Various outposts of French culture are hosting a series of workshops with members of the O.U.L.I.P.O. in New York this week. The OULIPO is an acronym for Ouvroir(Workplace) of Potential Literature, Its members include the deceased Raymond Queneau, and George Perec, the multitalented essayist, anagrammist, novelist (Life- A User's Manual, and A Void, a lipogrammatic novel written entirely without the letter e, the novelist/poet essayist Harry Mathews , Marcel Benabou, Jacques Roubaud, Ian Monk, and others, all of whom write under the constraint of one or another rule or yardstick, often mathematical. It's a heady mind exercise and for those who enjoy right-brain thinking and word play, one of the great pleasures in life.
In tribute to OULIPO, here is a short exercise I penned this am--(more to report later this week)--
An Interlude with Professor Spooner(ism)(i.e. a transposition of sounds of two or more words-let me sew you to your sheet-let me show you to your seat)
When I met her on the commuter train in Greenwich she spoke of her great love for literature, and her incandescent beauty and seductive intellectual openness immediately sent fires through my cortical cells.As she recounted stories of her athletic prowess, and skiing skills, I dreamed that I counded my wock into her het pole as she lead her shell-spraped wegs just perfectly in the exercise. ”Would you like to be apping my whiped striss” she purred –although at the moment I would have preferred to have roseed the rimmering puckbud .And as for clicking that lorged engit, that went without saying, at least heuristically.
But just when I was sure she had genished her flapowering overtalia, the illusions disappeared and I awoke as if from an opium daze-
I felt somehow cheated , defrauded and I called upon Inspector Onamandias Ozynism, the leading ontological detective to put her to the test. ‘Madam”, he abruptly addressed her”, I am afraid that your disappy is pussearing faster than my 401k account” ‘In fact, your punt is nothing but a Schonzi ceme through and through”.
“I ‘m afraid I have a warrant to protest your arruberance,”, he continued ,’unless you can put up a collin as merkateral.”
‘Wait’ she replied- hold off on that warrant and I might just bruck your fexed oversains out right now.”
And, I am sadly informed, the temptation was too overwhelming for justice to carry the day