Archive for May, 2008

XXXIII.

Posted in Uncategorized on 18 May 2008 by ms. v

From Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire:

All colors made me happy: even gray.
My eyes were such that literally they
Took photographs.

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XXXII.

Posted in Uncategorized on 17 May 2008 by ms. v

From The Aviator:

Howard Hughes: I feel like a little adventure.

Katherine Hepburn: Do your worst, Mr. Hughes.

*****

Katherine Hepburn: Howard, we’re not like everyone else. Too many acute angles. Too many eccentricities. We have to be very careful not to let people in or they’ll make us into freaks.

Howard Hughes: Kate, they can’t get in here. We’re safe.

XXXI.

Posted in Uncategorized on 17 May 2008 by ms. v

The little redheaded boy shrieks as the train emerges into light.  His redheaded mother, her arms covered with stars stamped in blue ink, lifts him onto the seat.  He presses his face against the window, watches the rooftops go by.

In the stations near 125th St., where the train is submerged just beneath the hills of upper Broadway, light filters onto the track through grates in the sidewalk.  Dark grey paint peels in thick flakes off the metal beams between the track and the grate.  Shadows stir the light like waves and I feel we are underwater, trains sliding in and out of the station, divers exploring a reef, a kelp forest.

XXX.

Posted in Uncategorized on 11 May 2008 by ms. v

From The Names of Things by Susan Brind Morrow, a strange and wonderful book about her life, travel in Egypt, and the roots of language:

You could begin with the crab that scratches in the sand. The name of the animal is the action or sound it makes, or its color. The name parents other like meanings belonging to other things, leaving the animal behind: grapho (Greek–to scratch, and so, to write), gramma (the scratches), graph, grammar, grab. …

… Words begin as description. They are prismatic, vehicles of hidden, deeper shades of thought. You can hold them up at different angles until the light bursts through in an unexpected color. The word carries the living thing concealed across millennia.

The hapax legomenon, a word used only once in text or in a particular body of text: nortelrye in Chaucer, slaepwerigne in Old English.  From there I find the nonce word, a word created for a particular need but not expected to be needed again: slithy, surlecultant, unidexter, quark (from James Joyce). Nonce words sometimes get picked up and used when they scratch the right language itch. Sniglets and portmanteau words follow.

Brind Morrow drops Arabic words here and there into her text, and in them, I see Turkish words. “Cairo is um a dunya, Mother of the World,” she writes. “Dunya” means “world” in Turkish, as well. Do these languages have similar grammatical structures, I wonder?

XXIX.

Posted in Uncategorized on 4 May 2008 by ms. v

The window went white, then a brighter white, then the rooftops became grey forms visible as through a veil.