Sunday, December 5, 2010



misspell by Lars Palm
(ungovernable press, 2008)

Into the Spells of Mispllng

Inside the sound of words are entanglements fighting for coherence, or some sense of it, at least. Approximations of this coherence can materialize in imagination of the speaker, especially through the visuality of text, a compact architecture of curves and lines furnished by constitutions of desire in writing and printing presses, processes that may formulate a sense of accessibility and familiarity, through journeys in reading. Thus, implicit in certain theories of language is a dance that intimates copulation of perceptions between text-image and its equivalent sound, whether through orally-conveyed sound or sound produced that cannot easily be translated into decibels recognizable by human-ear – sounds of silence, or those in meditation, which may also include sounds in structure of movements, the sonicity of action, especially in the context of physical vibrations and physical geometries. And in this dance are certain modes of producing rules or memory set in principles, to activate hierarchy of evolutions, and inherent devolutions in progressions.

Over space and time, the equation of text-image and its corresponding sound builds certain set rules that can be viewed as proper usage. In this sense, grammar, syntax, or spellings are sentenced to be, within certain regimes of correctness that proposes intellectual assimilations and inter-cultural impositions, for the sake of universal coherence embedded as lyrical and hypnotic simulations in power structures. However, this kind of dictatorship may only be hard and brutal to a point, because in the long run, it succumbs to developments and changes. For example, mispellings do not have to suggest grammatical crimes and misdemeanors in someone’s imagination all the time, but can suggest another realm of concatenating and validating the chaos and entanglements of language-rules in that imagination. Lars Palm’s “mispell” quietly explores some suggestions of this realm, one that yields to abridgements of poetic delivery in consciously or unconsciously misspelled words.

The image and sound of contractaracts inspire an array of suggestions that include: contras have cataracts, those who had or have contracts with the contras have cataracts, cataracts are contracts, cataracts in contracts, contraction of cataracts, or, simply, acts made by contractors; and too, lazy tongues can slide the term into sounds that pair ‘contra’ and ‘contracts’ with ‘carats.’ Here, the c’s and t’s compete for sound recognition through repetition. This competition appears to summon a group of words together, to approximate a moment of fusion, when pronouncing and enunciating terms, a sort of assemblage, to experiment on constructing a new word through sound, and then the probable text-image for that sound. In some sense, there’s hint of quiet chant here, in the repetition of c’s and t’s, as though to meditate on the fusion of ideas, in this group of words.

Now verbal attack from a tribe appears to be the immediate meaning of diabetribe; but certainly, the term does not appear to exclude series of meanings associated with ‘diabetes’, ‘tribe’, and ‘diatribe.’ In many ways, the relationship between ‘tribe’ and ‘diatribe’ in the term dominates in the sound derived from the text-image; thus, this relationship quietly elides ‘diabetes’, as though one’s inclusion of that term in the primary relationship is an intrusion. Here, excluding ‘diabetes’ in that dominant relationship is logical, because of its immediate attachment to the medical field. ‘Tribe’ and ‘diatribe’ have a closer relationship, not because of the text-image ‘tribe’ but that ‘tribe’ can be easily associated with unified elements, a one-ness reducible to voice, or unity as voice. The idea of voice in ‘tribe’ echoes human sound-waves that can be associated with ‘diatribe’, a term that can be related to executions of voice, modes of insistence, persistence, and forcefulness that unifies. If we insist on this internal association or perhaps even internal rhyme of voice in diabetribe, this term could have highly political suggestions, especially when used by groups that exist on shifting paradigms of puritanism, fanaticism, and fundamentalism.

Now the inclusion of testicicle and testosteror, in this collection, appears to humor certain elements in, or among the gatekeepers of machismo's grand hypeboles. Both appear to have some categorical relationship with our imposed meaning for diabetribe, especially the phallic energies in terror and the pointiness of icicles. The unification of ‘testicle’ and ‘icicle’ appears to compose intensified ideas of bulginess in testicicle. 'Testicle' is an obvious element here, but since it rhymes with 'icicle', this tonal kinship deemphasizes our wintry associations with 'icicle' and emphasizes instead its geometric shape, re-calculating the innocence of its conic appearance into the lexicons of Priapus. On the other hand, testosteror no doubt finds easy memberships in those books as well, a term that unites ‘testosterone’ and ‘terror’; terror's phallic dimensions, here, can be attributed to its energy to colonize and penetrate, calculating explosions of horror on the subject of its intentions. However, part of the hidden elements in testosterone-charged terror in testosteror is 'error', which can also be calculated in the text-image of that misspelling. The delicate idea of error deserves some consideration, here, since terror functions under duress of fear, miscalculations, or uninformed apprehensions; thus, intentions imbued with terror, specific to context, are bound to make mistakes, terrific or terrible.

Palm’s curious array of mispellings include: eyesbox, leapfog, leapear, misbeshaving, murderead, plazenbo, principipe, repentition, sunride, war on hugs, well-red, and orchastrate. Again, these mispellings sound like misdemeanors in the English language. However, cultures and sub-cultures that use English as tool for social organization, cohesion, and management may disagree with the idea of misdemeanors here. Group identity in sub-cultures often twists and/or re-invents rules of a hegemonic language to emphasize its rebelliousness or underline an extended identity from dominant culture. For example, the term chillax, whether used as noun or verb, may have experienced intense evolutions in usage, in the hyper-charged, giddy behavior of youth-oriented, social-networking websites, such as MySpace. For some, that term can sound like truncated, pharmaceutical description for a specific laxative; but to many, especially among cool-driven young-adults, it emphasizes multidimensional states of being in a relaxing vibe among friends. In some ways, among speakers of the English-langauge, when the eye sees Palm’s mispelled text-images, they can inspire that eye to exoticize their odd familiarity, before being seduced to tour into sound-waves they produce, like rogue grace-notes that may invite a curious tidal feel, in one's larynx, for being transported into twisted extensions of speech in daily life. In this sense, poetry can thus be derived in the rhythms of these grace-notes, in addition to internal rhymes forged and forced, in the fusion of terms, through mispellings.

Now Palm's stand-alone terms are not necessarily poems. But their visuality or materiality on a page, published by a press that disseminates works of poetry heightens our perception of them as poems. But what helps prepare the eye in perceiving and reading the book as a book of poems is the presentation of the terms or poetries; they each occupy a page or a blankness that stands for certain vacuities in the imagination of language, an absence in which vague emergence occurs in the center of pages, in this pdf- ebook. The emergence is celebrated, by locating the poetries in spaciousness, in order to stimulate concentration in the probable poetries these terms might inspire.

The text-image leapear does not look like a conventional term, and drives the eye to assume it’s a typographical error of the phrase ‘leap year.’ But if we omit the idea of error in the term, the notion of ‘ears leaping’ is quite surreal, highly poetic. Our focus on the term or word, here, somewhat echoes Gertrude Stein in the line “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”, from the poem “Sacred Emily.” The repetition of the term ‘rose’ is sonic experience that lets the rose bloom in the mouth and imagination of the speaker and reader; if the first ‘Rose’ is a person, then she is surrounded by roses—whether yellow, white, or red—after the line ends. Thus, rose, in some ways, becomes a lace of roses, or the center of a flower whose petals are roses, and that these petals are in a state of infinitesimal present-tense, blooming and rising, primarily because of the is-ness of ‘is’, and more so, the line itself does not end with a period. The singularity of a text-image’s body, therefore, is a receptacle of perceptions, a memory of something in the physical world, signifier, part of a hierarchical, poetic system, the sign system called language.

While the idea of misspellings is viewed as misdemeanors in the realm of proper language usage, our hectic, technology-saturated social-lives thrive on acts of necessary misspellings to convey messages in social networking sites and applications, especially in cell-phone texting. Here, misspellings are attempts to squeeze perceptions, through reduced number of keystrokes. In general, evolving acceptance in the conscious omission of vowels in texting is eroding the idea of misspellings as grammatical errors, gradually turning it into a category in grammar, one that also embraces numbers as letters, initialisms, characters from other languages besides English, and other methods of abridging written text. In this light, Palm’s mispellngs is an aggressive participation in the economization of written text in English, that while ordinary sentences already have elements of poetry or are inherently poetic themselves, our ineradicable devotions to the accelerations and rush of daily-life could further truncate sentences in2 shrtr poetic gesticulations that somehow approaches states of quietude in the gesture-saturated, sensual vocabularies of body language.


Michael Caylo-Baradi lives through California. His work has appeared in BlazeVox, Kartika Review, Latin American Review of Books, Metazen, Our Own Voice, PopMatters, and elsewhere.

No comments: