Sunday, February 03, 2013

Language, signs and so on

According to Adam Kendon, the sort of gesture you make when you're going through the mental lexicon looking for that illusive word is called a Butterworth - itself a lexical item of some merit. I usually make rather disparaging comments when I hear people say they find language 'fascinating': after all it is a rather trite comment, but nonetheless there are some interesting and obscure terms around, like the aforesaid Butterworth. I'll now be trying to weave it into my everyday conversation. Just watch! But aside from the interesting and obscure, I must confess to being rather impressed with prose that has a good flow to it. Although Kendon's book on gesture is well-written it doesn't really flow. On the other hand in Calasso's book 'La Folie Baudelaire' it seems as if every single word is measured. I could see how it might be irritating, but I just love things like: 'On March 13, 1856, a Thursday, Baudelaire was woken at five by Jeanne, who was making a noise shifting a piece of furniture in her room. His awakening interrupted a complex dream.' (129). This gentleman-from-Porlock moment introduces the surreal Dream of the Brothel Museum, which Calasso then explores in an oblique way. For me he writes very well - even though he tackles the life of Baudelaire at a tangent. What he does with language is accomplished, and if that is fascinating, then I've just contradicted myself!

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