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Thursday 24 June 2021

The pleasure of the senses Contagious homophony

Contagious homophony

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Perhaps it does not entirely hurt to think of light - or even playful - interludes in a particularly sad period such as the one we are going through, certainly full of serious considerations; but any inconvenience to say can be mitigated by the always cited Huizinga, who warns that playing is also serious and there is nothing more serious than it.

Regarding "The pleasure of the senses”, The title of these digressions, it should be noted that these are not erotic sensations, naked bodies, but only meanings, covered or uncovered that they are, actual meanings or broad allusions of which wordplay is capable . Expressed more clearly, we want to refer to epidemic forms of the word, to verbal contamination phenomena.

Virus is a word that is repeated continuously and dramatically in these months. Towards the 70s of the last century the American writer William S. Burroughs went so far as to argue that the most dangerous virus out there was language; the word, he said, is a virus because it is an organism with no other internal function than that of replicating itself. The word enters our mind conditioning our thought, indeed, it becomes our thinking, colonizing it like a parasite; language, therefore, achieves its very ends. Man does not speak a language, man is spoken by a language, he is possessed by it.

The cantatrix sauve it is a work written by several members of the French Oulipo group (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle). Traveling by car to Lyon, these friends and colleagues, after stopping for lunch, fighting against a certain postprandial somnolence, began to talk about the incomparable Montserrat Caballé. The name of that sublime interpreter was enough to unleash a homophonic fever inside the car which soon became a fury that captured and continued to own the group well beyond the journey. If that fury ended it was only because the group had now reached 101a metamorphosis of the name of the singer; not only, but also because, from the crowd gathered in a room waiting for those authors to talk to them about literature, a silent but growing exasperation began to emanate.

Just a few of the 101 metamorphoses are enough to give an idea of ​​the effects of that contagious homophonic fever:

1. A man who housed a barn let a rope hang from the window on which he hung his shopping bag. When he went out, he made the bag go down to the street; once inside he would pull it up. Those who went to see him knew that he was at home seeing his MANSARDE À CABAS LIÉ (attic with tied purse).

6. "My Spanish friend, arriving in my ignoble cavern and feeling myself grumbling against the dirt around me, shouts: MON SER, T'AS QU'À BALAYER! " (my dear, all you have to do is sweep!) ».

11. «At the exit of a Council of Ministers, the Elysium spokesman notes that the president of the republic looks annoyed. He asks why. "I don't know what happens," Giscard replies, "but I have the feeling that my prime minister is no longer as attentive as in the past to government affairs": MON CHIRAC IN BÂILLÉ (my Chirac yawned) ».

18. «On January 20, 1793, the unhappy Louis XVI said to Marie Antoinette:" I am afraid of the guillotine ". She replied: MON CHER, T'AS QU'À PAS Y ALLER! (my dear, all you have to do is not to go!) ».

25. "The lover murmurs to the fiery lover:" I prefer you naked, MON CHÉRI, QU'HABILLÉ!"(My ciccino, instead of dressed!)».

46. "An exasperated right-wing extremist entered the Maspéro bookstore one day shouting: MAO EVENING ÉCRABOUILLÉ! (Mao will be crushed!).

It also became urgent ... that the inimitable inventions produced in the course of that hectic day were one day delivered to the public ("La cantatrix sauve", in The Bibliothèque Oulipienne, vol. I, éd. Ramsay, Paris, 1987).

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