Thirty-Six Views of the Parallax: Mark Young’s the eclectic world, Bandicoot habitat and lithic typology

1 May 2017

Notes & further reading

the eclectic world (EW) (gradient books, (Helsinki), Finland, 2014)
Bandicoot habitat (BH) (gradient books, (Helsinki), Finland, 2015)
lithic typology (LT) (gradient books, (Helsinki), Finland, 2016)

I thought that the poem ‘languish’ was written expressly for me, the title notwithstanding, for it is a poem on constructed language, and I invented a langue close, as I prefer to call it, when I was thirteen: Taneraic. I am currently writing the definitive dictionary and translating The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism by Graywyvern into Taneraic as Elexia judouga (‘Philosophy’; an essay I wrote some 20 years ago, ‘A + B = Essence’, explains all), which I hope to publish next year. Young’s first, stand-alone, line is ‘How do you go about creating a language?’ (LT, 38) and wonders about its purpose or reason for being. He ends the poem on the difference between listening and hearing, which have the same radix in my langue close. From the diary: (1). ‘John (Radvansky, who taught Wittgensteinian philosophy at university) has obviously forgotten we had spoken about private language before, after the Jarman Wittgenstein, in fact, and John maintained a private language was not possible. Now he is showing no signs of scepticism. I show him my work on the grammar and discuss Steiner’s assertion for testing private languages: ‘I can understand Michael (Helsem) and he can understand me. The fact that he makes grammatical errors is enough for me to be convinced there is a grammar and not just a code, for his mistakes do not make his sentence(s) incomprehensible, merely not true to form.’ ‘(2) ‘(Ferdinand de) Saussure’s description of language as a system of signs admits Taneraic into the class of languages. Taneraic radices have no intrinsic meaning – how could they, when they have been ‘created from nothing at all’? (Johanes Aavik, 1880–1973.) When I’m asked where the vocabulary for Taneraic comes from, I am able to quote Aavik, an Estonian linguist and the ‘father’ of modern Estonian: ‘New words can also be artificially formed, created from nothing at all, just as God is said to have created the world.’ (…) In the case of Taneraic, writing did indeed precede speech. (Derrida asserts this is the case universally for language.) The supercontext of Taneraic was my diary, started a few days before my fifteenth birthday. It was the language in which I could confess (eyonda), in which I could act out (eyanda) my fantasies in the intimate (mousyi) pages of my diary (mousyacyou – as opposed to jabecyou, the type of diary which sits on desks in offices). Poetry (hasyan) became the receptacle for public language; words (qasyan) were secret transmissions, a Morse code at first, of self-discoveries, new emotions, a developing identity.(…) My diary was full of explosions (taisyan), explanations (aisyan); it was full of charm (asyan). Taneraic had become the keeper, the recorder, of all my first fruits (…).’

From 1989 to 1994, I edited a small magazine called taboo jadoo that was dedicated to mistranslation, amphigory, and multi- and interlinguistics, inspired by Celia and Louis Zukofsky’s ‘translations’ of Catullus, much more interesting than Robert Lowell’s ‘imitations’. I am pleased to say that the tradition is continuing locally, with Chris Edwards’s O Sonata: Rilke renditions (Vagabond Press, 2016), The Bloomin’ Notions of Other & Beau by Toby Fitch (his mistranslation by sound of Rimbaud’s Illuminations, sometimes in a technopaegnia reminiscent of Susan Howe, also Vagabond Press, 2016), et al., which is a very different kettle of fish from, say, Clive James’s translation of Dante. Worth a look, too, is Simon Leys’s Hall of Uselessness: Collected essays (Black Inc., 2011), where he discusses translation (pp 200–). Mistranslation is not something Young exploits, although he does say ‘With my bad Latin / I confuse solaris / with solus & / end up writing / ‘in place of the sun’ / instead of what I / intended’ (LT, 34), so perhaps it is done unwittingly from time to time, as he says he has noticed ‘those who consider / themselves to be / writers of great / English’ also do.

**Disclaimer. For what it is worth, apart from confirming that Freddie Mercury did indeed write ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, I did not use Google or any other Internet search engine in the writing of this essay.

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