vr

a novel

Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

February 1999

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 3 February 1999
Subject: Slouching towards Bethlehem

Split level house, 9 rooms, upstairs two-bedroom flat with balcony, rent free. I don't know how the bastard got it. He hasn't held a job in ten years. He wants me to live privately in separate quarters. He's probably worried I might try something with his gf, who's my age. I'm insulted by the very thought. I'd never stoop to vile incest, unless she's really hot. Besides we might not even get along. I seem to recall some drunken night telling her to fuck off on the phone. That wasn't my fault, of course, since I don't wish to speak to anyone on the phone and do so only against my will and under protest. Besides, that's just good-natured Gen-X slang anyway, isn't it? She probably doesn't remember the unfortunate incident: "That was my brother, my father's other son. Didn't he tell you he had three kids?" I've priced a flight at $850 round trip, in case they throw me in jail for being unfit for military service and citizenship and life on Earth. This is going to work, my friends. I'll leave this foul land at the end of the month. I've just got to work out a few last details.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Solaris
Date: 3 February 1999
Subject: Re: Slouching towards Bethlehem

Taht's pretty kewl Gabe....hope she's cute for ya.

-Lauren

From: Nichelle
Date: 4 February 1999
Subject: http://www.spiceguide.com/

http://www.spiceguide.com/

From: SAGReiss
Date: 4 February 1999
Subject: Lights, camera...

My whole family consists of cheap crooks. They're trying to figure out how Nichelle can get herself arrested by committing gross unemployment fraud in my name. Fuck that. Todd, perhaps we've talked about this before. If so, forgive me. I simply cannot see why the criteria (from the director's point of view or the spectator's) for quality cinema should differ when filming porn. When writing I dispose of an arsenal of carefully honed skills, phonetics, morphology, syntax, philology, rhetoric, semantics, to manipulate the medium of language. (Just to throw something into the pot, I sometimes notice typos in my e-mail and make a conscious choice not to correct them. The reader thus has no way of knowing my intent.) Similarly a film maker holds and moves a camera, composes frames using form and light, writes words and music, and that's all he can do. What difference does it make whether he's shooting clothed people eating or naked people fucking? (There's no cinematography on our web site, so here's a list of my favorite films: 2001: A Space Odyssey, The 120 Days of Sodom, Vertigo, The Wings of Desire, and perhaps a few others that I can't remember.) Please remember that the enormously influential Nouvelle Vague consisted of seven thousand films of three people in the same Paris appartment smoking cigarettes and talking about sex. They probably didn't have the money to rent a house in the country. Who cares? What they did is change the way people pointed cameras at other people. Cinema boils down to visual moving images and sound. Antonin Artaud brilliantly destroyed the notion of dialogue with his scathing and justified attacks on Shakes, but few listened. What happens (It's spooky the way you and Salon write on exactly the same topics.) is that there's a budget wedge between those who film sex and those who film everything else. Porn films are not good because there's no money and talent involved. That's simply because the money and talent perceive no market for high-brow porn, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. They don't think they can sell quality smut for top dollar to the geeks and suburbanites, this despite the success of such films as Caligula. It doesn't help that book reviewers, who shall go unnamed in their shame, call the Marquis de Sade "difficult" when he is absolutely no harder to read than any of his contemporaries. Did Cezanne paint his wife's snatch any differently from the way he painted a hill? Of course not. Here's the film I'd like to see: Robert Altman directs a cast of unknowns in "The 11,000 Virgins" based on the novel by Guillaume Apollinaire.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 4 February 1999
Subject: John, John, please keep your trousers on

"This is a true story
About a famous criminal
From right around Chicago
This is the story of Michael Kenyon
A man who's serving time at this very moment
For the crime of armed robbery

It so happened, that at the time of the robbery
Michael, decided to give his female victims
A little enema
Apparently, there was no law against that
But his name lives on
Michael Kenyon
THE ILLINOIS ENEMA BANDIT!"

The Illinois Enema Bandit
I heard he's on the loose
I heard he's on the loose
Lord, the pitiful screams
Of all them college-educated women...
Boy, he'd just be tyin' 'em up
(They'd be all bound down!)
Just be pumpin' every one of 'em up with all the bag fulla
The Illinois Enema Bandit Juice
He just be pumpin' every one of 'em up with all the bag
fulla The Illinois Enema Bandit Juice

He just be pumpin' every one of 'em up with all the bag
fulla The Illinois Enema Bandit Juice
He just be pumpin' every one of 'em up with all the bag
fulla The Illinois Enema Bandit Juice

The Illinois Enema Bandit
I heard it on the news
I heard it on the news
Bloomington Illinois...he has caused some alarm
Just sneakin' around there
From farm to farm
Got a rubberized bag
And a hose on his arm
Lookin' for some rustic co-ed rump
That he just might wanna pump
Lookin' for some rustic co-ed rump
That he just might wanna pump
Lookin' for some rustic co-ed rump
That he just might wanna pump

The Illinois Enema Bandit
One day he'll have to pay
One day he'll have to pay
The police will say, "You're under arrest!"
And the judge would have him for a special guest
The D.A. will order a secret test
And stuff his pudgy little thumbs in the side of his vest
Then they'll put out a call for the jury folks
And the judge would say, "No poo-poo jokes!"
Then they'll drag in the bandit for all to see,
Sayin' "Don't nobody have no sympathy...
HOT SOAP WATER in the FIRST DEGREE!"
And then the bandit might say, "Why is everybody looking' at me?"

WELL DID YOU CAUSE THIS MISERY?
WELL DID YOU CAUSE THIS KINDA MISERY?
WELL DID YOU CAUSE THIS MISERY?
Now, one girl shout: "Let the Bandit be!"

BANDIT ARE YOU GUILTY?
BANDIT ARE YOU GUILTY? TELL ME NOW, WHAT'S
YOUR PLEA?
Another girl shout: "Let the fiend go free!"
ARE YOU GUILTY? BANDIT, DID YOU DO THESE DEEDS?
The Bandit say, "It must be just what they all needs..."
"It must be just what they all needs..."
"It must be just what they all needs..."
"It must be just what they all needs..."
"It must be just what they all needs..."
"It must be just what they all needs..."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 4 February 1999
Subject: Re: Lights, camera...

>I simply cannot see why the criteria (from the director's point
>of view or the spectator's) for quality cinema should differ when filming
>porn. [...] What happens
>(It's spooky the way you and Salon write on exactly the same topics.) is
>that there's a budget wedge between those who film sex and those who film
>everything else. Porn films are not good because there's no money and talent
>involved. That's simply because the money and talent perceive no market for
>high-brow porn, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. They don't
>think they can sell quality smut for top dollar to the geeks and
>suburbanites, this despite the success of such films as Caligula.

Salon steals all our ideas. I am half-convinced they watch our site. Unfortunately I'm friends with several of the staff writers so I can't complain too loudly. Besides, more voices in the wilderness shouting in a good cause can't possibly hurt. I disagree with nothing above, nor do I believe we said anything in the column which contradicts any of it.

One of the points of the column is that we expected our heroine Ms. Sprinkle to be able to move beyond some of the limitations you mention, and make better porn, the way she's always talking about doing. As we say repeatedly, it seems our expectations were too high.

-c

p.s. Of course De Sade's not difficult to read when compared to his contemporaries. He's difficult to read when compared against present-day authors. Unfortunately, these days, that counts against him.

From: Solaris
Date: 4 February 1999
Subject: Re: Lights, camera...

Well the criteria has to be different because the viewers look for different things. HOnestly, in a movie I look for good acting. But, in a porn I don't want ANY acting to take place. I only want to see teh sex (no story lines) and * want to see the PERSON's response to the stimuli, not the actor's response. I like to see if a woman enjoys what she's feeling, and I like to see if she does not enjoy it.....I awnt to hear how /she/ expresses pleasure/pain, not how she's "supposed" to by other's standards.... I think too many pornos try to be cinema type movies, when they're not....

From: SAGReiss
Date: 4 February 1999
Subject: Grammar lesson one

In English, as in Greek, "criteria" is a plural word whose singular is "criterion". The Latin declension is "datum -a". Acting is the one aspect of film I didn't mention. It would never have occurred to me to do so. As Leon Bloy once wrote: "The acting profession is one of the most base miseries of this abject world, and passive sodomy is, I think, a little less infamous." Of the movies I mentioned three have no acting to speak of. As to the fourth, Kim Novak once asked Alfred Hitchcock if she had talent: "Of course, my dear," he answered. "You are sitting on it." It's not in vain that I said: "a cast of unknowns". I always get nervous when people say: "these days". At Syracuse University I complained bitterly about the lack of a French dictionary more recent than 1972. The reference librarian reassured me: "Dictionaries don't change that much." When I stopped screaming I was in the Dean's office smoking a cigarette. He gently suggested: "Perhaps he meant that the 1972 edition hasn't changed much." Anyone who finds eighteenth century literature in his own language difficult should be taught a trade, given a union card, and sent merrily on his way. In Europe, between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, the intellectuals are weeded out and prepare the A level, the Arbitur or the Baccalaureat. The others prepare for working life. That may sound brutal and undemocratic, but it works. A French high school language and literature diploma in is worth a four-year American liberal arts college education. This is one reason I think I may have more success at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The remedial readers get civil service jobs, leaving academia to those who can think and write. I can't find any incriminating text in your article, Todd. I guess I felt you were drawing some kind of absurd distinction between porn films and other films. There is no such difference. Cameras, lights and microphones are pointed at people and objects. Tittilation is irrelevant. There's no accounting for people's weird and twisted taste. As for Salon, it's just another propaganda rag for the vast right-left-wing conspiracy. They all agree that it's right for someone to earn a hundred thousand dollars a year, and that it's wrong for a poor man to take that money away by force of violence, so what difference does it make?

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Grrrr.com

Before I go I should probably get this book, but I'm unable to find it. It's called:

Les Livres de Ma Vie

Henry Miller

Obviously it's the French translation of The Books in My Life. It has an extra index not available in the English edition. I had it in France. Could you find it for me?

From: SAGReiss
Date: 5 February 1999
Subject: The Chowder

To understand the following log, one must know that I've been thinking all day about chapters fifteen and forty of Moby Dick. Please read them to settle a long-running debate between Nichelle and myself. It helps if you read the whole book, or remember it from high school.

page nichelle Would you like to come over this week-end? If so, what would you like to eat? I'm making clam chowder tonight, but I'm not sure how much there will be. I'm not using a recipe.
Nichelle pages, "Sure.. when did you have in mind?"
page nichelle Whenever you like. My schedule is fairly open. (I've spent most of the day trying to find out how to ship Bucephalus. It's Hell.)
negatron pages, "i have a healthy digestive tract."
Nichelle pages, "Hmm.. well, maybe Sat is the best day.. I'll be working at night, but maybe before my shift?"
page negatron I'm very happy to hear that. I hope never to learn anything else about your digestive tract.
page nichelle negatron hasn't got cancer.
negatron pages, "i hope never to learn anything else about my digestive tract."
Nichelle pages, "That's good news. So was it just a gerbil stuck up in there, or what?"
page negatron So the doc thinks it's just some mysterious, psychosomatic ailment caused by a profound lack of sexual contact of the heterosexual kind?
page nichelle Yeah. They got him out though and gave him a proper burial.
negatron pages, "yeah, something like that. probably stress related."
Nichelle pages, "Good, glad to hear it."
Nichelle pages, "So how does tomorrow sound?"
page nichelle It sounds fine, except that I can't put any jalapeno peppers in the chowder. Do you have any religious objections to anis seed?
page negatron Stress? Aren't you a civil servant?
Nichelle pages, "In chowder? Yes."
negatron pages, "it's not the fucking work"
page nichelle So what may I put in it, aside from clams and water?
page negatron I see, your savage, unwholesome lifestyle?
Nichelle pages, "isn't that enough?"
negatron pages, "i can't used to working in an office environment. trying to keep my patience in the face of annoying coworkers and bureaucracy is more than i can handle some days."
page nichelle Screw that. I'm putting anis seed in it. I'll omit jalapeno under protest, or maybe I'll just make a separate batch for you, clams, water and salt, perhaps a potato.
Nichelle pages, "make it how you like it, Gaby.."
Nichelle pages, "sheesh."
Nichelle pages, "it does sound nasty, though.. anus seed"
page negatron I can't even count the number of times I've been fired. Work is an unbearable burden of pain and shame.
negatron pages, "i've been wondering about that. how do you manage to get fired so many times?"
page nichelle I'll make two batches. Oh, shit. I haven't got another sauce pan. I'll think about it.
Nichelle pages, "don't worry about it."
page negatron It's a gift.
page nichelle I could make you an omelette.
Nichelle pages, "whatever gave you the idea to put anise seed in chowder?"
negatron pages, "my employers all invariably love me nearly enough to offer their daughters."
page nichelle It's your fault. I saw it on spice.com.
Nichelle pages, "Shit."
page negatron So ask for their daughters instead of a raise.
negatron pages, "my current boss is some sort of fundamentalist christian. I doubt his daughters put out. why can't i ever work for a catholic?"
page negatron You don't live close to Toronto or some other international airport, do you?
negatron pages, "sure, toronto's only about 3000 km from here."
page negatron Because you are an Anglo swine. If you went to work among the oppressed linguistic minorities in Quebec, you could get some of that sweet catholic school girl pussy.
page nichelle I don't want to fuck with the chowder. If you hate it, I'll cook you an omelette.
negatron pages, "i'd be the oppressed minority in that godforsaken backwards province."
page negatron Bullshit. You've obviously never been there. The working class is all quebecois. The greed-money-speculators are all Anglo.
Nichelle pages, "OK."
negatron pages, "i've been in montreal and ottawa, and all the rich people have moved to calgary"
negatron pages, "...and don't tell me that ottawa isn't in quebec."
page negatron Precisely, that's because they were afraid that the wretched, unwashed francophones would cut their white, Anglo asses.
negatron pages, "fuck 'em. everyone east of ontario is a worthless welfare bum regardless of his mother tongue."
page negatron Fuck you. I am a worthless welfare bum in several tongues.
negatron pages, "i think i'm bitter because i seem to be the only person on earth who can't seem to get a government handout."
page negatron Unless you count free medical insurance and several wasted opportunities at free higher education.
negatron pages, "you're right about the free medical insurance, but what free higher education?"
negatron pages, "actually, i smoked for eight or nine years, so i figure i've paid for the medical bills."
page negatron Education is free in Canada, at least it was for me. They waived my tuition at McGill because I was such a nice person and wanted to study French.
negatron pages, "that's the first i've heard. stupid me, paying for it all these years."
page negatron Now you see the error of your ways.
negatron pages, "oh well, my dad paid for most of it anyway."
page negatron To his undying chagrin.
Your message has been sent. negatron seems to be distracted, though.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 5 February 1999
Subject: Re: The Chowder

I ritually burned my copy of Moby Dick some years back. Actually, it's not a bad book as long as you rip out the middle three-fifths. Why someone wanted to stop a good story dead by inserting a cetology textbook is beyond me.

I know, I know, Gabriel, I'm a Philistine. Old news.

But the basis of clam chowder, Melville aside, is potatoes. At that venerable inn The Chowder-Pots, the only difference between the landlady's "clam or cod?" was probably the ingredient there was the least of in the pot.

Potatoes, water, milk, butter, onion, and salt pork for flavor; that's the way they made it in New England in Melville's day, and it hasn't changed - Julia Child's THE WAY TO COOK (1989) has the same ingredients for her "All-Purpose Chowder Base." The clam liquid, if available, should be used in place of part of the water ... and if you don't have clams, use whatever seafood's on hand. Seasonings? Salt and pepper.

We Philistines use bacon in place of the salt pork.

-c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 5 February 1999
Subject: The Philistine's Progress

Olive oil, 1/4 lb. salt pork, four cloves garlic, 1 onion, 2 jalapeno peppers, 1 quart tomatoes, 2 potatoes, 1 cup red wine, fresh parsley, anis seed, 2 lbs steamed manilla clams with water. It's too bad you didn't read the middle three fifths of Moby Dick, Todd. You missed out on the forcible sodomy episode in chapter forty, though Nichelle stubbornly insists it never happened. I do not understand Americans. They long for "classical Chinese opera" and "traditional Celtic music" and "ancient Wiccan rites", all the while scorning or more likely never knowing the great works in their own tradition. It's some perverse kind of reverse discrimination. Moby Dick is, of course, the most ambitious and accomplished novel of the nineteenth century this side of Russia.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Re: The Philistine's Progress

If you'd told me you were making red chowder, I wouldn't have bothered with the comments. I feel the same way about chowder with tomatoes in it as I do about Moby Dick - a nice idea ruined. Americans don't respect their own culture, Gabriel, because we know deep inside that we don't have much of one. America is a mishmash of things stolen from other places, and only rarely manages to transcend that and make something new of its own. I heard someone once say that jazz was America's only real contribution to music. I like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain and Washington Irving and lots of other American writers, but Melville and Cooper are in the ranks of the unforgivables. I won't dispute that Moby Dick was "ambitious," but in many ways the history of America is that of ambition exceeding accomplishment.

From: Columbine
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Half Past Midnight, Forecastle

OLD MANX SAILOR. I wonder whether those jolly lads bethink them of what they are dancing over.

I have to say, Nichelle, as someone who's played the "is it subtext?" game a lot, I think I may have to side with Gabriel on chapter forty. I don't know if there's sodomy but Occam's Razor tells me it's the most likely explanation for the currents of evil sweeping under the bow. I'm with Pip: These chaps are worse than a bad squall. Here comes the royal yard!

From: Columbine
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Mrs. Hussey

I never actually burn books, Gabriel; it's a crime against nature. If I really can't stand them, someone else always wants them. And I read the books I don't like just as carefully as the books I do like; despite occasional allegations to the contrary, I do try to check the facts before I argue.

I was speaking to some friends last night about the way American schools seem to think that if they don't get certain items of literature into students' heads by the time they leave high school, it'll be too late. So they use brute force methods, thus ensuring that the students will hate the works in question, including some which no kid in high school, however precocious, is old enough to appreciate. The example that was mentioned last night was KING LEAR. "No one who hasn't had children can properly appreciate that play" was the comment. I'd take it further - you can't appreciate Lear until you're over fifty. I certainly don't.

Moby Dick was stuffed into my head when I was in tenth grade and I spit it right back out. It may be time for a rereading. Let's have a couple of smoked herring by way of variety.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Loomings

Assuming that language is the basis of culture, the most important date in history for any speaker of English is 1066, for on 14 October of that year, events took place that set in motion the cultural forces which would, in three centuries' time, create the English language. An exception might be made for certain colonized anglophones. American Indians, for example, might point to 1492 as the more important date. The languages of Europe grew out of the Roman conquest of barbarian lands. American culture is no more heterogeneous than, say, French. It's just a little more recent development. What's a couple of hundred years to history? The silly argument about jazz is just a token to give to blacks to show how much we like them. Let them smoke crack and have access to Medicaid abortions, just so long as they don't fuck with our money. Let them learn Swahili and convert to Islam. Who cares that Swahili is an East-African tongue? Who cares that Islam was an imperialist religion, and that the slaves were animist West Africans? Charles Ives is thus far America's greatest contribution to the world of music for grown-ups. Everyone in Europe, from Goethe to Stephane Mallarme, dreamed of writing the great nineteenth-century novel. Melville wrote it. The wealth of narrative voices (Bakhtin would have said: "polyphony".) would not see something comparable until the publication of Ulysses. The global/historical sweep is equal to that of War and Peace. The portrait of nature exceeds anything written in contemporary prose. The nature of evil is confronted as only by Dostoievski. The characters (Ishmael, Queequeg, Ahab, the whale) rival Dickens. The symbolic universe of freemasonry is unmatched. The portrait of social forces suggests Notre Dame de Paris. The meticulous realism (the cetology and nautical science and technology you so bemoan) remind one of Zola's encyclopedia of human folly. The literary metatext is something no author of the period attains. Sure it was written by a DWB (dead white bastard or dead wife beater, take your pick) but where else do you find such "cultural diversity": the Polynesian, the African, the Arab, and all the languages and religions of Western Europe? Who else maps the sea and sails around the world?

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Post-Loomings

And how could I forget Isis and Osiris, the mythological foundation of the whole novel?

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Short vr
Attached: vr.doc

I'll send you these two back ups.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: long vr
Attached: vr2.doc

Second back up.

From: Solaris
Date: 6 February 1999
Subject: Re: Mrs. Hussey

I have to agree with you, columbine. I enjoyed every book that I read in my schooling, but I despised the methods used to teach it. I understood perfectly the storyline, but to me the story itself really isn't that important. (Now, I"m sure if I were a reader of cheap romance novels that opinion may be different.) To me, the impressions left behind upon the reader, and the purpose of what the book is to convey, if a simple concept or emotion, or if a complex collection of things, is what is important. I hated being told that a book meant one thing and only one thing. I could often see many meanings, and usually I found when researching the book, that the author had NO intention of portraying the meaning that was taught to me. Some examples are the many works of Euripides. I have greatly enjoyed reading them, my favorite being The Helen, but I greatly disagree with my english teachers/literature teachers about their meaning. I was taught in junior high and high school that Euripides was a femenist, but in reality quite the opposite was true. His plays purposely mocked women, and set them at the root of all evils, etc. I disliked being told what I should think about a work of literature. I will think what ever I will think, and my opinions will probably be slightly different than others, because I am not those other people. I hate the fact that american education often discourages creative and extensive thinking.

-Lauren (Cyanne)

From: SAGReiss
Date: 7 February 1999
Subject: Livres

I found and have ordered Les Livres de ma vie. It should arrive at your place towards the end of the month.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 7 February 1999
Subject: Revenge of the tall

Todd [to Debby]: Let's see what the midget motherfucker says now. He would tear me a new one if I wrote a letter like that.
Debby [to Todd]: Oh shut up.

That, Todd, is one of the advantages of being a woman. A man, even if he is an impressively tall geek, is basically useless to me, even to my powers of imagination, unless he is very smart and well educated. Ladies have charms which make up for a lot. As my sister once said, she would gladly give up whatever perks are accorded to womanhood, just as soon as every form of misogynistic oppression is withdrawn. That seems fair to me. C'est pas demain la veille. So I shall try to be as gentle and soothing as chamomile. I have said all of these things before but no one was paying attention, so I'll have to repeat myself. I should like to draw your attention, then, to three words in Lauren's letter, intent (of the author), opinion (of the reader) and meaning (of the text). Some authors, including Euripides and Shakes, never say anything about their intent, or what they may have said has been lost. Others, such as such as Melville and Henry Miller, talk constantly about their intent, and constantly contradict themselves. They are cagey, fickle liars. Even assuming full disclosure, an author may have mutually incompatible desires, may change his mind. An author pens a phrase, rewrites it a year later for publication, revises it five years later for the second edition, and explains it ten years later in his autobiography. When are we to establish his intent? Even if he were trying to be honest, is it possible for him to be unwaveringly consistent? Obviously not, so the author is just another reader with his own foolish opinion, which brings us to the second point. In bourgeois society we tend to pay lip service to such basically worthless rights as freedom of conscience and speech. The famous biologist Dr Vanillabottom, a Nobel Laureat from M.I.T., is fully within his rights to claim: "AIDS is God's plague on the heathen sodomites." Do we take him seriously? No. Is this anything that could reasonably be called science, learning, knowledge, education? No. When I say: "I like Moby Dick," I'm making the same kind of claim, expressing a personal feeling based on no evidence and of no interest or importance to anyone but me. When, on the other hand, I say: "Moby Dick breaks with the whole tradition of the novel. Never before 1851 was a book written from so many points of view, with such variety of narrative styles, incorporating virtually every genre of literary creation, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, theatre etc." This is a scientific claim, in the sense that one can go back and verify it as true or false. It is based on learning, knowledge and evidence in the field. Which brings us to the third point, the meaning of a work. When one wants to know what an unknown word means, what does one do? One consults a dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, grammar, whatever. In other words, one looks at definitions (other words), etymology (previous forms of the word), citations (usage). Can one find anything out about a word by looking at something other than words? Can one look at a dog to learn something about the word "dog"? Obviously not, because words, language, are self-referential. Books do not mean anything. Music does not mean anything. Art does not mean anything. That is precisely its beauty: "Pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale Jean Giono [who beautifully translated Moby Dick into French] nous a donné son livre « Refus d’Obéissance ». Pour autant qu’il nous a servi il aurait pu écrire un autre « Madame Butterfly. » Les livres ne comptent pour rien." There are many tools an educated reader may use to analyse a text. I use linguistic tools, which are obviously the best, but others are allowed, if and to the extent that they elucidate the text, which is an immutable fact of nature, a phenomenon of scientific study as cold and as solid as a glacier. To say that Euripides was a feminist is to make an outrageous, stupid and anachronistic claim. On the other hand, I could easily see two feminists and a marxist arguing about Lysistrata, the first claiming that it is an exposition of the sexual power of women, the second that it is a vicious, misogynistic farce, the third that it is a savage indictment of war. Those arguments can all be based in the text. Your opinions are worthless. Clear your mind of them. No one cares what you think. Do not read secondary literature. Read the text. Read it carefully. There is no subtext. There is no symbolism. Nothing stands for anything else. The text is a self-referential exercise in symbolic representation: "'tis a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury and signifying nothing."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 7 February 1999
Subject: The great white midget

I'd never have called you a midget, Gabriel. I have no idea how tall you are - I have seen one old photo of you on your website and you're sitting down. And I wouldn't use that word anyway.

Actually, I roped off the whole literary debate with you some time back and said (in essence) "I will never convince this man of my viewpoint, and he will never convince me of his, so it's time to leave the field." I am revisiting it because my argumentativeness outweighs my good sense - the fight is a waste of time.

An aside about gender. The fact that I happen to have a body which does not permit me to distract you with its sex appeal is probably a good thing in this case, since I find your idea offensive: Men have to debate you using words, but women get to wave their breasts in your face and you give them a free pass? You're not doing yourself OR the women in your life any credit that way.

You wouldn't like me or accept my arguments even if I DID have a female body, so leave the gender of the arguer out of it from now on, eh?

You can't argue that literature has no "meaning," as you do, and THEN presume to say that there's any standard of evaluating literature other than pure personal opinion. Where there is no meaning, there can be no analysis, yes? Yes, you can judge the book in favor of whether it differed from what had gone before ... but that's not really a statement of whether you liked the book or not. You don't seem to realize that's more important to many people than what Melville did or didn't do.

Literature is entertainment. All other functions of literature are secondary.

When I write something, the first test is whether I like it. The second test is whether the readers like it. If they dislike it, they may dislike it because of bad grammar or deep pseudoanalysis or because they just weren't in the mood. The only reason I should care WHY they disliked it is if I plan to make corrections later - I'll correct grammar, but I won't change a plot just because someone doesn't like stories with happy endings.

> When I say: "I like Moby Dick," I'm
>making the same kind of claim, expressing a personal feeling based on no
>evidence and of no interest or importance to anyone but me. When, on the
>other hand, I say: "Moby Dick breaks with the whole tradition of the novel.
>Never before 1851 was a book written from so many points of view, with such
>variety of narrative styles, incorporating virtually every genre of literary
>creation, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, theatre etc." This is a scientific
>claim, in the sense that one can go back and verify it as true or false.

The first states an empty opinion, local to the expresser only. Agreed. It IS, however, of interest and/or importance to others; there you're wrong.
The latter is a true fact, but doesn't convey anything of what YOU felt about the book.

When most of us read film critics we are not interested in the critic's dissection of camera angles, lights, etc - that's "film theory" and it's largely useless to anyone except other film theorists and possibly filmmakers themselves who want to pick up pointers. We humans read film criticism to see if the critic liked the film or not and why.

If your WHY is because of camera work or other technical analysis, then that's fine. I have a friend who is coming to hate the entire film industry because he says too many movies are "shot for video" these days, never really exploiting the idea that there's this big-screen real estate to work in because they know half the picture will be lost to scan-and-pan when it comes out on video because the public is too stupid to insist on letterboxing.

But I think I speak for more of the majority than you do when I say that I'm not interested in how innovative MOBY DICK was. What I want to know is: Was it interesting to read? As it turns out, on a brief refresher I suspect I will find MOBY DICK more interesting now, and may try rereading it. But it will be because the material is more to my personal taste, not because I now know all the things you've told me about Melville.

I can tell the average reader about all the great strides Melville took with this book, give the book a nice glossy coating and talk someone into reading it. Then they will bog down around chapter fifty, as most of us do, and they will come back and blame me for selling them a lemon. What they REALLY wanted to know was: Is it boring? Will it hold my interest? Does it have a lot of action, a lot of talking - what kind of book is it? All issues you would probably dismiss as shallow, but then I suspect you dismiss most of us as shallow anyway.

ULYSSES, which you mentioned in comparison a few mails back, is also undoubtedly a great and innovative book. I wrote a lot of ink on Joyce at one point. I have read a lot of Joyce in the name of enlightenment and analysis - he makes for a great paper, since you can spend hours fussing about just what the heck he was trying to do. And yet there is not a single work of Joyce I would recommend to someone who reads for entertainment. It's all historically significant, but it's no fun. Believe it or not, that IS important.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 7 February 1999
Subject: Lo, a subject heading

>Men have to debate you using words, but women get to wave their
>breasts in your face and you give them a free pass?

This is quite true, as ugly as it may seem to admit it. I'm sitting at the bar. Some idiot drunk sans breasts is talking to me. I may or may not care what he is saying, based solely on the style of his idiolect. An idiot drunk of the female persuasion sits down. The possibility, or even the fantasy, of being allowed to touch her breasts changes everything. There is simply another intersubjective factor which may influence my reaction to whatever she might say. I'd be less than forthcoming if I did not admit this.

>You can't argue that literature has no "meaning," as you do, and THEN
>presume to say that there's any standard of evaluating literature other
>than pure personal opinion. Where there is no meaning, there can be no
>analysis, yes?

Um, no, I beg your pardon. That literature has no meaning does not forbid me to say that there is an abba rhyme scheme. Nor to say that a word is misspelled. Nor to say that the author uses hypotax or paratax, metaphore or metonymy, makes puns or literary allusions, etc. That is all I would ever say about a work of literature in a formal context. In my e-mail I can say that Joyce was a one-eyed pig fucker or whatever I like. There is a difference between mindless opinion and professional criticism. I can do both.

>When I write something, the first test is whether I like it. The second test
>is whether the readers like it.

Both of these tests are completely irrelevant. What matters in the long run is how it stands up to cold-blooded analysis and ultimately the test of time, long after we have died. The question isn't whether Melville was the first to do something, though that may have historical significance. The fact is that he created a new and exciting kind of novel, one that is no longer held back by the bonds of a single narrative voice. Polyphony is much richer in potential than homophony. I don't care whether Arnold Schoenberg or Charles Ives was the first to break down the walls of key and time signature. But the chromatic scale offers far more possibilities than the diatonic. If you're looking for entertainment, watch TV. That's what your beloved majority is doing right now.

>When most of us read film critics we are not interested in the critic's
>dissection of camera angles, lights, etc - that's "film theory" and it's
>largely useless to anyone except other film theorists and possibly
>filmmakers themselves who want to pick up pointers. We humans read
>film criticism to see if the critic liked the film or not and why.

This is the typical pandering, anti-elitist-intellectual argument of the ignorant populist. What you're saying is akin to this: "Who gives a fuck about the General Theory of Relativity? I take the T to work." I am a trained linguist, a professional of the language arts. I don't read the newspaper to learn where I should go. I don't give a fuck what some asshole journalist thinks, or you, or me, or anyone else. Either you can deepen my understanding of a work of art, or you cannot. The best, but by no means the only, way for you to do that is to explore the technical resources of a given medium (literature, music, film) and how the work exploits them. I am open to any and all methods of analysis, so long as they make no claims about the author and the reader. As the famous Viennese psychoanalyst Herr Dr Van Illabottom writes: "Ze Komedie Lysistrata ist eine transgender Phantasie. Der Mann vill ein Veib sein. He vill ja eine Fagina, zo he kann ze Penetration allow or refuse. He hat Kastrationsangst."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 7 February 1999
Subject: Love and money

>Both of these tests are completely irrelevant. What matters in the long run
>is how it stands up to cold-blooded analysis and ultimately the test of
>time, long after we have died.

Aha. That's crucial. No wonder we have irreconcilable differences here. I couldn't care less what people think of my works after I'm dead. I fully expect history to forget me. I just want people to like my material while I'm around. And to make a living from it, unlike some of the writers you admire.

I know, I'm crass. What the heck. If you can admit to watching breasts, I can admit to living shallowly for the moment.

Oh, speaking of breasts, I stooped so low as to buy an issue of ESQUIRE today. Interesting article which will probably brew into a mouth organ: Their idea is that when society is repressive, large breasts become seen more often (in ads, films, etc.) I don't know if I buy that.

From: Joy
Date: 8 February 1999
Subject: Re: The great white midget

hey Ulysses (sp??) was/is very entertaining. IMHO, of course.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 10 February 1999
Subject: The Drunken Goat

This semi-soft goat cheese with a red-wine-soaked rind from Jumilla, Spain, caught my eye. I haven't tasted it yet. I also bought whole wheat flour, since I've been brooding about my bread, good but nothing special. I've been to a bookshop and found a grammar that looks good to me: Essential English Grammar, Philip Gucker, Dover, 0-486-21649-7. I was re-reading the Phedre, trying to remember the French language and all of those awful Greek tropes and schemes I've forgotten, when I took a break and saw this on the web:

"Did it hurt? Well, yeah. It's like running a marathon, you know, the pain is part of the high -- part of the adrenaline rush. It hurt, but it's not something I didn't expect."

So said Grace Quek, aka Annabel Chong, in an interview at the Sundance Film Festival about her experience on January 19, 1995. At that time she was a 22-year-old University of Southern California masters degree candidate -- and a porn star. That day, within a 10-hour time period, she broke a world record by having intercourse -- on camera -- with 251 men.

Our sex positivists may find this loathsome or empowering as they wish. I have another thought. I'm a little bit sceptical. Simple math tells me that the 251 men were allotted an average of two minutes and twenty-three seconds. She must have stopped to drink water several times, and go to the bathroom, though I suppose she wasn't likely to feel pangs of hunger during such an ordeal. CNN says that the film is "discrete" rather than "graphic". I think it's a hoax.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 10 February 1999
Subject: Re: The Drunken Goat

I'm with you on this one, Gabriel. I believe I speak for everyone directly and indirectly involved with mouth organ (admittedly, that's only five people): When we see stories like this - and we get a lot of them in email - our first impulse is to do the math.

-c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 11 February 1999
Subject: Ah! cruel! tu m'as trop entendue!

Actually I haven't begun reading yet. What's the point of reading, if I don't know what I'm looking for? So I'm doing what I call the leg work, comparing HTML public domain texts and a shitty little Classiques Larousse thing I bought yesterday at the university book shop. Since I found a frequence chart and word search engine on one site, I figured I'd start with the semantic fields. I find that the most frequently occurring nouns are eye (66), god (56), son (51), heart (44), father (41), love (38) and blood (36). (For the sake of comparison, I'm using Andromaque.) I don't know what I'm doing yet. I'm just gathering data. I have no idea where it may lead. Eventually, three or four of the six methods of analysis, for example phonetics, syntax, rhetoric and semantic fields, will converge on something. I don't know what, yet. I still have to finish manually adding line numbers to my Word file, and the punctuation is all fucked up. (French editors, in their innocence, don't bother about such small matters as which text they're following, so there's no point worrying about punctuation until I get a serious edition.) Once I finish the text work, I think I'll look at the longest speeches of the characters, mapping who uses which words, and hoping to match the results with the phonetic data and either syntax or rhetoric. Then I'll know what I'm doing. Nichelle thinks it's quite funny, the rigorous, methodical, ruthlessly efficient, remorselessly logical way I do these things. But, of course, it's the only way, unless one says: "This is a fucking bore. What are all these French sluts and poofters doing dressed in togas speaking in Alexandrines? Where's the remote?"

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 14 February 1999
Subject: Voice mail

Sent today at 12:15 PM:

Hey, baby, call me back. I can't do all this message and sound sexy at the same time. You cannot [mumble] sexy. So call me back. But, um, I really want to do this. I want to do this on your pager, your recording. But, um, let's talk about it and see if we can drop a word or two. I just want to make it sound sexy and I can't [mumble] and talking [mumble]. Sex is not [mumble]. [mumble]. Bye.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 15 February 1999
Subject: The Patriot by Robert Browning

AN OLD STORY.

It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad:
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day.

The air broke into a mist with bells,
The old walls rocked with the crowd and cries.
Had I said, "Good folk, mere noise repels--
But give me your sun from yonder skies!"
They had answered, "And afterward, what else?"

Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun
To give it my loving friends to keep!
Nought man could do, have I left undone:
And you see my harvest, what I reap
This very day, now a year is run.

There's nobody on the house-tops now--
Just a palsied few at the windows set;
For the best of the sight is, all allow,
At the Shambles' Gate--or, better yet,
By the very scaffold's foot, I trow.

I go in the rain, and, more than needs,
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
And I think, by the feel, my forehead bleeds,
For they fling, whoever has a mind,
Stones at me for my year's misdeeds.

Thus I entered, and thus I go!
In triumphs, people have dropped down dead.
"Paid by the world, what dost thou owe
"Me?"--God might question; now instead,
'Tis God shall repay: I am safer so.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 17 February 1999
Subject: A Comedy of Errors, or Learn to Ski

I'm tempted to think this is but another episode in the vast right-left-wing conspiracy against my poor soul, but the prick in Vancouver went and broke his leg on Sunday. Fucking dumb-ass Canooks. Note how the evil secretary, called Liisa [sic] according to her signature, throws in the telling detail to fool me and make me think she's not lying. These fucking burocrats are going to drive me crazy. She says she thinks the government flies people to Israel at its expense. She thinks so. This is the same lady who said she was going to send me information on the fourth, who now claims to have sent it on the tenth, but is sending it again just to make sure. Maybe the asshole was skiing to the mailbox when he got hit by a geek driving a green goose. It's awful just to contemplate the possibilities for horror. So I'm still waiting, my hands tied and my money dwindling because of my sure-I-want-to-pay-taxes foolishness. I spend my time cooking and printing massive texts (Racine and Shakespeare) off the internet in the hopes of finding a worthy subject for a thesis which doesn't actually require me to read anything new. I'll just tell them I'm blind from reading too many high-graphics web sites. It's a special kind of blindness, though. I can see vowels fine. It's just the consonants I can't make out. Too bad they don't print vowels in Hebrew. Tough luck, bro.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 17 February 1999
Subject: Our friendly list
Attached: vr.doc

I hope you enjoy our mail.

From: Solaris
Date: 17 February 1999
Subject: Fucking Hell.....

Well, my Valentine's Day sucked....but not for the usual reasons. See, I had gone to Waffle House (a former place of employment for me....which I lost my job being accused of sleeping with the Asst. manager Lisa) to study for an exam on Monday. I purposely went to the one I did NOT work at so that I wouldn't see anyone to distract me from studying....go figure Lisa had been transferred to that store to take care of some problems. (stealing, etc.) So, I said hello to her and talked to her for a bit, then ordered food and began studying....Mickey (who's wife worked with me at the otehr store) had jsut gotten off shift and began quizzing me on some of the note cards and sample test questions taht I had. Duiring this, Lisa's girlfriend (Dorothy) came in with her son....I payed no attention to her until she waved to me, and I wasn't going to be a bitch so I waved back. She was VERY rude to me at this, something like a 14 year old school girl who's jealous because her boyfriend wants to date a cheerleader. So, I just didn't say anything and ignored both her and Lisa (and lisa was purposely /not/ talking to me as well). After about an hour of working with Mickey, I heard some rather nasty remarks from Dorothy and looked over to see waht was going on, and she was talking to Lisa rather rudely...I couldn't hear quite what was being said but it wasn't pretty. I saw Lisa get up and walk to the back of the store and Dorothy followed her on the customer side of teh partition, through the swinging doors into teh back. (Lisa had taken her into the office in the back.) I knew the shit had hit the fan then...so I stayed out front until my bladder was near bursting and I /had/ to piss....so I went to piss. The ventilation at Waffle House is so that you can hear EVERYTHING that hapens in teh office and commissary from teh restrooms....so I heard the last of their conversation. Dorothy was accusing lisa of sleeping with me, saying she saw how Lisa was flirting wiht me and looking at me, etc. (Lisa was /not/ flirting with me, but was talking to the GUY sitting next to Dorothy..who was a regular at all the stores). Lisa kept telling her that they'd talk about it at home, not here at work, etc. So then dorothy, who never finished high school, started complaining about my studying at 11 pm, asking why I was studying that late at night. It was no time to study, no person ever studied at that time of night, and never on a weekend. She thought my "studying' was a coverup in case she came in on Lisa and I there at the store.... I got PISSED....but I didn't say anything, I jsut kept quiet. But, while exiting the bathroom I saw Dorothy purposely slap lisa and start to leave (to which I walked back into teh bathroom, not wanting to seriously hurt the girl). She did eventually leave the store completely, making it known to everyone that she was pissed at Lisa....though not necessarily why she was pissed, thank gods. Well, I went back to studying wiht Mickey until his wife Angel picked him up...and kept on studying.... Dorothy called the store for Lisa about an hour later and started bitching at her AGAIN....to which Lisa told her to wait until later and hung up. I left at 1 am and came home.....called Lisa (as I told her I would when I left) and made sure she was alright...but I just can't believe the audacity of her girlfriend to make such outrageous accusations. Lisa and I /are/ friends, but the only time I see her is at the store or when she's WITH Dorothy (like running into them at Wal-Mart). It just pissed me off to no ends. :P

-Lauren

From: SAGReiss
Date: 18 February 1999
Subject: Avis mellis

Sometimes this list veers from a recipe exchange to the Antimouth. That's not altogether bad, but I did enjoy Lauren's Waffle House saga yesterday, regretting only that she didn't mention what she had ordered. Having myself dropped out of high school, I should also have found it strange and weird and odd for someone to study 1) on the week-end 2) at midnight and 3) in a restaurant. Be that as it may, Todd gives us a welcome and pertinent topic, as I've once again scoured the depths of the MOO and found a rare bird, a new candidate for membership in this oh-so-exclusive club. She has said that she wanted to "lurk" and decide if we are worth her interest and her time, which is fine, of course, since lurking is more common here than writing, reading being the unknown category. I'm happy with this list the way it has been, with whatever people wish to contribute. Clearly there is widespread unrest with the quality of online discourse, if only the unforgivably endless hello and goodbyes and spam, which is universally defined as whatever anyone else types that I don't like. I've re-orgasmized these quotations according to my own foul designs, which is my prerogative, though I do wish I knew how to use the paste thing properly.

>Even if you believe that the world is mostly composed of stupid people – I
>myself do not

This is a throw-away line that nonsensically pushes blind optimism. Whatever would it mean for most people to be stupid? As compared to what? The people who are not so stupid? That's a tautology. People are not choose-your-adjective unless we've got 1) a definition and 2) a control group. The next citation makes a lot more sense.

>I never did believe that the internet crowd was more intelligent than the
>non-connected masses. Richer, maybe - income level is still the big bar to
>getting wired.

Obviously the dirty little secret of the internet is that it's overwhelmingly composed of FWBs, that is white, English-speaking North Americans, rich ones at that. Given that mankind is and has always been socio-economically determined, no one would be able to come up with any kind of measure of intelligence by which the rich would not do better than the poor. Thus the inescapable conclusion that cyberspace dwellers are indeed more intelligent than their rl neighbors. Which brings us to the question of why the former behave like jackasses, the question we must answer.

>I was completely surprised by the reason they gave most often.
>I never had a problem keeping up the pace while online. I'm a fast thinker
>and a fast typist. I actually do better in a written medium. I can write
>five sentences that seem like a compelling argument on the page ... at least
>until you go back and reread them and realize I was full of bull. If I say
>them aloud, I don't get the benefit of that delay. I don't sound as if I
>know what I'm talking about.

I admit this comes as a surprise to me as well. I do not type fast by geek standards. I type comfortably and flawlessly at sixty words per minute. I stress accuracy because I use standard punctuation and capitalization online, which slows me down. I have never found it at all difficult to carry on multiple conversations both public and private simultaneously. Indeed my favorite logs are those where several conversations overlap and intersect. You lose me in the last two sentences. I almost think there must be some pronoun confusion: Todd writes glibly. Gabriel re-reads and finds a flaw. Todd speaks. Gabriel does not have the benefit of re-reading. Ergo Todd sounds less convincing? I should think that exactly the opposite were true.

>"And even if I could keep up a coherent stream at over 200 characters per
>second (a reasonable reading speed)"

I put this one in quotation marks because you seem to be quoting a correspondent, though I'm not sure about the parenthesis. In any case you should have done the math. Using standard printer's measures (five characters per word, fifteen hundred characters per page) that means a "reasonable" reader swallows 2400 words per minute or 480 pages per hour, a stunning pace of about the velocity of 251 fucks in ten hours.

>I am verbally expressive, have a wild imagination, type faster than you do,
>and am capable of making you trick yourself into sensations you didn't know
>words could give you, if you'll only close your eyes and open your mind.

If I'd only play by your rules, of course, everything would be easy, and you would always win. But what if I won't? Any medicine, philosophy or pornography which requires more than the absolute minimum co-operation is a scam and a fraud. I'll gladly read a book or watch a film or take an antibiotic so long as I'm not asked to believe in its effectiveness a priori. Since I don't agree to you premises, I do not accept the following conclusion.

>One's appearance is completely unrelated to one's sexual prowess online.

That is only true if we pretend not to know what we all in fact know. Ignorance is never bliss. Factors external to the text-based world almost always intervene. People do reveal their real name, age, sex. (While I am the eldest member of this list, avis mellis, you are not the youngest.) They do give their URLs to others. Even you, Todd, eventually tired of your tasteless little charade. Lying is very hard, as Mr Bill can tell you. Telling the truth relieves stress. Even in the case of someone who is pig-headed enough to refuse all reference to rl, the facts stay there in the background. It is too naive to assume that our "pretending" negates the psychological effects of knowing that there is a man or a woman with a modem behind the mask. This explains the open hostility I meet when I go somewhere and innocently say: "Hello. My name is Gabriel." Snout recently kicked me off SPD before I had used one single profanity. Apparently the threat of someone who didn't want to play the game was so dangerous that it couldn't be tolerated. In conclusion, Todd, there's nothing crass about wanting to earn money writing, though I might on occasion argue about some of the compromises one might make to reach that laudable goal. I'm thinking long-term, while you're thinking of the ephemeral, but ultimately we're both looking for the same thing, readers. Have you ever noticed that the famous book-burners, Gogol, Kafka et al., always made sure a wife or friend was nearby to snatch the manuscript out of the flames? Malcolm Lowry even torched his house, only to have his wife rather heroically run back inside to save Under the Volcano. Scripta manent indeed.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Solaris
Date: 18 February 1999
Subject: Re: Avis mellis

Well, actualy if you want to know what I ordered it was easy: Bacon chicken Cheese (chicken sandwich with bacon and cheese) hold the garden with ranch on the side and a Diet Coke to drink, which later became coffee. I studied there on a Sunday, for an exam that I had the next morning and I studied at a restaurant because it's a 24-hour restaurant and I didn't have to leave when I wasn't ready to. Actually there's yards more to that Waffle House Saga....Lisa asked me last night if I would like to do anything with her on her next 2 days off.... Fuck her girlfriend, I'm going to go wiht Lisa. My respect for her girlfriend is now gone...(and no, Lisa and I are not, and never have been involved intimately).

-Lauren

From: SAGReiss
Date: 18 February 1999
Subject: Nichelle's poem

Nichelle asked me to read this poem and anal-yse it. I was hoping that she or perhaps someone else would comment, but as usual I'm on my own. I haven't drawn any conclusions, but here's a preliminary look at the text.

Phonetics: iambic tetrameter with a lot of slack (extra unaccented syllables). I count sixteen verses of nine syllables and six verses of ten. I only scan a few trochees (initial in 25, 26, 28). "Me" in verse 29 is a huge "rejet" but I can't think of the English word for that. Lots of alliteration, m (2), f (4, 23-24), b (6, 22-23), c (7), s (9), d (27). The rhyme is ababa.

Morphology: dialect words, nought (nothing), trow (trust).

Syntax: The first two stanzas and verses 11-12 are in the present. Verses 13-15 and the last three stanzas are in the present. Verse 15, repeating verse 1, marks the transition.

Philology: The title (which refers to a rebel as a "patriot"), the subtitle, the dialect words and "Shambles' Gate" (a medieval street in York) lead me to believe that the narrator is a member of one of Britain's oppressed minorities, Scottish, Welsh or Irish. I have no idea where Robert Browning came from.

Rhetoric: a sing-song repetition (roses, 1), binosynonymy ("heave and sway", 3, "crowd and cries", 7) a nice pun ("old walls rocked", 7) in a poem spare of figurative language. The rhetorical texture (and the metre, alliteration) is that of a dirge or medieval (Anglo-Saxon) lament. There's one I'm thinking of, but I can't remember the title.

Semantics: The first half of the poem is dominated by the image of the sun, the narrator as Prometheus. The second half is dominated by rain and perhaps Christ imagery. The major semantic field is architecture (house-roofs, church-spires, bells, walls, house-tops, windows, Shambles' Gate, scafold's foot).

Here's how I understand the last four verses: "People have died at the peak of their success. God might ask one such person: 'You profited in life. How will you repay me for your good fortune?' Instead, because I am dying a failure, God will reward me for my sufferings." (The punctuation, from an unidentified text I found online, is confusing.)

You can see where many of these data coincide. I think one could tie them together to come up with a pretty coherent reading of the poem.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 18 February 1999
Subject: Shallow semantics

>You can see where many of these data coincide. I think one could tie them
>together to come up with a pretty coherent reading of the poem.

And having not seen the poem (or if I have, I don't remember seeing it), I can safely say that I disagree completely. Your data is about as meaningful to me as running the poem through a computer and seeing how many times each letter of the alphabet occurs in it. I read your entire set of comments and I have no idea what the poem is about.

I really do think we are speaking from completely separate definitions of "meaning" sometime.

-c

(p.s. Having once been heavily into cryptography, it occurs to me that there are contexts where having a letter-frequency count is quite useful. But this isn't one of them, and I don't feel that this fact undermines my statement.)

From: Columbine
Date: 18 February 1999
Subject: Wednesday Night Marathon

It follows, in perfect Lewis Carroll logic, that you would find the column "welcome and pertinent." Upon rereading it this morning, after a particularly grueling composition experience last night, I realized it was actually one of the more rotten columns we've ever done. In fact, I felt the need to apologize for it in the message board. There's far too much of my personal grousing and not enough real information, and furthermore it's obvious that there are two central ideas in it which graft together poorly. Still, I'm happy you didn't utterly dislike it. You are the master at praising with faint damns.

The bit about stupid people in the world WAS a throw-away line, but there's a basis behind it. I can't stand people who think that the vast majority of the humans they interact with are less intelligent than they are. Among my friends, this is a statistically likely character fault. I don't understand it. I'm not more intelligent than the people I pass on the street every day or the sullen girl behind the counter at McDonald's or anyone else on this list. I may have more information about certain subjects. That's all. And I don't know why I'm saying this to you, Gabriel, because I already contemplate the ways in which you're going to jump on it.

One problem I have in discussing matters with you is that it's impossible to tell you to rope off certain areas, to say "don't go there." You have pissed me off yet again with your comment that I have "eventually tired of my tasteless little charade" - I have not tired of it, I just don't like lying to my friends, and if you don't understand my gender issues, then the least you can do is leave them alone. On the other hand, it hasn't escaped me that you LIKE pissing me off, which is another problem I have talking to you - I don't believe in going for the jugular the way you do. This, not your frankness, is what gets you thrown hastily off MUCKs. Of course, you may say that your no-holds-barred habits ARE frankness ... and I can't argue with that, but only suggest that you add some tact.

Anyway. The comment about "reasonable reading speed" WAS in quoted material from a correspondent, and I should have caught it myself - his numbers are wonky, you're right. I don't think of reading speed that way; I think of it in terms of how long it takes me to read an average detective novel in a single session. (45 minutes to an hour.)

Finally:
>You lose me in the last two sentences. I almost think there must be some
>pronoun confusion: Todd writes glibly. Gabriel re-reads and finds a flaw.
>Todd speaks. Gabriel does not have the benefit of re-reading. Ergo Todd
>sounds less convincing? I should think that exactly the opposite were true.

This one I blame on the editor. She made me take out the sentence which said that I think my speaking voice and spoken mannerisms make me sound moronic. The paragraph is still strangely reasoned, I agree. Suffice to say that I think I express myself better when I don't have to speak. If you think my words are often twisted, that should fill you with horror about how much worse it can get :)

From: Columbine
Date: 18 February 1999
Subject: An Old Story

Well, I concede this: At least your method offers something to say about the poem, whereas I am merely reduced to saying, "It did nothing for me," and can only offer the feeblest of theories why.

Your method is better for discussion, yet provides none of the information I desire; mine tells me everything I need to know but leaves each of us dry - once around the circle with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down and the party is over.

I can't say I find either approach satisfactory.

-c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 19 February 1999
Subject: Monsieur Leck-Mich-Am-Arsch

"S'il vous plait, read the text aloud to the class. That way we know they've at least heard it once." A French professor interrupted me thus as I began to make an oral presentation. I loved the professors in France, mean, old men and spinsters, who are civil servants and don't give a fuck about their students. I remember one asthmatic psychopath who used to say as he huffed and puffed his way through the smoke-filled hallway: "Cough, spit, smoke!" and "I get a check at the end of the month whether you learn anything or not." What refreshing honesty. Of course they have one great advantage over their American brethren. They are tough, erudite motherfuckers, who are winnowed out by a gruelling series of highly competitive, physically and mentally challenging, all-day written and oral exams. There's no networking or kissing ass for tenure. I had a couple of burnt-out Jesuits who had drunk themselves into incoherence, but even they were highly informative and entertaining. How foolish of me therefore to assume that I could send the text of a poem on a Monday and hope that you would actually have read it, possibly even thought about it, by Thursday. I'll gladly send it again to anyone who deleted it. Literary criticism is always written for those who have already read the text and have a copy in front of them. I notice, Todd, that not only is not having read a poem no obstacle to discussing it, but you actually have more to say about it before you've read it. That the poem did nothing for you, nor me for that matter, says absolutely nothing about the poem, but rather something about you or me. That a reader may feel one way about King Lear at twenty and another way at fifty says nothing about Shakespeare's tragedy, which presumably hasn't undergone any changes in the interim. "The Patriot" is a well-made little poem, beautiful in its own way with its limited ambitions. That is what, perhaps, an educated reading might show. I instinctively discount any and all sentences preceeded or followed by any of these qualifiers: "In my opinion," "To me," "I (dis)agree," etc. I'm not interested. Either you've got something to say about the matter at hand, or you have not. I'm not sure why the problem might be our different definitions of "meaning". I'm not even sure you've got one, since you don't offer it. I have stated, over and over, that words, and numbers, are self-referential, thus have no meaning. I'm assuming that meaning is the relationship between a linguistic sign (signifier and signified) and what we call the referent, some member of the non-linguistic, non-symbolic order. In other words, I'm saying in technical terms what Mallarme said more poetically: "Words are the coins rubbed bare that we exchange in silence." A text is a string of chracters. (A poem is a broken string of characters, whose reading must therefore be more vertical than horizontal.) Why wouldn't I want a character count, if I had the software to run one? (If you know of such software, I'm interested.) I'd be more interested in a phoneme count (which would require transliterating the text into the IPA) or a word count. Why would I not want all the data I could find? Your reaction to a work of literature, which seems to come down to this: "I (don't) like it," is about as intelligent as my reaction to cars. I identify them by color, since that is the only thing I can remember. negatron's car is a green goose. The car I drove across the continent was a white whale. Of course, I never said I knew anything about cars.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 19 February 1999
Subject: I Never Knew What She Saw In Him

>"The Patriot" is a well-made little poem, beautiful in its own way with its
>limited ambitions.

It's a well-CONSTRUCTED poem by a person who had some skill with word sounds and persuasive writing; its message, however, is obvious, overstated, deliberately bleak, and unappealing.

In the preceding paragraph, I have said something about the poem. However, the paragraph is incomplete as it stands. If I leave it like this, I am implying that everyone else has reached the same interpretation as I have. You may feel comfortable assuming your conclusions are the only correct ones; I do not. So I must add the following two words to the paragraph above:

To me.

At which point you would proceed to reject the entire paragraph out of hand.

>I instinctively discount any and all sentences preceeded or followed by any of these
>qualifiers: "In my opinion," "To me," "I (dis)agree," etc. I'm not interested. Either
>you've got something to say about the matter at hand, or you have not.

What I have to say about the matter at hand (whatever the matter) almost always IS my opinion. I am rarely speaking about chemical formulae or simultaneous equations or other immutables which have only one correct solution. I don't talk about those things, because, since everyone obviously agrees on the correct answer, there is no point in my saying anything. I could tell you that 2+2=4 and I would not add "in my opinion," but what would be the point of telling you at all?

From: SAGReiss
Date: 19 February 1999
Subject: The Message

To conceed that the poem is well-constructed, after I've just taken it apart and shown how it is constructed, is facetious. Nevermind. I would contest that you have said something about the poem. What is the message of the poem? Where do you find it in the text? (Not in your head, but in the poem itself.) How is this message obvious and overstated? Is it repeated? Where? What words in the text make this message bleak? My guess is that you can answer none of those questions. On the other hand I could pull together the threads of my little anal-ysis and suggest something one might call a message, though I don't really care for the term. Since my conclusions would be drawn purely from concrete data I have no need to qualify them as subjective. They are not subjective, except in that they, as do all scientific conclusions, rely on a limited selection from among the possible data. A poem is, of course, just as immutable as a chemical formula or simultaneous equations, whatever those may be. "The Patriot" is a finite number of linguistic signs which will never change. Chemists and mathematicians argue about their formulae. So do linguists argue about poems. When I talk about phonetics, I say: "I count sixteen verses..." and "I only scan a few trochees..." because I may have miscounted or misscanned. I might be persuaded. But there's no such thing as "trochees to me". The trochees are either in the poem or they are not, and they do in fact play a significant role. As to the obvious nature of my observations of the poem, I do not believe that all of the information I gleaned from reading "The Patriot" was immediately clear to everyone. I may be wrong. I think not. As I've said: "The goal of literary criticism is to deepen the reader's understanding of a literary work." It may be that the statements: "It did nothing for me," and "its message, however, is obvious, overstated, deliberately bleak, and unappealing," have elucidated the poem and helped everyone to understand it better than has my anal-ysis. Again, I think not.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Hillary
Date: 19 February 1999
Subject: ....

Lucky me, chancing upon Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss just when he was collecting new specimens for his intellectual aviary. And lucky him chancing upon rare, birdbrained me. And lucky all-of-you for also being lured by our dear Papageno's magic music, though it seems this birdcatcher would rather trap us in a cage of meter than one of iron.

I confess that I'm overfond of metered poetry. You may not think that much of a confession. Writing free verse is like walking without gravity. It's exciting, but so directionless. I have a hard time with prose as well, for similar reasons. There is too much to write about! Once when I had dropped acid with a group of friends, the philospher among us spouted, "But what is the role of the individual? How can the individual consciously resist?" I wanted to tell him, "Write a sestina in pentameter!" but I was too transfixed by the tile floor and its kaleidoscoping patterns.

Speaking of kaleidoscopes, this morning I went to KALEIDOWORLD, home of the World's Largest Kaleidoscope (capitalisation theirs), which for those of you who haven't heard (read: all of you), is near Woodstock, NY. The World's Largest Kaleidoscope (henceforth referred to as WLK) looks like a big, blue, cloud-painted silo, or for the more imaginative, a giant Smurf penis pointed at the sky.I don't know what it looks like from the inside because I was too cheap to pay admission. Instead we went in the WLK gift shop and fiddled with all the expensive smaller versions: the heavy stained-glass kaleidoscope filled with sand and coloured oils, the tiny purple one full of feathers that had a special squeezy-thing to puff the feathers around, cheap plastic kaleidoscopes for children, ones made of wood so smooth I'd swear they were river-washed and ancient. The gauntlet (okay, so it wasn't a gauntlet, there were only two) of salespeople eyed us suspiciously, sure that we were going to smuggle something away under our coats or up our asses.

I didn't buy anything. Tessa bought two mugs, tiny as fingernails, one that said 'Dick' and one that said 'Jane.' She also bought a red and yellow marble with the diameter of a quarter. No kaleidoscopes. We went outside and took photographs of the 20-foot wooden fish statue that was painted silly shades of mint and pink and baby blue. I stood beside it with my mouth open and pointed at the giant wooden mouth (snapping at the giant wire-framed insect suspended on a pole jammed down the fish's throat) for minutes on end while Tessa used her light-meter and focused the camera. By that time the idea of a giant wooden fish leaping out of the parkinglot to catch an aluminum insect didn't seem so strange, and the girl captured on film probably looks more bored than awed (odd? ha).

So I am young, but not the youngest. Lauren, I am guessing, is the youngest. I don't guess that because her last letter gives any clue as to her age, but because I have known her for a little over two years online. Perhaps she has guessed who I am. (If you haven't, Lauren, I met you first on BayMOO when you called yourself Savil and I called myself Miel.) We were conversation-in-public-room friends for a few months, but since then we have spoken infrequently. It's interesting to come in contact with her again, because I purposely have avoided extended contact. This is not because I think she is a disagreeable person, but because I encountered her in several circumstances deliberately (and it seemed to me, maliciously) deceiving people or spreading misinformation, and being entirely unapologetic when confronted. I know that the MOO provides a place for people to act in character, and that interaction there is (and should be) taken with a grain of salt, but I felt distinctly uncomfortable with her online persona. I wasn't sure how to deal with the knowledge that she was part of this list. However, in saying these things my intent isn't to defame character or make Lauren defensive. I'm just indicating some of my reservations/inhibitions concerning how to communicate with her in this medium. I'm sure Lauren has grown up as much as I have. She probably would not choose to exaggerate/embellish in the same ways that she did when I knew her better, and I probably would not be as threatened by her behaviour.

They say that the things we find destestable in others are reflections of ourselves. I've been something of a pathological liar myself. It's interesting that I finally could be honest about who I was in a space where I could have been anyone, chosen any role, played any game. Maybe I'm a little too righteous and indignant when it comes to being forthright. I'm a big believer in saying what you have to say. "Write hard and clear about what hurts," said E. Hemingway. They're similar sentiments. But maybe it's easier to be forthright and operate without filters when there are so few consequences. I have noticed a phenomenon similar to the one columbine described: it is easier for me to speak in text. The words come more quickly. I quite seriously believe that my brain accesses a different lexicon for writing than speaking, a lexicon more quickly and directly accessed. Fewer editors stand between the conception of a thought and its transcription on paper than between the same thought and my tongue.

I think it is fear. When someone watches your eyes and your mouth as you speak, you might see disgust or hurt in their eyes, hear it in their intonations. Your opinion might sound shrill or apologetic by virtue (or  fault, rather) of your voice. So many factors are out of your control. Online, the conversation ends when you disconnect. The essay ends when you decide it should end. There is comfort in the conventions of written language. It is the difference, I expect, between showing someone a finished artwork and painting something while they watch. The latter is much more nerve-wracking. If we continue with the analogy, you might show a painting to SAGR and have him remark to you on what types of paints and brushes and canvas you used, noting the historical contexts of your subject matter and your influences, but surely this would not sum up your piece of art. However, it is easier for you to justify your choices once your painting is complete. Were you painting while he watched and he questioned your color-choices along the way, A) it would be a different painting in the end, and B) you would have to think more actively and more spontaneously. Both of those prospects are frightening. You might be shown up as an inferior technician, an artist-poseur, a copyist.

The reductionist viewpoint on art or poetry has its own shortcomings. Though one may be able to quantify a sculpture (it is made of granite, mostly aluminum and silicon, approximately one ton, blah blah blah), the physical properties of an artwork scarcely begin to describe its beauty or importance. columbine's argument, I think, is that poetry must be appreciated for its emergent properties, the beauty and patterns that could not have been predicted from knowledge of rhyme scheme and subject matter. The emergent properties of poetry are the reason that poets write. However, just as it is impossible to appreciate a painting until you understand the talent, skill, dedication, inspiration, and materials it takes to paint, it is also impossible to fully appreciate the emergent properties of a poem without understanding what restrictions (be they artistic, spiritual, metric, cultural, musical, linguistic, or borne of lexicon) a poet is working under.

I'm going to miss the bus.
Bah.
Hillary

From: SAGReiss
Date: 19 February 1999
Subject: It's a gift

Honeybird (That's "avis mellis" in Latin for the television audience.) has trumped all of my pedantic arguments with her own sublime message: "Shut the fuck up, white boyz, and let the grrls speak." I am overjoyed to read your beautiful letter, Hillary. Broke, unemployed, wretchedly sober, I still get lucky on occasion. Don't worry about meeting up with Lauren again, though she is not the youngest, nor even, unless I am wrong, younger than you. Everyone online lies, except me, and I can find it in my heart to forgive the rest of the world for their sins and transgressions against me. Laurent was one of the very first people I met online. We had both forgotten about it until much later, when he was already on the list. Nichelle was reading some of my six-month-old logs when she noticed his name and asked me if it was the same person. I said I didn't know. It was.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 19 February 1999
Subject: Re: …

>If we continue with the analogy, you might show
>a painting to SAGR and have him remark to you on what types of paints and
>brushes and canvas you used, noting the historical contexts of your
>subject matter and your influences, but surely this would not sum up your
>piece of art.

I believe that gets to the heart of what bothers me here. It's not that I'm saying that my choice of paints is unimportant, any more than scansion is unimportant - I merely feel that it covers only a very small part of the information available to glean from the painting (or poem).

Incidentally, I cannot justify my choices as artist either during or after the piece is created. When I write a story or a column, I go back and I am just as surprised to read it anyone else. This helps in the editing but makes the writing a bit of a mystery :)

>Were you painting while he watched and he
>questioned your color-choices along the way, A) it would be a different
>painting in the end, and B) you would have to think more actively and
>more spontaneously.

Interesting idea. What could he possibly object to while the art is still in progress? Can partial judgements be made before the work is finished? Given that I am a stubborn cuss and I get along with Gabriel as rockily as I do, would the painting turn out any different with or without his input? :)

-c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 20 February 1999
Subject: Spinach Pie

So I am advised: "Biting my trewand pen, beating myselfe for spite,/Fool, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart, and write." Of course Sir Phil was not looking in his heart. He was looking in Petrarch. Petrarch was listening to the troubadours and their provencal tradition of courtly love songs. But that's not what he said. He said he was looking at Laura. Only once, though, on her wedding day. The textbooks might not tell you who the bidegroom was, but I'll enlighten you, because I know these things. His name was Hughes de Sade. That's right, same name, same family, the direct paternal ancestor of our friend the Marquis, later the Count. One must be a little careful about what artists say about their work, especially those who follow the long and honored platonic rhetoric of artlessness. If Victor ("J'aurai bientot fini d'encombrer l'horizon.") Hugo could speak in Alexandrines and John ("I'm not blind because of that," though his wife left him after six short weeks of marriage.) Milton dreamt in blank verse, perhaps it was because they had spent all of their lives practicing those forms until they seemed to come naturally. Why would the Duc de Saint-Simon write his endless and beautiful Memoires, which make Proust look like the short-winded wanker that he was, and never publish them? Maybe he didn't need the money. But we can always return to Shakes, who wrote prose as well as verse:

FALSTAFF: Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?
PRINCE HENRY: Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes capons and clocks the tongues of bawds and dials the signs of leaping-houses and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of the day.

Wild Bill was quick to add a coy disclaimer. He was good at walking the line and still staying out of jail. Things haven't changed so much in four centuries. I can still be fired, blackballed and threatened with a lawsuit for writing private e-mail. And Uncle Bill gets to read rape accusations in the Wall Street Journal. He's got to remember never to date a woman not wearing blue jeans. Of course the great master of the quill-'n'-lie game was Dan "The Man" Defoe. He gave us two breath-taking novels, Moll Flanders and Robinson Crusoe, and still found time to stay on the payroll of both the government and the opposition, using two different pseudonyms of course. The same character can move us with simple words, before going on to blood and glory at Agincourt:

PRINCE HENRY: Before God, I am exceeding weary.
POINS: Is't come to that? I had thought weariness durst not have attached one of so high blood.
PRINCE HENRY: Faith, it does me; though it discolours the complexion of my greatness to acknowledge it. Doth it not show vilely in me to desire small beer?
POINS: Why, a prince should not be so loosely studied as to remember so weak a composition.
PRINCE HENRY: Belike then my appetite was not princely got; for, by my troth, I do now remember the poor creature, small beer. But, indeed, these humble considerations make me out of love with my greatness. What a disgrace is it to me to remember thy name! or to know thy face to-morrow! or to take note how many pair of silk stockings thou hast, viz. these, and those that were thy peach-coloured ones! or to bear the inventory of thy shirts, as, one for superfluity, and another for use! But that the tennis-court-keeper knows better than I; for it is a low ebb of linen with thee when thou keepest not racket there; as thou hast not done a great while, because the rest of thy low countries have made a shift to eat up thy holland: and God knows, whether those that bawl out the ruins of thy linen shall inherit his kingdom: but the midwives say the children are not in the fault; whereupon the world increases, and kindreds are mightily strengthened.

So I want to make a spinach pie, something simple: bacon and ricotta cheese. I look around for recipe ideas, forswearing those which suggest frozen pie dough, spinach in a box and non-stick vegetable spray. I like to use ingredients that my grandmother would recognize as food, not vegetables out of an aerosol can. Of course that eliminates all of the recipes I could find, so I go back, ignoring the silliness about pate feuilletee, which is truely a pain in the ass to make and not nearly so workable as a pate brisee. I can do without eggs, but I'm not sure about the cream. I'm thinking that the spinach and ricotta might render moisture enough. I'll buy some just in case and then improvise at the last minute. I've decided to make a top crust, which looks very professional, but none of this lattice shit. One site recommends a "Sprecher Winterbrew", whatever that means (the talking beer?), but I'm too poor to drink. I'll make a little carrot salad and bemoan my fate.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 21 February 1999
Subject: What's a lie?

My spinach lust is sated. It turned out beautifully, the top crust crisp and brown, the filling lush and light, the bottom crust impermeable. I decided not to leave anything out, fearing that eggs were needed to make the custard gel, so I reduced the quantities, two eggs, a quarter cup of cream, half a cup of ricotta mixed with olive oil and raw garlic. I spread a layer of cheese, then the wilted spinach cooked with salt pork and garlic, then the cream. If I did it again, I would cool the spinach and mix it with the cheese instead. What's a poor boy to do, ex-student, ex-teacher, ex-waiter, lost and alone, but unbowed? Jacques Lacan tells a joke that I'm sure he must have stolen from Freud, but I've never found the source (French intellectuals think that footnotes are for amateurs, which makes things easier for a serial plagiarist and misquoter such as Lacan.): "Two peasants meet on the road to Leipzig. Zepp says: 'Why are you lying to me? Why are you telling me you're going to Chemnitz, so that I'll think you're going to Zwickau, when in fact you're going to Chemnitz?'" There are two necessary and sufficient conditions to the telling of a lie, neither of which necessarily involves a knowing falsehood or a falsehood of any kind. For a lie to happen, there must be intent to deceive in a context of trust. A bluff in poker is not a lie, in the sense that the rules of the game make clear to the players that one legitimate way to win is to bet on a weak hand in the hope that the others fold. When a junkie asks to borrow money, explaining in great detail the elaborate mechanisms by which he will repay the lender, he is not lying, because both know that the illusion is not to be believed but merely serves to bolster the unbearable position of the borrower. (Think of Falstaff.) Which brings us to the MOO, where Curtis Pavel is undoubtably right that there can be no distinction between technical and social problems, as unfortunate as the consequences of that decision may have been. There is no context of trust to undermine, except in my own mind, which doggedly refuses to understand that someone would not tell me the truth. I wonder how easy it really would be to create an internet chat forum where even the ten of us (five men, five women) would feel comfortable. Assuming we agreed on the least common denominator of a text-only medium, though I do like the Pueblo-URL-type option, we would still have to settle such matters as name, sex and description. I understand that Jay House MOO encourages the use of more or less real names with good results. Diversity University does the same thing, and is if anything dumber and spammier than Lambda. negatron and I couldn't even agree on the use of social verbs on RL MOO. I felt that if people insisted on using stale cliches they should at least suffer the indignity of having to type them out in full. Of course, I am the Antigeek. If I see the words "convenient", "quick" or "easy" in a recipe, I move on without regret. You'll notice that I use indifferently real names, MOO names and my own made-up nicknames to refer to you. Sex is another matter. (I know from recent personal experience in an American psych ward that "other" and "unknown" are both foreseen as options in response to sex and sexual orientation. Onanist was not offered under the latter perhaps because they weren't sure how to spell it.) negatron claims that "spivack" is a useful designation if only because it tells him whom to avoid. People act like lemmings. The stupid "genders" (what an awful misnomer) on MOOs are self-perpetuating, as are the equally stupid descrptions, which I'm supposed to find imaginative because they all seem to be drawn from the same hackneyed Anne Rice novel. While we can all probably agree that sex is a conventional or arbitrary socio-linguistic rather than biological category, I beg to differ when I'm told that all we need to do to free ourselves is dress in drag and put a dildo up our asshole. On the other hand, I might be inclined to make an exception for Peri, who has a serious chromosomal handicap, or for Joy because I know, or think I know, why her pain might be eased in her plant status. As I recall from Nichelle's study of Lambda descriptions, the percentage of male, female and other is about right statistically, assuming that between five and fifteen percent of mankind has a major problem filling in that blank. Maybe it's all Franz Kafka's fault. It's a shame that a man so conventional, so steeped in tradition, whose sentences are pruned and pared of all vestige of idiosyncrasy, should have given way to so much trite excentricity, the individualism of the T-shirt, the bumper sticker and the Hallmark greeting card. What most astonishes me about Phedre is how Racine can infuse his work with so much hallucination in the context of such back-breaking restraint of rhyme, metre, syntax, vocabulary, manners and dramaturgy.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 21 February 1999
Subject: Gender and foliage

I have been a plant on my regular MUCKs for some years now. It takes me out of the gender game, which is useful. People do not assume automatically that a tall, emaciated-looking sentient plant is interested in trading the usual low cliches which pass for written sex theatrics on most MUCKs.

If someone propositions me despite my being a plant, it means they are more interested in the imagination than most - that they are responding to a challenge. It helps the odds - although usually it means I get silence instead of spam, which I don't call an improvement.

When I do engage in verbal sex games online I am perfectly willing to play male or female; that turns out to not be especially important. What is important is active/passive - I usually end up doing most of the typing, for reasons noted elsewhere, which causes me no end of frustration. Just once I'd like to sit back and get well and truly verbally exploited.

I do not play a plant on Lambda because I would get sneered at. In fact, I seldom play on Lambda at all, as its residents seem more interested in picking fights with each other than talking. I like arguments as well as the next person, but the usual behavior there is more like abuse - direct and unsubtle.

I didn't know Joy played a plant. Good job, Joy. I'd like to know what constitutes a "serious chromosomal handicap." I don't think your definition matches mine. I consider my Y chromosome a serious handicap, but I plow on gamely nonetheless and try to conceal it as often as I can.

From: Murder
Date: 22 February 1999
Subject: 300, 10, 3

"I went through a lot that day, Jerry." Thus spake Jasmine St. Clair to Jerry Springer. Miss St. Clair bears the distinction of having had sex with 300 men in 10 hours, forty-nine more than the previous record-holder. Gabe, your suspicions are confirmed. A pair of "fluff girls" made sure the men would be fully aroused so that they wouldn't lose their erections under the cameras and hot lights. Each man had two minutes with the woman-of-the-(10)-hour(s) and of course was required to use a condom. After that self-inflicted "ordeal," Poor Jasmine had to while away three days on the beaches of Hawaii to recover. "I couldn't even think about sex during those few days," she moaned, "but I did check out a few of the hot guys who were there on the beach." Actually, I paraphrased that last part; I don't think she'll sue me.

Murder

From: SAGReiss
Date: 23 February 1999
Subject: Brown Sugar

I had wanted to go to the library Saturday morning. It wasn't open yet. I walked to the news-stand in the Broadway Mall and bought the New York Times. As I walked towards the door, on my way to the supermarket, I passed a bench and saw a blur of brown skin and black hair. As I reached the exit, I remembered the words of a shabby Irishman I had met in a youth hostle in Amsterdam in 1981: "If you don't ask, mate, you don't get." I walked back towards the news-stand pretending to look for something, turned, retraced my steps, stopped as if surprised, and said: "Vitalina." She looked up, her face struggling with either bewilderment or fear. I don't know if she recognized me. I said something stupid like: "You're going to work?" in the hope that might help her situate my beard-stubbled face. She assented in her labored accent. "Would you like to have a cup of coffee?" "I just had one across the street," she said pointing somewhat aimlessly. "But, thank you." "You're welcome." Avis Mellis, you wonder about the criticism of an on-going work of art, or collaboration in general. Nichelle is the greatest contemporary writer I have read. Her letters excite me in a way that nothing written after Tlooth and The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium has. We wrote in close confinement for two and a half years. The World, mostly her letters and mine, is now about eighteen inches thick, approximately two thousand pages. We seldom criticized one another's work, for better or for worse. I don't believe we ever talked in general about the structural demands of the epistle and the best ways to exploit its implicit limits and resources. Part of this may be due to the fact that I came to our meeting with a full-fledged theory of literature, painstakingly developped over fifteen years' time: the one-paragraph, five-hundred word block of text moving from dialogue to brief description to narrative to monologue, or as Nichelle puts it:

Some day I will master the art of the Gabe letter. I can try to tell you the secret, or at least the secret to his style in Babble.

Begin the letter in French.

Blah blah blah, French Frenchy-french (x1000)....

This part should be mostly words of seduction to Comecabra. You do this for about half a page (a half page). Then, mid-sentence:

...frenchy frenchy blah blah running down fucking goddamned Marshall street with a glass of J&B in one hand and my dick in the other, shouting you god damned fucking bastards how the fuck can you do this shit to me?

Puntuation less important in Babel. More important is the rage, starvation, and cold. Talk about your dick a lot and swear. End every letter with:

But as the French say, "Frenchy frenchy french...." (or As Important_Literary_Figure said, "'Tis better to have your dick in your hand than to have a turnip in your ass.")

Sign it with something about your rectum. The chicks love that.

Occasionally either on- or offline one of us would point out a particularly brilliant effort: "I'm still a little giddy after writing that letter [Todd's holiday]." "I can understand you would be." We tended to talk more about stylistic innovation. We disagreed about logs. I had thought that there should be an Ur-text, something like an @witness that the MOO could log independent of point of view. Obviously I've come around to Nichelle's idea that only the point of view, the juxtaposition of pages with or without public discourse, made any sense. Her letters: "@go Utopia" and "note frum murtilda" are seminal texts. You can easily see their influence on "Todd's holiday". I seldom praise or damn what others write to the list. One reason is practical and selfish: I need people to read and write, even if what they write is no good. A minimum of quantity is necessary to spawn quality. Besides, people come to this list with different levels of education and experience, not to mention different goals. Outside events intervene. People get busy afk, or just get mad at me. I go into a month-long slump and the whole list dies. Some people might not take seriously the genre (That's gender in French for those of you in the television audience.) of the epistle. I've heard talk of "venting" and "ranting", whatever those schoolboy slang words might mean. Much as it comes as a surprise to me, some people still believe in form and content, possibly even people who have read Marshall McLuhen, though probably not Alain Robbe-Grillet. I heard on the radio yesterday some author quoted as saying that the great danger to the novel is character, theme, plot and setting. What amazes me is that this thinking could be deemed audacious or avant-garde a hundred years after it was thoroughly understood by every writer with a prayer of being read in the twenty-first century and beyond. There's been a spate of recent articles in the New York Times about the radically modern experiments of composers, Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives and Virgil Thompson's "Four Saints in Three Acts". These works are almost a hundred years old. No wonder why Milton Babbit got angry and said: "I couldn't care less if anyone listens to this music."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Solaris
Date: 23 February 1999
Subject: subtle revenge is just as sweet.

Ah, poor Dorothy..... You all remember what I told you about my Valentine's Day, with Lisa and her bitch-of-all-bitches, Dorothy. Well...apparently Dorothy has taken an interest in my life. :) As I was driving down the Interstate to get home after classes, a while Chevy Corsica began to pull around me, but suttenly slowed and got directly behind me, following as close to my bumper as is possible at 70 mph (and not at all safe). So, of course, I used my rear view mirror and it was Dorothy....she must have gotten Lisa's car for something or other... I let her follow me all the way home. Gee, too bad there were kids playing baseball next door...she's got a dandy dent in the side of the door, that I'm certain she won't be able to explain to Lisa. (That was purely an accident, but an amusing one.) So, I went inside my house and called Lisa to tell her that dear Dorothy came to see me....told her about Dorothy following me home. Of course, Lisa asked if I could be certain that it was Dorothy, so I told her about the /new/ dent in the side of her Corsica. *grin* Lisa said she'd look at it when Dorothy got back to make sure, but taht she'd call me around 1am (after I get back from bowling) either way. Oh, gee....this is turning out to be so much fun!

-Lauren

From: SAGReiss
Date: 24 February 1999
Subject: La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid

Lauren, you've got as much of a taste for trouble as I have. What kind of indecent favors did you promise those kids to arrange that little accident? or was it strickly a financial transaction? I know the tale. Pretty soon you'll have Lisa, or is it Dorothy, buns up and grunting like a pig in a tanning salon. I've just re-read Iphigenie en Aulide, which is quite disappointing. As I recall in Homer, and possibly Euripides though I can't remember, Iphigenia gets the axe, which is one reason why Clytemnestra gets pissed off and hooks up with Bert or whatever his name is. Racine brings in this cheap-ass Hollywood blonde called Eriphile, who is secretely also named Iphigenie and the love-child of Theseus and Helen of Troy. The whole play turns on an oracle's pun: "fille" meaning daughter instead of girl, which is underlined by an aBaBcc rhyme and tetrametres in the second a and c lines. Thus Iphigenia is saved, though only to marry Achilles, who has already decided to go die in Troy rather than count his days in Thessaly. The glossary at MIT gives: "servant, valet" for this choice insult:

THERSITES: Prithee, be silent, boy; I profit not by thy talk: thou art thought to be Achilles' male varlet.
PATROCLUS: Male varlet, you rogue! what's that?
THERSITES: Why, his masculine whore. Now, the rotten diseases of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures, catarrhs, loads o' gravel i' the back, lethargies, cold palsies, raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, wheezing lungs, bladders full of imposthume, sciaticas, limekilns i' the palm, incurable bone-ache, and the rivelled fee-simple of the tetter, take and take againsuch preposterous discoveries!

Andromaque is good, but too tightly wound. Phedre is the only play where Racine takes the irreal and the irrational and lets them run wild. You see, I'm trying to think up an angle whereby I could make one thesis count for both English and French, even if I had to translate it into English. The difference in the quality of criticism is stunning. I read in an introduction to Shakes: "If Hamlet had been in Othello's situation, there'd have been no tragedy, because Hamlet would have seen through Iago at a glance; if Othello had been in Hamlet's situation, there'd have been no tragedy, because Othello would have skewered Claudius before we were out of Act One." That's great, bro, but have you got something to say about the plays as they were written, rather than as they were not written? In Phedre for high school students a typical study question runs like this: "Look at the words, expressions and phrases which express the unrestrained violence of passion (obssessional states, hallucinations, psychological manifestations, etc.). Analyse with precision line 273 (use of the simple past, absence of logical or temporal links between the clauses, rhythm, theme of vision, different stylistic procedures)." Line 273 is: "Je le vis, je rougis, je palis a sa vue," or "I saw him, blushed, I paled at what I saw." You see, avis mellis, how the French hexametre naturally wants to be English pentametre. I had to touch it up a little to make it iambic. Otherwise it's: "I saw him, I blushed, I paled at the sight." I guess you could claim it should be: "I saw him, I blushed, I paled at the sight of him," but you'd have a hard time selling that line to an English poet. I'm thinking of Othello, because it's one of Shakes' quieter tragedies, fewer drunks stumbling over dead bodies, not so many body parts carelessly strewn around the stage. The way to highlight the difference in poetics and dramaturgy is to choose the wild and craziest of Racine and the tamest of Shakes and show how great the gap still is between the two. I can't remember if there are any special effects in Othello, monsters, Gods, witches or storms, which would be nice, though of course there's plenty of evil, jealousy, murder and delerium tremens. I also need to check on the editions. I hate it when there are seventeen different versions of the play, and a hundred and fifty-two variant readings in one soliloquy.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Solaris
Date: 24 February 1999
Subject: Re: La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid

Wow, I must say that it is highly irionic that I read the Iphegenian Aulis last night between frames while bowling... (I'm writing one of my theses as a comparative study of the plays of Euripides...etc.) WEll...dorothy just pissed me off, and frankly I like Lisa a LOT. Probably a little too much...but oh well. No, inall honesty I did not at all arrange for teh kids to be playing baseball and hit teh car....but I /did/ give them ice cream afterwards. :) They were quite a bit confused as to why I was giving them a treat for doing something that they always get yelled at for and that their parents would probably kill them for. :)

Note: The phone call from Lisa was hilarious.... I was surprised she was taking things so well. I'm also surprised at how much shit she can put up with from taht bitch-of-all-bitches Dorothy. (Dorothy does not deserve a more creative title than that.) But, finally Lisa totally trusts me to tell her the truth about these little incidents with her girlfriend, and she's becoming quite frustrated with ehr at that. I'm enjoying this a lot.....and am plotting the next bit of fun.

-Lauren

From: Cherlyn
Date: 24 February 1999
Subject: Re: La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid

Hi there;

As I'm extremely busy w/ various things lately, and am only checking my mail once a week or so, I'm not able to read even a good percentage of the mail from this group, much less respond to any. So, I'd appreciate it if you could remove me from the Cc: list.

Gabriel- thanks for the thought, though, and for including me. I'll seeya.

Cherlyn

~ ~ ~ ~
Note and disclaimer: This signature is freeze-dried, sterilized, and pasteurized for your protection. If this signature is missing, please do not read the preceeding email, as its legitimacy can therefore not be verified; thus reading it may cause harm to your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well-being.

Cherlyn

say NO to recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone !

---[end signature. life is a salad. fnord.]

From: SAGReiss
Date: 26 February 1999
Subject: Cod or clam?

Let's look back and try to get our bearings. In the sixth century B.C. the Greek theatre consisted of a masked chorus singing to the music of lutes and pipes. Artaud would have loved this. One day the young poet Aeschylus was buggering the chorus master and said: "You'd look good in a pink tunic. What if I took a speech from Homer and built a story around it? Would you like to play Clytemnestra?" Aeschylus wrote difficult, archaique Greek, but his innovation caught on. Sophocles follows and ads a second actor. His greatest line is Ajax 866:

ponos ponôi ponon pherei.

Shakes offers what might be a translation:

On horror's head horrors accumulate.

Euripides ads a third actor and creates what we would recognize as theatre, which Artaud with biting scorn calls "psychological drama". The Greek theological system did not necessitate a distinction between fate (anankê in Greek or fatum in Latin or destin in French) and destiny (destinee in French). Oedipus is fucked from the outset of the play. While he makes choices, such as seeking the truth of his origins, nothing he does or could do would alter his situation. The tragedy is already locked in before the action of the play begins. He can only modify his reaction to events beyond his control. Enter Aristotle, whom we tend falsely to see as a prescriptive dogmatist rather than what he was, a theorist who gathered up data and drew from them general principles, rather than the other way around. He sees that the best plays tighten the drama by narrowing the time to one day, the space to one city, the action to one conflict. Then he says: "Since the best plays have done this succesfully, this must be the best way to write plays." The English theatre grew out of medieval masks and mysteries, profane or semi-liturgical dramas influenced by the farces of the commedia dell'arte. It began when Chris "Can I run a tab?" Marlowe wrote:

Nature that fram'd us of foure Elements,
Warring within our breasts for regiment,
Doth teach us all to have aspyring minds:
Our soules, whose faculties can comprehend
The wondrous Architecture of the world.

Marlowe ignored the three unities, not because he didn't know of them, but because he was following another theatrical tradition, the Christian one where high brow and low brow coexist: the great tragic figure was not a king but a carpenter born in a sty. (The quattrocento did not invent perspective in painting. They decided to make it the principal of their composition. Schoenberg did not invent the chromatic scale. He used it in a way that Beethoven didn't want to.) You won't find the English notion of the tragic flaw in Aristotle. Oedipus' flaw was an overweening zeal for the truth? What's wrong with that? Even assuming he took it to obsessive lengths, when the play opens he has already killed his father and married his mother. His only choice is to remain ignorant. Christian theology parts the murky waters of predestination and free will. Othello, not fate, chooses his destiny in a way that no Greek hero is allowed to do. He does not have to listen to Iago. Even in the last scene of act five, if he had decided on a quick revenge fuck instead of settling for a kiss (two kisses in Q1), Emilia would have arrived to save the day, and Othello would have spent the rest of his life wacking off and apologizing like Mr Bill. Hamlet is the only character in Shakes that I can think of who is placed in an impossible situation before the play begins. He, like Oedipus, has no choice, unless one thinks that inaction and suicide are viable options. The French theatre arose under Louis XIV who took these things seriously. It grew almost directly out of Aristotle, with a stern interpretation of the three unities, separation of genres, and high manners. Corneille gave his characters some choices, and got in a lot of trouble in the quarrel of the Cid. Unlike Moliere, he was so cut off from the renaissance tradition of the "jeu" or play that he didn't even know what to call his works. He refered to them by default as dramatic poems. By the time Racine came along, handicapped by a crushing Jansenist education, the action of the play had to take place in three hours in a hallway of the palace. The pope eventually had to deal with the Jansenists and their fondness for predestination by excommunicating the lot of them. Phedre sees no issue as the curtain rises except to die because of her adulterous and incestuous love of her step son. The announced death of her husband Theseus seems to give her a choice. (Phedre and her attendant, Oenone, conveniently forget about the incest.) She makes her declaration, which seems like a good idea, is rebuffed by Hippolyte, resolves to bribe him with an offer of the crown, all of which would be fine, except that Theseus is not dead. Thus Phedre is damned not by her bad decisions, but by the bad data on which she has based them. At which point Phedre gives up, allows Oenone to plot a farce worthy of Harlequin, suffers some remorse, which is overcome by jealousy, lets things run their course, takes poison, declares the truth and dies. Theseus regrets the "action si noire" of his late wife, but he doesn't tell us exactly what she did wrong. Her love of Hippolyte is a given. She lets Oenone act out of weakness, when all is already lost and tragedy is inevitable. He also regrets his "erreur" in condemning Hippolyte to death at the hands of Neptune's monster, but I haven't yet figured out how to fit that bit into my theory. Random thoughts: my trump card is the "objet partiel" (Does anyone own a dictionary of psychoanalysis or know how to say this in English?) the sword of Hippolyte and the handkerchief of Desdemona, which gave Voltaire fits because noses didn't run at the Commedie Francaise. The clown sums up the the dilemma in a pun: the question is not who lies with whom, but who lies to whom.

(What follows was written on 25 February)

Yesterday was crude homophobic Shakes jokes. Today is crude xenophobic and misogynistic Shakes jokes. Othello is a play so imbued with sexual imagery it makes Phedre look like a cold fish. There is the baffling scene (II.i) where Desdemona prods Iago to such aphorisms as:

Come on, come on; you are pictures out of doors,
Bells in your parlors, wildcats in your kitchens,
Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,
Players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds.

And worse:

She that in wisdom never was so frail
To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail;

Or:

You rise to play, and go to bed to work.

For some reason cod has always been associated with the male sex (think codpiece), and salmon tail, or clam for that matter, I'll leave to your vaunted imagination. But Iago's great lines are in I.i (so far):

Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is topping your white ewe.

Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you:

you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse; you'll have your nephews neigh to you; you'll have coursers for cousins and gennets for germans.

I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.

But to be fair, black, old Othello gets off perhaps the greatest line, one that I had completely forgotten, when two armed factions surround the inn where he is staying with his eloped bride, the one pressing him to service in Cyprus, the other arresting him for what we would call kidnapping and rape. As the rival squads prepare to do battle with Othello's faithful, the Man simply says:

Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them.

The glossary in my library edition translates that: "Move out the way, motherfuckers." Your weapons are charming and all, but really, gents, no good will come of this show of force.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Solaris
Date: 26 February 1999
Subject: Re: Cod or clam?

ponos ponon ponoi pherie.

Uhm, literally that is:

Work carries distress (the consequence of work) to work. Where he got "horrors" from is beyond me...and his translation would suggest that "ponon" is actually a participle, and Phero does not take a dative as it's object. Certainly there is some poetic meaning here, but I disagree with the translation based purely upon the grammar and definition of the words...

-Lauren

From: SAGReiss
Date: 26 February 1999
Subject: Howl, howl, howl, howl!

Middle-aged and childless, I've just finished re-reading King Lear. Anyone who reads that with a dry eye was born without a soul. My arms are still shaking as I type. I did not say, nor even imply, Lauren, that the line I quoted from Othello was a translation of Ajax 866. Indeed it could hardly have been so, since Shakes read no Greek. Sophocles' text is simple enough, nominative, dative and accusative of "ponos", meaning work or toil or labor, and third person singular of "phero", to bear or carry. That said, it's not easy to interpret or to translate into something meaningful in English while respecting the rhetorical figure, known as polyptoton, the repetition of a word in different cases. I like this version found on perseus.tufts.edu:

Toil follows toil yielding toil!

Whenever the source language uses words as things, what is known as rhetoric or poetry, one has to try to respect the signifier as well as the signified in the target language. A simple example. There are two generally accepted translations of Caesar's "Veni, vidi, vici." The first does justice to the signified: "I came, I saw, I conquered." The reader of Latin sees or hears both alliteration and assonance. While the reader of English might recognize the figure of speech called anaphora, the repetition of a word at the beginning of clauses, the rendering does not exert the strong rhetorical force of the original, even with the consonance /k/. The other translation: "I came, I saw, I overcame," does just that, by repeating the morphemes "came", albeit with a slight loss of specificity in the meaning of the last term.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Solaris
Date: 27 February 1999
Subject: Re: Howl, howl, howl, howl!

perseus is a WONDERFUL site! I often just read whatever I need to off of Perseus, rather than buying the texts. (for $25 to cover teh font so that the Greek isn't in english phoenetics but actually in greek script, rather than $70/text.)

From: Nichelle
Date: 28 February 1999
Subject: thursday, 4 PM

walk down bellevue to denny way... go down to the bottom of the hill (Stewart).. take a left onto stewart.. walk down 2-3 blocks.. large brick building with colonial charm, pink trim. The address is 1007, it says "Williamsburg Court" above the door. Call #33 from the phone by the door.

January 1999

March 1999

vr: 1999

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