Ayonhwentsa’yawenda’ yaatsih

In Quebec City one can spot on the facade of City Hall an Indigenous installation which lights up at night. It’s composed in words from the Huron-Wendat: Ayonhwentsa’yawenda’ yaatsih which translates into English (from the French) as “my territory, my voice, my word” and was conceived by the artist, poet and vocalist Andrée Lévesque-Sioui.


And so for day 3149

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Interpretation & Rhetoric

Reading approaches composition…

An Aristotelian rhetoric is a rhetoric of interpretation. Such a rhetoric brings composing close to the activity of reading.

Ellen Quandahl
Aristotle’s Rhetoric: Reinterpreting Invention
Rhetorical Review Vol. 4 No. 2 (Jan 1986)

And so for day 3148

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Calling & Codifying

The will, the injunction, the aspiration.

I will call language the forbidden attempt to codify ecstasy

Starlings – Lisa Robertson

And so for day 3147

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A Set of Kennings

A kenning for structure … repetition.

Whale-road is a kenning for sea. Time-machine
is a kenning for the mind. Alive is a kenning
for the electrified.

Terrance Hayes
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin

And so for day 3146

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Une Formation

Joseph Wechsberg
“La Tour d’Argent”
Remembrance of Things Paris: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet

Tall, elegant, and dynamic, Claude studied to be an actor, a diplomat, and a lawyer, and now he is a combination of all three as a restaurateur.

I like how the tricolons pile on and resolve themselves in the single appellation.

And so for day 3145

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Long Distance Longing

Saeed Tavanaee Mervi
“Me, Her, Telephone”
The Oceandweller
trans. Khashayar Mohammadi

in many ways phones resemble planets
that’s why the phone receiver smells of violets

And so for day 3144

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Thyrsus and Caduceus

Mary Ann Caws
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism

One of his major contributions to the literature of theoretical poetics is at once a theory of ambivalent analogy and an analogous embodiment of that theory. It is his meditation upon the “thyrse,” that strange stick with a vine wrapping around it, the symbol of medicine and of communication.

The symbol for medicine is the serpent-wrapped caduceus. I was intrigued by this conflation and reached back into the literature …

John E. Gale
De Quincey, Baudelaire and “Le Cygne”
Nineteenth-Century French Studies
Vol. 5, No. 3/4 (Spring-Summer 1977) p.303

Here we must refer to one of the fundamental symbols of Baudelaire’s aesthetic, the thyrsus, a image which appears in the form of the caduceus in the Suspiria. [note 16]

Gale’s note:

Note 16 : […] In any case, the difference between the two figures is less important than the fact that they have in common “un movement à la fois ondoyant et rectiligne” (Georges Poulet Les Métamorphoses du cercle [Paris: Plot, 1961], p. 421)

Also in this note Gale notes that Baudelaire references a caduceus in Les Fleurs du mal (“Le Serpent qui danse”). In the prose poem “Le Thyrse”(an homage to Liszt) Gale writes “the image corresponds accurately to the definition of thyrsus“. Baudelaire distinguishes the two types of wand.

Gale sends us in note 17 to Melvin Zimmerman “La Genèse du symbole du thyrse chez Baudelaire,” Bulletin Baudelairien 2:1 (1966) p. 8-11.


Zimmerman references : une espèce de caducée, ou thyrse

Zimmerman identifies Le Neveu de Rameau as a source for the application of the thyrsus to musical situation in the prose poem on Liszt : Chez Diderot, une ligne spirale serpente sur une ligne droite

Note the serpentine movement … leaving an impression of caduceus ??

Zimmerman also notes that Baudelaire may have been inspired by his publishers trademark: “Peut-être après la signature du contrat pour la publication des Fleurs avec les éditeurs Poulet-Malassis et De Broise dont la marque était le caducée.”

Let us loop back to Baudelaire on De Quincey’s style, a passage from Les Paradis artificiels

De Quincey est essentiellement digressif […] il compare, en un endroit, sa pensée à un thyrse, simple bâton qui tire toute sa physionomie et tout son charme du feuillage compliqué qui l’enveloppe.

That “endroit” is the “Introductory Notice” to Suspiria de profundis where De Quincey figures his style as resembling a caduceus. What he describes is a thyrsus.

I tell my critic that the whole course of this narrative resembles, and was meant to resemble, a caduceus wreathed about with meandering ornaments, or the shaft of a tree’s stem hung round and surmounted with some vagrant parasitical plant.

The etymological dictionaries inform us that the “caducée” historically pertains to more than the mark of Hermes. Wingless and serpenhtless, it was the sign of the office of herald. Littré: “Bâton de velours fleurdelisé porté par le héraut.” The OED records this meaning as being active in English via the French – De Quincey’s decorated staff sans serpent and sans wings would indeed be considered a “caduceus’ in this French sense.

Side note: In researching the terms, I found in the Cornell Gem Impressions Collection a cast of a gem documenting a case of both thyrsus and caduceus appearing side-by-side dated to the 19th century.


Conclusion: caduceus is a genus that encompasses thyrsus. But to understand the thyrsus as a symbol for medicine is to confuse one god for another.

And so for day 3143

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Worlds & Encounters & Standing on Guard

Bahar Orang
Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty
[ 102-103 ]

Daniel Coleman In Bed With the Word is invoked for his take on Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of suspicion and hermeneutics of affirmation.

Reading is ecological for what it does to our ties to that which lies around us: what and how we see when we look up from the page. A hermeneutics of affirmation for receptivity, for curiosity, for awe toward the beauty of all the human, animal, and mineral worlds. And a hermeneutics of suspicion to learn skills for discerning all that threatens those worlds.

And so for day 3142

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Alliteration on L

There is / no / lessening, / though / the little/ ubi-sunter / will always / wait / in the corridors / lamentatiously / lamenting / the lamentable / mutability / of lamented things

from Andy Weaver
Ligament / Ligature

And so for day 3141

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The Complexities of Even Simple Language

Samuel R. Delany
Mad Man

Thought is part of language. But everything we perceive, either through our senses, or through our bodily feelings, or through sitting in the dark with our eyes closed, remembering or thinking or figuring, is the linguistic signified. The whole range of human perceptions, of subject and object, is the “meaning” part of language. So a thought doesn’t come “without words.” It comes first as simple language –– simple meanings, if you will. Then, what we call “thinking about it” is just the arrival of more complex language that elaborates on it –– that’s all. Once the elaborated language has come, we remember the simpler language as somehow prelinguistic. But it isn’t.

And so for day 3140

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