Commentaries - November 2012

On olfaction and translation

Salmon returning up a creek...

Mi máscara

Estoy alejada en la vida
lejana en la concha
estricta en el modo
silábica
yo intento
empezar con jeringas, y limón.
¡poema!
¡si me permitiese llamarle poema!
¡poema en mis sueños!
¡intriga! ¡vocabulario! ¡incienso!
costumbre de vivir, con rosas y con salmones.

A miña máscara

Estou afastada na vida
afastada na cuncha
estrita no modo
silábica
Intento
empezar con xiringas, e limón.
Poema!
Se me permitise chamarlle poema!
Poema
nos meus soños!
Intriga! vocabulario! incenso!
Costume de vivir, con rosas e con salmóns.

Translation Speaks

I am far off in my life
far off in my shell
strict in mode
syllabic
I try
to begin with syringes, and lemon.
Poem!
If you would allow me to call you poem!
Poem
in my dream!
Intrigue! vocabulary! incense!
Custom of living, with roses and with salmons.

Mon masque

Je suis éloignée dans la vie
distante dans la coquille
stricte en mode
syllabique
je tente
à débuter avec des seringues, et du citron.
poème!
si vous me le permettiez : poème !
poème
dans mes rêves!
intrigue ! vocabulaire ! encens !
habitude de vivre, avec des roses et des saumons.

Salmons, salmóns, saumons, salmones. Why all these salmons swimming in this fishy text on translation? Roses? In my recent The Unmemntioable, trout appeared. Trout of slippery memory, and of love.

In translation, though, it is the salmon that intrigues me, anadromous being that returns to where it started, to the stream bed where it first hatched and swam. Just as a human baby can identify the breast of its mother by smell, salmon identify their stream bed. What was once thought, up through the 1990s, to be magnetic imprinting, is now known as olfactory.

The curious thing about the olfactory is that in the head, the primary olfactory cortex lies at a juncture. It is right above the amygdala, necessary for emotional memory, and is connected to the basal forebrain and thus to the hippocampus, also part of the emotional system of being. For the fish, water contains smells. Water is thus affectively charged. Water, for the salmon, is emotional, is the paragraph that is emotional to Gertrude Stein. Without olfactory memory, the fish can’t “think.”

We too, humans, use olfactory memory. The baby recognizes its nurse’s breast. The deterioration, in later life, of olfactory memory is linked to dementia and Alzheimers, those losses of direction in self, language, being. Olfactory memory is our first language too. We also are still fish. Emotional in what surrounds us: water or language.

So the salmon. In translation I live, literally and literarily, with roses and salmons. I read in one tongue while seeking, wordful, the stream of language into which I was born.*

*though I have been born many times now, it seems—whenever I learn a new language…

Video portaits series 1-12 (2006-2012): complete

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Portraits: Series One
Régis's Palms
June 29, 2006
23 seconds













Portraits: Series One
George on the Fourth
July 4, 2006
1 minute












Portraits: Series One
Leslie Loses Her Breath
November 12, 2006
48 seconds












Portraits: Series One
Henry's Dilemma
July 26, 2006
30 seconds












Portraits: Series One
Mimi on the Beach
August 8, 2006
40 seconds












Portraits: Series One
Loss & Beans
June 26, 2006
1 minute












Portraits: Series One
Caroline's Norwegian Speakin'
November 12, 2006
32 seconds












Portraits: Series Two
Joris: Why the Maghreb Matters
October 22, 2006
38 seconds












Portraits: Series Two
Wystan at Penn
October 18, 2006
45 seconds












Portraits: Series Two
Leevi's Sampo
September 29, 2006
1 minute, 6 seconds












Portraits: Series Two
Grenier on the Subway
October 20, 2006
25 seconds












Portraits: Series Two
James at home
November 12, 2006
31 seconds












Portraits: Series Two
Johanna Printing
November 4, 2006
36 seconds












Portraits: Series Three
Ann's Goodbye
December 4, 2006
39 seconds












Portraits: Series Three
Karen and the 290 (West)
January 28, 2007
39 seconds












Portraits: Series Three
McCaffery Up Close
January 28, 2007
52 seconds












Portraits: Series Three
Mei-mei's Mesa
December 3, 2006
38 seconds












Portraits: Series Three
Nick@CCNY
December 11, 2006
43 seconds












Portraits: Series Three
Richard: Living Latin, Dying English
December 4, 2006
49 seconds












Portraits: Series Four
Rod's Postal Poetics
November 19, 2006
29 seconds












Portraits: Series Four
Nicole: Another Language
November 8, 2006
59 seconds












Portraits: Series Four
Douglas & the Big Apple (First Bite)
December 10, 2006
16 seconds












Portraits: Series Four
Peter Middleton
October 16, 2006
38 seconds












Portraits: Series Four
Norman the Baker
January 5, 2007
28 seconds












Portraits: Series Four
Tina's House
November 18, 2006
51 seconds












Portraits: Series Five
Myung & the heaviness of the snow
December 12, 2006
39 seconds












Portraits: Series Five
Charles Bound
January 15, 2007
33 seconds












Portraits: Series Five
Alan Davies Draws a Blank
January 5, 2007
29 seconds












Portraits: Series Five
P. Inman: Which Side Are You On?
November 18, 2006
42 seconds












Portraits: Series Five
Phong's New York
June 4, 2007
1 minute, 44 seconds












Portraits: Series Five
Bob's Theory of the (Aging) Avant-Garde
September 6, 2007
44 seconds












Portraits: Series Six
Kenny's Desire
June 5, 2007
19 seconds












Portraits: Series Six
The Language of Bears
May 30, 2007
40 seconds












Portraits: Series Six
Peter's Marigolds
June 4, 2007
30 seconds












Portraits: Series Six
Dubravka's Caravan
April 29, 2007
3 minutes, 29 seconds












Portraits: Series Six
Versions of Winter
June 4, 2007
32 seconds












Portraits: Series Six
Ambient Tan
August 1, 2007
50 seconds












Portraits: Series Seven
The Film of Your Life
September 16, 2007
14 seconds












Portraits: Series Seven
Rae: Making It New
September 20, 2007
59 seconds












Portraits: Series Seven
George Learns a Lesson (The Hard Way)
August 11, 2007
28 seconds












Portraits: Series Seven
Emma's Dilemma
August 29, 2007
29 seconds












Portraits: Series Seven
Sukey's Walks
October 16, 2007
30 seconds












Portraits: Series Seven
Sigi's Berlin
December 20, 2006
2 minutes, 16 seconds












Portraits: Series Eight
Maggie's Pen
October 5, 2007
46 seconds












Portraits: Series Eight
Christian & the Plains
January 1, 2008
1 minute, 2 seconds












Portraits: Series Eight
Darren's Hand
January 1, 2008
25 seconds












Portraits: Series Eight
Tonya's Lost New Orleans
January 8, 2008
37 seconds












Portraits: Series Eight
As If We Might Join Our Hearts to Sound
November 16, 2007
3 minutes, 7 seconds












Portraits: Series Eight
Rubinstein in Serial Motion
November 18, 2007
3 minutes, 34 seconds












Portraits: Series Nine
Antin in the Sky with Diamonds
February 18, 2008
28 seconds












Portraits: Series Nine
Ted's Sublime Echoes
October 22, 2007
1 minute, 3 seconds












Portraits: Series Nine
Jerome Rothenberg & the Burning Babe
February 24, 2008
1 minute, 36 seconds












Portraits: Series Nine
Diane Rothenberg: Marshall Parkway & Other Figments of the Imagination
February 24, 2008
2 minutes, 8 seconds












Portraits: Series Nine
Ron & George
March 5, 2008
29 seconds












Portraits: Series Nine
Joel's Niagra Tours
March 7, 2008
27 seconds












Portraits: Series Ten
Peter & the Analogue World
March 17, 2008
28 seconds












Portraits: Series Ten
Liz's Hair
March 17, 2008
28 seconds












Portraits: Series Ten
John's Trip
April 3, 2008
38 seconds












Portraits: Series Ten
Bruce's War
April 12, 2009
48 seconds












Portraits: Series Ten
Cecilia: Dancing the Lines
April 15, 2008
2 minutes, 8 seconds












Portraits: Series Ten
Tom: The Night the Lights Went On
May 14, 2008
24 seconds












Portraits: Series Eleven
Ben: "Maybe Not"
June 21, 2008
30 seconds












Portraits: Series Eleven
Hank Eats the Shell ("The Shrimp is a poem in itself")
September 20, 2008
24 seconds












Portraits: Series Eleven
Marjorie & Joe
September 20, 2008
50 seconds












Portraits: Series Eleven
Claude’s Prepositions
October 25, 2008
36 seconds












Portraits: Series Eleven
Alan's Print Performances
March 3, 2009
1 minute 6 seconds












Portraits: Series Eleven
Li: The Snow of Yesteryear
February 8, 2009
1 minute












Portraits: Series Twelve
Arkadii in Silence
November, 4, 2010
42 seconds

 

 

 

 

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Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (48): “Lord” Timothy Dexter, from “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress” (1848)

(1)


(2)

To mankind at Large the time is Com at Last the grat day of Regoising what is that whye I will tell you thous three kings is Rased Rased you meane shoued know Rased on the first Royel Arch in the worid olmost Not quite but very hiw up upon thay are good mark to be scene so the womans Lik to see the frount and all peopel Loves to see them as the quakers will Com and peape slyly and say houe the doue frind father Jorge washeton is the senter king Addoms at the Rite hand the prssent king at the Left hand father gorge with his hat on the other hats of the middel king with his sword king Addoms with his Cane in a grand poster Adtetoude turning his fass to wards the first king as if thay was on sum politicks king our present king he is stands hearng being yonger and very deafe in short being one grat felosfer Looks well East & west and North & south deafe & very deafe the god of Nater has dun very much for our present king and all our former ones thay are all good I want them to Live for Ever and I beleave thay will it is hard work to be A king --- I say it is harder than tilling the ground I know it is for I find it is hard work to be A Lord I dont desier the sound but to pleas the peopel at Large Let it gou to brak the way it dus for A sort ment to help a good Lafe to Cour the sick spleney goutey dull frames Lik my selfe with the goute and so on make merry a Chealy Christon is for me only to be onnest No matter what thay worshep son monne or stars or there wife or miss if onnest Live for Ever money wont gitt thous figers so fast as I wish I have senc to Leg horn for many mr bourr is one Amonks many others I sent in the grand Crecham thous 3 kings Are plane white Leead colow at present the Royal Arch & figers cost 39 pounds wate silver the hiest Councaton order in the world so it is sade by the knowing ones I have only 4 Lions & 1 Lam up the spread Eagel has bin up 3 years upon the Coupalay I have 13 billors front in strat Row for 13 states when we begun 3 in Rear 15 foot hie 4 more on the grass see 2 the same hath at the Rite of the grand Arch 2 at the left wing 15 foot hie the Arch 17 foot hie the my hous is 3 sorey upwards of 290 feet Round the hous Nater has formed the ground Eaquel to a Solomun the onerbel Jonathan Jackson one of the first in this Country for tast borne a grat man by Nater then the best of Lurning what sot me fored for my plan having so gran spot the hool of the word Cant Excead this to thous that dont know would think I was Like halfe the world a Lier I have traveled good deale but old steady men sayeth it is the first that it is the first best in this Contry & others Contrey I tell you this the trouth that None of you all great men needent be A frunted at my preseadens & I spare Now Cost in the work I have the tempel of Reason in my garding 3 years past with a toume under it on the Eage of the grass see it cost 98 gineys besids the Coffen panted whit in side & out side touched with green Nobel trimings uncommon Lock so I can tak the kee in side and have fier works in the toume pipes & tobacker & A speaking trumpet and a bibel to read & sum good songs

 COMMENTARY
with John Bloomberg-Rissman
 

 SOURCE: Timothy Dexter, A Pickle for the Knowing Ones. 4th ed. Newburyport, MA: Blanchard & Sargent, 1848. Page 32. (George Peabody Library)

 The merchant Timothy Dexter of Newburyport, MA, self-described lord and philosopher, not only successfully/miraculously sold mittens in the Caribbean and coals to Newcastle, he faked his wife’s death (declaring her from then on a drunken ghost), and he faked his own funeral. In spite of his successes, he was a social outcast of sorts, and considered a “lackwit” by many of his contemporaries, who gave him advice in order to ruin him. Apparently completely unfazed by his failure to gain admittance to Society in spite of his fortune, at age 50 he wrote a book called A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress. The book contained 8,847 words and 33,864 letters, but no punctuation, and capital letters were seemingly random. At first he handed his book out for free, but it became popular and was re-printed in eight editions. Because people complained about the lack of punctuation Dexter added an extra page of punctuation marks (above). Dexter instructed readers to “peper and solt it as they plese”.

In the course of doing which he became, while outside any literary nexus as such, a forerunner to many of the experimental workings with spelling, grammar & punctuation of the two centuries that followed.