A wild slim alien


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Everybody’s game

[The subject is everybody’s game.]  The game of words.  Because it is.  A game you play with others or against yourself, pitting your wits against language; one individual versus all who have shaped its regional form over the millennia.  And so every day I sit down to manouevre my editorial hoover around the stylistic louvres of my virtual oeuvre, chopping and changing and inverting the shape of sentences, avoiding repetition and hesitation but taking some considerable delight in deviation, and often borrowing as shamelessly as English does, as Georges Perec did.  I twist and twirl the nouns and pronouns and adjectives and verbs and adverbs and prepositions and conjunctions and interjections that have escaped the mouths and minds of others into sequences of words that only this random Shakespearean monkey could have put into precisely this order, with this particular intent, at this very moment in time.  [The buzzer sounds for ‘this’.]

Whether it goes onto be read or not is almost beside the point, although there is in me still some small obeisance to the Duke of Wellington’s injunction about the intentions of his mistress Harriette Wilson – ‘publish and be damned’ – to see whether the words I game into being having any kind of shared meaning, whether like a ball of soapy effervescence in a hot bath, they diffuse pleasure in the mind of a reader, perhaps even explode there, the pink flash of potassium coming into contact with the very same liquid.

And here we are, like 18th century pamphleteers, only with our knives and teeth largely blunted, pouring forth reams of words from electronic presses, trying to forge connections and kinship and perhaps even enlarged understandings of what it is to have language at our disposal; what it is to be human.  This silent lithography makes so much noise, but in among, there are words that speak to us, sentences that make us laugh or think, and paragraphs that reveal both ourselves and the lives and minds of others to us.  [The buzzer sounds for ‘that’.]

The game of words is a game which everybody can play; because of the internet, at times it can seem as though everybody does.  Yet online or off, in pubs and cafés and marketplaces and offices and stations and temples and hospitals, isn’t everybody in their enormously varied lives upon this planet regularly or at least at one time or another struck with amusement and perhaps even awe at the peculiarities and potential of words and how they can be strung together?  It may be a luxury to many, and you can’t even say that it is one which comes without a cost attached, but this modern day issuer of broadsides thinks we should all in our ways try to play it every day.  Because at its best, it is a game in which everybody wins.  [The buzzer sounds for ‘which’, but the whistle blows before the challenge can be made.]

Puzzled image of Georges Perec via Arte Mosaico Ravenna.