Sunday, September 15, 2019

Steven Fortune writes


Defining me
is like spelling out
a hundred-letter word
Essence of existence seized
in a vowel-less commute
through a dreamless sleep
between the suns
of definition and identity
Applications of passivity
become of me then bail
on potential to become me
Nothing here to see
say the signature police
Move along evolving as you were
Vicissitude's aloof
to the morose settlement
cited only in a mime around
the fringes of inclusion's
stunned recess
Outspokenness seduces
in its transparent slip of tongues
Intellectual arousal cowers
under impotence of
aural relevance
Praying to the ghost of
Helen Keller for a shadow
based influence
I resent my senses
on the basis of
their comfort on a fence
Why am I denied
essential evidence?
What nuances seal
the appeal of pretense?
I can lay no claim to tragedy
I'm too preoccupied
with verbal travesties
and inclinations of Van Gogh's spite
towards awarded senses
I'm inclined to take my eyes first
like an inconveniently
enlightened Oedipus
or have them taken from me
by a bastard boy
keen to my attempts
at nurturing to health
the wrongings of divine right
Gloucestershire sauce
imprints a bitter stain
on my incessant appetite
for gluttonous libations
of assured affirmations
Oedipus -- Nykolai Aleksander


  1. English has many 100-letter words, mostly chemical names created through a set of rules for making lengthy scientific terms through the agglutination of shorter ones. One of them, the chemical name of titin, the largest known protein, which is involved in striated muscle formation; actually has 189,819 letters and takes 3 ½ hors to pronounce. But in “Finnegan’s Wake” James Joyce coined 9 of these words (plus a 101-letter word), all of them a cryptogram or codified explanation of the thundering and reverberating consequences of the major technological changes in all human history.
    Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk appears on the 1st page and is a phonetic rendering of Hindi, Arabic, Japanese, Greek, and various Romance, Germanic, and Celtic words for thunder, clouds, waves, and drowning, allegedly representing the symbolic thunderclap associated with the Biblical fall of Adam and Eve.
    Bladyughfoulmoecklenburgwhurawhorascortastrumpapornanennykocksapastippatappatupperstrippuckputtanach combines more decipherable Anglo-Irish expressions and describes a whore.

    Vincent Willem Van Gogh was stillborn on 20 March 1852. Exactly 1 year later his brother Vincent Willem Van Gogh was born; the painter would see the headstone that bore his own name would see it every Sunday at the cemetery of the church where his father preached. While he was being treated for the mental disorders that had led to his severing of part of an ear, after receiving news that is sister-in-law was pregnant and that, if a boy, the child would also be named Vincent, he described a painting of a reaper that he was working on: “In that reaper I saw the image of death, the motif was beautiful and simple.... There was nothing sad, everything happened in broad daylight with the sun flooding everything with a light of pure gold. " His brother Theo visited him as he lay dying from a (possibly self-inflicted) chest wound and was told, "Do not cry, I did it for all of us." In Jacques Lacan’s seminar “The Ethics of Psychoanalysis” he discussed “the dimension that is expressed in what is called the tragic experience of life ... choosing as pattern the relationship of the action with the desire that inhabits it.... Let’s say that the relationship of the action with the desire lives in the tragic dimension that is exercised in respect of a triumph of death -- more precisely the being for death -- formulated in case of Oedipus in the assumed and consented curse.”

    Oedipus (“swollen foot”) was a figure in a series of plays by Sophokles in the 5th century BCE. His father tried to kill his infant son to avert a prophecy that the son would kill him and marry his wife. When Oedipus grew up he fled from his home to avoid killing his adoptive parents. He quarreled with a stranger and killed him, then traveled on to Thebes, became its king, and married the widowed queen. After learning that the stranger he killed was his father, his wife/mother committed suicide and Oedipus blinded himself and went into exile.

  2. Though an American, Helen Keller was descended from Zurich's 1st teachers of the deaf. When she was 19 months old she became blind and deaf, and lived her life as though "at sea in a dense fog." But by the time she was 7 she was able to distinguish people by the vibration of their footsteps and had developed over 70 home signs (gestural communication systems developed by deaf children) to communicate with her family. That year Anne Sullivan, a 20-year-old former student at Boston's Perkins Institute for the Blind joined the Keller household and immediately began to teach her to communicate by spelling words into her hand. Keller called the day of her arrival her "soul's birthday." After a frustrating month of incomprehension Keller had an epiphany: "Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten -- a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that w-a-t-e-r meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. The living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, set it free!" In 1904 she graduated from Radcliffe College of Harvard University, the 1st deaf-blind person to graduate from college, and became a prolific lecturer and author. She spoke in dozens of countries on subjects ranging from disability to radical politics, including women's rights, pacifism, socialism, birth control, eugenics, and Swedenborgian mystical Christianity. In 1915 she founded the Helen Keller International to combat the causes of blindness, especially disease and malnutrition (now operating in 21 countries), and in 1920 helped found the American Civil Liberties Union. She published 12 books on her life and the subjects that appealed to her.

    Gloucester sauce is served with cold meats or meat salads. Thick Mayonaise is supplemented by yoghurt or sour cream with lemon juice, chopped fennel, chives, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce (a fermented liquid condiment made from Barley malt vinegar, spirit vinegar [fermented from sugar cane to alcohol and refermented to acetic acid], molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, garlic, cloves, soy sauce, lemons, pickles, and peppers).


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