Johannes Punkt’s Flaskpost

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Category: Other

Chiasmic Apposition

by your secret accomplice, Johannes Punkt

You too can have a tweet analyzed for five bucks, just contact me. It’s like I’m your therapist, but cheap.

This is a tweet that we read, which traps us in a room. The first thing that strikes us upon reading it is that it starts out full of hope, which soon diminishes until nothing is left but despair. The appositives, a certain grammatical stucture, are stretched almost to the limit. We read the tweet again, for we are trapped in this room and the key is elsewhere, if existent at all.

The second reading lets us understand that the things which at first sound hopeful aren’t intrinsically imbued with hope, but the memory of the first reading overwrites their naïveté. This underlying shadow-meaning is even more clearly pronounced upon reading the Lockean “blank slate” again – we know that the tabula rasa is a palimpsest. This idea, traced out by the palimpsest, of retaining dead patterns from old lives, in turn brings us to the Groundhog Day nature in which we read the tweet:

We read the tweet again, the third time. In the movie Groundhog Day, as you know, Bill Murray can’t escape a time loop until he does it all just right (after a long hard look at his life). So too it is for us as we read Amos’ tweet again & again, or when we just live in general. To our great frustration, every day we live our life the “tomorrow” moves apace with us and displaces itself when we arduously climb the midnight threshold. Reincarnation, of course, is the same thing but on a grander scale. At the same time, we know that all life ends –

When upon another reading and another reading and another reading the meaning dies down to a dull hum, the shrill sound of form is heard. We can now see that the appositives from earlier are not the only form in need of analysis. The strucutre of Amos’ appositions is, chiasmic. Chiasmatic. Some such thing. (A chiasmus is, essentially, an X structure, that goes AB then BA, or ABC then CBA, &c.) The first 4 elements of the sentence are hopeful, the latter 4 are hopeless. Observe: [A|Tomorrow] is [B|another day], [C|full of possibilities], [D|a blank slate], [D|completely empty], [C|a void], [B|a deep abyss], [A|a cold and unforgiving waste]. (With four on each side, if you draw lines between the same letters, you will see the multiple X-shape.)

The “blank slate” and “completely empty” are two ways of saying the same thing, though their connotations are the opposite. (A “blank slate” has to be hopeful, for it is contrasted with original sin.) The same is true for the next, a void full of possibilities. Trickier to figure out are the next 2: how is “another day” opposite “a deep abyss”? The answer, as with many things, lies in Shakespeare. In The Tempest, one can hear Prospero ask: “What seest thou else / In the dark backward and abysm of time?” The abysm of time is present. I’ve explained why “tomorrow” represents the lies of time – a cold and unforgiving waste, by contrast, is the only thing time can promise:

When we read the tweet one last time we realize how we can make everything right again and stop reading the tweet: we step out of the microcosmos built up by his tweet, walk away from the internet into the larger chiasmos surrounding it, trusting that when our semantic structures are gravestones in the universe’s zero-k night we can step out of even this reality.

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Welcome to the Airport Tattoo Parlour

Hello readers,

I just want to let you know that I also have a newsletter called Airport Tattoo Parlour over here at this link: tinyletter.com/distantstations. I write there about as often as I write on this blog, that is once a month. Except the newsletter is better than the blog. Below is one of the letters which sets the tone for what I try to atmospherize with them:

Rose

Once, my sister got a chemical burn on her hand. Turned it all bumpy and crimson. It stayed like that for a week until it went away one night, but it flares up every time she’s stressed. She stressed a lot more after the burn, of course. One day she went back to work and stole a bucket of that chemical. She found an airport tattoo parlour and asked one of the artists there to paint something pretty with it. Now her hand goes useless and filigrees blossom up her arm but it happens less often and it’s not ugly.

Broadcast from the Tundra 14 (Ghazal)

My fictional band, Chamfered Sparrows, have released an unfictional song. Enjoy.

Lyrics:

The brokenness is latent in the heart-ness of the heart
Take care to not get swallowed by the darkness of the art

of love I don’t know anything, but once I killed a man
The flames that ate him grew from just a sparklet of a spark

You waste in Plato’s cave, the poison dripping in your eyes
and as the shadows dance your heart all harkens to the dark

Signed, Undersigned, just pick a name, just fill in all the forms
And I will have my contours, all their sharpness cut apart

~

I also made a bandcamp account, if that is your kind of thing. http://chamferedsparrows.bandcamp.com/track/broadcast-from-the-tundra-14-ghazal

Hiatus

This means updates will be irregular from now on. I’ll try to post 100 words/day during NaNoWriMo and I have a few longer stories and essays that I want to get around to finishing and probably posting here, but if activity suddenly dies out here, I will probably be back with daily updates in December or January. I might ascend into the spaceship parked a few miles directly above my head before then, as I’ve felt the tug of moonlight on the hairs on the back of my hand lately, but I’ve resisted the call all my life and I should be able to stay grounded.

(read: university is tough, whaaa.)

A Blinking Light up on the Iceberg

[Spoiler Warning: Welcome to Night Vale]

I just wanted to say a thing or two about a thing or two. This post presupposes knowledge of the Night Vale fandom, and of Night Vale (commonplacebooks.com/welcome-to-night-vale/). Spoilers up to episode 31.

I feel like I need to point out a few things, is all. Let’s start by defining a term. Actually, let’s start by saying that I absolutely love Night Vale, and the characters, and the fandom. That said, here’s the term:

Iceberging: noun. The opposite practice of shipping; the gleeful sinking of ships. twitter.com/kewangji/status/378069780432830464

It’s pretty obvious to me that Carlos and Cecil have a relationship that will run its course and burn itself or something else to the ground. To support my theory I will present a few pieces of evidence for you, but I should also define another term that you’re probably more familiar with.

Putting someone on a pedestal: This means, essentially, that you build up a ‘perfect’ (recognize that word?) idol of someone in your head, and when you interact with the real person who is outside your head, you hold them up to the standards of this perfect person who doesn’t exist anywhere else than outside your head.

So, evidence number 1: Cecil has been obsessively stalky about Carlos for, like, a year, often calling him perfect on live radio, without really knowing him. He’s put Carlos on a pedestal since day one. “And I fell in love instantly.”

2. One of the first things he said about their relationship, once it had started, was something about how Carlos chews too loudly when eating. My hypothesis here is that the version of Carlos inside Cecil’s head does not have any such ‘annoying’ habits, and caters to every one of Cecil’s whims from atop that pedestal. “His perfect teeth and hair and penchant for sometimes chewing a little more loudly than is preferred.”

3. Cecil’s utter mood swings and his low attention span. “Telly. You remember – the deceitful barber with a shriveled soul who, just a few weeks ago, cut perfect scientist Carlos’ perfect, beautiful hair very short … so very, very short!”

4. Throughout most of episode 31, A Blinking Light up on the Mountain, Carlos is busy cooking dinner instead of investigating the approaching army and the mysterious blinking light. Cecil has told him that he needs to ‘prioritize’ (I forget the exact wording) and put other people before his own needs. This tells me two things: that Cecil has unreasonably high standards and, together with evidence 3, the emotional maturity of a sullen teenager. “Some of this realization might have come with help from those around him.”

5. Sullen teenagers’ relationships tend to end sooner rather than later, and often spectacularly. “She was still sipping her coffee too often. Perhaps her feeling of lack of control stems from a personal issue rather than the impending doom we imagined. Stress from her failure to live up to her own self-imposed life goals, for instance, or a relationship that wasn’t exactly the relationship she had envisioned it would be. But who knows?”

This post has been argued from the facts available and the canon available; I have not argued from headcanon. There are lots of justifications easily available through headcanon, but if you wish to refute my points and try change my mind about this, I would appreciate a similar approach. I happen to be giddily anticipating the break-up of Carlos and Cecil, because Night Vale do these kinds of things magnificently, and First Date was such a good episode. I’m enjoying the story, and the story happens to be filled with creepy things, death, and strong emotions.

(tl;dr I am a huge dork and a meanieface.)

The Great Semantic Shift

Originally written for International Gaslighting Festival, I decided this thing was better than that, and so here you have it.

The Great Semantic Shift

This is a story about the English language, and an account of one of the most extensive upheavals in English semantics over the last 1,000 years. Before I go into it, however, I must inform you of the peculiar etymology of a not uncommon word, and I must also make you familiar with the linguistic term that is Great Shifts. I shall also regale you with druids! If you will just bear with me for a moment, I promise all the tangents will be worth it.

It begins in Ancient Greece, where the word σαρκασμός originated, from the root of σάρξ – flesh. Literally, σαρκασμός meant the rending of flesh from bone. In English today it is called sarcasm, an advanced form of mockery that requires the listener to understand several levels of language use at once, not unlike puns. It is often one of the first things to go in dementia, the ability to know both the meaning of the words said and the intended meaning that lies underneath them. Speakers of English as a second language can have trouble identifying sarcasm even if they are perfectly good at it in their mother tongue. This is mentioned to instill the idea that the understanding of sarcasm is fickle at best.

(If we are curious, we can find other words related to σάρξ in modern day English, such as sarcophagus – ancient Egyptian coffins, literally ‘flesh-eater’, and sarcumic – ‘who fucks flesh’, a Puritan insult.) Read the rest of this entry »

Miscellanea

Berlin Confidential (berlinconfidential.tumblr.com) has just started updating again and you would be a fool not to read it. If you haven’t read it before, I urge you to start from the beginning: …/story/oberwelt. To summarize, which is impossible, it is about a bunch of strange murders in Weimar Germany and then things get weird. It is amazing; I can never recommend it enough.

~

The very awesome @drakekin has worked a bit on his version of the Cekno Idiosyncrasy, and his musings and conclusions can be found here: ministry-of-plenty.co.uk/2012-12-19-conlangging-for-the-stars.html & …/2012-12-26-alphabets-and-the-grammar-of-stellar-bodies.html. They are full of interesting, and my own musings have not got nearly as far as his. For shame, Johannes.

~

I saw the Hobbit and it was very Tolkien. A magical, inspiring, breathtaking, and unnecessarily drawn out sausagefest.

I purchased Norstrilia and it is a gorgeous book.

~

I GM’d a game of Hitman on a Budget; a few highlights:

(Link to rules: machineofdeath.net/about/games; tl;dr: it’s a game where everybody’s a hitman and it all takes place in our collective imagination.)

The city of Gangsterdam, which has always been at war with Mafiastan.

Fraudulent papers consisting of a childish drawing of a smileyface on a card.

Demonic tattoos spreading in cardinal directions; regular syphilis spreading in carnal directions.

Rob the Collateralist, who laced botulism on all the candy to kill one man.

Drakekin, in an attempt to kill a dude, stops a war and saves a thousand lives.

Terrible in-sewer-ants.

Richard Dawkins killing a fake santa by dying.

Making “tuna” out of people.

The zombie apocalypse.

Kraken respects your boundaries and keeps his tentacles to himself (or just kills you with them, you perv).

~

I’ve been enjoying Broodhollow.

broodhollow.chainsawsuit.com/2012/10/08/broodhollow/

Something Goes Wrong in Space, part III & NaNoWriMo Stuff

Okay so obviously I stopped being able to write the horror drabbles. This has mostly to do with me not being able to write on cue, I think. Anyways. EXCITING THINGS!

1. Drakekin is doing NaNoWriMo this year.

You might remember Drakekin as being the person with whom I developed the Something Goes Wrong in Space outline for. What is even more exciting than this thing being novelized is the fact that it will be up on the interwebs so that we can read it there! AND that there actually is a terrifying explanation behind That-Which-Speaks. Drakekin will post the things here, and it will be awesome. AND, I just renoticed, its working title is even more ominous than “Something Goes Wrong in Space”, y’all.

~

2. I am doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rant

So, a purely hypothetical situation here: say you’re a startup publishing company. You don’t have a website yet, just a blogspot. You have some contact with an author and come to an agreement with them: you’ll spread their story in exchange for, well, getting to use their story.

And then you totally fuck that up. Because you post the first part and not the rest of it until prodded, and then you provide the author with some more of that lovely radio silence.

Then the author kinda thinks you suck. If you don’t have the resources to be professional at least you could be personal. This is why I generally don’t bother to market myself more than just posting links on my twitter and G+ feed.

Anyway.

In completely unrelated news, the next post here will be the long-awaited Anywhere Machine, Appendix II.

Script Frenzy

As of right exactly this now, there are 15 minutes to go until Script Frenzy starts. If you don’t know what that is, follow the link down at the bottom of the page, educate yourself.

I will be writing a Machine of Death audioplay. (Again, if you don’t know what that is, there is a link.)

I will also be trying to update the blog during the time. And I will continue to write drabbles. I will busy myself; I will do this. I might post the script on the blog. That sounds like an okay thing to do, as I won’t be doing anything else with it.

Now there are ten minutes to go. I wrote 15, but ten. I think the rule is to write them with letters up until 13,  where you switch over to writing with numbers. This makes it consistent, not with itself but with a rule. Conisistency is important. There are now seven minutes left.

http://scriptfrenzy.org/

http://machineofdeath.net/