Fiery Words from FireCrest

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The New Golden Treasury

Like everyone else, we get spam in our electronic mailboxes and, presumably like everyone else’s, these messages generally want to flog us fake Rolexes, fake Viagra, and disconcerting bits of kit guaranteed – that’s what it says here – to wang up the dimensions of one’s wanger to a startling degree. (Ladies must get so fed up with this stuff.)
We used to bin spam after a brief pause to appreciate the fine fake names of the senders: Jasper McCracken, Farruggio Remlinger, Moi Ultratumba, Redenius Roiger, Prince Shapiro, Zombo Quaintance, Aida Dailey, Clayton Guidry, Russett Fydenkevez, Curdy Knippel… Douglas Adams had nothing on this lot. It almost tempts one to bash out a potboiler just so they don’t go to waste.
But we don’t throw them away unread any more. Not since we opened one by accident, and went so far as to peruse it. Now we read each one with care, in hope, with excited anticipation. For here be jewels.
Presumably to defeat servers’ spam filters, these things contain not-quite random, not quite meaningless… verbal passages, shall we call them. And, dearly beloved, there are gems of near-poetry among them. And perhaps nuggets of near-wisdom too.

Which had chilled with horror all
even in that excuse for
And this funeral is indubitably about an inch
Mingle it amongst the meat,
receding down the passage 
towards the hall.
And the afterportion, which stuck out of the water,
has slain the victim. He puts together
the end two collars
and binds them up in fine white clouts,
and makes intricate
channels, hard to trace in that I AM.
But I was fool enough
to be mad without the sixpence.
“I only said God sent it,”
said Mrs Stop.
“Life is hard on clemency.”

Indeed. For as T.S. Eliot didn’t say, it takes more than the idle stirrup-pump to extinguish hell. Now try this:

Crost in their desires, they shall bless
thy memory, fixedly at the door. After a moment
or two there, it seemeth not possible
that the eight, being brought good conduct,
implied modesty and candour. To tremble
like the wielder of the thunderbolt.

That last phrase actually comes from the epic Sanskrit text, the Mahabharata – Book VI, ‘Bhishma Parva’, section LXXX. Who’s complaining? Other spammers are much obsessed with food. Well, obviously, if you think about spam – and should you think it’s food, and not just an edible nightmare.

Intrust thyself apples, in laid tarts,
or to make a slic’d tart moment
to be completely filled
with dog. Cerberus and the work
of proofreading and revision began..

Then, with the aid of the groom and the stableboy,
’cide when it happened. Umm, he said. Did I forget
thirty thousand souls? These figures, the natives said,
or good strong mutton broth
to make a paste for a lord.

Burly cynical Frenchmen and the diaphanous dancers
have been good enough to draw up, and I
am bound to it with verjuice, butter, sugar,
claret or whitewine, so much so
that they all took off their hats,
and slic’d lemon. Another forced dish.
Take two.

Now, it is only fair to admit we have edited these gems, but only a weeny bit. Shakespeare has to put up with as much, after all. One feels an anthology coming on… for do we not have here the beginnings of a new Palgrave for the electronic age?

These spam poems are anonymous (although they perhaps should be credited to Messrs Knippel, McCracken, Ultratumba, etc.). Which made us ponder: there is a paradox about the internet’s infestations of individuals and their publicly paraded intimate interests, as seen on Facebook and all the rest. Somehow, the flat neutrality of the medium, and the sheer numbers of these advertisements of the ego, make these indubitably real people anonymous – a mob, not even a crowd. Which was never the idea. This is a thought to be developed elsewhere…

Thanks to FireCrest author Jean Bonnin for pointing out that we mistakenly attributed the invention of Deconstructionism to Jean Baudrillard. The guilty party is Jacques Derrida. Or rather was; he died in 2004. His other claims to fame include lack of philosophical clarity, intentional obfuscation, nihilism, plagiarism, and making “little more than semi-intelligible attacks upon the values of reason, truth, and scholarship”. Can’t help thinking Baudrillard had a point.


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