Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Thishere in response to jlsperanza of aol.com, who on lit-ideas 23 Oct 2003 at 9:02, announced the publication of an
> English/Iraqi Iraqi/English
> Phrase Book
> by J. M. Geary with the
> collaboration of J. L. -- and authentic native Iraqi's
> Baghdad and Memphis: The Buckley School of Languages,
> with the auspices of the Seattle School of Scholasticism, Paperback, iii
> + 112 pp, with illustrations throughout.
> Editorial description.
> "They don't speak our language", Professor Geary -- a native of
> Seattle but actually born in Memphis -- complained on his last tour to
> Baghdad, where he is promoting with co-author J. L. -- "Buckley or the
> Aftermath of Kabul" --. On co-author J. L.'s suggestion that they
> engaged Phatic to translate the work, Geary, invoked statistics and
> expenses that showed that it would be "more profitable -- to everyone
> conceerned --" to issue a paperback phrasebook instead. They write in
> the preface to the Iraqi section: "English is not an impossible
> language to learn -- and Iraki either, we guess -- but we leave that for
> the preface to the English Section'. With the aide of some friendly
> (nah, talkative) native speakers they found the task -- especially
> 'lexicon retrieving' as Geary calls it -- 'easy nuff'.
> Geary and JL soon found out that Iraqi is not really an Indo-European
> language, which discouraged the original idea of providing a comparative
> grammar. "There ain't really nothing to compare, ednit", Geary said,
> expanding: "I mean, no subject-copula-predicate stuff and stuff". That
> gave them the idea of providing instead what is basically a phonetic, or
> as Geary prefers to say, fonetik, manual ("You can always learn the
> API", said JL -- referring to the Paris-based Association Phonetique
> Internationale). The main intended readership, the authors hope, will be
> the task forces, mainly American, but Brits and Aussies, too. "This has
> been noted before," Geary said, "way back in Vietnam." "And don't let's
> forget Japan," JL added, with a nodd to the anthropological research of
> McCreery, "but the matter," Geary continued, "has now become pretty
> urgent. There must be a way -- at least fonetic -- by which American
> troops can reciprocate a simple heart-felt 'welcome' or 'nice cuppa
> tea?'."Right. There must be more to lingo than gesture and
> paralanguage", JL concluded. The authors will be signing copies at the
> Buckley Hotel, by the city river.

Meanwhile, Phatic was lounging in Mingus Court, plotting his revenge for not being included in the release of "Buckley or the Aftermath of Kabul."

"So JL thinks I'm cheap, ey," he thought to himself, pushing aside one of the nude breasts that obstructed his view of the Bagdad Hotel across the street. The groupies had become a pain in the eye -- he could hardly get a moment to himself to think of the events that had led him here and his plans to reclaim his rightful place in the annals of things Buckley.

It all started when he was heading to Memphis International Airport one fateful morning in the early Naughties. The night had been spent in utter debauchery, celebrating the collaborative completion of "Buckley" (the novel). MG had recited Yeats, JL played the organ and EH had performed one of her acclaimed exotic dances on webcam from Queebec (where she gave a Canadian Fraction Party with PL and PS). All in all it had been a wonderful night. But when Phatic, on his way to the airport in a rented TransAm, saw an announcement for a public lecture by one Darwin P. Johnson of the South Minnesota Ignoramus Society at International Airport Trampoline Hall 49, and, calculating that he had some time to waste before his plane left for Paris, where he would stop over on his way to Bagdad, he though why not? Why not indeed? So he slid the car between the only two other vehicles that were parked on the immensely oversized lot outside Hall 49, a brown Bentley and a red Renault, and found a seat in the back row of the auditorium. He had just taken out a pen and notebook from his light green trenchcoat when the lights went down. Darwin P. Johnson emerged on the podium: A smallish man with a gray beard and a curved pipe. This is the lecture he gave:

> Today I shall speak on the egg. Historically, the first (and largest)
> egg was allegedly laid by a Russian, thousands of years before Christ.
> It was the so-called ur-egg. In Europe, the egg has been known for only
> a few hundred years. In august/september 1492 Kristopher Columbus laid
> the first European egg, whereupon he went out to discover America. Some
> say that he first discovered America and then went home to lay the egg,
> while others claim that he laid the egg in America and then hurried home
> to Spain with it. Be that as it may, two things remain: 1. Columbi egg
> wasn't laid in a day. 2. Columbus laid only this one egg and died in
> 1506 as a disheartened man.
> As I mentioned in my lecture yesterday, it is mainly the hen that lays
> eggs nowadays. Some birds, such as the DODO, have stopped laying eggs
> altogether. The dodo was extinguished at the end of the seventeenth
> The egg consists of:
> 1. The white.
> 2. The yoke.
> Earlier it was a commonly held belief that the yoke enjoyed its stay in
> the egg. Later research shows this to be wrong. IT HAS A HORRIBLE TIME!
> Attempts on the egg's side to teach the hen how to lay eggs have not
> been successful. On the contrary.
> By the way, an end must be put to this nonsense that it is the ROOSTER
> that teaches the egg what the egg will teach the hen. IT IS NOT THE
> ROOSTER!!! (I don't know who it is, but at least it's not the rooster.)
> Perhaps it's no-one? Perhaps the egg has REVELATIONS?
> What do I know?
> Thanks for your attention.

"Of course!" Phatic thought, slapping his forehead in epiphany, "it is not the rooster!"

Meanwhile, over at the Proverbial Righteousness and Ideology Conference, K-division (P.R.I.C.K.), JL and MK were already busy scheming a separatist publication of "Buckley" (the novel). The conference was funded through an annual grant from one of Buckley's charitable foundations, another part of his grand money-laundering operation.

"'Tis against my principles," MG is rumored to have objected.

"Principles, scminciples," JL replied as he signed the contract granting all future publishing rights to P.R.I.C.K. "Now, stop cowering. Pretty please with sugar on top, sign the blasted paper."

Possibly convinced by the insurmountable logic of JL's argument, MG put his name on the dotted line.

It was only later, after Phatic, disguised as a Burundian refugee, had issued a barrage of fake spam mails offering penis extensions, free Viagra (TM) and cheap sex with horny house-persons that the mood in the separatist camp changed. JL was struck by a sense of conscience after a visitation from Virgin Mary, in whom he didn't believe, in a dream. MG, on the other hand, noted that while the Viagra (TM) was free, the sex was 'cheap' and hence a for-pay service. Little did he know that Phatic's LP "Buckley -- the collected Folk Songs" had been an instant popular success upon its release in Eyerak earlier that year, affording Phatic with sex in any imaginable gender, case and number. MG, unaware, as he were, of Phatic's act of deception, wanted money to "feed the monkey", as he put. So when JL, in a soft moment, suggested they'd allow Phatik, as he said it, in a Germanic sort of accent, to translate Buckley to Eyeraki, MG balked.

"That's beyond our means, JL. We're gonna milk this baby dry," MG said, sporting a devilish grin on his exiled South State face.

Meanwhile, Phatic had been busy organizing a band of agitators, the Post-Pragmaticist Stress Order, to persuade the Eyerakis that JL and MG really were lackeys of the imperialist Buckley's scheme to colonize the translation business. He had attended hisself some of the tea-parties organized by the Order. Tea was key to the heart of the Eyeraki. Phatic knew that after reading up on the scholarly literature on Eyeraki culture, and always offered free Lipton Service tea at his public recitals. In an interview with The Daily Veil, Phatic offered this explanation:

"It started spontaneously, but it has now become a stock moment of these events that the crowd, upon my arrival on stage, will lift their Coca-Cola cardboard cups filled with tea, stomp their feet, and exclaim, in a rhythmical fashion, 'Phatic, you are welcome.' The tea always does the trick in Eyerak, doesn't it?"

Meanwhile, Phatic had been colluding with EH to win her over to his side. She was in trouble with her employer, a think-tank in Quebec, after having delivered an oversized, zero-paged paper as her report on "Reading Readers Reading: 'Moma is a Psycho and other tales of liberation'."

Meanwhile, the Post-Pragmaticist Stress Order had tried to convince the Eyerakis to stay away from Bagdad Hotel this particular morning. Plans had been made, alliances struck and young maidens, shameful of their fate as unmarrieds -- as was their wont in Eyeraki culture --, had arrived in hordes at Phatic's backstage door to volunteer as missionaries in Phatic's crooked course for Ontological Eyeraki Autonomy NOW!

As he reached for another grape, held ready for him by one of the maidens, Phatic had a snug sense of self-satisfaction. The counter- strike was planned in its minutest detail. A maiden, disguised as a beret-clad blind man in a wheelchair, would roll into the lobby of Bagdad Hotel at precisely 10:01, signally to the hotel clerk, a member of the order, that she should set off the trigger mechanism, a fall-trap under the podium where JL and MG would be seated boasting their separatist release. They would then be flushed around an intricate system of tunnels, dug specifically for that purpose, under the streets of Bagdad, to end up in the dungeons of Mingus Court, where they would be forced to listen to recitations of spam mail offering penis extensions, free Viagra (TM) and cheap sex with horny house-people in accented English to all eternity.

"And then," Phatic thought to hisself, "I shall be free. At last."

... to be continued

(or not)