Saturday, November 3, 2012

2012.11.03 — Will the Listing Never End? A List of Listing Fushigi*

This extends the listing fushigis begun
with my poem What's Left but the Bones: Cotton for Comfort Redux blogged 2012.10.27 and connected to Gareth's blog My Continuing Education.

Recap from 2012.10.29:
In my poem I play with the world "list":

In so far as my skeleton is sensate,
I feel compelled to embrace Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book* cant
and list my listlessness
as follows:
cross bones, tomb stones,
head stones, hearth stones, heart stones.
Cajones, nerve, verve.
*It has been called a book of lists, because Shonagon included lists of all kinds.
Well, it so happened that when I posted that poem I visited Gareth's blog and discovered that a few days earlier he'd blogged The Romance of Lists. So I add to his interesting lists with my poem and the following comment:
Gareth, stumbling across this list made my list of funny synchronicity-petites that I list in my blog because I recently wrote a poem that played with the meaning of lists. Before I post that, some of the most fascinating lists are those of the debt records of Sumer which were almost without doubt the genesis of written language. (The musical genius David Byrne comments on this in his book Bicycle Diaries, which is also a kind of list.)

Also fascinating are the lists of values in the Irish Barbarian Codes, for example. Included in them was the value of the (slave) milk-maids as a means of payment.

Anyway, my playing with lists was a direct reference to Sei Sh┼Źnagon's amazing The Pillow Book, which is also known for being a book of lists.
So, a nice tiny but satisfying fushigi.

That got extended two days later when I opened up the just purchased gem, On Literature by Umberto Eco. I sat and held the book and after taking a couple of breaths allowed it to open to where it felt fit. I was on pages 70-1. On each page were lists. Page 70 contains the end of a list of un-transposable aphorisms by Austrian writer Karl Krause. The second half contains the transposable aphorism, which Eco calls "sins".

Examples of un-transposable:
Mad people are definitively recognized as such by psychiatrists because after being interned they exhibit agitated behaviour.

The sinful transposable:
Nothing is more unfathomable than the superficiality of a woman.

Nothing is more superficial than the unfathomability of a woman.
But what put this into my List fushigi was page 71:
The only paradoxes that almost never seem to be transposable are those by Stanislaw J. Lec. Here is a short list from his [book] Mysli nieuczesane (Uncombed [Unkempt] Thoughts)[, which I have in turn shortened here]:
If one could only pay the death penalty by sleeping through it in installments!

I dreamed of reality:
what a relief to wake up! [This is funny, because it connects to the story I recently wrote One Day in a Coffee Shop].

He possessed knowledge, but was unable to make her pregnant.

In his modesty he considered himself an incurable scribbler. But he was actually just an informer.

I dreamed of Freud. What does that mean?

He had a clean conscience: he had never used it.

Even in his silence there were grammatical mistakes.
Finally, tonight, 2012.11.03, I did a post instruction clean-up of my office space. I put away my reference and research books, papers,
etc. I also decided it was time to dump some of my old books that I wouldn't ever read. I have long since run out of space for my new finds, and took this re-shelving requirement as an opportunity to purge. One of the books I put into the purge list, but then pulled it out again, was People's Almanac Presents the Twentieth Century: History with the Boring Bits Left Out/Revised and Updated by David Wallechinsky. Nothing special in that, except that the cover of the book contains a reference to a 'famous' previous work: "Author of the Best-Selling Book The Book of Lists.

But it seems that the connection with Gareth is particularly strong right now, because a few days later I read his post, dated 2112.11.01, "Instructions" by Neil Gaiman. It is a beautiful poem that describes the process of living out the path of individuation through mythological analogy.

That stood out because a few days earlier I read the following in the WSSCC:

off topic, i somehow sense that this thread doesn't have a particular topic so i assume that it is safe to share anything here..
have you heard about Neil Gaiman's project? The All Hallows Read.. it was started about 2 years ago.. it is a tradition wherein people can give or exchange horror books with others, friend or stranger.. it is done to promote reading and happens only on the week of Halloween.. maybe we can do it here in the club as well.. though we can only share ebook formats.. :)
here is the link if you want to learn more:

And, finally, a few days before that was posted Ruthie's entry into the WSS Week 142 Poetry Stuffage Contest Macabre.
something inspired from The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman):

Dansa de la Muerte

Sound off the trumpets!
As far as I know, until this week I don't remember having seen this writer's name before.


  1. Oh frabjous day!

    I finally got around to reading your blog again. I'm happily procrastinating while I read this!

    1. Callooh callay!
      Hello Al. I am both happy and sad that my little blog has been able to distract you from NaNo. LoL! Now I just thought of another list: the list of things which manifest in me ambivalence.

  2. Sad?! Don't be sad! I'm the sad one. You're the jolly wise owl!

    Okay, okay. Your fushigi are getting to me! I had three today. Make that four! I'll have to type them up and tell you about them. I found them interesting.

    1. Please do, and post them because I'd love to see your fushigis on Pens and Erasers. That would be the supreme ultimate proof that my surreptitious corruption of you was nearing completion. Mwahahaahaaahhaaa! :-))