1872: Long Branch

William Trost Richards - Beach at Long Branch, Sunrise (1872)

William Trost Richards: Beach at Long Branch: Sunrise (1872)

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1939: That Mighty Obstruction

Ernest Vincent Wright - Gadsby (1939)

Ernest Vincent Wright’s 1939 novel, Gadsby, was written without words that contain the letter “e.” Here is the opening:

If youth, throughout all history, had had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically; you wouldn’t constantly run across folks today who claim that “a child don’t know anything.” A child’s brain starts functioning at birth; and has, amongst its many infant convolutions, thousands of dormant atoms, into which God has put a mystic possibility for noticing an adult’s act, and figuring out its purport.

Up to about its primary school days a child thinks, naturally, only of play. But many a form of play contains disciplinary factors. “You can’t do this,” or “that puts you out,” shows a child that it must think, practically, or fail. Now, if, throughout childhood, a brain has no opposition, it is plain that it will attain a position of “status quo,” as with our ordinary animals. Man knows not why a cow, dog or lion was not born with a brain on a par with ours; why such animals cannot add, subtract, or obtain from books and schooling, that paramount position which Man holds today.

But a human brain is not in that class. Constantly throbbing and pulsating, it rapidly forms opinions; attaining an ability of its own; a fact which is startlingly shown by an occasional child “prodigy” in music or school work. And as, with our dumb animals, a child’s inability convincingly to impart its thoughts to us, should not class it as ignorant.

Upon this basis I am going to show you how a bunch of bright young folks did find a champion; a man with boys and girls of his own; a man of so dominating and happy individuality that Youth is drawn to him as is a fly to a sugar bowl. It is a story about a small town. It is not a gossipy yarn; nor is it a dry, monotonous account, full of such customary “fill-ins” as “romantic moonlight casting murky shadows down a long, winding country road.” Nor will it say anything about tinklings lulling distant folds; robins carolling at twilight, nor any “warm glow of lamplight” from a cabin window. No. It is an account of up-and-doing activity; a vivid portrayal of Youth as it is today; and a practical discarding of that worn-out notion that “a child don’t know anything.”

Now, any author, from history’s dawn, always had that most important aid to writing:—an ability to call upon any word in his dictionary in building up his story. That is, our strict laws as to word construction did not block his path. But in my story that mighty obstruction will constantly stand in my path; for many an important, common word I cannot adopt, owing to its orthography.

In the novel, Keats’s phrase “a thing of beauty is a joy forever” appears as “a charming thing is a joy always.”

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1950: Seascape

Édouard Mandon - [seascape]

A seascape by mid-20th-century French artist Edouard Mandon; title and date unknown. I haven’t been able to find out much about him.

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1922: Landscape

Konstantin Bogaevsky - Landscape with Lake (1922)

Konstantin Bogaevsky: Landscape with Lake (1922)

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1994: You Bomb You!

Allen Ginsberg - First Pitch at SF Giants Game (1994)

Allen Ginsberg throwing out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game on June 1, 1994. The team had invited him to be the first in a “City of Poets” series in which writers read their work before games. Ginsberg read this poem:

Hum Bom!

Whom bomb?
We bomb’d them!
Whom bomb?
We bomb’d them!
Whom bomb?
We bomb’d them!
Whom bomb?
We bomb’d them!

Whom bomb?
We bomb you!
Whom bomb?
We bomb you!
Whom bomb?
You bomb you!
Whom bomb?
You bomb you!

What do we do?
Who do we bomb?
What do we do?
Who do we bomb?
What do we do?
Who do we bomb?
What do we do?
Who do we bomb?

What do we do?
You bomb! You bomb them!
What do we do?
You bomb! You bomb them!
What do we do?
We bomb! We bomb you!
What do we do?
You bomb! You bomb you!

Whom bomb?
We bomb you!
Whom bomb?
We bomb you!
Whom bomb? You bomb you!
Whom bomb?
You bomb you!

Whydja bomb?
We didn’t wanna bomb!
Whydja bomb?
We didn’t wanna bomb!
Whydja bomb?
You didn’t wanna bomb!
Whydja bomb?
You didn’t wanna bomb!
Who said bomb?
Who said we hadda bomb?
Who said bomb?
Who said we hadda bomb?
Who said bomb?
Who said you hadda bomb?
Who said bomb?
Who said you hadda bomb?

Who wantsa bomb?
We don’t wanna bomb!
Who wantsa bomb?
We don’t wanna bomb!
Who wantsa bomb?
We don’t wanna bomb!
We don’t wanna
we don’t wanna
we don’t wanna bomb!

Who wanteda bomb?
Somebody musta wanteda bomb!
Who wanteda bomb?
Somebody musta wanteda bomb!
Who wanteda bomb?
Somebody musta wanteda bomb!
Who wanteda bomb?
Somebody musta wanteda bomb!
They wanteda bomb!
They neededa bomb!
They wanteda bomb!
They neededa bomb!
They wanteda bomb!
They neededa bomb!
They wanteda bomb!
They neededa bomb!

They thought they hadda bomb!
They thought they hadda bomb!
They thought they hadda bomb!
They thought they hadda bomb!

Saddam said he hadda bomb!
Bush said he better bomb!
Saddam said he hadda bomb!
Bush said he better bomb!
Saddam said he hadda bomb!
Bush said he better bomb!
Saddam said he hadda bomb!
Bush said he better bomb!

Whatdid he say he better bomb for?
Whatdid he say he better bomb for?
Whatdid he say he better bomb for?
Whatdid he say he better bomb for?

Hadda get ridda Saddam with a bomb!
Hadda get ridda Saddam with a bomb!
Hadda get ridda Saddam with a bomb!
Hadda get ridda Saddam with a bomb!

Saddam’s still there building a bomb!
Saddam’s still there building a bomb!
Saddam’s still there building a bomb!
Saddam’s still there building a bomb!

Armageddon did the job
Gog & Magog Gog & Magog
Armageddon did the job
Gog & Magog Gog & Magog
Gog & Magog Gog & Magog
Armageddon does the job
Gog & Magog Gog & Magog
Armageddon does the job

Armageddon for the mob
Gog & Magog Gog & Magog
Armageddon for the mob
Gog & Magog Gog & Magog

Gog & Magog Gog & Magog
Gog Magog Gog Magog
Gog & Magog Gog & Magog
Gog Magog Gog Magog

Gog Magog Gog Magog
Gog Magog Gog Magog
Gog Magog Gog Magog
Gog Magog Gog Magog

Ginsberg says Gog & Magog
Armageddon did the job.

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1886: Summer Night

Kitty Kielland - Summer Night (1886)

Kitty Kielland: Summer Night (1886)

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2006: WHEN I AM WITH PEOPLE I AM BOTHERED BY HEARING VERY QUEER THINGS

Hermann Rorschach - Early Draft of Card III

WHEN I AM WITH PEOPLE I AM BOTHERED BY HEARING VERY QUEER THINGS

I went to the pillar-box
I never saw a worse-looking house
in town or in hunting zones

“welcome to girly hell”
turn her out because her necklace has been stolen
explain it by some kind of hypnotism

they fancied those constellations were
able to handle large fires
with the elaborate finish of jewellery

wherever we find pleasure, there we are attached
because of certain “spiritual rappings” or “knockings”
lucky for us that we so rarely knock up against them!

we shall agree at the outset that
The Teacher was just going to
be all things to all men,
to burst in upon them with such excitement
Dwarves started arriving, yes, Dwarves!

Even usually rational people are starting to suspectPI-2.
the lining of your stomach
his eyes and their fluttering lids

he didn’t ride the roan mare he’d been riding
he does not think it will ever be required

please under no circumstances speak of this
smoke your luncheon instead

the lady seems decidedly eccentric
Uncle Roy’s Queer Girls
embodied this principle
on screen, in a lesbian way,

A strange creature,
Let us lead him to the elders.

The title of this poemand all of the other titles in Katie Degentesh’s 2006 book The Anger Scaleare taken from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a standardized personality test used by psychologists to diagnose mental illness. Originally developed in the 1930’s, an updated version from 1989 is used today.

I began to…write the poems themselves by feeding phrases from the statements into internet search engines and piecing the poems together from the results pages. This process was a little different for each poem. For instance, for “I LOVED MY FATHER” some results might come from a search for “LOVED MY FATHER” +turtleneck, some from “HATED MY FATHER,” some from “HATED MY FATHER” +pussy; etc. I might also then replace words or phrases in the results.

In some cases (mainly in the poems that make use of more archaic language) I followed a link from the search engine page to gather material from an actual web page, but for most poems I did not feel the need to stray from the search results themselves.

Here are some of the other titles:

I DO NOT TIRE QUICKLY

NO ONE CARES MUCH WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU

I SOMETIMES TEASE ANIMALS

AT TIMES I HAVE FITS OF LAUGHING AND CRYING THAT I CANNOT CONTROL

I SEE THINGS OR ANIMALS OR PEOPLE AROUND ME THAT OTHERS DO NOT SEE

I HAVE HAD VERY PECULIAR AND STRANGE EXPERIENCES

I BELIEVE I AM NO MORE NERVOUS THAN MOST OTHERS

I AM NOT AFRAID TO HANDLE MONEY

I LOVED MY FATHER

I LOVED MY MOTHER

SOMETIMES I AM STRONGLY ATTRACTED BY THE PERSONAL ARTICLES OF OTHERS SUCH AS SHOES, GLOVES, ETC. SO THAT I WANT TO HANDLE OR STEAL THEM THOUGH I HAVE NO USE FOR THEM

MY SLEEP IS FITFUL AND DISTURBED

Image:
An early draft of Card III of the Rorschach test

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