miércoles, 25 de noviembre de 2015

Martian Language Lesson 1

It seemed a fair assumption that the language of the Martians would be
scientific in its structure. We had so much evidence of the practical
bent of their minds, and of the immense progress which they had made in
the direction of the scientific conquest of nature, that it was not to
be supposed their medium of communication with one another would be
lacking in clearness, or would possess any of the puzzling and
unnecessary ambiguities that characterized the languages spoken on the

"We shall not find them making he's and she's of stones, sticks and
other inanimate objects," said one of the American linguists. "They must
certainly have gotten rid of all that nonsense long ago."

"Ah," said a French Professor from the Sorbonne, one of the makers of
the never-to-be-finished dictionary. "It will be like the language of my
country. Transparent, similar to the diamond, and sparkling as is the

"I think," said a German enthusiast, "that it will be a universal
language, the Volapuk of Mars, spoken by all the inhabitants of that

"But all these speculations," broke in Mr. Edison, "do not help you
much. Why not begin in a practical manner by finding out what the
Martian calls himself, for instance."

This seemed a good suggestion, and accordingly several of the bystanders
began an expressive pantomime, intended to indicate to the giant, who
was following all their motions with his eyes, that they wished to know
by what name he called himself. Pointing their fingers to their own
breast they repeated, one after the other, the word "man."

If our prisoner had been a stupid savage, of course any such attempt as
this to make him understand would have been idle. But it must be
remembered that we were dealing with a personage who had presumably
inherited from hundreds of generations the results of a civilization,
and an intellectual advance, measured by the constant progress of
millions of years.

Accordingly we were not very much astonished, when, after a few
repetitions of the experiment, the Martian--one of whose arms had been
partially released from its bonds in order to give him a little freedom
of motion--imitated the action of his interrogators by pressing his
finger over his heart.

Then, opening his mouth, he gave utterance to a sound which shook the
air of the car like the hoarse roar of a lion. He seemed himself
surprised by the noise he made, for he had not been used to speak in so
dense an atmosphere.

Our ears were deafened and confused, and we recoiled in astonishment,
not to say, half in terror.

With an ugly grin distorting his face as if he enjoyed our discomfiture,
the Martian repeated the motion and the sound.


It was not articulate to our ears and not to be represented by any
combination of letters.

"Faith," exclaimed a Dublin University professor, "if that's what they
call themselves, how shall we ever translate their names when we come to
write the history of the conquest?"

"Whist, mon," replied a professor from the University of Aberdeen, "let
us whip the gillravaging villains first, and then we can describe them
by any intitulation that may suit our deesposition."

The beginning of our linguistic conquest was certainly not promising, at
least if measured by our acquirement of words, but from another point of
view it was very gratifying, inasmuch as it was plain that the Martian
understood what we were trying to do, and was, for the present, at
least, disposed to aid us.

These efforts to learn the language of Mars were renewed and repeated
every few hours, all the experience, learning and genius of the squadron
being concentrated upon the work, and the result was that in the course
of a few days we had actually succeeded in learning a dozen or more of
the Martian's words and were able to make him understand us when we
pronounced them, as well as to understand him when our ears had become
accustomed to the growling of his voice.

Finally, one day the prisoner, who seemed to be in an unusually cheerful
frame of mind, indicated that he carried in his breast some object which
he wished us to see.

With our assistance he pulled out a book!

Actually, it was a book, not very unlike the books which we have upon
the earth, but printed, of course, in characters that were entirely
strange and unknown to us. Yet these characters evidently gave
expression to a highly intellectual language. All those who were
standing by at the moment uttered a shout of wonder and of delight, and
the cry of "a book! a book!" ran around the circle, and the good news
was even promptly communicated to some of the neighboring electric ships
of the squadron. Several other learned men were summoned in haste from
them to examine our new treasure.
The Martian, whose good nature had manifestly been growing day after
day, watched our inspection of his book with evidences of great
interest, not unmingled with amusement. Finally he beckoned the holder
of the book to his side, and placing his broad finger upon one of the
huge letters--if letters they were, for they more nearly resembled the
characters employed by the Chinese printer--he uttered a sound which we,
of course, took to be a word, but which was different from any we had
yet heard. Then he pointed to one after another of us standing around.

"Ah," explained everybody, the truth being apparent, "that is the word
by which the Martians designate us. They have a name, then, for the
inhabitants of the earth."

"Or, perhaps, it is rather the name for the earth itself," said one.

But this could not, of course, be at once determined. Anyhow, the word,
whatever its precise meaning might be, had now been added to our
vocabulary, although as yet our organs of speech proved unable to
reproduce it in a recognizable form.

This promising and unexpected discovery of the Martian's book lent added
enthusiasm to those who were engaged in the work of trying to master the
language of our prisoner, and the progress that they made in the course
of the next few days was truly astonishing. If the prisoner had been
unwilling to aid them, of course, it would have been impossible to
proceed, but, fortunately for us, he seemed more and more to enter into
the spirit of the undertaking, and actually to enjoy it himself. So
bright and quick was his understanding that he was even able to indicate
to us methods of mastering his language that would otherwise, probably,
never have occurred to our minds.

In fact, in a very short time he had turned teacher and all these
learned men, pressing around him with eager attention, had become his
Garrett P Serviss, Edison´s Conquest of Mars, 1898

jueves, 12 de noviembre de 2015

Krazy Kat Ballet

"To all lovers of Mr Herriman's ingenious and delightful cartoons it must have seemed inevitable that sooner or later Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse would be dragged by some composer into music. I have tried to drag them not only into music but on to the stage as well, by means of what I have called, for obvious reasons, a Jazz Pantomime.
To those who have not mastered Mr Herriman's psychology it may be explained that Krazy Kat is the world's greatest optimist-Don Quixote and Parsifal rolled into one. It is therefore possible for him to maintain constantly at white heat a passionate affair with Ignatz Mouse, in which the gender of each remains ever a delightful mystery. Ignatz, on the other hand, condenses in his sexless self all the cardinal vices. If Krazy blows beautiful bubbles, Ignatz shatters them; if he builds castles in Spain, Ignatz is there with a brick. In short, he is meaner than anything, and his complex is cats.
After a few introductory bars the curtain is raised and Krazy is discovered asleep under a tree. Officer Pup passes, swinging his club. All is well. Then comes Bill Poster, a canine relative of Officer Pup, with his bucket and brush, and pastes upon the wall an announcement of the grand ball which will shortly be given for all the animals. The job finished, Bill departs.
Krazy wakes up; he rubs his eyes and reads the exciting poster. He is moved to try his steps; he finds his feet heavy and numerous. Of a sudden he spies on a clothes line which the moving scenery has brought into view, a ballet skirt. Undoubtedly it is his costume for the ball. He approaches the clothes line, first with restraint, then with eagerness. He snatches the skirt from the line, claps it on, and comes bounding forward in high abandon.
He is interrupted by the appearance of Old Joe Stork, drilling by with his bundle on his back. He passes on, but he has carelessly dropped his pack. Krazy sniffs at it, filled with curiosity. He picks it up and carries it triumphantly to his tree in the corner. He opens the bundle, and finds that it contains not what you thought it would, but a vanity case, mirror, rouge, powder-puff, lip-stick and all, complete, including a beautiful pair of white cotton gloves.
He abandons himself to the absorbing task of make-up for the ball. Meanwhile the moving scenery has brought into view the house of Ignatz Mouse. The door opens, and Ignatz' head appears. Opportunity has knocked. The Mouse steals forward and is about to seize an inviting brick when Officer Pup (thank heaven!) arrives in the very nick of time and drives him from the scene. The unsuspecting Kat, in the meantime, has completed his make-up. He now arises, draws on his white cotton gloves, and then by way of further preparatory exercise, he indulges in a bit of a Spanish dance.
At its conclusion Krazy is suddenly confronted by the Mysterious Stranger. The sophisticated audience will observe that it is none other than Ignatz disguised as a catnip merchant. Very formidable indeed! The Stranger steps briskly forward and holds out to the ever-receptive Kat a bouquet-an enormous bouquet of catnip. Krazy plunges his nose into the insidious vegetable, inhales deeply to the very bottom of his lungs, and then goes off at once into what Mr Herriman calls a Class A fit. It is a fit progressive, a fit de luxe, the Katnip Blues, in which the wily Ignatz joins as additional incitement. When the frenzy has achieved its climax, the Mouse throws off his disguise, seizes his brick, dashes it full in the face of the Kat, and escapes. Krazy staggers back, stunned and exhausted, but yet undaunted. There is the moment of ecstatic recognition-Ignatz Dahlinkas he totters and reels back to his little tree. He sinks down wearily under its protecting boughs. The moon comes out. Krazy sleeps. Krazy dreams. Indominatable Kat! "

John Alden Carpenter
Programme note attached to his ballet of Krazy Kat, performed Friday, January 20, 1922, at the Town Hall, in New York. 

"A tous les amoureux des bandes dessinées délicieuses et ingénieuses de Herriman, il devait paraître inévitable que, tôt ou tard, un compositeur songe à mettre en musique Krazy Kat et Ignatz MOuse. Je n´ai pas seulement essayé de les mettre en musique, mais de les mettre en scène en utilisant une forme que j´ai appelée, pour des raisons évidentes, une pantomime jazz.
A tous ceux qui ne connaissent pas de très près la pscyhologie de Herriman, il faut expliquer que Krazy Kat est le plus grand optimiste que l´on puisse imaginer -à la fois Don QUichotte et Parsifal. Il a une relation passionnelle et durable avec Ignatz Mouse, relation dans laquelle le sexe des partenaires reste indéterminé. Ignatz, par ailleurs, être asexué, collectionne tous les vices. Lorsque Krazy fabrique des bulles de savon, Ignatz les fait éclater; s´il bâtit des châteaux en Espagne, Ignatz est là, avec une brique. Bref, il est mauvais comme une teigne, et son problème, ce sont les chats.
Après quelques mesures d´introduction, le rideau se lève et l´on découvre Krazy endormi sous un arbre. Officer Pupp passe, balançant sa matraque. Tout est normal. Bill Poster, un chien apparenté à Officer Pupp, apparaît, avec son seau etson ballai, et colle sur le mur une affiche annonçant un grand bal auquel tous les animaux sont conviés. Sa tâche accomplie, Bill se retire. Krazy se réveille, se fortte les yeu et lit l´annonce avec excitation. Il se met debout, les pieds lours et engourdis. Soudain il avise, sur un fil à sécher le linge apparu à la faveur d´un mouvement du décor, un tutu. À n´en pas douter, voilà son costume pour le bal. Il approche de la corde à linge, d´abord avec précaution, puis avec précipitation arrache le tutu, l´enfile, et se jette en avant dans un grand mouvement d´abandon. Le vieux Joe Stork entre en scène, il porte un baluchon sur le dos. Après l´avoir laissé tomber distraitement, il s´éloigne. Krazy renifle le baluchon, plein de curiosité, le ramasse et le porte triomphalement sous son arbre, dans un coin de la scène. Il l´ouvre et découvre qu´il contient, non pas ce que vous auriez pu croire, mais un nécessaire de maquillage, un miroir, du fond de teint, de la poudre de riz, du rouge à lèvres, tout ce qu´il faut pour être belle, y compris une magnifique paire de gants de coton blanc. IL commence à se maquiller pour le bal. Pendant ce temps, le décor change: la maison de Ignatz surgit. La porte s´ouvre, la tête de Ignatz apparaît. L´occasion a frappé à la porte. La souris se faufile au dehors et va ramasser une brique qui l´attend. À cet instant précis, Officer Pupp arrive (grâce au ciel!) et l´entraîne hors scène. Prendant ce temps le chat, qui ne se doute de rien, a parachevé son maquillage. Il se lève, enfile ses gants de coton blanc et, en guise d´échauffement, exécute quelques pas d´une danse espagnole.
Au moment où il s´arrête de danser, Krazy se trouve subitement confronté à l´Etranger mystérieux. Le public éduqué comprend qu´il s´agit de Ignatz déguisé en marchand d´herbe à chat. Incroyable, n´est-ce pas? L´Étranger s´avance brusquement et tend au chat (très réceptif) un énorme bouquet d´herbe à chat. Krazy plonge le nez dans le végétal insidieux, inhale profondément à pleins poumons et se trouve brusquement emporté dans ce que Herriman appelerait une extase de première classe. C´est une ivresse progressive, une ivresse de luxe, le Katnip Blues, auquel Ignatz se joint et dont il accentue les effets. Lorsque le délire atteint son apogée, la souris se débarrasse de son déguisement, saisit sa brique, la jette en pleine tête du chat et s´enfuit. Krazy titube, paralysé et vidé de son énergie, mais pas démonté. Il a un instant de reconnaissance extatique -Ignatz Dahlink- puis il perd l´équilibre, roule jusuq´à son petit arbre et s´affale d´un air las sous ses branches protrectrices; Krazy dort, Krazy rêve. Invincible Kat!"

To listen/ Pour écouter
The Krazy Kat Ballet

lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2015

Midget Murderer Throws Girl Off Cliff (after She Refuses to Dance with Him)

"Keeps His Mom-in-Law in Chains, meet Kills Son and Feeds Corpse to Pigs"
"Pleased to meet you"
"Teenager Twists Off Corpse´s Head... to Get Gold Teeth, meet Strangles Girl Friend, Then Chops Her to Pieces"
"How you doing?"
"Nurse´s Aide Sees Fingers Chopped Off in Meat Grinder, meet I Left My Babies in the Deep Freeze""It´s a pleasure"
It´s a pleasure! No doubt about that! In all these years of journalism I have covered more conventions than I care to remember. Podiatrists, theosophists, Professional Budget Finance dentists, oyster farmers, mathematicians, truckers, dry cleaners, stamp collectors, Esperantists, nudists, and newspaper editors -I have seen them all, together, in vast assemblies, sloughing through the wall-to-wall of a thousand hotel lobbies (the nudists excepted) in their shimmering gray-metal suits and pajama-stripe shirts with white Plasti-Coat name cards on their chests, and I have sat through their speeches and seminars (the nudists included) and attentively endured ear baths such as you wouldn´t believe. And yet none has ever been quite like the convention of the stringers for The National Enquirer.
The Enquirer is a weekly newspaper that is probably known by sight to millions more than know it by name. No one who ever came face-to-face with the Enquirer on a newsstand in its wildest days is likely to have forgotten the sight: a tabloid with great inky shocks of type all over the front page saying something on the order of Gouges Out Wife´s Eyes to Make Her Ugly, Dad Hurls Hot Grease in Daughter´s Face, Wife Commits Suicide After 2 Years of Poisoning Fail to Kill Husband...The stories themselves were supplied largely by stringers, i.e., corespondents, from all over the country, the world, for that matter, mostly copy editors and reporters on local newspapers. Every so often they would come upon a story, usually via the police beat, that was so grotesque the local sheet would discard it or run it in a highly glossed form rather than offend or perplex its readers. The stringers would preserve them for The Enquirer, which always rewarded them well and respectfully.
One year The Enquirer convened and feted them at a hotel in Manhattan. This convention was a success in every way. The only awkward moment was at the outset when the stringers all pulled in. None of them knew each other. Their hosts got around the problem by introducing them by the stories they had supplied. The introductions were like this:
"Harry, I want you to meet Frank here. Frank did that story, you remember that story, Midget Murderer Throws Girl Off Cliff after She Refuses to Dance with Him"
"Pleased to meet you. That was some story"
"And Harry did the one about I Spent Three Days Trapped at Bottom of Forty-Foot-Deep Mine Shaft and Was Saved by a Swarm of Flies".
"Likewise, I´m sure"
And Midget Murderer Throws Girl Off Cliff shakes hands with I Spent Three Days Trapped at Bottom of Forty-Foot-Deep Mine Shaft, and Buries Her Baby Alive shakes hands with Boy, Twelve, Strangles Two-Year-Old Girl, and Kills Son and Feeds Corpse to Pigs shakes hands with He Strangles Old Woman and Smears Corpse with Syrup, Ketchup, and Oatmeal... and...
...There was a great deal of esprit about the whole thing. These men were in fact the avant-garde of a new genre that since then has become institutionalized throughout the nation without anyone knowing its proper name. I speak of the new pornography, the pornography of violence.
(...) The success of The Enquirer prompted many imitators to enter the field, Midnight, The Star Chronicle, The National Insider, Inside News, The National Close-up, The National Tattler, The National Examiner. A truly competitive free press evolved, and soon a reader could go to the newspaper of his choice for Kill the Retarded! (Won´t You Join My Movement?) and Unfaithful Wife? Burn Her Bed!, Harem Master´s Mistress Chops HIm with Machete, Babe Bites Off Boy´s Tongue, and Cuts Buddy´s Face to Pieces for Stealing His Business and Fiancée.
And yet the last time I surveyed the Violence press, I noticed a curious thing. These pioneering journals seem to have pulled back. They seem to be regressing to what is by now the Redi-Mix staple of literate Americans, mere sex. Ectasy and Me (by Hedy Lamarr), says The National Enquirer. I Run a Sex Art Gallery, says The National Insider. What has happened, I think, is something that has happened to avant-gardes in many fields, from William Morris and the Craftsmen to the Bauhaus group. Namely, their discoveries have been preempted by the Establishment and so thoroughly dissolved into the mainstream thy no longer look original.

Tom Wolfe, Mauve Gloves and Madmen, Clutter and Vine