You should say what you mean, the March Hare went on
You shouldn’t listen to the news. But you do. The latest – a huge, slavering loon has escaped from a genetic lab and attacked the coast of Maine with its massive stubby beak. Every word we ever say is dissonant, and yet the more fearful we become, the more definitive our classification. But there is a word inside every word, a sound of life’s grief in every vowel. Nothing is univocal – ‘as time alters the fabric of human association, it also alters the fabric of linguistic usage, the imputable or deployable nuances of words that make possible that association’. You can make glittering deployments of your own, but right now who is deploying nuance – nuance stinks! Bad! If your words smell like the fabric of time, they sure don’t smell like mine (and yet they still smell. Curious). The humongous loon slopes away to think about this in New Amsterdam. Words smell different here, too. In fact, as the loon drapes its wings across Uluru and the Pictlands, it is bombarded by a series of smells so utterly different that it falls into a funky warp. The global dictionary is not a fucking disco. Like I said, stay away from the news. It’s not even global, and dancing is expressly not permitted on the pages. Elsewhere, and elsewhen, the loon is called – and means – something else. But don’t let that hold you back, dancers.
‘Immigrants will be expected speak English language’ (the mistakes in this sign – it’s a sign, at an airport – are orthographic not fundamental). You can’t even speak English! Speak English! Take your smells away. I am sick of smells that I know are fake. I’m like – I’m afraid, I don’t ever fake-smell so why should they. (Believe me, everyone fakes it. I’m faking it right now – I actually smell of roses). Anything, anymore, on your shoulders. Weight, unhappy together. Leave, stay indifferent, choose between one option or another option. Or, ‘the vast space between two poles’ is the sacrifice of language, misunderstanding is the place where we unite. We lock eyes. This is our communication – absolute complicit silence.
If you want to live in (New?) England or (South?) America, you must be able to speak English. If you want to live on Mars, you must be able to speak Martian. If you want to live ambiently, you must be able to make ambient noises. If you want to preserve the past, you must have a pretty short memory. If you want something, you must use the words that have been diagnosed as fit to meet the conditions of your desire. We look at each other. Blank.
You’re lonely. You reach your safe place – a room that is overwhelmingly clean, good with furniture. Are you quite sure about this, stranger? There’s something sinister about you – you hawk your pagan, you hawk your talons. What is hawk your talons? You’ve taken no classes, you’ve been deprived of a translator – cuts, but also a policy that appears in the shape of a diagram: a symbol, or series of symbols, in a language you do not know. An overwhelmingly clean man says words at you, sweet plans in store for you, bad for morale, epicentre, nevermore or fruit-picker in blue. So it sounds.
Where you’re from, words move from person to person like ants, carrying their malleable spoils high on their backs. By the time the word arrives at its next destination, it is of the same substance and yet it has moved some distance. This is its mutable phase. Like ants, words see the world as a place for marching and moving. Or so you suppose, where you’re from. When – if – the word arrives, it is treated paradoxically: with great care, yet its fate is destruction – it is bedded down into the detritus of all the other words, and as ugly, morphing rot feeds a thousand-million other words that are hungry in the mouth of the speaker. Words are a contagion, and precarious messages. Where you’re from, each word is created as it is spoken, and lives as mould when it arrives. Remember, these words often do not arrive, many rove the network, dazed.
Before you reached the safe place. It was an unnatural night, bright and blousy. This was when the warm sky bulged in places. You spoke the word, ‘to.’ It sounded toh. The word moved towards the coastline, distinctly aware that this place was home but had been distorted out of all recognition. The coastline looked like an open mouth with blackened teeth. The water was slick with oil. But there was a boat, and the word glided on board, this is how it was, the oil slick, the boat, the death-face. There were no fish for the word to eat, no turning back, play dumb. The sea was swollen all the unnatural night, in the corners of the boat there was shivering. Still, mostly, but anxious, hopeful. A conquering, helmets studded with upturned horns, braids; Moorish beards, science and the invention of chess; the free movement of people up and down the Atlantic seaboard – the transoceanic Celt; the long-eared, the short-eared; the inescapable history of relentless movement; a single figure punting out to her Norwegian rock. On arrival, the word sounded noh, or nei. It snuck up in the mouth of the overwhelmingly clean man and rotted in his mouth, glistening like a jewel.
We will not speak. We are withdrawing from speech, if only just to languish in each other’s eyes. In the year 2020, the mega-ark of ENGLISH and its barrelled sides contained all the new words (that would die on production). Indeed, words were scooped out of the rot of mouths and re-directed into the network. This had a twofold premise: words to hunt out any words lost in the network and destroy them; and words to prevent words from behaving like ants, like they do where you’re from. Out of the gloop of fungal vocabulary, all words sound the same: ‘if you want, you must’. We’ll lose a lot of small things in the crossfire, but it’ll keep the otherworldly instances of misunderstanding to a minimum – hopefully it’ll cancel them out completely. If you come to this fucking place, keep your mouth shut.
In the meantime, we diagram silence, feeling that ‘we are the injured body, let us not desert one another’. Where you are from, language carries itself among your kin. You offer it to each other like a series of gifts, fearful and joyful in the knowledge it’ll die, it’ll fail. You are fascinated by this migration, each word is a stranger in a strange land, but travelling. Where you’re from, the edges of languages are their most alluring curves. ‘In other words, what if it is not meaning that requires language, but only interpretation?’ You won’t even need to interpret the butterflew, the drownfail, the warloan, the supermark. They will come to you with their burdens on their backs and settle down inside your mouth, won’t they?