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LXVI. Philologies

by | Sep 16, 2015 | Opus Magnum

AssistantThe celebrated and celibate Norwegian philologist Olaf Bang Vridssïon publishes in the last number of Philology Today (for those distracted and filthy ignorant pigs, such is the name of a magazine about the world’s tongues, arms, legs, little fingers and also about languages and idioms uttered on this very planet; being not only the chicest one, but the famousest in the whole galaxy), an article that thoroughly describes a recent discovery that could make him deservedly earn the Hans Gotter Niel award, something similar to the prestigious Noble prize but in the field of the merely grammatical and speculative and implausible sciences.

“Through many of my life-long journeys [1] [2], I have discovered – and enjoyed – the most various and colourful mutations of all the languages that have ever been pronounced or written, whether correctly or not, on this sacred planet of ours. From primitive linguistic constructions constituted of barely three or four terms, to dense meta-structures that forced the creation of intimately compiled dictionaries: each one of the 80.000 volumes suffered the vast amount of 1876 pages per tome.

“That’s correct, my dear reader and subscriber – if you are simply borrowing the magazine, you can very well vanish into thin air: try to create a language ex nihilo, wherever you are, and I surely would have already tasted it, not only with my ears, but with my tongue, and also on some rare occasions with my very nose (due to an innate deformation of his respiratory system, Olaf suffered from continuous otitis attacks and as a consequence of our ever-adaptive nature, he developed an outstanding capacity to perceive acoustic vibrations through his nostrils).

“Life is always willing to surprise us; sometimes by making love to us, others directly by harassing and humiliating us without mercy. I know this through the only means in which knowledge is eventually possible for the unregenerated human being: experience. I thought, yet it might be fair to say that it was not a real thought but a belief wearing the costume of truth – probably due to my academic arrogance – that myself, Olaf, had already experienced everything that a man, hence a philologist, could have ever tasted on this earth during a thousand lives; but, alas, the unthinkable happened.

“It is the very unthinkability or unforseeability of such occurrence that makes it so difficult to transform it, to capture it within the realm words – particularly when its very nature supersedes them and reveals itself as a forbidden fruit for the speaking rationality; to turn my shock into words, familiar terms, and universal references. But nevertheless, I must try; at least for the sake and love I bear for you, dear subscribers and donors.

“In the beginning, Life, the impeccable lover, first caressed my left cheek disguised in the form a warm breeze. Then, she slapped me on the opposite cheek, to finally feast on my flesh and fat; only after breaking every hope I had – and every hole my body offered for the taking, she lovingly presented to me the discovery that will eventually transform a humble and wise scholar – me – in an eternal bronze figure guarding the entrance of the top five most prestigious Universities of the World.

“When? How? Where?

“Impossible to erase it from my memory. It was during the…(regretfully we are sorry to interrupt the account, but the sole and only magazine copy that still tenaciously persists, presents ruinous conditions)…(…)…that lukewarm day of July, precisely a 23rd of that summery month (a remarkable melancholic feature of the author, given that during those days he was in the southern hemisphere), during which, in a gesture of mild anxiety, fate anticipated my birth anniversary by a couple of days, presenting me with a gift – merely it was an instant – that would and will endure in my life for ever: the finding, the discovery (the offering) of the Languages of Languages, die Sprache der Sprachen as Goethe would have put it; the Lingua Linguarum according to Plinio; the symphonic phonating hologram which has been the cause of death and madness of almost every scientific researcher that had preceded me: the unknown – but long suspected – perfect synthesis of human linguistic possibilities; the definitive Opus that encompasses the whole natural history (is there a history that should be called unnatural?), which made sense of the after-taste of all possible evolutions, and all anticipation of any unreachable destiny; the constant and orgiastic lingual recreation that would change not only my house, my car and my wife (we assume given the vast amounts of funds and fame that the author achieved after such a discovery), but the whole history of human kind.

“And it was there, under my very nose (which during those days was not working as a hearing organ as usual, such as we have explained a couple of paragraphs before – he had developed a sort of dermo-hearing – because the tropical weather reigning in the zone where Olaf lived at the time was quite beneficial for his waxy and otitistic ears) on the uncharted island of Laguarhga, in the West Melanesia, some 763 miles from the northernmost coast of Australia.

“Without fear of being mistaken, that lingual birthday gift bestowed upon me by fate is the most vast and complicated language that has ever resounded and reflected, or might exist in a probable future, on this planet; not only here and now, but in all other dimensions and parallel universes as well. (Is it logical to say that those universes are really unhappy, because they never touch each other?)

“It is a mirror-like language; it shows all that has been, all that is, all that will be, and all the improbable variations in a constant expansion towards the indefinable and elusive. Within its humble 786-character alphabet, every probability hinting at both ends of the temporal illusion could, have, are, and will be embraced.

“It’s time to share some of the most notorious characteristics of my fortunate discovery:

“A vast part of its vocabulary lacks a fixed point: the main body of the materialistic side of the language, namely the substantives, have no fixed existence; they are submitted to a constant unpredictable variation, mutation and transgression: a permanent state of exciting invention.

“The residuals of the tongue are somehow floating inside the realms of the West Germanic Languages; that is, all which is not contained within the fundamental (material) category – verbi gratia adjectives, adverbs and verbs – show, presently, no sign of variation whatsoever.

“To date (there is a debate about the precise moment of this assertion, but with 97% of votes, the winning option is the 30th of August, 1923) the only official and perpetually re-imprinted dictionary consists of 1.653.123.485.569.512.646.541.223.786.154.646.123.456 of terms and nouns; by the time I finished writing the previous number, the upcoming new dictionary edition would have augmented its content, according to my precarious calculations, to the monstrous figure that consists in the above-mentioned irrationality multiplied by 786.786.786.786. Its expansion is constant and unpredictable, simply because it is subjected to the tongue or hand of the speaker-writer. The bright side of this ever-growing mayhem is the power of the editorial and publishing industry: it proves to be a consistent foundation of this society, given that it employs around 78% of the working force available on this island. Predictions insist that eventually a lack of printing workers might prove to be a challenge for the government in power, if not ruinous.

“Every system, be it small or enormously huge, needs a fixed point; had this language not been enjoying such precondition, communication – and its subsequent evolution – would have been and be impossible indeed. In this case, besides the mentioned categories of adjectives, adverbs and verbs, names and surnames are also part of that group of the immutable. The man is the archetype, the perfect Platonic idea; things, objects, are his reflection, his multiplicity. That’s at least what can be reasoned after tasting such a terminological madness. A taste that, after some exercises and attempts at swimming in its challenging grammatical waters, results in being quite sour.

“As I’ve stated before, the expansion of the vocabulary is unstoppable (the psychiatrist and graduate in evolutive psychotherapy, Dr Daniel Sciannuy, senses that this constant reference to a certain expansion could find its very origin in the particular obsession that Olaf could have had with the size of his masculine member; or reductio ad adversus, in the vast size of his occasional female lovers). Every time a dialogue happens, every time someone, somewhere on this rock that we call planet Earth thinks of something, a new exception to the worthless curved rule is created. Expansion!

“Such is the scope of the improvisation that the islanders subject their linguistic construction to, that one might be forced to consider that a natural horrendous memorious capacity is surely to blame; perhaps this never-ending creation of terms might be caused by a virus; or it might be the work of a bacteria or simply something which I cannot even imagine whose name has not yet been canonized in the upcoming release of the Official Dictionary.

“But, from my experience with these islanders I can assert that this unique characteristic in their linguistic universe mirrors a certain lack of esteem for all things material, thus making them appear as if they had been living in a natural state of detachment which eventually causes this continuum of oblivion, this constant forgetfulness affecting the soon to be, for an infinite time, baptized noun. Could this disdain for earthly possessions have affected the brain in such a way that, after years of detachment, the anatomy of their grey matter has been modified, thus causing this perpetual substantive invention? If such were the case, then it should be asserted that invention is the daughter of necessity. Here an example:

Mon means frog for subject A, and subject B, referring to the same amphibian instants after the first mention, calls the frog – before a Mon – a Neb.

“The island, that had to be baptised by my urine and named by my genial and amazing imagination, is now known throughout the world (and here as well) as Olaf Universalis – because as the reader should have already guessed, each time I’ve asked a lingual inhabitant of this rock, I received a different version of the previous name: this must imply that the island’s appellative is not a name but a noun that pretended to be something else; otherwise it could not have been changed or varied ad libitum ad infinitum.

“So far, I’ve recompiled 698.873 different ways of naming the island, which supports near 6.786.942 residents. Please, dear reader, do the proper calculations and you will promptly see how many possible variations could be in existence of the simple concept that depicts a freg (surely affected by the geographical and climatological peculiarities of the island, we note how the author starts to inadvertently vary the word he had used before in its original – our – form, a couple of lines before this one, when he was referring to a frog).

“One of the most obvious consequences of this characteristic of lingual variation is that there is no effective possible communication without a fair amount of energy wasted within the process of explaining the aim of the given discourse; the object does not possess an ontic existence, whereas verbs are starting to show some shadows of the creative chaos that was not affecting them during previous conservative times; actions are starting not to find a resonance within any given movement whether physical or of an inner nature: I’ve spotted some mimicking during a couple’s fight yesterday afternoon, though it could have perfectly been a pair of deaf folks chatting; and the justice courts are packed of supposed bandits – even though the atrocious concept of stttealh has already suffered innumerable reformulations before the trial was allowed to commence, thus creating a legal mayhem and a general puzzlement; when such a thing happens, a new criminal code has to be discussed, voted, written, printed and enacted as the actual existing law, with the natural addendum explaining the whole code in pictures and drawings which effectively help to avoid any type of probable (most certain) confusion and misinterpretation.

“It is being whispered that the possibility of writing a prodigious volume of thousands of enlightening pages, which would explain what a code is, might be in studiiiiiyre.

“In order to help the imagination of my dear faithful readers, here I share a thorough image of the disaster experienced by the islanders on a daily basis, by quoting verbatim a dialogue that took place in the Misdemeanour Curtttz for Seikos of the Eilan, located in the centre of the main city (we are forced to assume that he was referring to the Courts for Citizens of the Island).

“Peter, a middle-aged man accused of groping Petra, an attractive woman in her middle thirties, stands in front of the judge.

Judge: Peter, why did you touch Petra’s – do remember that names, unless it is a noun, never change – tkhis?, which at the time meant ass.

Peter: I did not touch her tkhiz – a slight mispronunciation of the original word, which shows the extent of the prevailing linguistic disorder – I don’t even know what that means! I only tuchwe her chus – word that for Peter meant ass, whereas tuchwe implied a touch of the same anatomical area, yet with love.

Petra: Mister Jug – judge –, this byos – man – did not tuchwe my tkhis nor my chus, but my ass.

Judge: Miss, I cannot understand nille – nothing – of what you are twweröp – saying –.

“This episode is still under constant creatio ad infinitum. So far, it’s been 300 inventive days, 89 hours and 54 minutes since the hearing session started. Petra’s tjhizs has been touched 1001 times (of course, the author is referring to her ass).

“As you can fairly see, dear fans, we are talking of an ever expanding entropy.

“The last tendency, according to the judgemental Pior Grass, who is a famous trend-setter and glamorous fashion boy par excellence of our tonguey Illaend, is to simply point with the finger at that object of our interest, overcoming the communicative difficulty by resuscitating the Scepticism ideology of the Greeks.

“This method proved to be highly inefficient for concepts such as love, hate, hunger, and other countless examples, because it has been reasonably proven that pointing at one’s digestive system in case of hunger, could not only be interpreted as appetite, but as an almost infinite series of probabilities, namely: peptic ulcer, heart-burn, the presence of heliobacter pylori, irritable bowel syndrome, gases, huge appetite, voracious hunger, my tummy hurts, I’m constipated, this diarrhoea is killing me, do you like my six-pack?, I’m pregnant, aim here, Jonas is in my uterus, etc., etc., etc. A system that relies on the sensitivity of the forced interpreter is doomed from its very conception.

“Naturally, and because such an invention was conceived inside an artistic brain, it proved to be efficient and useful to all those inspirations of and through the Muses.

“Wooden case Number 1:

Rock concert given by the famous group Pet o Fär, which today means something like Do I play for money, or I better jump into the lake with my sandals on? Stage filled with elements, objects that at prima facie might appear to be gathered in a randomly fashion: handsaws, nails, screws, an inflatable doll, some footballs, a tennis racquet, a used fake moustache, Venetian masks, Cuban cigars, Pluuusticha Hyuöon, and another super-long etc.

“The reason behind such an accumulation of goods?

“Those utensils will help the band’s singer as he chants, improvising the unpredictable lyrics of the concert songs, to illustrate his art and vocal expression in order to make sense of what he is singing about, to the public; therefore the fans will eventually be able to understand what is the subject of the performed song. The sound of the word no longer matters; the only thing important is the element being showed to an audience, who are immersed in a mimic-grammatical ecstasy.

“With the humble aim of allowing the readers’ minds to enter into a realm of ecstatic imaginative activities, I do invite them to prefigure the material and actual complexities that, given the linguistic peculiarities that we have been discussing, are implicit in and dominate all religious ceremonies: infernal logistics, besides the indefatigable production teams that work impeccably in the pursuit of the objects and animals and others requested by the voracity of the given orator – be that a rabbi, a priest, or an imam; let us not forget the marital discussions, which could indeed last for ages: yet there are only few virtuous ones who can reach a peaceful end; the vast majority inevitably end up in pain and useless suffering. Isn’t that the real aim behind each and every vow of eternal love? Deaths are becoming more customary.

“Facing such a devastating outlook, it is easy to infer the cause that triggers the lack of tourist flow in the area, despite the Islaänd’s fabulous pletus, (we do regret the author’s faux pas, but we prefer to keep the verbatim version of his article, and intervene whenever the situation calls upon us. In this case he is naturally talking about beaches) the juyyt (local) economtuyysoiía (economy) is slipping through a steep downfall and my glass is yet again thirsty for whisky; I better go to the store. But on my return, accompanied by the full taste of MacCutcheon’s best malt, I shall tell you about my latest adventure! Hays, yihssga, y ha a. mduwu 89875.”

As you can see, dear readers (and we, the editors of this magnificent book, do not care whether you’ve read the magazine because you are subscribed to it, or because you happened to steal it), those last lines are the verbatim copy, without any change whatsoever, respecting every pause, every punctuation, every comma, every space, every breath you take, every inflexion and intention of the last literary expression belonging to the celebrated philologurrus norwesgihe fo Nayyyyutyos, Olaf Bang Vridssïon, so you, respected and beloved reader, might be able to appreciate the dark and grotesque side concealed behind of such a linguistic discovery.

And as you surely have been able to perceive throughout the his previous account, but specially during the end of the last whisky infested last passage, that the philologurrus started, probably forced and affected by an odd virus contracted in the Islaänd (atoll, to be more precise), to improvise otis ir öooosirh hrrwsstufm, gfhjhadëeäsddgeil.

Former top officials of the now extinct KGB are today working on decoding the last words written by the celebrated Norwegian researcher; it appears that soon after he left the house in his thirsty pursuit of whisky, he anxiously slipped and broke his nose, thus suffering a death by drowning in his own blood. It is also believed by the great ex-Soviet intelligentsia that his last wrodds biïiiisng gos, were: Hjjüss, Haothss, Haslllä!!!

Editor’s Note:

We are sorry to mention that the copyist in charge of transcribing the article and the notes that you’ve just read has died due to an unknown virus that was apparently contracted in some unreal uncharted island embraced by the pacific oceanic waters. This ailment shows its presence in the human organism by forcing the host to improvise an impossible language: something that has been tuuusïios berofjsee.

Second Editor´s Note:

We are deeply and humbly sorry to mention that this is a déjà vu of a literary nature, and this last paragraph is a faulty repetition of the other previous paragraph, but nothing important has really happened; though we can really and positively affirm and assure you that the great Olaf Bong Vridssïon is reyylie tut.

The gifted Jorge Luis Borges has timidly admitted and acknowledged, by suggesting it with his usual shyness, the impact of Olaf’s work in his own writing, being Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius perhaps the most famous witness of such an influence. His last words, when questioned about the shadow casted upon him by the great philologist, were: Tuk tuiiiig jugi Olaf ert an Genuis ung hgitu’s Cherry Pie.

 

[1]           The reader shall notice that in this text the infamous and extensive footnotes have been abandoned, though we can assure you that they are being very well taken care of in a luxury resort created for discarded footnotes – a retirement home of sorts; the motives are varied. There is no such thing as a foot within the realm – boundless in its intention, finite in its reality – or of this magnificent book. There is no band. No hay orquesta. It presents an affront to the agility of the reading as well as good health and flexibility (can there be good health without stretching abilities?). Any commentary to be considered as pertinent to the account will be inserted in the suitable and appropriate place, without ever molesting our beloved reader. When you read something written between something else – like this – it is a commentary by the author of the article; when you find (something like this) it’s a reborn footnote disguised in another form; the karmatic circle of learning of the literary marks – footnotes. So, hoping that all is clear – as if the writer (and reader) were not clever enough to understand a simple change of inner laws like this one – we are printing this last sentence (which really is not going to be the last) in order to make sure that everybody understands. In this case, and as the last and only exception, we shall complete the footnote number (1); the curious and restless neighbour of our heroic philologist, speculated during the course of a taciturn afternoon of May, that the trips would add up to 78.948.387.

[2]           We do promise that this will be the last footnote ever to be created (at least in this story). If the commoner calls the fifth month of the year May, should the more polite and educated member of society call it Might? Following the same logic, does the opposite society realm ought to name it Must?

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