Monday, March 07, 2005

Happy Birthday

Today marks 69 orbits of this rock around our sun from GP's birth on March 7, 1936.

GP, a Parisian author, was a brilliant and joyful manipulator of words who quit this rock much too soon, in 1982, not long past composition of his magnum opus, A Handbook for Living (from now on, LAUM), and positing a partial final book, 53 Days. A lung malignancy took him just as vocation as an author was finally a possibility. Until his victory with LAUM, his living was won mostly as an archivist to physicians.

GP was a vigorous participant in Oulipo (roughly, workshop of writing that might occur), an organization of authors and math-savants who sought to fashion "constraints" by which authors might mold writings. This
notion was not unknown prior to Oulipo, nor is it as unfamiliar as it might sound to you at first. Familiar to you, no doubt, is that form known as a small Italian song, with its 14 strings of iambs. This is a form of constraint, and a rigid sort at that.

GP's constraint construction was not amongst Oulipian's most prolific nor most amazing, but his utilization of his cohorts' constraints was maximally prodigious and artful.

GP's most famous book-long constraint is found in La Disparition, a labyrinth of a story, which GP was to construct in toto with no occasion for that fifth unit of our string of Roman symbols, that is to say, without an E. (Just as astonishing a work is GA's translation of this work, known as A Void, into Australia's lingua franca. GA is known to film buffs as author of
Amour and Mort on Long Island, a film starring John Hurt and that guy from 90210.)

That cardinality of constraints in play in GP's composition of LAUM is too gigantic and so much do said constraints link that this composition cannot do honor to its intricacy. Say for now only that that this book's map is that of a knight's tour on an abstract grid, with LAUM's units in isomorphism to units of a building which is, in a way of thinking, a protagonist of this uncommon work.

Contrary to claims — such as that infamously by WL about JJ's King of Ithaca, that it was formal acrobatics without mirth — LAUM and all of GP's writings occasion gratifying folio-turning and a joyful mitzvah of vocabulary and thought.


Blogger : JustaDog said...

A total waste of time, yet part of the fabric that makes up the worthless whiners.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...

People too chicken to have actual profiles shouldn't leave nasty ill-informed comments. Cowards are soooooooooooooo boring.



9:53 PM  

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