Miscommunication & Gibberish

“If you understand hallucination and illusion, you don’t blindly follow any leader. You must know if the person is sane or insane, over the abyss.” Marguerite Young

Literature that blows your mind. I recall devouring Virginia Woolf’s The Waves on an overnight flight from Los Angeles to New York. Burning through Janet Frames’s An Angel At My Table and deciding to quit my only corporate job in my 30s. More recently, I blasted through Ocean Vuong’s Time Is A Mother. What did these tremendously influential tomes all have in common? A lack of plot or narrative. A blending or hybridization of genres. Risk, both in language and line. Both an infinite and auto-fiction scope. And flawed characters who lie, mis-communicate, using non-sequiturs, mixed metaphors. Fragments.

Do you remember your last lie? Your first? Any lie? Write it down. Write a list. Do you remember who you told it to? Was it yourself? Was it your bff? Partner? Spouse? Child? What was the worst thing about lying? What was the best?

“In my language, tongue means language.

The tongue does not have bones: it twists in the direction

we twist it in.

I sat tongue twisted in the city of Berlin.”

Emine Sevgi Ozdamar


Sofia Samatar’s “The Huntress:”


The Cocteau Twins. “Twins” who were really a thrupple, like their unrelated cousins, the Thompson Twins. Many aspects in life are not what they appear to be, on the surface, or even on deeper levels. So few singers convey the fervor or electricity that Elizabeth Fraser’s voice does. But what is she saying? Sure, you can google the lyrics to “Carolyn’s Fingers,” but do we even want to? The haunting minor to major, the sweeping range of motion. I’m left with an impression even more unique in the “not knowing,” in the “questioning what is.” Here is another band, Sigor Ros, who are attributed to creating an entirely new language, Hopelandic:


And some more examples of the in-betweens, the unsaids, the fervent:

Tomas Transtromer’s “To Friends Behind A Border:”

I wrote so sparsely to you. But what I couldn’t write
swelled and swelled like an old-fashioned zeppelin
and drifted at last through the night sky.

Now the letter is with the censor. He turns on his lamp.
In the glow my words fly up like monkeys on grille
rattle it, become still, and bare their teeth!

Read between the lines. We are going to meet in 200 years
when the microphones in the hotel walls are forgotten
and finally get to sleep, become orthoceras.

George Saunders- Sticks


Peter Orner’s My Dead:


Robert Vaughan- Vignettes:


Deb Olin Unferth’s “Likable:”


Mark Strand “Keeping Things Whole:”


Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl:”