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Old 10-30-2008, 07:06 AM   #1
Mindy
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From BBC News Online:

"Beautiful vowels

It took seven years to write Eunoia

Eunoia is the shortest word in English containing all five vowels - and it means "beautiful thinking". It is also the title of Canadian poet Christian Bok's book of fiction in which each chapter uses only one vowel.

Mr Bok believes his book proves that each vowel has its own personality, and demonstrates the flexibility of the English language. Below are extracts from each chapter.



from CHAPTER A - FOR HANS ARP
Hassan Abd al-Hassad, an Agha Khan, basks at an ashram - a Taj Mahal that has grand parks and grass lawns, all as vast as parklands at Alhambra and Valhalla. Hassan can, at a handclap, call a vassal at hand and ask that all staff plan a bacchanal - a gala ball that has what pagan charm small galas lack. Hassan claps, and (tah-dah) an Arab lass at a swank spa can draw a man's bath and wash a man's back, as Arab lads fawn and hang, athwart an altar, amaranth garlands as fragrant as attar - a balm that calms all angst. A dwarf can flap a palm branch that fans a fat maharajah. A naphtha lamp can cast a calm warmth.


from CHAPTER E - FOR RENE CREVEL
Westerners revere the Greek legends. Versemen retell the represented events, the resplendent scenes, where, hellbent, the Greek freemen seek revenge whenever Helen, the new-wed empress, weeps. Restless, she deserts her fleece bed where, detested, her wedded regent sleeps. When she remembers Greece, her seceded demesne, she feels wretched, left here, bereft, her needs never met. She needs rest; nevertheless, her demented fevers render her sleepless (her sleeplessness enfeebles her). She needs help; nevertheless her stressed nerves render her cheerless (her cheerlessness enfetters her).


from CHAPTER I - FOR DICK HIGGINS
Hiking in British districts, I picnic in virgin firths, grinning in mirth with misfit whims, smiling if I find birch twigs, smirking if I find mint sprigs.

Cannot play media.You do not have the correct version of the flash player. Download the correct version
Midspring brings with it singing birds, six kinds, (finch, siskin, ibis, tit, pipit, swift), whistling shrill chirps, trilling chirr chirr in high pitch. Kingbirds flit in gliding flight, skimming limpid springs, dipping wingtips in rills which brim with living things: krill, shrimp, brill - fish with gilt fins, which swim in flitting zigs. Might Virgil find bliss implicit in this primitivism? Might I mimic him in print if I find his writings inspiring?

from CHAPTER O - FOR YOKO ONO
Loops on bold fonts now form lots of words for books. Books form cocoons of comfort - tombs to hold bookworms. Profs from Oxford show frosh who do post-docs how to gloss works of Wordsworth. Dons who work for proctors or provosts do not fob off school to work on crosswords, nor do dons go off to dorm rooms to loll on cots. Dons go crosstown to look for bookshops known to stock lots of top-notch goods: cookbooks, workbooks - room on room of how-to-books for jocks (how to jog, how to box), books on pro sports: golf or polo. Old colophons on schoolbooks from schoolrooms sport two sorts of logo: oblong whorls, rococo scrolls - both on worn morocco.


from CHAPTER U - FOR ZHU YU
Gulls churr: ululu, ululu. Ducks cluck. Bulls plus bucks run thru buckbrush; thus dun burrs clutch fur tufts. Ursus cubs plus Lupus pups hunt skunks. Curs skulk (such mutts lurk: ruff, ruff). Gnus munch kudzu. Lush shrubs bud; thus church nuns pluck uncut mums. Bugs hum: buzz, buzz. Dull susurrus gusts murmur hushful, humdrum murmurs: hush, hush. Dusk suns blush. Surf lulls us. Such scuds hurl up cumulus suds (Sturm und Druck) - furls unfurl: rush, rush; curls uncurl: gush, gush. Such tumult upturns unsunk hulls; thus gulfs crush us, gulp, dunk us - burst lungs succumb."


It's worth a look at the sight for readers comments.
Anyone want to have a go?
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:11 AM   #2
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:16 AM   #3
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Pretentious twaddle if you ask me, on a par with the "12 note serialism" movement in music as practised by Stockhausen et al in the early 20th century. Just a "look how clever I am" thing.
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:25 AM   #4
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I rather think that serialism dates back to Schoenberg. On the whole, I'm not a great fan, though I quite like some Alban Berg.

I think that the single vowel chapters look a bit contrived. But quite amusing as an exercise.
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:33 AM   #5
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Sorry, a "senior moment" there - it was Schoenberg that I was thinking of when I wrote "Stockhausen".
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricia View Post
I think that the single vowel chapters look a bit contrived. But quite amusing as an exercise.
That's what it reminds me of - something an English teacher would set as an exercise for the class.
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Old 10-30-2008, 11:28 AM   #7
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Well, it's more readable than Finnegans Wake, but makes less sense.

(no I've not actually read Finnegans Wake )
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Old 10-30-2008, 11:36 AM   #8
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It sort of made my eyes ache. Too many similar words when I depend on the shape of the word, more than the letters themselves, in order to read. Is there a point to it?
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Old 10-30-2008, 11:38 AM   #9
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the french writer Georges Perec wrote an entire novel in which he never used the letter "e", called La Disparition (appropriately enough, "the disappearance") ; the letter e being the most-used letter of the french language, this is quite a feat. he also wrote a book called Les revenentes in which e is the ONLY vowel used.

sometimes writing exercises can lead to some brilliant prose (see also "Exercises de style" by Raymond Queneau, in which he presents the same short story told in a multitude of different styles : sheer genius) but i agree that this particular example is not necessarily the most brilliant available.

points for effort, though.
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Old 10-30-2008, 11:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
the french writer Georges Perec wrote an entire novel in which he never used the letter "e", called La Disparition (appropriately enough, "the disappearance") ; the letter e being the most-used letter of the french language, this is quite a feat. he also wrote a book called Les revenentes in which e is the ONLY vowel used.

sometimes writing exercises can lead to some brilliant prose (see also "Exercises de style" by Raymond Queneau, in which he presents the same short story told in a multitude of different styles : sheer genius) but i agree that this particular example is not necessarily the most brilliant available.

points for effort, though.
I'd heard of Perec ages ago, and been trying to remember who it was, and what the letter was, ever since the article came on Radio 4 Today's program this morning and The Better Half and I "discussed" the merits of such a thing (and then I left rapidly for work....)

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, so I guess you shouldn't do it by its vowel usage either. I'll reserve judgment until I (try to) read it. Though admittedly the sample above make me think of the software that produces gibberish English to get past spam filters, but with a stuck keyboard.
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