February 16, 2005


pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity, or, WTF?

One of the protagonists in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is an infant of unusual capacities, name of Sunny. Sunny communicates primarily in one or two nonsense-word bursts, that encode an extremely high amount of meaning for her brother and sister, but almost none for anyone not them. Much of the time, they're little references to other things--when Sunny meets a female poet, she belts out "Sappho!"; just before she squares off in an impromptu swordfight (like I say, unusual capacities), she hollers "Flynn!"--which is one of the charms that make them among my favorite books now. These are usually short little things--word length, you know. A syllable or two.

So it's pretty funny when she announces suddenly, in The Hostile Hospital, "Pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity." Whenever Sunny says something, it's generally followed by an aside to the reader explaining what she meant (her siblings understand already, you see). In this case, it turns out to mean something like "I must admit I have absolutely no idea what's going on."

It is, our narrator Snicket states, only the second time Sunny's ever uttered the word. The first time was the day she was brought home from the hospital after being born, and her siblings and others said hello.

I knew right then and there that was the title of any blog I'd ever write. It's a perfect starting point for any discursive narrative, the core of a healthy skeptical mindset in both its meaning, and the self-awareness that one of the facets of that meaning is a sense of its own absurdity.

"Narrative" is something any reader will see mentioned an awful lot in the kind of entries that'll fall here, as it's a topic I forsee coming back to again and again. It's my contention that human consciousness is in a state of pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity much more often than it isn't. To strain a varyingly-obscure metaphor, it's the liquid form of consciousness; narratives are the solid form. In their worst forms, they act as chunks of ice-nine dropped right into the ocean of a person's soul. When positive, they provide a degree of solid structure that's absolutely needed to actually function. I'll be returning to that metaphor as well.

posted by Gar @ 4:22 AM
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