Monday, November 21, 2005


Finding Gary Sullivan’s bustle and flurry of determination to delimit quite soberly the meaning of the term “flarf” to some originary ludic mayhem amongst a select few, uh, rather alarming. Turf-staking poetics is always a sight. Ain’t we poets here just to roil the language up, to pet its fine coat tail to nape? The idea that one’d attempt to control the usage of that mess vis-à-vis a word that apparently calls for inappropriate behaviour, seems, uh, inappropriate. (I am tempt’d to think the whole massy Elsewhere discourse of late, just another flarfer’s ramping up to a grand ha-ha, ’cepting the over-earnest Sillimaniac slope of it.)

Uh, as to the Google-pruning devices, whether they’s a part of “flarp” or not—I got the same itchy reaction I got to various reports regarding the n/Oulipo conference that kept pointing to “the problem of the blank page.” And I want’d to push my broken nose up in there and say (helium-inhale’d squeakify’d): “Uh, Doc, what problem is that?” Meaning, only problem I see is—“the problem of the full page.” It’s sort of like: if you got to go, you got to go. Point. Google-pruning: why that’d be just like using a suppository under some false-consciousness diatribe “production” consideration that one’s got to be regular, no? (Recall what the good Dr. Johnson bloviate’d—snitelessly: “It is strange that there should be so little reading in the world, and so much writing.”)

More “personally,” (is getting good, isn’t it?) I ain’t sure what them technorati-generated numbers mean, however, I do seriously doubt that the term “flarf” (or any of its Cagneys) ’s ever trotted its horse across the dry arroyo of my brainpan’s gulch even a scrub-hundred times. Say nothin’ about five hundred and twenty-five. Say nothin’ about exit’d the leaking wound of my writin’ hand. Thass juss plarpy.

Out of Michael Allin’s Zarafa: A Giraffe’s True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris, being the story of a giraffe’s being transport’d, in 1827, out of the Ethiopian highlands, down the Blue Nile to Khartoum, “down the entire length of the Nile, nearly 2,000 miles to Cairo and Alexandria,” and, on foot, after crossing the Mediterranean, the distance between Marseille and Paris, “a royal gift from Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, to King Charles X of France”:
Giraffe, girafe, giraffa (English, French, Italian)—all derive from the Arabic zerafa, a phonetic variant of zarafa, which means “charming” or “lovely one.”
Children playing in the parks of Paris bought snacks of gingerbread giraffes. Their mothers wore their hair à la Girafe, coiffured so high that they had to ride on the floors of their carriages. That summer the Journal of Women and Fashion reported the chic of “a necklace à la Girafe, a narrow ribbon from which is suspended a pink heart or better yet a small locket of the seraglio in the form of the amulet seen around the neck of the giraffe at le Jardin du Roi.”
        The most stylish colors of that year’s fashion season were “belly of Giraffe,” “Giraffe in love,” “Giraffe in exile.” Men wore “Giraffic” hats and ties, and a magazine of the day diagrammed instructions for tying a gentleman’s cravat à la Girafe.
        Zarafamania was everywhere—in textiles and wallpaper, crockery and knickknacks, soap, furniture, topiary—anywhere her distinctive spots or long-necked shape could be employed. The recently invented claviharp was renamed the “piano-giraffe.” That winter’s influenza was “Giraffe flu”; and people inquired of the sick, “How goes the Giraffe?”
Tall Horse puppet, collaborative puppetry between South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company and the Sogolon Puppet Troupe of Mali
Please consider, in a couple of succinct pages, the relationship between “flarf” and “Zarafamania.” Essay a determination of th’exact hue of the color “Giraffe in love.”