Welcome to the Pataquerical Night Show (Episode-4)

Runa Bandyopadhyay
Essay, Reviews, Translation
Welcome to the Pataquerical Night Show (Episode-4)

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    We are again here with our ongoing Pataquerical night show. Dear reader, welcome you to our long ballad in many fits. But what it “is”? It is a queer inquiry with ’pataphysics. But inquiry into what? That is the Pitch of Poetry. But its Pitch is so black and thick that can’t be seen in a single moment in the eye, but “we may be able to perceive it all at once, but we see it serially”. Our aspect blindness, referring to Wittgenstein’s duck/rabbit image, may give us a clue to see it one way rather than other. “So come on…let’s pitch in… until the rhythm becomes alive.”[1]

   This episode plays four fits for you:

  1. I’m special, who are you?
  2. Absorption’s a queer thing
  3. Debunking debunking
  4. Stray marks

1. I’m special, who are you?

        What’s this special?─ extension of ordinary to become extraordinary, special, where special means particular as Bernstein pitches. Though exquisito has a positive meaning in Spanish (extraordinary quality, refinement and taste (OED)), but the pataquerical poet prefers the negative sense of Portuguese meaning of esquisito─ strange, odd, wired, queer because he thinks “negatives have a queer way of becoming positives.” What the way is? The poet answers that poems are not for sale, but for exchange. It’s value is not to be judged by the usual value of dollar but by the special; it’s meaning is found, not by extracting but by responding to it as Bernstein writes in his early essay “The Dollar Value of Poetry” in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E in the year 1984:

An experience (released in the reading) which is noncommoditized, that is where the value is not dollar value (and hence transferable and instrumental) but rather, what is from the point of view of the market, no value (a negativity, inaudible, invisible) –that nongeneralizable residue that is specific to each particular experience.[2]

      Bernstein’s queer inquiry into reality leads his action through conflicts, struggles against the prescribed norm, against the standardization of language, and continuous searching for the ‘other’─ other approach, other expression, other value like the scientific socialist Marxism against the exploitation, oppression and deprivation of capitalist society that keeps its signature  only in dollar values. Because, the “contradictory thoughts constitutes a new thought.…thesis, antithesis and synthesis in the Hegelian language, affirmation, negation and negation of the negation”[3] where neither thought nor idea but the material is the main force. And the new society that evolves from the inevitable materialistic conflict between the exploited and the exploiter maintains the continuity of the social history until a communist society without exploitation is plausible.

        Bernstein defines another kind of “reverse pataqueasical”, where stigma acts as a “badge of honor”, not for pride but for defiance. Bernstein put it through his queer language-game with the words─ “Stumpling clumpsiness for one, the eloquence of the gods for ’nother,” where he used  a neologism, meant to enact verbal “stumbling” and “clumsiness”— a kind of stutter put in by adding the “p” to create an irritation to remove the comfort of familiarity. “Stumpling” also suggests “stump”— which means to baffle and “clumpsy” to remind “Klupzy”, coined by Bernstein, used in his poem “The Klupzy Girl”[4], to suggest the Yiddish word klutzy (awkward).

2. Absorption’s a queer thing:

       What the ‘queer’ is? Is there a conflict between sexual and textual meaning of the Wittgenstein’s term ‘queer’? Whether to relate it with the conventional meaning of sexual orientation or not? The term ‘queer’ plays the very important role in the formation of the internal structure of the word pataquerics─ (pataphysics + que(e)r + query = pataquery). But Bernstein dismissed the sexual references and said that its relation rather creates “a kind of aesthetic shock treatment or method of intoxication…to transform the queer instantiation of wordness from malady to melody.”

        Poetry is an act of construction of its structure or form that channel the schizophrenic stream to create a psychic experience through the intensities of its language. And word is the vehicle of its language. But the meaning of a word plays Alice-in-Wonderland to say─ “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less”[5]. All words are multi-layered, dynamic, and full of possibilities of innumerable meanings as said by the Bengali poet, theorist Barin Ghosal, an introducer of “Expansive Consciousness” as a new literary theory to innovate the new poetic genre, named as “New Poetry”, in Bengal, India. There is always a gap between the expression of reality and the conventional language to trap you with the limit of language as Wittgenstein’s words: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”[6] The language which bridges the communication between a poet and reader becomes the barrier. From here begins the search for a new language for a poet. The poet returns to the origin to search for the nascent word─ ‘om’─ the unit of carrier of energy, the syllable itself, perpetual and immortal, carry human knowledge. The meaning of the finite words want to reach into the infinite world to give the news of the events, experienced by the poet in the exciting moments of his journey into this contradictory world. So to speak poems are neither forms nor words, neither to decipher meaning nor to reveal the truth, but a formless sensation, where the Formless’ in the midst of all forms.

       The characteristics of the phonetical and structural elements of poetry form the basis of the lexicon of a language, where poetry does not convey any message but engages itself with the language’s own medium─ “a particular act of gazing….turning my attention on to my own consciousness” as revealed by Wittgenstein to echo Stephen Hawking─ “Our perception… is not direct, but rather is shaped by a kind of lens, the interpretive structure of our human brains”[7], which is ‘mental image’ as per Wittgenstein─ “Experiencing a meaning and experiencing a mental image” are different. When a word is uttered, we see its mental image and engage ourself to describe it. But in poem the use of words’ not to describe but to connect to an event, not to mean but to hint at its secrets. The ‘mental image’ remains fixed in our memory, but the meaning becomes palpable suddenly, like a flash of lightning, a SPARK (Spontaneous Power Activated Resonance Kinetics, coined by Barin Ghosal), a sudden resonance in our mind only for a few moments: “If the meaning has occurred to you, now you know it, and the knowing began when it occurred to you.” To enliven the sensation, the poet goes on to play with language, Wittgenstein’s ‘language-game’: “the speaking of language is part of an activity or of a form of life.…Every sign by itself seems dead. What gives it life?—In use it is alive.” The specific meaning of a word given in the dictionary is dead, which gets its life in the poet’s mind─ possibilities to perceive the inner truth, the soul of words. To get a newer meaning, the poet goes beyond the unidimensional meaning of poetry, beyond the iron-cage of rationality and conventions, beyond the familiar structures of possibilities. When the language of the poem is defamiliarized, its obtrusive infiltration creates the mystery of its rime and rhythm. Bernstein’s pataquerics presents an artifice of ‘impermeability’ and ‘antiabsorption’, opposed to ‘absorbtion’ as he pitches in his Pitch of Poetry: “Sublimed is absorbed; queered is antiabsorptive; pataquerical is syncretic hyperabsorption (oscillating absorption and impenetrability).”

3. Debunking debunking:

     Is it a discourse─ discursus (“action of running in different directions”) or counter discourse? What the composer of the ballad wants to explore? Is it a paradox of doing what is it saying it is not doing? Bernstein confirms that it’s more like cancelling cancellation, questioning questioning, doubting doubt. Wittgenstein said in his Philosophical Investigations– “the ostensive definition explains the use— the meaning— of the word when the overall role of the word in language is clear.” But Bernsteinian pataquerics debunks the myth of this transparency, so to speak, when the meaning of the word has been manifested in our senses─ which he calls absorption, then patacquerics becomes aversive to absorption to give his artifice of antiaborbtion. As a symbol, every word refers to the object or its essence. Therefore, the symbol is not the meaning of the word. Sign and meaning are not the same. The meaning of a word in any phrase depends on its context through its space-time. Bernstein identifies Wittgenstein’s duck/rabbit as the “paradigmatic pataquerical figure”, where Wittgenstein points towards the concept of ‘aspect blindness’. We do not see an object in its own right, but as it appears in a figurative frame, which Bernstein calls “animalady to suffer from frame lock.” Due to the aspect blindness, we are stuck to a single interpretation of a poem which debunks the contextuality of its meaning. By debunking this debunking, Bernstein speaks of the aspect of perception where the diversity of meanings is felt, which is important for acknowledging the infinite possibilities and the possible ‘other’ as Wittgenstein’s “language-games”─ “Our clear and simple language-games are not preparatory studies for a future regularization of language—as it were first approximations, ignoring friction and air-resistance. The language-games are rather set up as objects of comparison which are meant to throw light on the facts of our language by way not only of similarities, but also of dissimilarities.”

4.  Stray marks:

       What does stray means here?─ to hear the unexpected music in the midst of a preconceived idea? An unpredictable association with the poem of Dickinson─ when and where─ indeterminacy of language─ where the composer of the ballad wants to disrupt the boundary between language’s own structure and its phonetics and semantics. Dickinson’s poems have no history of publishing. The reading of her poems through holograph version makes difference in “when/where” in the official editions of her work. The language poet Susan Howe recognizes this as “stray marks”, which Bernstein identifies as pataquerical term, because this swerving speaks of the freedom from the preconceived idea and prescribed form of the subject matter. A new observation to the mystery of reality by coming out of certain confinement of our positions, fixed and inflexible set of beliefs to move towards the indeterminacy, to open up different possibilities of experiment on the transformable values of our cultural references, and social context. Bernstein views these “stray marks” as Dickinson’s “unsettling antinomian swerves” to echo “Midrashic[8] Antinomianism”[9], coined by Charles Bernstein with an idea that when we cannot arrive at a single version of her poem, just “refresh the eyes / against the abyss”[10] to echo Eigner, where ““Refresh” brings to mind blinking, a serial scanning akin to moving frames of film. Each moment anew” as Bernstein pitches, to make the sign of strain against the grain, temporal oscillation to redefine the words through pataquerical imagination, to move towards the boundless diversity where every moment opens up the horizon of infinite possibilities.


@@@  Let’s start Episode-4 of the Fantasy by Charles Bernstein   @@@

The Pataquerical Imagination
Midrashic Antinomianism and the Promise of Bent Studies
A Fantasy in 140 Fits

XLVII. I’m special, who are you?

It’s funny. In Portuguese esquisito means something exquisitely different from exquisito in Spanish.[11]

Funny odd or funny peculiar?

    Pataque(e)ricals are markers of stigmatized difference. In order for a difference to be stigmatized or scapegoated, it first needs to be noticed, much the way language is called to (or put on) notice when it is used in poetry (at least in one way of defining poetry).

    The pataquericals in my lists are negatives. But negatives have a queer way of becoming positives, especially for those for whom such tactical reversals might create a space of greater freedom, as Michel de Certeau discusses in Ars de Faire (arts of doing, or The Practice of Everyday Life). Reverse pataquericals are honorific rather than stigmatic terms for things that fall out or don’t fit in: innovator, rebel, extraordinary, exceptional, iconoclast, genius, or the one made so exemplary in its ordinariness by Mr. Rogers, special, which, after all, is not without its de Certeauian or Blakean spin, if we take special to mean Particular.[12] Another kind of reverse pataqueasical simply to take on the stigma as a badge of honor, if not with pride then with defiance (as when pataquericals become literary terms or, paradigmatically, in the case of queer).

    Stumpling clumpsiness for one, the eloquence of the gods for ’nother.

   However, a more frequent response to stigma is internalize it, which is the basis of what, in Jewish Self-Hatred, Sander Gillman calls self-hatred, a form of self-scapegoating.[13]

   Then again, the American way is assimilation: if thy nose offend, fix it (I am avoiding saying “cut it off” as I don’t want to descend into a crude castration fantasy).

   In these investigations I am less interested in sexual difference than in aesthetic difference and, specifically, the way the sexual and sociocultural differences are articulated symbolically, or allegorically, within an aesthetic field such as a poem.


The extraordinary is never more than an extension of the ordinary.

LVIII. Absorption’s a queer thing

      Ludwig Wittgenstein is the philosopher of conventional, ordinary, normal language, so it’s funny that he has been so fundamental to me, a poet of the pataquerulous kind. Wittgenstein is acutely conscious of those moments when ordinary language seems to fail as it falls out with the ordinary, for example, when a term of art (that is to say, a term in use) becomes abstractly metaphysical, or when we lose our way with words, becoming alienated or skeptical. Wittgenstein tracks the way words and expressions go from unremarkable to odd: the familiar becoming strange.

       Me, I love the rhythm of falling in and out of sense, like a needle skipping on a record. “Now. / Not now. / And now. / Now.”

       How exquisitely awkward.

      Wittgenstein practices philosophy as something dialogic; philosophical questions arise in response to perceived issues in the course of everyday life. The terms of philosophy take on their meaning in specific situations. Wittgenstein is wary of centering philosophy on a set of mastered abstract or monovalent technical names. When philosophy presses on words to become terminologically precise, something queer happens. The words fall out of everyday use, sticking out like sore thumbs. This is the obverse of what happens in poetry when language is defamiliarized. In poetry, the obtrusiveness (aversion to absorption) is the secret of rime and rhythm, and indeed to the art (or is it a kind of aesthetic shock treatment or method of intoxication?) of stunning with bolts of melody. Poetry’s magic, to call it that, is to transform the queer instantiation of wordness from malady to melody.

     In Wittgenstein’s time, queer would have meant gay, though he surely did not intend for that to be a coded reference to his putative homosexuality.[14]For the first English version of Philosophical Investigations, Elizabeth Anscombe translated both merkwürdig and seltsam as queer, but neither of those German words suggests homosexuality.

     That’s queer.

    In the revised fourth edition of Philosophical Investigations, the new editors eliminate queer from their translation.[15] That’s queer because in the letters Wittgenstein wrote to his Cambridge associates, he uses queer about twenty times in a way that is consistent with Anscombe’s translation, though in his letters he also speaks of feeling queer:

I have occasional queer states of nervous instability about which I’ll only say that they’re rotten while they last….I’m feeling queer. One cause of this is that my nights aren’t good, but there are other causes. . . . This is a queer letter, but no queerer than its writer.[16]

      In German you might say schwul for gay, and it wouldn’t be queer at all to just say queer nowadays. Perhaps in Wittgenstein’s day you might hear such pataque(e)ricals as widernatürlich or unnatürlich (against nature or unnatural), abnormal, krankhaft (sick), perhaps even, and closer to the point here, ungewöhnlich (uncommon/anomalous).[17]

     Wittgenstein uses ungewöhnlich just once in Investigations, where he speaks of an ungewöhnlich lighting that makes something familiar unrecognizable (§41). The only time he uses unnatürlich is to characterize using words out of context (§595). (Widernatürlich does not appear in Investigations.)

      (I consult Investigations the way some people consult the I Ching: as an oracle.)

    Merkwürdig means something that calls itself to our notice, that’s worth looking at, something strange, curious, odd, weird, or unlikely. Seltsam, normally a synonym of merkwürdig, suggests something rare, indescribable, or ungraspable, so incongruous, bizarre, funny, altered, unexpected, surprising, funny, something that doesn’t immediately scan.

  1. “A proposition is a queer thing!” [Der Satz, ein merkwürdiges Ding!] Here we have in germ the subliming of our whole account of logic. The tendency to assume a pure intermediary between the propositional signs and the facts. Or even to try to purify, to sublime, the signs themselves.—For our forms of expression prevent us in all sorts of ways from seeing that nothing out of the ordinary is involved, by sending us in pursuit of chimeras. (§94, Anscombe trans.)

       A phrase, a queer thing![18] When we look at language as “actual word stuff,”[19] to use Williams’s phrase, it’s queered, averting the ordinary way in which phrases become transparent,—that is, it is sublimed (absorbed) in perception. Such subliming or immediation occurs even though language is conditioning perception: we don’t notice the lens in our glasses unless the lens is scratched or because of ungewöhnlich (unordinary) lighting. In poetry, this desubliming (failure to connect) may be rhythmically entwined to moments of intensification and, ultimately, resubliming.[20] In other words, the desire for absorption is a desire to overcome, or counter, animalady (alienation or estrangement, irremediation).

     Wittgenstein uses one of the two words translated by Anscombe as “queer” in situations where there is a resistance to propositions/naming as fixed mapping of a word on a thing, at moments of tension between naming and that which is named. When we “sublime” the nature our language we idealize it: we think our nouns are the adequate symbols for the fluid world we live in. Naming, then, can be a kind of stigma if we sublime or idealize the fit between names and the world. When seen in their queeroid dimensions, Wittgenstein’s remarks take on an uncanny directness about the violence of naming and its connection to stigma.[21]This person, the one standing before you, the one you are yourself, is never one thing. But some people, and from time to time all of us, become frame-locked, stuck on one aspect of a “this”—causing what Wittgenstein calls aspect blindness (Aspektblinde). Once a single aspect is stigmatized, it becomes difficult to break free of the stigma. Wittgenstein wonders if this could be compared to color blindness; something that is often on display as aesthetic blindness, where work is stigmatized because the reader or viewer or critic gets hung up.[22]


      This argument is a simulation for demonstration only. Actual arguments may vary. Do not attempt to try this simulationin your own vehicle.

LXI.  Debunking debunking

   Pataquericals are aversive to what Wittgenstein calls “ostensive definitions”: manifest and fixed connections between names and things, meaning and objects, as when we point to a this.[23](Only this and nothing more.) It’s queer, he notes, that a figure will look one way in one context and another way in a different contexts.

   The duck/rabbit is the paradigmatic pataquerical figure because it is more than meets the eye: our “aspect blindness” may cue us to see it one way rather than other. What it “is” we never can see in a single moment in the eye. We may be able to perceive it all at once, but we see it serially (oscillating dialectically).

    Wittgenstein compares the inability to see things without contextual cues to not having “perfect pitch.”[24] We don’t see the thing itself but see as, see with and through our metaphoric frames. It is our animalady to suffer from frame lock. Aspect blindness is a rigid adherence to one reading or interpretation of a figure (or poem), a repression of the necessity for context to establish meaning (and for different frames to establish potentially incommensurable meanings). This view is sometimes stigmatized as relativism, or in terms of poetry, as nihilism or aversion of meaning or affect. Wittgenstein suggests that the problem is not in the context dependence of meaning but in stigmatizing (getting stuck on) an ordinary feature of language.

In our failure to understand the use of a word we take it as the expression of a queer [seltsamen] process. (As we think of time as a queer medium, of the mind as a queer kind of being.) (§196, trans. Anscombe)

     What’s queer is that we sublime “the logic of our language” (§38) from its everyday, context-dependent use into axiomatic system of rigid correspondences, which has the effect of creating chimeras (two-dimensional stick figures) in place of living beings. The chimera that holds us captive is that perception does not require mediation: when we reach out to touch it, thinking it is the living proof, it dissolves in our hands, leaving a faint mist in its place.

      In Wittgenstein’s account, ostensive definitions map nouns onto the world, as if the fact of the existence of objects in the world pushes language toward deambiguation: a compulsive(dis-eased) state of trying to strip language to its essentials, as if it were a set of labels for a preexisting world.

But what, for example, is the word “this” the name of in [a] language-game . . . or the word “that” in the ostensive definition “that is called . . .”?—If you do not want to produce confusion you will do best not to call these words names at all.—Yet, [queer / merkwürdigerweise] to say, the word “this” has been called the only genuine name; so that anything else we call a name was one only in an inexact, approximate sense. . . . Naming appears as a queer [seltsame] connection of a word with an object.—And you really get such a queer [seltsame] connexion when the philosopher tries to bring out the relation between name and thing by staring at an object in front of him and repeating a name or even the word “this” innumerable times. For philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday. And here we may indeed fancy naming to be some remarkable act of mind, as it were a baptism of an object. And we can also say the word “this”to the object, as it were address the object as “this”—a queer [seltsamer] use of this word, which doubtless only occurs in doing philosophy. (§38, trans. Anscombe)

Only this! Perception is evermore remediated: remediation precedes essence.

Or as Preston Sturges puts it in Christmas in July: “If you can’t sleep at night it’s not the coffee, it’s the bunk.”

Debunking had itself to be debunked.


     Normalization is the perversion of the normal. The ordinary is bound to convention but not by it. The ordinary is not duty bound.

LXIX. Stray marks

       In “These Flames and Generosities of the Heart: Emily Dickinson and the Illogic of Sumptuary Values” (1993), Susan Howe makes a compelling argument that fundamental aspects of Dickinson’s poems fail to appear in the official editions of her work because the editors have been blind to them.[25]

       Howe argues for the significance of the spatial arrangement of words and lines on Dickinson’s holograph pages (unlike the case with almost all other authors, there is no publishing history of Dickinson’s poems that can resolve the question of her intentions). Howe looks at Dickinson’s holographs as drawings, marks on a page; she applies this seeing as to her reading of the poems as linguistic works. To sublime, in Wittgenstein’s sense, the logic of sumptuary values into a system of semantic or publishing norms is to miss Dickinson’s unsettling antinomian swerves, which is to say, their pataquericality. While we can’t arrive at a singular, true, final version of her poems, reading the poems through possibly incommensurable frames opens onto their seriality. As Dickinson virtually writes, the world—but it is also true of any single version or interpretation of the poem—“is not conclusion / a sequel—stands beyond.”

     Walter Benn Michaels debunks Howe’s claim to find significance in Dickinson’s “stray marks” (Howe’s telling pataquerical term), for in his view stray stays stray and can be safely disregarded.[26] He sees a kind of primitivism, a regression to nonhuman perception (of a “wild man”) in Howe’s “material vision” based on “sensory appearance” severed from use or purpose (Michaels gets his key terms here from Kant and Paul DeMan): “editorial activities like arranging the poems in stanzas and editorial decisions like ignoring ‘stray marks’ seem to Howe to limit Dickinson’s meanings by ‘repress[ing] the physical immediacy’ [Howe’s term] of the poems.”

      By reading what might well be “accidental” as significant, Howe (like Craig Dworkin’s reading against the grain) undermines intention and leaves us, for Michaels, with a valorization of “non­sense” and “gibberish”—two primary pataquericals.

     “Dickinson’s ‘meaning,’” says Michaels, is aligned with “grace rather than works”—which doesn’t sound kosher to me. But then we have seen the problem these textual wild beasts have caused before. Michaels is nothing if not dogged in his distrust of midrashic antinomianism, and like an American Sancho Panza he makes a habit of charging at chimeras. This is the price of being an aesthetic—“show me, I’m from Missouri”—nativist.

    In “The Poetic Principle,” Poe writes: “He must be theory-mad beyond redemption who, in spite of these differences, shall still persist in attempting to reconcile the obstinate oils and waters of Poetry and Truth.”

     For to be against theory is to be theory mad beyond redemption.[27]


   Wee wee wee all the way homeless.


Bengali Version & Transcreation here >>> প্যাটাক্যুয়রিক্যাল নাইটশোয়ে আপনাকে স্বাগতম

Note: Transcreation Project

  It is a transcreation project in series for the essay “The Pataquerical Imagination: Midrashic Antinomianism and the Promise of Bent Studies” by Charles Bernstein. This fourth episode contains 4 sections of the essay. The transcreated part is included in the Bengali section of Ongshumali. The essay was published in Bernstein’s book Pitch of Poetry. To know the details please click the following link





[1] Pitch of Poetry by Charles Bernstein, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.

[2] The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. Ed. Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1984

[3] The Poverty of Philosophy: Answer to the Philosophy of Poverty by M. Proudhon, Brussels and Belgium early in July 1847, translated source Marxisists.org.

[4] Bernstein, Charles. 1983 & 1992. Islets/Irritations. New York: Roof Books, Segue Foundation.

[5] Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, (Macmillan, 1934;1871).

[6]Logical Philosophical Treatise or Treatise on Logic and Philosophy (Latin: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) by Ludwig Wittgenstein, tr. Frank P. Ramsey and Charles Kay Ogden, Harcourt, Brace and Company, Newyork, 1922.

[7] The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, 2010, London: Bantan Books/Transworld Publisher.

[8] Midrashic- OED: Origin: A borrowing from Hebrew. Etymon: Hebrew miḏrāš. Etymology: < post-biblical Hebrew miḏrāš homiletic commentary on Scripture (in biblical Hebrew ‘study, exposition’) < Hebrew dāraš to seek, study, expound.

[9] Antinomianism- Etymology < Greek ἀντί against + νόμος law, an ism to believe that they are not bound by moral law, instead they require to break a moral (or religious or Biblical) law.

[10] Cited by Charles Bernstein in his prose “Larry Eigner’s Endless Song” in his Pitch of Poetry, p-140

[11] Christina Hesketh pointed this out to me: the Portuguese means bizarre, the Spanish is close to the English equivalent.

[12] “You are special / You are my friend / You’re special to me. / You are the only one like you.” Fred Rogers, “You Are Special” (1967), pbskids.org/rogers/songLyricsYouAreSpecial.html. This inevitably also brings up the euphemism “special needs.” We’re all special and all have special needs. Pataque(e)rical euphemisms substitute positive attributes for stigmatized negative attributes: challenged for deficient.

[13] I discuss Sander Gilman’s Jewish Self-Hatred (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990) in My Way: Speeches and Poems, 37, 188, 216. See also Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963).

[14] In Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (New York: Penguin Books, 1990), Ray Monk reports that a friend of Wittgenstein asked “whether he thought his work as a philosopher, even his being a philosopher, had anything to do with his homosexuality. What was implied was that Wittgenstein’s work as a philosopher may in some way have been a device to hide from his homosexuality. Wittgenstein dismissed the question with anger in his voice: ‘Certainly not!’” (567).

[15] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe, P. M. S. Hacker, and Joachim Schulte, rev. 4th edition ed. P. M. S. Hacker and Joachim Schulte (Walden, MA: Blackwell, 2009). The new editors note: “[Elizabeth] Anscombe translated seltsam and merkwürdig by ‘queer.’ We have translated seltsam by ‘odd,’ ‘strange,’ or ‘curious,’ and merkwürdig by ‘remarkable,’ ‘strange,’ ‘curious’ or ‘extraordinary.’” (xiii). See also the third edition of Anscombe’s translation (New York: Macmillan, 1958).

[16]Wittgenstein in Cambridge: Letters and Documents 1911–1951, ed. Brian McGuinness (Boston: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008): the first excerpt is from a letter to Norman Malcolm on May 2, 1948, letter no. 380, p. 422; the second is from a letter to Rush Rhees, August 20, 1948, letter no. 433, p. 392.

[17] Information on German usage thanks to Norbert Lange, who responded to my questions in two e-mails on February 15, 2014.

[18] Lange notes that with the removal of the comma, the comic element of the sentence is diminished.

[19]The Correspondence of Williams Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky, ed. Barry Ahearn (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003), 544 (1928).

[20] This line of thinking is pursued in “Artifice of Absorption” in A Poetics: sublimed is absorbed; queered is antiabsorptive; pataquerical is syncretic hyperabsorption (oscillating absorption and impenetrability).

[21] See “Characterization” in Content’s Dream: Essays 1975–1984 (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1985).

[22] Wittgenstein discusses “aspect blindness” in The Philosophy of Psychology: A Fragment (formally called part 2 of Investigations) and included in the 4th ed.: §§257, 258, 260.

[23]Philosophical Investigations, §§6, 9, 28–38.

[24] §257, The Philosophy of Psychology: A Fragment, in Philosophical Investigations, 4th ed.

[25] Susan Howe’s “These Flames . . .” was collected in The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1993). EPC digital edition, , writing.upenn.edu/library/Howe/. Her views have recently gained greater purchase due to the 2012 publication of reproductions and transcriptions of Dickinson’s writings on envelopes in The Gorgeous Nothings and the related show at New York’s Drawing Center. See Jen Bervin and Marta Werner, The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope-Poems (New York: Granary Books, 2012), reprinted by New Directions (2013) with a preface by Susan Howe. The Drawing Center (New York) hosted a book party for Gorgeous Nothings at which Howe, Bervin, and Werner spoke (November 23, 2104) as part of an unusual show, in a visual art context of Dickinson’s holographic “envelope” manuscripts from the Amherst College collection (the Dickinson material was shown along with holographs of Robert Walser at Dickinson/Walser: Pencil Sketches, November 15, 2013—Jan. 12, 2014). The adjacent, main show at the Drawing Center, Drawing Time, Reading Time, curated by Claire Gilman, focused on “exploring the relationship between drawing and writing as distinct yet interrelated gestures” and so implicitly underscored Howe’s view of Dickinson’s holographs as akin to (but not the same as) drawing. As part of the show I introduced a presentation by Robert Grenier of his hand-drawn poems (January 6, 2014). Note Holland Cotter’s sympathetic response to the Dickinson show in the New York Times, “A Poet Who Pushed (and Recycled) the Envelope: ‘The Gorgeous Nothings’ Shows Dickinson’s ‘Envelope Poems,’” December 6, 2013, C32. Werner has done the most significant research on this topic, following her work with Howe at SUNY-Buffalo: Howe directed Werner’s 1993 thesis, “Quires of Light: Emily Dickinson—Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing” (I served on the committee and learned from both). See Werner’s Open Folios: Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1996).

[26] Walter Benn Michaels, The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 2, 5. In The Secret History of the Dividing Line (Guilford: Telephone Books, 1978), Howe situates herself between two Marks, her father and son.

[27]Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels, “Against Theory,” in Against Theory: Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985).

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Runa Bandyopadhyay, a bilingual poet, essayist, translator and critiqueer in the New Poetry world of Bengal, India, a scientist by profession, but fully addicted to innovative experimental literature. As a critiqueer she invented a new genre in 'recurring poetry' and...

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