November 30, 2004

mlö dream

Just had a dream in which I was taking some sort of problem-solving class from James Schamus. He explained that a group of protesters of some kind had taken the world's entire supply of mlö hostage and possibly destroyed it, and we had to come up with a solution to the situation by combing the (hilly) city we were in, while wearing roller skates. We walked outside, and there were hundreds of people in yellow T-shirts, waving signs about mlö and shouting. We laughed: what a great presentation of the problem! I attempted to get to a couple of libraries to figure out what to do, but then realized it would be easier (especially with the bulky roller skates) to get to a computer with Photoshop and create a couple of documents: scientific papers presenting a relatively easy way to synthesize mlö or a mlö substitute. There was some trouble with the security guard, but I finally made it into a slow elevator and to a desk, piled high with boxes, that had a computer I could use.

On waking up, I thought: what's mlö? Then I realized that it is (or was) an instance of hapax legomenon, whose appearance in my dream was possibly triggered by my thinking about the temporal nature of photography last night. Here's a bit of Jorge Luis Borges' "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" in Andrew Hurley's translation: "For the people of Tlön, the world is not an amalgam of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts--the world is successive, temporal, but not spatial. There are no nouns in the conjectural Ursprache of Tlön, from which its 'present-day' languages and dialects derive: there are impersonal verbs, modified by monosyllabic suffices (or prefixes) functioning as adverbs. For example, there is no noun that corresponds to our word 'moon,' but there is a verb which in English would be 'to moonate' or 'to enmoon.' 'The moon rose above the river' is 'hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö,' or, as Xul Solar succinctly translates: Upward, behind the onstreaming it mooned."

Google lists upwards of 1900 hits for mlö, but none of them seem to be coherent texts that don't use it as an abbreviation and don't also involve some form of axaxaxas. Everywhere, the seed of sorgoine is secretly sown.

Posted by Douglas at November 30, 2004 9:48 AM | TrackBack

As a former student ofHerschel Baker, Jan Ziolkowski and Stephen Mitchell, seeing the phrase "hapax legomonon" in the blogosphere just made my month! Thanks darkbeloved.

Posted by: bulb on November 30, 2004 6:58 PM
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