Holiday Fragment: This Past Year

patrick-fore https://unsplash.com/photos/LkjruCBLg9I

 

Do you trust your fellow WordPress users to chose the best post on Quiver Quotes? According to the dubitable measuring stick of “number of people who clicked like” the most meritorious of this year’s posts with a total of 60 button-presses is:

The Art of Writing: Quirks and Perks: We all are rich and ignore the buried fact of accumulated wisdom, says Ray Bradbury. A fitting end-of-year sentiment: do not think of how you are becoming older, but of how you are becoming wiser. Then, if you are so inclined, mine your experience for jewels to be burnished with words. The generations to come may appreciate it.

The runners-up:

The Woman and the Painter: John Banville’s vivid description (ekphrasis) of a woman sitting for a sordid painter captured the eye of my readers. Homer, Shakespeare, Keats and Borges get a mention too. I admire Banville’s style and have written numerous posts about his work, so his appearance on this list is no surprise.

Style: Quirks and Perks: Style is an increment in writing, says E. B. White. Ah, I’m glad he made this list too, for a copy of Strunk & White lies at the foundation of my writing. Even when I forsake pith in favour of flourish, I abjure in order to (I write to) and the fact that (I delete it).

The Unnatural Act: A post on what I termed the metaphorical itch. Nice to have one’s invented “speech figure” make the cut as well. I suspect it’s actually the attractive illustration and the quirky subject of surrealism that helped insinuate the post into the dark favours of my readers. Or could it have been my attempt at grotesque surrealistic prose?

I love all my baby-posts equally but I tend to forget the earlier ones, so as personal favourites I’d probably class any of the ones I wrote in November. If I’m pressed to say which ones, then I enjoyed inventing meld words in Poetry of Hyphens: Elements and imagining flash-fiction in Poetry of Hyphens: Exotic. 

Continue reading

Holiday Fragment: On the Complement of a Language

patrick-fore https://unsplash.com/photos/LkjruCBLg9I

 

Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice is a novel in the form of a multiple choice exam. (Highly recommended—it’s a reading experience unlike any other.)

Given this precedent, I format my thoughts below as questions from an as of yet unwritten exam-novel. I don’t know the answers, you might.


Question: 

Each language has a number of phonemes (distinct sounds).

Define a phonetic complement of a language to be all the sounds not used by that language.

  1. Are there languages living in the phonetic complements of each other?
  2. If not, is it possible to construct a meaningful language in the phonetic complement of any given existing language?
  3. If so, given a sufficiently well-defined framework of phonemes achievable by the human vocal apparatus, can we construct a set of pairwise disjoint languages that completely exhaust all possible phonemes?

Rider: Each language has a number of morphemes (smallest meaningful units of language). If the morpheme complement at a given time t (we have to freeze time as languages evolve) is defined to be the collection of unused morphemes of that language, how would you go about constructing a new language using the same phonemes but contained in the morpheme complement?

Explain.

 

 

 


This is part of a series of short holiday posts that are mostly excerpts and thoughts from my literary diary. Here is what a “usual” post on Quiver Quotes looks like: Life Without Parenthesis …

Holiday Fragment: To Pedestal an Author

patrick-fore https://unsplash.com/photos/LkjruCBLg9I

When reading a well-known author, first put them on a pedestal justified by their reputation, by laudatory secondary literature, by personal awe and impersonal envy.

Then study the statue you’ve erected. (Rub your neck occasionally.)

You may take the statue down from the pedestal only when you feel you understand its flaws, and when improving on those flaws haunts your dreams (even if you have little evidence that you are able to do better).

Pedestal a new author.

Repeat.

Repeat until the time that passes between putting up and taking down a statue becomes small enough to be negligible (the duration of reading a magnum opus and sundry). At that point you have become:

  • an objective critic,
  • a supreme author,
  • a blind man (a fool),
  • some or all of the above.

This is part of a series of short holiday posts that are mostly excerpts and thoughts from my literary diary. Here is what a “usual” post on Quiver Quotes looks like: The Softness of Pillows: Quirks and Perks.

Holiday Fragment: On Communication

andreas-brucker https://unsplash.com/photos/d75_vVbOET8

 

An efficient expression courts silence.

Tacit encodes social axioms. Foreigners bane: Culture is tacit.

Everyone should know how far their tongue bends.

 

 

 


This is part of a series of short holiday posts that are mostly excerpts and thoughts from my literary diary. Here is what a “usual” post on Quiver Quotes looks like: Tolkien’s Fox.

Holiday Fragment: To Journey Through a Text

andreas-brucker https://unsplash.com/photos/d75_vVbOET8

Today’s is the first in a series of posts under the heading Holiday Fragments. With a few exceptions, I will offer a number of short-short excerpts from my literary diary. Some may be thought-seeds, some dumb-duds: you decide.

I usually guard my unfinished fragments as if they were golden apples likely to cause the next Trojan war. But time erodes their personal value, and as the end of the year approaches, I’m clearing house to make way for a shiny new crop.

 


To Journey Through a Text

The length of a text does not determine whether it is a novel, a novella, a short story, or a vignette. It is the subjective length (and quality) of the reader’s journey that measures the weightiness of a work and therefore determines its classification.