2017-08-28

What kind of talk is that?

I posted a preliminary version of this during NaPoWriMo back in April, but since then I've revised it a bit, and also I read it at Gorilla Poetry to general approval so I feel reasonably happy with calling it "finished".

This is not about what it is ostensibly about obviously so, because if language did not exist then the poem couldn't either.  So where this comes from is my dissatisfaction with overly-academic analysis of literary subjects (in contrast to my mockery of under academic treatment in some other areas...) 

Basically what I am saying here is, never ask me for an "artist's statement" on a poem, because I'll say something like "I tried to get the right words in the right order..." and completely mean it.

Language is a phenomenon backed by the full sophistication of the human brain, and the utter incomprehensibility of the human psyche, only a god could actually analyse it meaningfully; everybody else is faking...







What kind of talk is that?


Language does not exist…
not in the sense of something we can touch,
attain, pass from hand to hand, feel the grain.  Even language
the shared delusion is an illusion.  We all understand chocolate cake,
but only I recall Paul, at two years old, smothered in the stuff...

Also the higher the fewer;
there's less to agree the more abstract we go: my love
is not your love; and my sovereignty
doesn’t exist at all.

And now, you have the cheek
to talk of things that I don't even know:
you say you like kayaking
but I have never experienced the semi-resonance
of millimeter-thick fibreglass rebounding
from underwater geography, or the feel
of near ice water draining from a helmet.


Language does not exist…

the dictionary says otherwise.
The words in the book of lexical lore
will claim to, with precision, pin a meaning on every
possible utterance. They do not... cannot...
dictionaries do not exist.

Language isn’t defined or declared,
it isn’t even functional at heart. It’s metaphorical.

When we get high, here on the hill,
with the stepladder,
you being very tall;
while your guitar solo goes up and up;
because you've been promoted, by a higher power;
and your salary is now so much,
but your meat’s off;
your electricity is strong;
your church is formal;
and your fashion sense is very sharp today.

All this is “high”
but the only way three octaves above middle C
resembles rotting meat,
is buried deep in our psychology.


Language does not exist…

not as something fixed
which you can grasp with thought or pen.
Continual flux is all there’s ever been:
spellings, meanings and usages
shifting beneath our tongues
like extreme sushimi.

You, I hope, understand me.
Shakespeare, however, would get me less
and Chaucer might think I was speaking
a foreign language.

I take my words back,
I take them back in time until,
somewhere maybe in the 9th or 10th centuries
we reach a point where they have no meaning...


...
because language does not exist.
Not even in the other direction.
My words are of course
recorded for posterity, but after I die and as they age
what people understand fades.
Until there comes a moment
when my great, great, great, great grandchildren
factoring, loneish their fluxward inspace
wonder quite what planet I was from.

If I was truly great,
people would update me
once per generation,
but we can't all be Shakespeare
—if nothing else Shakespeare's already done that.
So there!  That's us evolving once again.


Language does not exist…

Je suis un éléphant.  I might say,
if
I was French,
and an elephant
, and those who are the sorts
who understand French elephants
would shrug
expressively
and think I stated the obvious

but my words would be gibberish
to the less linguistically endowed.
English exists,
French exists,
and they’re languages, all right...
but they are not language itself, which does not exist.

English/French dictionaries, especially, do not exist.

Language is a maelstrom, language is a storm.
People think they pin it down, control it...
define it;
may as well bottle the hurricane.
Grammarians claim they can explain
and lay down every part of speech in grammar books.

Grammar books do not exist
and as for the people who write them:
I've never met one.


But... if language does not exist then
...
why, we are free!

No ploddy, tetrapody emphraslement for me!
No lexical cling.  Talk toboggan listening
all everness towards myself true wordy
and ultimatic infiltrate the thing
of done magnificence, superlative, and evermore unstopped.

Nobody can stop me from saying this
and they cannot touch me for it...

...because language does not exist.


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