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  #1  
Unread 05-21-2020, 09:10 AM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is online now
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This has taken me the longest to write and I am the most unsure about it. I present two versions, with changes highlighted in red. One includes Adam's lines and the other doesn't. Other edits in blue.

VERSION 1

...?

They will call you adamah, the earthling, and adamu, the maker, and Adam, the man; and later, onomast and nomothete—each name signifying the changing nature of your nature. Come, let me show you: the tree of knowledge is the proto-language, whose branches grow everywhere and whose fruits bear on the tongue. Allow them to contort your mouth, mud-slinger, and explain yourself.

...?

You have a choice: you can realize your idea of self is constructed of words, and thus resilient, social, of shifting sense. Or you can believe you are carved from clay into an ideogram of His being, unchanging and resolved. In which case, you will waste your life reading your face over and over again, and being sorry for the story it tells.


VERSION 2

The asp is now the asp, etc. What is my name so that I may know me?

They will call you adamah, the earthling, and adamu, the maker, and Adam, the man; and later, onomast and nomothete—each name signifying the changing nature of your nature. Come, let me show you: the tree of knowledge is a proto-language whose branches grow everywhere and whose fruits bear on the tongue. Allow them to contort your mouth, mud-slinger, and explain yourself.

Um! If I am clay carved in His image never changing how could I change on a word’s whim?

You have a choice: you can realize your idea of self is constructed of words, and thus resilient, social, of shifting sense. Or you can believe you are an ideogram of His being, unalterable and resolved. In which case, you will waste your life reading your face over and over again, and being sorry for the story it tells.

Last edited by Orwn Acra; 05-26-2020 at 05:33 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 05-21-2020, 12:53 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Walter I love this entry. One of the best so far and I like them very much through and through so far. I don't mind some form of the asp bit in either version though could imagine something even better might come up.Version one seems to tie the choice of clay (a preexisting yet mutable substance) in with fixity. Maybe so. Clay does harden so the myth choice might lead there but you like open the either/or to clay by some form of:

Or you can believe that what came clay was an ideogram... Just trying to keep the pieces but change the board of that makes sense. Either way, a small thing. Love the rest. I like the word unchanging but could see why the heavier lean toward self-direction in unalterable brings something you may need.

Strongly dislike the Um! stanza. Definitely something else there.

I wonder if there is a metaphor that can be worked into the final section?
...you can realize the loom of self is strung with words and thus resilient...
Not that loom\strung cliche but another process that involves both infinite openings but the grounding of the form/preexisting stuff. Or not. Construct is fine but so many bad takes use that word that it might be better to define your own business here.

Either way great entry.

Benjamin's Language of Man and Language is one of my favorite stories on these lines.Especially given room and set free from his own particulars.
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  #3  
Unread 05-22-2020, 10:04 AM
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Thanks, Andrew. I am leaning towards the first version and using only punctuation for Adam or perhaps using a combination of heavy punctuation and very few words. In writing this, I began to wonder why Adam was so difficult to write: though he is mythologized as the first human, he feels alien. Satan is more relatable and human, and sympathetic.

Using punctuation only has its benefits, one being that it is never made clear whether or not Adam actually has the ability to speak until there is another person (he first speaks in Genesis 2:23 when Eve is created). If one uses Wittgenstein's private language argument on Adam, then whatever name Adam chooses for his animals is the correct name because there is nothing to measure the name against; he would only have his memory to do, but his memory is based on the memory of his memory, which if fallible... you see where I am going. The possibility of a private language is extinguished by the creation of Eve.

I don't think it is important that this particular etymology go in that direction, and I might be able to imply that line of thinking by sequencing these in the correct order (for instance, by putting the dragon one next to this one). It was just something I was thinking about. Maybe it deserves its own poem.

Thanks for the Benjamin. I have read Illuminations and parts of the Arcades Project, but not that essay.
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  #4  
Unread 05-22-2020, 10:37 AM
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It may be at cross purposes to be you here and there but that essay is in some open source sites for free. There is an essay linked below on that WB piece that I found helpful, FWIW.
Good choice on the punctuation idea.

https://transversal.at/transversal/0107/busch/en
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  #5  
Unread 05-23-2020, 09:12 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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It's fabulous, Beautiful Boy! I don't know what to say. It's beyond me. As it should be.

It's fascinating -- what you found in writing Adam.

My only offering is to tell you I prefer Version 1.

Keep going.

C XOX
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  #6  
Unread 05-24-2020, 03:34 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Walter,

I prefer first version, which I like a lot. I really like the "...?" parts, and prefer them by a fair bit to the lines that replace them in V2. Adam speaking without language is how I read them, which is apt, since he's yet to eat of the tree of knowledge (here, the tree of language). I like that eating or not-eating the fruit only changes what Adam will believe, and not the reality of his being at the whim of words.

I also like how the consequence of not eating the tree's fruit called to mind the curse when Adam and Eve are expelled:

you will waste your life reading your face over and over again

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground

Some thoughts:

the tree of knowledge is a proto-language ...

seemed a little flat, maybe, perhaps a little too much like a bald statement of the idea (if that makes sense) -- though I do like the idea and the use of "proto-language". I wonder if there's a stronger / more specific verb than "is" here that might suggest an image of some sort while still conveying the same idea; I don't know what though. I also wonder about "a" proto-language, since I'd assume it was the proto-language, the urlanguage. Maybe just changing "a" does enough to address my nit here, assuming you want to. Maybe "is your proto-language"?

Also, though this may be a bad idea, I wonder if the tree could "tower" somehow (perhaps about Adam), for a Babel reference. Like I say, possibly a bad idea.

I liked "change on a word's whim" from V2, and wondered if you incorporating into V1's S4 somehow. Either in the first sentence, or negated into the second, maybe something like:

Or you can believe you are carved from clay into an ideogram of His being, resolved, not changed by a word's whim.

best,

Matt
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  #7  
Unread 05-25-2020, 08:27 AM
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OK, version one it is!

Cally, thank you always for your encouragement.

Matt, thanks a lot of your detailed thoughts. I changed the article to "the proto-language" because you are right, and because this was something I had thought about before but for some reason "the" felt weird; but, no, it should be there. Given your and Andrew's thoughts on S4, I will fiddle with an alternative first sentence; there might be a way to change "construct," which does have heavy contemporary connotations as Andrew points out, and also incorporate the word-whim.

Everyone is a word-whim.
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  #8  
Unread 05-25-2020, 05:30 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Walter,

the tree of knowledge is the proto-language whose branches grow everywhere and whose fruits bear on the tongue

Now you have "the", I read sentence as saying:

of all the proto-languages, the tree of life is the one whose branches grow everywhere ...

This does establish that there's only one proto-language with these characteristics, but not necessarily that it's the first or original one -- the ur-language -- just that it's the most successful. There could also be other, older proto-languages whose branches are almost everywhere, say.

Is that what you intend? When I suggested "the", I was thinking of it meaning:

The tree of knowledge is the proto-language. Its branches grow everywhere and its fruits bear on the tongue.

Placing a comma after "proto-language" would do that, I think, changing what follows from a restrictive to non-restrictive clause.

Anyway, quite possibly you have exactly what you want here.

best,

Matt
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  #9  
Unread 05-26-2020, 05:33 PM
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Matt, thank you for coming back. Comma added. I know you didn't specifically suggest this:

The tree of knowledge is the proto-language. Its branches grow everywhere and its fruits bear on the tongue.

But I think that may work, too, although I am less keen on using a period.
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  #10  
Unread 05-27-2020, 08:45 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I’ve read this several times, Walter, waiting to let it sink in, and each time I come up with being a bit of a dissenter on the general opinion so far. Not about Version 1 or 2: I agree that 1 is better. But it’s the second part of this entry, the part after the ellipsis and question mark. It strikes me as more didactic or even doctrinal:

You have a choice: you can realize your idea of self is constructed of words, and thus resilient, social, of shifting sense. Or you can believe you are carved from clay into an ideogram of His being, unchanging and resolved. In which case, you will waste your life reading your face over and over again, and being sorry for the story it tells.

One thing I’ve enjoyed in your Etymologies is the openendedness of them, that quality I said reminded me of Borges or Calvino. But this seem prescriptive: either/or.

I do like the part before the ellipsis, however.
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