21.7.09

evening walk with jabberwocky


last night i was lounging around the cyberspace doing not much but really, wasting time. but serious, who, of any of us, could really say that they have never wasted time in their lives? if so, well.. i say you are either 1. crazily hopefully or 2. crazy.

and i cannot remember how i got into the topic of lewis caroll and his books, notably alice in wonderland, through the looking glass and what alice found there. naturally, monkey got into her favorite time-waster: word chewing. etymology is one of the most fascinating things in my life. i think it probably dates way back to the time when she was transplanted to anglosphere of canada at age of 12. when i moved to toronto, i did not speak a word of english nor i ever thought i would be going across the world, exactly one of the farthest point from her previous location (it's about 12-13 hours of difference between seoul and toronto, total reversal of night and day hence, furthest from one another).

instead of going to a popular uber-big arts-specialized high school, monkey's parents sent her to a small, quaint if not somewhat exclusive catholic high school. the reason was that the regional highschool was full of asians and they were worried that monkey would never assimilate. well, whatever. like i had a choice in matter. i think they also not so secretively like the pious nature of all-girl small catholic school. my graduating class has barely 100 people in it and it was the biggest one over the years i was told. anyways, dressed in emblemed shirt, tie, knee-high socks that never stays up and a real scottish kilt, she went to school. as told.

those scottish kilt was really funny in a sense that everyone was desperate to keep them short. the regulation length wouldve been 1-2" below the knees. however. most kids wore them more as a ruffled extensions of their shirts. well, enough details to fuel some curious minds for those exciting catholic school girl fantasies. or i would say, phantasms. not all fantasies are.. urr pleasant. ha ha ha. anyways. i remember being horribly disappointed when parents gave away her kilts to some random person without asking. i would have like to keep it for some bizarre reason. anyways.

this exclusive highschool didnt have an ESL course: english as second language. i guess that was the subtle way of keeping the 'lesser' stocks away. ha. anyhows, so there she was, learning english and french, battering through julius caeser and stratford festivals. brutal sessions. and at one point, i thought this is ridiculous to always have to find some sort of 'equivalent' words in korean-english and vice versa, as 'some sort' and 'equivalent' already clashes.

so went the dictionary and came thesaurus. doing pages and pages of brainstorming and diagrams, slowly i learned to appreciate the subtle differences of similar words. then came the next step: why are they similar? how did they become different and where did they come from?

it's been awhile now. thanks to some miracles and other nonsensical happenings, monkey learned enough to write a thesis and finish school. and though my grammar still sucks (i still dont exactly know where to put articles. i think i will never learn how it really works. thanks god for real friends who are willing to proof-read), i still appreciate chewing on random words. and this particular hobby has been a real pleasure recently as mr. salamander also happen to like wordsplay.

in fact, i remember the time he used the word 'chortle.' what is a chortle? well, before you look it up.. think... what would it mean? well, it's very simple. you wouldve probably got it, it's chuckle and snort, jammed up together, sort of like when you are at a serious company dinner table as the lone child, and start to laugh at something 'inappropriate' such as the visiting lady having a big booger hanging out of her nose or the men spiking their drinks while the women arent watching. since it is inappropriate, the child desperately tries to hold the laughter and it gets. worse. and worse. chuckling under the brutally clenched jaw, one cannot help it but eventually choke on a small piece of food, which.. travels through the nasal cavity (snort), then... flies.. across... landing at some unfortunately visible spot.

it's no small venture to chuckle under clenched jaw. for instance did you know that an average human jaw can produce 165-200 psi pressure? for reference, psi stands for pounds per square inches: 1 psi = 1 lb/in2. so that means.. a jaw can produce pressure of 200 pounds per every square inches! that's enough to.. well, chew the toughest and roughest mystery school meats.

i mean there are tons of these jammed, invented words in english history, but in carroll's literature is special in a sense so many of them were planted as a joke devices that became enjoyable entities of their own. however, one does not see these wonderful words too often, nor gets to play with them in a true sense that all parties involved must be able to appreciate the etymology/context/and possibly the sarcastic misuse of the particular instances. so seeing the word 'chortle' in 3tz was one of the biggest unexpected surprise. yay for wordsgames! another one you may have been familiar with in this monkey splattering would be quark (this one is borrowed from mr. joyce in finnigan's wake). these pseudo words, born out of curiosity, necessity and humour (last but not the least), are called nonce words.
these nonce words, once born, goes through the growing up period of neologism. (often when a word is born with a particular hope of becoming mainstream, is called protologism; in a sense that it is made with that particular intention, it is quite different from neologism. neologism includes all words that are.. well, born.)

what happens these delicate new borns during neologism? well, they are all unstable at the beginning. newly born and just casted, the initial users work carefully around the baby word. then like any other hype, the baby becomes the talk of the neighbourhood. much like a lingo, limited to a particular audience/subculture, diffusing slowly to the surroundings. then comes stabilization where it is grown enough to venture out to the larger area, being understood by broader audience. tv, conversations, articles, conversations, whichever. it's working its way through, establishing, waiting for a real break. then becomes dated, where it is no longer new, but is accepted as part of the norm talk. and often it becomes even passe, old, dated, ghost of the past. so old and familiar that people try actively to not to use it (esp if you wanna be hip or something). much like a person's life eh. ah how we all works to not to be a passe. ha ha ha.

anyways. as always, monkey's lost in circular, even curved path of thoughts. what i wanted to do was somehow get to the topic of jabberwocky. but i think it's getting wayy too long. so this is the point where i should stop i think. but whenever i think of fantastic world of alice and the continuous distortion of words, black on white, especially of james joyce as well (where all the sudden the familiar words are wearing different costumes and new words sneak in and blend perfectly with the olds, the initial image of words as solid, definitive and easy-to-comprehend starts to deteriorate. FAST), i cant believe how rich this world can be. this also applies to music i think- reading a score is not music. score is just a medium, a concrete medium that 'represents' a musical thoughts and intentions. it has nothing to do with sound, perhaps with exception of all-too-frequent swearing and grunting during the deciphering/executing/scrambling process. and those notes and symbols- could mean so many things, initially hiding behind its flat, 2D surface.

i know that just learning to peek at these sublime riches is frabjous. bloody frabjous. and like a proper jubjub, i will always try to pick apart the surface with desperation and find some dusts of beauty/joy. and as a the most beamish monkey in the world, i am lucky enough to continue this journey with mr. salamander and other appreciative people. gawd. who knew. jabberwocky. nonsewords. two fishes interweaving, just playing. please come over and play with us anytime- bookbomber, ms. j, lady l, and anyone who may be so kind to grace my life- and our lives.

life is simple isnt it. it's about joy. happiness. and the irreplaceable connection between the individuals, as we are no longer individuals as the sum of parts are always greater than the parts. and like newly born words, we all are responsible to care for these little wee babies to stage of stabilization, but also to keep it afresh, to not be a passe.

unless:
you like being passe.
someone still buys kitsch stuff! you wont be alone, ha ha.
and if you are patient enough-
it may even come back in style.
just like moonwalk.


http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/jabber/jabberwocky.html

2 comments:

  1. frabjous: great, wonderful, fabulous.

    quark: murray gell-mann originally named the quark after the sound made by ducks in gellmann - george zweig's model of the particle zoo (elementary particle matter theories), the eightfold way—or, in more technical terms, SU(3) flavor symmetry.

    'In 1963, when I assigned the name "quark" to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon, I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been "kwork". Then, in one of my occasional perusals of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, I came across the word "quark" in the phrase "Three quarks for Muster Mark". Since "quark" (meaning, for one thing, the cry of the gull) was clearly intended to rhyme with "Mark", as well as "bark" and other such words.
    -gell - mann, the quark and the jaguar.

    Three quarks for Muster Mark!
    Sure he has not got much of a bark
    And sure any he has it's all beside the mark.
    —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake.

    the most conventional names for quarks are: up, down, top, bottom, charm and strange quarks (there are six). though different qualifiers such as truth (for top) and beauty (for bottom) also has been used in the past.

    apparently zweig preferred a different word for these particles: aces, not quarks.

    who knew physicists have such a sense of humour? well we all knew. all briliant people can be bloody funny.

    jubjub: dangerous bird that lives on an island whos is always in a passion of a sort.

    beamish: radiantly beaming, happy, cheerful

    passe:1775, from old french passé (fem. passée) "past, faded," pp. of passer "to pass." originally of a woman past the period of greatest beauty (people can be so kind)

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  2. beauty is truth, truth beauty. that's all you need to know, apparently. if only they'd realised earlier...

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