, po implied vigor, animation, life, and form or shape. However, po was also a variant character for overlord and dregs (as in the “Zhuangzi "[the writings of Master Zhuang] in which a wheelwright told duke Huan of Qi, "what you are reading there is nothing but the chaff and dregs of the men of old!"

  3. Perhaps the most isuggsetive junction comes from a usage in English dialect, “et” as the past tense of “eat” in conjuncton with “po” (from the French “pot de chambre “) variously known as a chamber pot, potty pot, a potty, a thunder pot, a jordan, a jerry, a guzunder, a chamber utensil, or bedroom ware. This is also associated with its own defecatory product, sometimes pronounced “poo” or “poe,” as suggested in John Lennon’s scatological song, "I Am the Walrus" from the Beatles’ 1967 album and TV film, “Magical Mystery Tour:”
    I am he as you are he as you are me
    And we are all together
    See how they run like pigs from a gun see how they fly
    I'm crying

    Sitting on a cornflake waiting for the van to come
    Corporation tee shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday
    Man you been a naughty boy. You let your face grow long
    I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
    I am the walrus, goo goo g' joob

    Mister City Policeman sitting, pretty little policemen in a row
    See how they fly like Lucy in the sky, see how they run
    I'm crying, I'm crying
    I'm crying, I'm crying

    Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye
    Crabalocker fishwife pornographic priestess
    Boy you been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down
    I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
    I am the walrus, goo goo g' joob

    Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun
    If the sun don't come
    You get a tan from standing in the English rain
    I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
    I am the walrus, goo goo g' joob goo goo goo g' joob

    Expert texpert choking smokers
    Don't you think the joker laughs at you? (Ho ho ho! He he he! Ha ha ha!)
    See how they smile like pigs in a sty, see how they snied
    I'm crying

    Semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower
    Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna
    Man you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe
    I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
    I am the walrus, goo goo g' joob goo goo g' joob
    Goo goo g' joob goo goo g' joob
    Goo gooooooooooo jooba jooba jooba jooba jooba jooba
    Jooba jooba
    Jooba jooba
    Jooba jooba


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