[NetBehaviour] Dissemination of analogic array
sondheim at panix.com
Thu Sep 7 08:21:28 CEST 2006
Dissemination of analogic array,
To Muse, To ponder, to think close, to study in silence, on reading Samuel
Johnson's Dictionary 1785-1799 edition
Thing: 1. Whatever is; not a person. A general word. 2. It is used in
contempt. 3. It is used of persons in contempt, or sometimes with pity.
4. It is used by Shakespeare one in a sense of honour.
First, that words are pulled into existence by their extensions, as if
these are chreodic formations (see Waddington).
Surface, Superficies; outside; superfice. It is accented by Milton on the
My mastery is masterdom; I'm a master-hand who pulls a master-jest; I have
the master-key to the curing of sprains and injuries to the master-sinew;
I play on the master-string with a master-stroke; I am masterless but have
masterliness; I am most masterly, a true masterpiece of mastership; my
master-teeth do not touch masterwort; ah for good kind master! Mordacious,
mordacity, mordicant, mordication. Nonjuring, belonging to those who will
They bodiless and immaterial are,
and can be only lodg'd within our minds
Virtual, Having the efficacy without the sensible or material part.
Cachectical, cachectice, cachexy, cachinnation, neither a cackle nor a
Pulled into existence, surrounded, modified: one might apply Kant's cate-
gories here, spatial and temporal extensions, actions and reactions, away-
from and towards. In Kant's Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living
Forces, there are bodies which need not be contiguous with any other;
these are split, signifiers of other worlds, unsensed and senseless here.
This is the opposite of these additional modifications that extend words,
one into another; it is language and its interconnectedness that allows me
to live, saves me from suicidal depression and insanity. All words lead to
You see, Kant says "...it is quite possible that a thing actually exists
and yet is nowhere present in the world." But it is I, myself, which is
absent, absenting; and as such, I tend towards chaos, opening every
unrelated space or avatar.
Second, the feel and weight of the paper; every page carries a visible
history which has no origin but an emission in reverse.
Emission in reverse: the scar of the page or face or body tends towards
unknown events, sets of them; surely a scissors leaves no stain and ink
does not cut. There are clues, but even in enlightenment, everything is
lost; Volney's Ruins stay that way.
Third, the lack of page numbers; one is guided solely by word order (and
as if the volumes have an indefinite number of pages).
Page markings at random:
MAG MAG MAG
MER MER MER
MUC MUC MUC
MUC MUD MUD
Vol. II. Y
PEC PED PED
Demarcations for binding and signatures, perhaps, these appear as those
Talmudic letters and signs which are extra-linguistic, which draw
attention outside the book, elsewhere.
Fourth, the three columns with three letter page headings as in MIM MIN
MIN or ORD ORD ORD; these are loosely tethered to their word-lists.
The totality of columns headed by PLA:
PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA PLA
PLA PLA PLA
In the midst of PLA, language shuttles horizontally across the tops of
pages; these notations are redundant, call for perusing. In terms of
paging, one never knows where one is; like the Japanese system of street
addressing, one proceeds by landmarks. It's top-down; PLA could be
anything, and the shuffling necessary to find a word occurs on a different
Fifth, the latinate quality of the whole, romance languages in particular,
lending themselves to fields of words and worlds creation.
See First above. These worlds are interlocked, matriculated, matrixed,
maternal; see Eighth below. The soft sounds of Latin map words through the
skeins of prefixes, suffixes, roots (such as they are). Think of languag-
ing in relation to the Appian Way, trade-routes in general.
When roots = routes, the nomadic portends the emission of the primordial.
Nothing is settled except for the cupped land, rumors of strangers, wars,
pestilence, riches, elsewhere. King or queen-dom = king or queen-dome; the
horizon rises, what is one, is one.
Zootomy, Dissection of the bodies of beasts.
Sixth, the pleasure of the text and worlds; Johnson is famously partial -
see definitions of "oats" or "puritan."
Johnson's I appears; Johnson's eye regards. The corpus is the measure of
the man; in this sense the dictionary is parole, not langue. Thus and
against enlightenment, no absolutes, no absolute positions; the apparent
exactitude of the Britannica on one hand, and Euclid's axiomatization on
the other, seem not only far off, but foreign.
Axiom - 1. A proposition evident at first sight, that cannot be made
plainer by demonstration. 2. An established principle to be granted
without new proof.
One sees the "axiomizer" at work here - sight in the first part, and
granting in the second. Axioms are contracted, tethered, but barely. And
Johnson's work is far cry from this.
Seventh, the careful rationalism of the text, accompanied by a relative
elimination of the abject; "shit" is not present, but "urine" is, and
"whore" and "pimp" are present but "fuck" isn't.
Now I would not say "rationalism" but "embodiment," a word not found in
Johnson. The text is civil, civilization.
Colony: 1. A body of people drawn from the mother country to inhabit some
distant place. 2. The country planted; a plantation.
To Colonize: To plant with inhabitants; to settle with new planters; to
plant with colonies.
And as with civility, colonies are associated with planting, agriculture,
not supplanting or replacing; colonies are exploration's seed and the seed
for further exploration. Perhaps violence is muted in these definitions;
perhaps it was considered peripheral.
Eighth, the maternality of the volumes, occupying a relatively wide field
of vision, the world safely inscribed, references to Pope, Donne, Swift,
Shakespeare and company.
Lancination, Tearing, laceration. Lampron, A kind of sea fish. Zarnich,
Zarnich is a substance in which opriment is found; it approaches to the
nature of opriment, but without its lustre and foliated texture. The
common kinds of zarnich are green and yellow.
Yes, the maternality, seeding, blossoming, diffusion, fluid mechanics,
seeding, bringing-forth, melding (the letters "I" and "J" are combined
under "I"; "U" and "V" are combined under "V").
I is in English considered both as a vowel and a consonant.
Ninth, the labor of writing, delineating, almost single-handedly, word
after word; one searches for development, for the indexing methodology
used for some forty-thousand words.
Every dictionary is based to some extent on earlier ones (and earlier
editions); the matrix is already present. I can't see how the material was
organized for the printer - i.e. who did the organizing? Did Johnson
himself index everything? How were slots left for emendations? Even with
the printed editions - if a new word with a long definition is entered, do
all the subsequent words "move down"? If a word is take out, as being too
obsolete even to be listed as obsolete, do subsequent words "move up"?
When I took the first survey of my undertaking, I found our speech copious
without order, and energetick without rules: wherever I turned my view,
there was perplexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated;
choice was to be made out of boundless variety, without any established
principle of selections; adulterations were bound to be detected, without
a settled test of purity, and modes of expression to be rejected or
received, without the suffrages of any writers of classical reputation or
acknowledged authority. (Johnson, from the Preface.)
Tenth, there are words almost certainly invented by Johnson, which then,
perhaps, continued through other dictionaries, such as the Nouveau
Dictionnaire de Poche by Th. Nugent, already the 38th edition by 1848.
This work is a gold-mine of the unusual, much of it from Johnson's work.
Think of this as word-play, as in, for example, the ripples of style and
measure in the above quotation.
Meynt, Mingled. Obsolete. Titubation, The act of stumbling. Squib: 1. A
small pipe of paper filled with wildfire. Used in sport. 2. Any petty
fellow. Not in use.
Stadle: Any thing which serves for support to another. 2. A staff; a
crutch. Obsolete. 3. A tree suffered to grow for coarse and common uses,
as posts or rails. Of this meaning I am doubtful.
Eleventh, the analogic weight of the enterprise, in spite of apparent
precision in definition; thus the weight, touch, rustle, scent, of the
book is foregrounded, along with the wear-and-tear of type, and the
definitions themselves which often emphasize emphasize poetry and poetics
Sprunt, Anything that is short, and will not easily bend.
As with any other dictionary, one finds paths through the sememe, each
word leading somewhere else, much as web-browsing (does anyone do that
anymore?). The marvelous appears in the processes of defining; one senses
a kind of devolution at work.
And yes, the weight, the cradling of the book (there are two volumes) in
my lap, propping up the antique covers; the book breathes like any other
Puttock, A buzzard. Pointel, Anything on a point. Paralogy, False
reasoning. Malkin, A kind of mop made of clouts for sweeping ovens; thence
a frightful figure of clouts dressed up; thence a dirty wench.
Twelfth, differentiation as problematic; at times, a word will be
identified as a "plant" or a "serpent" without further description; such
description, scientific or othersie, might be elsewhere; but see his entry
Ratio, ratiocinate, ratiocinative, rational, rationale, rationalist,
rationality, rationalness. Porpoise, the sea-hog. Popgun, A gun with which
children play, that only makes a noise. Popinjay: 1. A parrot; 2. A
woodpecker. So it seems to be used here. 3. A trifling fop.
Porrection, the act of reaching forth.
In summary, a matrix not positing, but _enveloping_ knowledge; such
knowledge is lived, biographed; such knowledge effloresces; and ratio is
assumed; the page is a field, not enumerated container; word roots
likewise are fields; idioms break the code (there are over one hundred of
them for "take"; words are words and things are things; language by the
grace of God and man.
X Is a letter, which, though found in Saxon words, begins no word in the
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