Lisping Spleen & Evil in Smalltalk, GNU Know?

Once the basic form or shape or essence or whatever is created, in my own experience, the longer you can hold off and move on to something else while the mind stews or brews or ferments or whatever, the better. Few things are more exciting than going back to something you created as raw material a decade or more ago, but with the skills, knowledge, power you did not have at the time of the work’s origin. Best and most inspiring type of re-writing there could be. Like you’ve discovered the old notebook of a long-gone ancestor.

I’ve been going through dictionaries — on-line and off — of as many “natural languages” (human) as I can find. French, Spanish, Latin, German, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Irish Gaelic, Scotch Gaelic, Old English, Lakota, Cherokee, Yiddish while studying “formal languages” (programming) to the best of my limited ability.

Formal computer languages are lots of fun conceptually, and often provide mind-bending visions of the various shapes, curves and dimensions of textual thought. But there aren’t many interesting words, sounds, colors. I don’t really have the discipline to study linguistics (ho, ho) formally, but I get off on etymology on one hand, and the Gertrude Steinian approach to words as both colors and sounds, and “objects,” sometimes willful and mindful, with texture, temperature and taste. Creatures. But also abstractions: object-oriented programming concepts devised when Turing was in baby booties; however, with the depth and variety of real words forged from real life.

I’m finding that being completely irrelevant and ignored has given me the greatest freedom I’ve ever known (as a writer; not as an American). I mean, if I’m going into deep thought and mental contortions with these programming languages, why the hell can’t I just plunder the lexicons of history to make funny sounds and bizarre images and have a blast? The foundation will be modern English, regardless of where I go with programming or Zulu or Swahili. Let’s see what comes of running Finnegans Wake through a digital processor.

As Wall Street teaches us, anything’s “legal” if you can get away with it. Eschelman’s English translation Vajelljo is consummate, but I want to dive into Vallejo’s Spanish and Yeat’s Irish, Kafka and Nietzsche’s German and the Latin of Marcus Aurelius. And my own “ethnic” Ur-languages: Hungarian, Polish, and Yiddish.

So what if I make a big mess? Smear my shit on the walls, page and screen, as Dr. Freud sadly looks on, bemused and a little disgusted at this particularly loathsome Civilization’s stark-raving-mad-hysterical discontented malcontent? It’s guaranteed to be funny. Or fun, at least. And against the “Matrix” backdrop of these machine scripts, a real trip.

An adventure. The “Final Frontier” and all that…the real one, for us plain old folks who cant afford a rocket to Mars or Jupiter or JPMorgan Chase, or wherever the FreakMonsters-from-PlanetX are sending our tax-money…

I’m way too miffed, perplexed, flabbergasted and verklempt, at the way the world turned out to say anything “of import” anyway. Nothing left to do but engage in paranoid, polyglot discourse with the multi-dimensional “narrative structures” of Lisp and Smalltalk shot like quantum dope through the high-speed information arteries of GNU/Linux.

In other words, the idea of plunging into multi-lingual texts, etymologies depicting the slow evolution of roots and stems through eons of minds and lifetimes, and running them through these shape-shifting language machines — I could do this ersatz “programming” thing without a computer, on a pad and paper; it’s the structuring and re-structuring, not the utterly useless results spewed out by the hardware, that make this whole game the only game worth getting out of bed for — is a fucking blast.

What could be more hilarious than my grandparents’ Hungarian, Yiddish, and Polish peppered with GNU/Linux Regular Expressions and sent to work — whistling even; these assembly lines’ll be fun — on the high tech Time, Space and Logic factories of Lisp, Smalltalk, Haskell, Objective C, etc.?

By jove, reading and writing just may have become interesting again! Especially if done in secret… though the FreakMonsters seem to know everything about anything we do…

See you back in the Future, with Evil and Ideal (but, alas, no Spleen, had it surgically removed — a story for another time…).

Adam Engel lived for your sins -- and he lived well! -- in Fear-and-Trembling, Brooklyn, one of the last gangrenous toes of NYC not yet severed and replaced with a prosthetic gentrification device. Read other articles by Adam, or visit Adam's website.