Category Archives: Language

Martian Shock Therapy…

Thematic Semantics: Point A—

Flap you b@#$%&?!

Rod Hull

taster of london with nick 05Since its inception, I’ve found myself plodding along at a far steadier pace than I had intended— especially after a lay off as long I had; but I’m pretty sure I’m enjoying myself upon more than just similar lines. As such I’m more than willing to play more. If one is able to do after all— it’s criminal not to; so do, is what I’m doing.

I had intended to weave a little Welles into my thoughts— but it’s far too important a thing to have lost, wasted in ridiculous so soon without a little context to grease the tracks first— besides, if I keep it up, I’ll have exceeded half of all the probabilities I’d originally set myself, and in the hood of all likeliness— I’ll be lucky to fill the other.

Although, that being said, I do have the odd treat up my sleeve— it’s not as if I have it planned as much as it’s more a case of learning to fly again by jumping out of a plane with someone with a parachute beside me asking, with some urgency I might add, ‘why aren’t you flapping?’

So, from the springboard of planes and parachutes, it’s quite possible to take monkeys, aliens, world-domination and even woman around a peculiar semantic merry-go-round; such are the contextual marvels of alternative thought. But like all good things, we must start at point A. And for the next few days I’ll be following a thematic-chain which will no doubt lead me right back to here, past through and perhaps over some of these most inevitable of categories.

The reason for my desired launchpad is owing to the quasi-obssession I’ve had for many years with the first 45 minutes of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. It has a tendency to collapse in on itself during the second half which is hardly a crime as there have been many very good works falling short of greatness owing to a lack of lustre in their final third— but for three quarters of an hour we are treated to one of the greatest voices there’s ever been narrating away with his life, very much in the balance— we even get to hear him say whoosh— which makes the fee for the CD alone, worth an admission.

If I had Richard Burton’s voice for a day, I would make my million and retire— so long as my ‘million’ was pounds and not just trilbies for a secret army of chimps; which would be quite ridiculous. There’s not a scenario I can imagine where I’d actually be able to keep an army of chimps secret. And it’s not through a lack of trying.

Anywise, the Martians have this great war-cry. Actually, it’s the only thing they do say, which is probably why they’re so angry and destructive in the first place: it’s a cry for help, an out-shout for a better vocabulary: we want your planet and your dictionary. It certainly resonates far stronger with me, than some nonsense about the proliferation of their species.

But instead they caught a cold. But not before crying ooohlaaa! a few times, which is actually pretty creepy as it is. However, if you isolate it; run it through a few filters, transpose it a little then play it a little louder than is really necessary, it becomes positively disturbing. And what is especially alarming is if you allow your computer to cry it out whenever it feels like it.

Half a dozen times a day I used to hear it and every time I’d get one of those wtf moments— you’d expect after a while that the nerves would take a bit of a shredding, but it actually became quite therapeutic, particularly when it provided an excuse to leak sentences…

And with that, we’ll just have to see where it takes us.

We will peck them to death to-morrow, my dear…

H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

Two fortnights; four weeks; one month or thirty very odd days…

To a month of links and thinking differently;

And a little bit of noise—

I hope it’s been some fun…

coacheswar-crimescricketbreadsticksblogging cats baby-sitting aboutbad-teaching balloons  ettiquette  coffee furniture girl gnomes habits grammar house-sitting immigration golf knitting meltdown marshmallows lost miniamlism nail-clippings onearmed man rules procrastination phone-calls senses shit pockets sick

stuffed-cats superhero syntax

I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained…

Walt Disney

Safety in Number?

It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject—

And there can be only one…

IMG_5572 800The girl who read expressions lessened her eyes to fingertips; closed hers and found his lips. She found them wanting she decided, but found hers dry. The girl who read movements loosened her shirt, her neck released, showed her heart still beats and found sweetly his within her hands. And with him inside little sounds, took him down, letting go the mouth she found and crowned— herself the girl who took a look aside the skin she tried to use to hide, was left there shaking, an aching-like play-thing made believe. She was not petrified…

Pleasure.

Mootax & the mood-syntax button…

I never did very well in math—

I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn’t meant my answers literally

Calvin Trillin

IMG_2343Sometimes the answers lie in what we choose not to say:

The calendar is stricken and reversed; as such, much better counting down to something I fancy. It is a solution most ordinary, but alternative enough had I not known of the palindrome. But no ordinary one: the alternative palindrome.

I’d start at one and on to 12, halt and return forth-with; or perhaps a pattern based upon the alternative kaleidoscope, which unlike the original model, wasn’t random at all, but split into 4 alternating groups descending by a day at a time— in multiples of 6. The alternative ‘primes’ method was considered for a few minutes but disregarded for being too stupid— but it was the only one that was.

I quite liked it at first: the idea of making something, except when it fell on a day that was ‘prime’ in which case, I just ignored it; and why not? I happen to be prime too also: divisible by myself and one. It’s not something I’d care to try— I saw Braveheart, all stretched out and screaming. So no.

It was even suggested I take a look at the ISO 8601 Original date system, a system designed to prevent confusion and the misplace of time in the future. After all, we wouldn’t want to confuse my date of birth as the year 26111976 would we. Although it wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve met few who’d have to think about it for a while. Anyway, ISO was over-ruled, not just because it was bollocks, but also mean to imbeciles. It was a conscience call.

In any event, we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve needed to write something to someone about something and have struggled. Perhaps the page in mind was too ‘industrial’ or ‘salty’ to have resolved or conveyed what ever the message should have read. It does put a dampener on things, especially if you end up sending a load of ‘unfs’ and ‘ucks’ anyway. Help should be at hand— perhaps in the form of:

The Mood-Syntax Button

Or Mootax for short. It would be an ideal addition to future generations of Word. Not that I can imagine having much faith in it were it so.

Already this morning, it’s tried to persuade me that, ‘I am divisible by myself and one is I not?’ And that ISO 8601, is ‘a system designed to prevent confusion and misplace the time of the future.’ Perhaps it was just being alternative; wasn’t it Agent Mulder who coined the phrase, I believe Microsoft Works?

That said, I do like the notion of the misplacement of time because of a computer error– not all that removed from yesterday is it?

In order for Mootax to work optimally, it would have to be used in conjunction with voice recognition software. A good barney on paper is nothing compared to one: au natural. The minute the fingers get involved there are too many rules; deflation ensues and that constant voice of reason’s forever telling you, ‘you can’t write that.’

So do not…

Switch on, log-in, ‘f’ and blind, cry, whinge, la, laugh, grit, snort or rabbit, ’til a voice you have no more. Convert it to text, highlight it and then select the appropriate mood. I think you’d have to have the option of selecting multiple moods for any passage, including an ‘and’ or ‘but’ variable. For example:

Soft but ‘pissy’ and ‘indifferent but sincere’ wouldn’t have the same ring to them were they both, and not at the expense of either. But that’s where the custom settings would come into play.

A simple questionnaire would suffice in order to capture a Mootax setting which could be pre-programmed and used whenever you felt like it.

I’d want the amnesia setting with the but of: a tendency to forget.

And for those who prefer to type: A pressure sensitive keyboard with an auto-correct facility included at no extra cost…

Reflecting on laziness, Hungarian commanders, an author’s middle name & a one armed man…

Those familiar, would know Montmorency:

And those not, should be; a dog born with more than his fair share of original sin…

527026_10151214972026041_54942606_nI was a familiar stranger once in a city of few lights past the open fridges in Electrical Appliance Retail, which glowed as cigarettes do in darkened rooms. These are reflections which inevitably lead to what I describe as: Klapka moments.

I was a student at the time— a status which allowed a certain degree of latitude with tardiness, which is all well and good since my time spend horizontal was more circumferential than to a certain degree. Sometimes it overlapped and sometimes it crossed; sometimes into a whole new day and sometimes I didn’t have to move a single muscle. This was speculative posturing, tailor-made for study, especially in front of the television: it was all about the visual learning experience.

I remember discussing the prospects of sharing such moments— a moment shared is a moment halved after all— and a bonus surely, since the other half could clearly be made up elsewhere. The idea however was dismissed as foolish— in fact the very notion was rejected so effortlessly; done so with nothing but an unimpressed twitch: I’ve seen shuffles and glances last longer. Unperturbed, I proudly informed her— the effortless shuffler— that I could sit for days without moving, but again, was greeted with another sideways look that this-time almost breached the perpendicular.

It was a subtlety that was again to be misplaced, although this time only everso briefly. I can only describe it as a moment of empathic clumsiness on my part. I made the mistake of offering to ‘lend a hand’ to a man who was struggling to retrieve a dropped wallet. It was a comment that wouldn’t have been quite so Caligulan had the man— on closer inspection, been in possession of both his arms. I don’t blame him for the stern expression he imparted, but its implying wish to take from me, that what he was sadly lacking was unmistakable. Personally, I don’t blame him.

It wasn’t an intentional blaze of cruelty— I actually felt for the chap despite feeling amused by my own lack of tact…

It was wonderfully surreal accompaniment: a side platter:

A salad bar on a day of free pizza…

The semantic identity crisis surrounding all-in-one pyjamas…

Look back, and smile at perils past—

Or simply find the nearest grown-up in toddlers’ habiliment…

7720_204996201040_7432759_n

An adult in a baby-grow is wrong— in fact it’s practically retarded. Practically, that is, but not quite. Pleonastic perhaps, but entirely necessary. Regressive would probably be the better term, although reaction formation might do also, were it only a word and far too early in the peace to get defensive. I certainly wouldn’t feel the need to narrow my semantics any further to accomodate an r-word, particularly when there’s already a narrowing between metaphor and metonymy— that’s if, I were to believe in such a thing. The occupation of infant by adult is scant enough to satisfy my minimalism and certainly disturbing enough once summerised: contiguity via wardrobe. Three words. I could quite easily has decided upon, onesies are stupid or, jump-suits? Seriously? But I didn’t.

There. I said it: onsies are stupid;  the word ‘onesie’ is stupid; jump-suit is no better either. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to prefix novelty nightwear with the word jump or anything remotely like it, the clobber in question had better be fucking lacy; frilly even and not, even remotely opaque. Sleep-suit is at least sensibly self-referential, but to accept its self-evidence, one must also accept far too much sibilance for my liking. An abundance of s’s should ideally be held back for more ironic or moronic purposes. It’s also mean to would be readers who lisp.

If I had to pick a pillow to chew however, I’d opt, much like any other self-respecting inner-linguist-ninja would, for romper-suit; particularly for it’s ambi-sexual gender relevance— something which should resonate with everyone; kind of bringing us back to the word ‘onesie’: the adjective this time, not the noun.

That and I think I’d feel less of a wanker wearing something to sleep in which came with ears:

Romper-suit it would seem—

Ticks all the appropriate boxes.

Which still don’t make it so…

If Teaching facts makes you a bad teacher, does rocking when you’re not stressed make you a bad autistic?

A monkey glances up and sees a banana, and that’s as far as he looks—

Eoin Colfer

Monkey tricks by VicaVersionOn perception:

One of my pet hates is when I hear educators moan about facts as if they were hazardous to health. I’ve heard them moan that they serve no purpose, that they’re a waste of time; outdated or are somehow superfluous; that it’s not proper teaching. There are numerous complaints, too many to list— however the median I seem to come across most, might as well be the very devil himself: the date:

1066, the Battle of Hastings;

1588 and the Spanish Armada

1805, Trafalgar and so on and so forth…

And to some degree I agree that there is a limited quality, albeit a limited re-usable quality to this type of knowledge. Personally, I love it, can’t get enough but that’s just me, give me more…

However, facts make learning easier. Facts give concept-based teaching context. Facts make learning more effective. This is not a judgement call, nor is it an opinion— unlike approaches based purely around concept, there is mountains of data which suggest that the use of facts as part of a learning strategy works; having a solid bank of knowledge regarding a particular topic, then makes conceptual-learning effective, not the other way around. The very notion that anyone can form long lasting contextual assessments on anything without knowing what it is they’re supposed to be contextualising is counter-intuitive— but this is one of the things modern teachers are taught to do, even though it flies in the face of most of the available evidence.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the ability to conceptualise is an imperative to successful learning; and the reasoning that the way it’s now used is ‘best’ and the way it should be done comes from reasonable sources— these are not stupid people. It just doesn’t work as they’d like it to work; it cannot work because the reasoning is built on whimsy, not the real world.

Facts: those concrete, unshakable units of information which are not subject to change are unpopular, when they should be the foundations upon which effective practices are built.

It’s difficult to understand why the idea of learning useful, relevant and re-usable information is so frowned upon— as a former practitioner, I do at least understand the potential difficulties involved in the presentation; I did all the time— but again, the median argument against it is just as unreasonable: we can’t just have kids reciting dates over and over…

Of course not— that really is stupid. Professional teachers should be able to incorporate some kind of fact-based content into their lessons if they are proficient in their subject, without the furore— they do it everyday to some degree as it is, but there’s just something about the word fact that they’re taught not to like. I would’ve taught in a dress if I had cold hard data suggesting cross-dressing made learning more effective; and that should be the only thing that matters. There are approaches which work and some which work better than others; some are just unpopular.

Now the reason I bring it up actually has nothing to do with teaching, but the underlying trait which shapes this particular issue.

It’s a packaging problem— rightly or wrongly our perception becomes this: so it’s gotta be true. It’s exactly the same problem we have with labels— some of which effectively describe certain people and conditions, but are wildly unpopular. Some of which are too accurate so a semantically broader variant is encouraged as preferable. Personally, I struggle with aspects of this— I don’t find words, tags or labels to be inherently functional without context. One of the problems of being concept-based people instead of substance based, will be an increased obsession with eradicating ‘offensive’ lexis, regardless of context. Which in itself, is an act I find deeply offensive.

Anyway, the catalyst for this came about from several sources, independent of which, I wouldn’t have had a contextual springboard to unite them— however when taken together, there are similarities which I think are fascinating.

The first was this article1, which recounts the author’s experiences with a couple of group sessions for adults on the autistic spectrum. She writes:

“I told the group about my own experiences in coming to terms with autism, about wanting to be autistic because it was the only thing that felt like all my experiences finally made some sense. About redirecting my energy and efforts towards things that would help me cope, instead of things that would make me appear normal. Allowing myself to be more visibly autistic.

“At those last words, the entire group gasped in shock … I’m not joking. I was the only one there who thought it wasn’t actually all that bad to be stimming in public.”

Now my first reaction was to try to empathise with group— some of whom were clearly uneasy with the author’s rocking but I couldn’t consolidate what it was about the article that was impressing upon me without resorting to speculation, despite the resonance of one of the questions: “If I don’t do things like that, then maybe I’m not actually autistic?”

It wasn’t until I read this post, that it all clicked into place: that, like some teachers’ point-blank refusal to accept that facts do not give you cancer, what I had in front of me was another packaging problem— which lead me to re-read the question as, I wouldn’t mind being autistic if I didn’t do things like that…

What struck me upon the second reading was an event from another session, which thanks to the second article, had even greater meaning in this context:

“[O]ne of them said to me that maybe I needed a time-out to calm down, because I was rocking back and forth so much. And when I said I was just focusing on the conversation, and not feeling anxious at all, he didn’t believe me.

Was she not believed because: autistics only rock when their stressed; or because ‘he’ only rocks when he’s stressed: so it’s gotta be true? It starts to become clear that across a wide range of things— how narrow and inflexible our associations can really be.

However, without Disabled, Not Broken2, I wouldn’t have written this at all. It finds the author posing a simple question and answering it by defining what he is and what he isn’t through a short exploration of language and its denotations: even the words which we use to define other words, which we then use to define who we are or what we think we are, aren’t always satisfactory contextually.

Add to that, that if you rock back and forth you are defined by your actions and emotional state: you must be autistic and you must need a time out. If you’re a teacher and heaven forbid you teach facts: you are defined by an historical context; that you’re out of touch, you’re doing something wrong and a bad practitioner. Perhaps, by the same reasoning: if you rock and you’re not stressed, it makes you a bad autistic?

In each case there are misconceptions based on a perception that has attributed to it, a value of some kind, so if you do it, think it, use it or say it, according to that perception: it’s gotta be true.

Right?

I don’t know, it’s just an observation—

But without a bank of knowledge to draw on, I wouldn’t have been able to get far.

Just a little background: noise & biography…

Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.

Bertolt Brecht

iuI read that and instinctly think cats. That’s biography.

I am fascinated by the heroic age of Antarctic expedition, history, education, great sex, openness, cats, cameras; the space race; sentence-structure, lexis, discourse conventions and phatic communication; cinema; the sounds of cricket and its numbers; golf swings, sortes, piropo, productivity, logical fallacies; fagottists— which leads to the double-o phoneme and coda-less syllables; falderals, nonsense; nanism— my fear of developing it and albino-clowns who already have. Ironing, long-sleeves, compound swearing, yellow pads, yoof-speak and linguistic representations— meh. Books, tea, science, feets, unnecessary plurals and corrugated-cardboard to name but a few.

It’s a pointless list because there isn’t much I’m not interested in. I like the feeling of insignificance in knowing how little I know; and how each little thing helps me know what I already know a little better.

And I still don’t know what this makes me, but it kind of works like this:

Perhaps it just makes me English since ‘England is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity … hobbies and humors.’1 Quite whether the world thinks we are small or great, but such is the context of opinion. Goethe wrote that, ‘people of uncommon abilities generally fall into eccentricities when their sphere of life is not adequate to their abilities.’ Well spheres be damned as, ‘No one can be profoundly original who does not avoid eccentricity.’2 But to what end is thought’d: ‘eccentricity in small things [is] crazy’3 and though it ‘destroys reason, [it does] not [the] wit?’4

All I’m really trying to do here is to show a little of what it’s like to be autistic— from the ground up I’ve taken my traits and applied them to certain functions within the texts: from word orders and word types, semantic variances, repetitions and rhetorical devices— even archaic syntax to the very deliberate structure I use to present things. It’s not always easy to read and it’s not meant to be, It’s supposed to be a little overwhelming at times and take the reader in circles— but it’s a desirable difficulty designed to stimulate a little over-processing, in the same way real life does to me. It’s the only way I know how to present what it’s like to me: to demonstrate it, not write about it— especially when there are a million people out there able to just describe it so much better.

I was going to just post the blueprint, but thought the meta-language would just make it pointless— like the list…

I’m not just a linguist or educator or golfer or cricket fanatic or autistic or anything for that matter—

I’m just curious…

And I guess lists should be conspiculous by its absense, but it’s really not…

1 George Santayana
2 André Maurois
3 Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton
4 Nathaniel Emmons

I sometimes google autism and the nun; autistic nun; nuns on the spectrum – just AS nuns, sometimes do…

It’s habit, but what exactly to call it—

And would it smell as sweet?

530420_10150764779066041_2054832089_nI am terribly fond of trifles— a trifle cleverness for instance, provided it’s not too early in the morning. There’s always so much to do and what with wakefulness becoming such an undertaking, I find it unnecessary in the extreme. I’m far too fond of taking my particulars in a pedestrian manner— just one of the customary customs I’m accustomed to, to speak nil of the custumal. I’d call it routine were I able to abide the laziness of it— there’s far too much of that about, especially when everything else I have to write about is stripped of unnecessary words. And while nude text is most effective when dealing with the real world, I must confess how partial I am to the eccentricities of abusing syllables to the dozen when a few would certainly do. Suffice to say this trifle is rather filling. But let’s see…

I like a particular light, a particular quiet, in a particular room; two particular pints of one particular tea in twice the particular mug— though I’d refrain from describing this as fussy; not in the slightest— just a superficial type, more trinket than trapping that I’d hate to break: habits are most certainly not records.

By pint number three I may have settled into my reading, sometimes it’s hard to tell— the simmering awkwardness that accompanies me throughout the day’s most noticeable at this time, so it’s best to tread carefully. It’s also so rather dependant on the weather— the rain makes a racket and the gloom makes the room; then there’re those bloody wind-chimes: there really ought to be some observances regarding their uses enforceable by civilians prone to a little grumpy now and then.

Whether ritual or routine, it isn’t any wonder why we’re co-dependant, or simply compatible; or whether we’re just mutually beneficial— there’s always an elegant symmetry in antistrophe: I to the text, the text to I— to say nothing of the tea… or the light, or the quiet, the mug, weather or…

Each year one vicious habit discarded, in time might make the worst of us good.

Benjamin Franklin

Or at the very least, freak out a tad before doing so…