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Showing posts from 2013

Mythmaking Abraham's Sacrifice (Gen. 22:1-13)

If you are not familiar with the story, in the Hebrew Bible (in Genesis 22:1 to 22:13) there is the story of the patriarch Abraham, who God asks to offer up his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God. The Binding of Isaac - or the Akedah - as the story is called, has all kinds of fanciful theosophical or religious interpretations, but in essence it is usually interpreted to show how Abraham demonstrates complete faith and total obedience to the Divine command which is asked of him. In the end, though, another sacrifice - a ram - is provided as a substitute, a "scapegoat" instead of Isaac, and therefore Abraham's son survives nearly being killed by his murderous father.

Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio (c. 1603)
Let's "mythmake" (for a full explanation just read my Literary Mythmaking article) this story to see what happens... And it does not matter in the least that the Biblical story has most certainly attained a mythic status already. Although, before beginnin…

Literary Mythmaking: Reworking Warped Threads

As languages evolve over time, their words they contain change ever so slightly as they are uttered from one person to the next. At first, the words might only slightly change in the manner they are pronounced, yet the interlocutors' accents do not prevent them from being mutually understood. A good example is the difference between different forms of Modern English, such as when Canadian English speakers talk to their distant British friends, or with their Australian mates from the other side of the world; regardless, the forms of the English language spoken between these countries are mutually understandable, all except for certain terms which are certainly more common to each "locality" or country. Evidently, context plays a very important part in language evolution, be it historical, cultural, geophysical or whatever else that contributes to certain innovatory features that appear in a form of English and not the other.

English is the present-day lingua franca in the…

William S. Burroughs and Cut-Up Writing

I think William S. Burroughs was on to something. Aside from Jack Kerouac, Burroughs was another one of the influential authors of the Beat Generation that in the 1950s and 60s found popularity - if not notoriety in Burroughs' case - in his experimental writing styles. Burroughs was introduced to the cut-up technique of writing, which basically means he would quite literally "cut-up" a strand of linear text into segmented pieces with one or a couple of words a piece, and then simply reorder them in whatever fashion he saw fit.

Burroughs experimented with the cut-up technique at great length and it suited him fine, for he found that by doing so he could somehow alter reality - or even foretell future events. The Nova Trilogy, published in the early 1960s were a series of three experimental novels published by Burroughs in which he made use of the cut-up. The Soft Machine was the first book in the trilogy - published two years after his groundbreaking Naked Lunch- , and it…

Kérouac: Joual Royalty

The great American novelist, poet, the so-called King of the beats, Jack Kerouac - or as he was known in his French Canadian community in Lowell, Massachusetts, by his birth name Jean-Louis Kérouac or simply by his nickname Ti-Jean. His jazzy second novel, On the Road (1957), is an iconoclast literary masterwork, often referred to by critiques as one of the more influential pieces of writing in the postwar era.

But alas, what many people do not know is that Kerouac had initially written On the Road (1957) in French - or quite specifically - the form of Canadian French often referred to as Joual. In fact, Sur le chemin was the title Kérouac gave to the initial and original version of the work which he penned in 1952 while in Mexico. It is Gabriel Anctil, a Canadian journalist, who made this unexpected discovery while gaining access to the author's manuscripts in 2007 (see article interview with Anctil in Le Monde"Sur le chemin" un inédit de Jack Kérouac écrit en français)…

Acadia, The Old Far - Really Really Old "Far West": Sprachbund and Kulturbund

A Sprachbund is the usual German term employed in linguistics in order to describe a language which has experienced a high level of convergence with another, and that as a consequence of this close proximity, the languages - be they genetically related or not - are "bound" together, meaning their mutual influence on one another can be felt in many ways. For instance, as it relates to the Indian Subcontinent, the fusion between the Dravidian (Tamil) and Indo-Aryan (Hindi) languages make the two unrelated language groups close as far as sharing many distinguishing features, and this aside from a commonly shared vocabulary in reference to the similar culture and values held by the two separate groups of speakers. Much the same can be observed in Romanian, an Italic language (from Latin), which because of the close proximity of other unrelated languages in Central and Southeastern Europe, basically the Slavic languages in the Balkans - around the Black Sea-, as a consequence of …