There, in the infinitesimal battlefield of microwar, infection is mostly associated with harmful effects, diseases and their mobility, deadly aggressive viruses against healthy cells,… The classic good and bad narrative. I am thinking here of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with Clint Eastwood as the antibody, The Ugly the good and The Bad the virus. One is struck by an allegory in crisis, a misappropriation of terms repersonified by a semantic bargain between the lexical and social conventionalization.
What the hell is social conventionalization? In this context i suppose a contagious germ freeloading on popular transmission, the pasturing ground of linguistic ecology.
Like it or not this is how we learn language; before we know its structure, a set of grammatical rules, before we know the origin of words, we learn them as signs, signification codes. However irrelevant, it might be worth contrasting this with the Kabbalists who believe that letters came first, that they were the instruments of god, not the words signified by letters... But what i am really referring to is the popular strata that sediments but does not stratify upon history, a non linear process triggered by singularities which in turn affects our understanding of things, in the leaking encounter of flows within time, the authentic time, the there then the here now. And all thanks to this infectious puddle of stuff, out of which there has appeared the origami golem of Deleuze and Guattari, the BWO or Body Without Organs.
On a much lighter note, the vanilla, the subject i have postponed until now, shares a similar fate.
Think of it, vanilla ! i mean i don’t know about you but i immediately associate the term with ice cream, next comes a brand, the one i can no longer find Frusen Gladge and therefore its alternative Hagen Dasz,.., its white (we’ll get to that later), smooth, cool, sweet, engagingly sensual, an oral fantasy, a melting kiss, poetic even, ... perversely sexual. Well, non of the above is even hinted at in the dictionary and unless we are following a recipe, we hardly attribute to it its due status: a flavor available in little curiously brown bottles on store shelves. Few of us allude or even know its parent plant, a tropical orchid, The Vanilla Pod!
Owed to commercial pollination, vanilla has equated to ice cream, a brown liquid extract to white. We all share the same conviction, we all come in with a full baggage of qualities: name, physic, mask, careers,.., all quite removed from ourselves but mostly imposed by language, itself serving a sentence. We’re all ice creams of sorts summed to a mere adjective.
Through the Looking Glass Lewis Carrol confronts us with our inverted identity: “Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it may appear to others, that what you were, or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.” (But so what)?! Favorite of the pragmatist, the inevitable remark, the disguise of purpose, purpose this nuisance that resides at outset, feeding on every thought, secretly growing to an immeasurable megalith, unseen, this unperceivable mass that casts its shadow across the table, life, an entire oeuvre,..., and on the white field of this page; these stains we perceive as words, is it not the patina of this shadow, a deliberate sabotage by way of meaning ..?
Well I don’t really know! For the seeker of gods, language was the promise, Babel : confusion its fate. For the bureaucrats and the military, a disciplinary tool, a uniform means of communication to mobilize the masses for war and peace; for record keeping and examination, for control. For Joyce, a palette... Dialects form by way of localization and pidginization of a language amongst various peoples. Before its put into script form, ordered, conditioned, dictioned, before it is standardized, it is considered vulgar, disobedient, revolutionary. English to name one, in the words of Borges: “( ...) that vast language with unlimited possibilities”, was such a dialect, a creolization of Germanic and Nordic, latinized by French. With the disappearance of distance, today there are the emerging tribes of internet users, hence the rapid crystallization of linguistic anomalies: wasup meaning what’s up, LOL owing its genes to AOL, has a very different meaning.
In construction amongst the builders, vanilla is a loan word, it is generally referred to gypsum wall board paint and plastic laminate, quick, easy and cheap, “a vanilla”. Show them a Ryman painting and they’d say: what is this its just white its a vanilla, a child could do it ... . The irony of it though is that indeed, a child could; children are clear, pure. i am reminded of the famous phrase of that triumphant matadoré of canvas Picasso who said, it takes twenty years to learn to draw and then another twenty years to learn to draw like a child again.
It must have been a year or a month ago, a friend and i were talking about Syd Barret’s album, ‘Opel’ (opal; the hazy white glass ), and the conversation turned to construction, we started joking about the vanilla issue, the x dollar per square foot cap and how it has affected the architectural practice, surmounting to spec books, recyclable details, franchised one size fits all verify in field drawings, and well a seal to emboss it all. We were comparing it to the modus operandi of psychic asylums with shelf full of prescriptive tranquilizers good for all and no therapy ...., that how architects are not even concerned with space, site visits are a mere formality, ..., how for instance a good project architect in these offices is one who coordinates the project in terms of general notes, title blocks, sheet #’s, stamp padding recycled details etc. ... . main criteria being the preparing of a package to send out in the shortest possible time, the rest is left off to site conditions.
Plato said once of books, that they seem alive but the moment you ask something of them, they don’t reply. If i have gone astray from the subject, too many times perhaps, it is because my thoughts are never fixed. In that way i am unable to be fully critical, nor can i offer a remedy, i conclude nothing. i am more attuned with the early Vito Acconci who saw writing in the eyes of a voyager of fields in hesitation of marking margins, tabs ..to write i think and by that i also mean to build is to dwell, wandering in the hope of that blank and yes white horizon, let me spare the word, ... not written.