meeting of minds
|From:||diana slattery <glide@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, December 19, 1998, 2:20|
> > Excellent name your cat has, BTW.
> Thank you! And she's an excellent cat.
> > > Teonaht has become increasingly complicated, over the years,
> > > but it was greatly gratifying, and weird, to come across a dialog =I had
> > > written out... oh...nineteen years ago, between a girl and a boy =who were
> > > courting; and though I hadn't looked at this vocabulary for almost =as
> > long
> > > (it was largely discarded and the grammar drastically altered), the
> > > exchange was perfectly clear to me. As though I was reading Spanis=h from
> > > a textbook. How strange, and with a language I invented. It was
> > speaking
> > > to me across the years.
> > I've come over all warm and fuzzy... I still find it amazing, over =2 years
> > after I initially joined the list, to think that during all the years= I was
> > working alone on Jameld (since '82), braving the derision, bemusement= and
> > apathy of others, there were others doing similarly. Were we all isol=ated,
> > or was there a pre-Conlang community in any way?
> > James
> It is an amazing thing. As I've said before, one of the things that =most
> impresses me about this listserv has been its capacity to unite people
> who have been absorbed in an extraordinarily "solipsistic" or "solitary="
> artform. Only through electronic means have we been able to communicat=e
> with each other. I'd love to hear stories from conlangers who have had
> some kind of meeting of minds before "conlang." Anybody form their own
> small clatch of "inklings" prior to electronic communication?
I can speak to that, the experience being very fresh. Glide as a languag=
e came to me in the middle of writing the novel, the death dancers, creat=
ing that fictional world--although that experience makes it sound so much=
more willed and deliberate than it really is. more like discovering, =
then exploring, then meeting the people, conversing, then being able to =
query the world, because at a certain point, it is a world, an enterable =
domain. so if i have a question, i can go there and find the answers. =
the language began to reveal itself that way, then i asked some question=
s and got really a flood of answers. it's as if the whole thing was/is =
sitting there fully formed. that's the mystery of it all--whether it's =
where do constructed languages come from, or where and how do fictional =
worlds get formed. so--minds meeting. as glide was emerging last summer=
, i showed the glyphs to a media lab friend, tara, who was working in an =
aspect of visual language--making software that makes fonts expressive =
of the content and ways people are speaking textually. a bare minimum =
of explanation--"it's hypertextual, many paths, try turning it upside dow=
n" and she dived in, got it, saw the implications, some of the possibilit=
ies. then had an experience with an e-mail buddy who writes wild hyperte=
xts (he's "peace" in the resonance section of the web)--he got it, handed=
off a sheet of glyphs, a composition plus the first lexicon, and gary =
got it, started composing and translating and sending me the gifs. even =
worked out a kind of excell spreadsheet system for mapping meanings.
there have been some significantly opposite experiences as well--like sam=
e signed poles of a magnet, repulsing. one comment--"you'll have to expl=
ain to me what differentiates these from pebbles and bottlecaps." like, =
instant rejection of the mode, total don't get it, want to get rid of it =
reaction. but the heart of the matter, and what is so wonderful about =
this listserv, is knowing i'm not the only one with this peculiar obsessi=
on. i'm beginning to try to write about that in the section of the websi=
te called "obsession"--ithe fear is--is this a purely solipsistic activit=
y, a retreat into a delusionary world, something of interest and meaning =
only to myself. but i managed to find two collaborators this fall who =
also got it, and spread the obsession around. but it is still a matter =
of being a lunatic lover of language. i just happen to believe that this=
activity is significantly not only in a deeply personal way, which would=
be enough in itself, even it it had to be a closet activity, but is epis=
temic in the sense of learning something about the sources of language, =
the language impulse, in many different ways.
the subject of "learning one's own language" that developed in the cat =
thread is really quite something--one's own language yet one is having =
to learn it? but that is how it is. what does that say about where the =
words/signs/sounds/symbols come from?
Good question, Sally.