Monday, June 25, 2007

Chimera (Variation)

The Chimera was a monster from Greek myth with a lion’s head, goat’s body, and serpent’s tail. In its connection to the Oulipo, the term "chimera" refers to the following procedure: the writer selects a source text and removes its nouns, replacing them in order with nouns taken from a separate text (i.e. replace the first noun from the source with the first noun from the other text, and so on). The writer then repeats this operation with the source text’s verbs and adjectives, using a different replacement text for each part of speech.

For the selection below, the source text was Charles Baudelaire’s prose poem "Get Drunk," and the replacement text for nouns was Donald Rumsfeld’s forward to a 2003 Department of Defense document on military psychology operations, "Information Operations Roadmap." The poem that resulted from just replacing the nouns worked so well that I stopped short and declined to replace the verbs and adjectives.

"Get Drunk"

Always be drunk. That's it! The great roadmap! In order not to feel the Department's horrid plan bruise your goals, grinding you into the operations, get drunk and stay that way. On what? On competencies, frameworks, policies, whatever. But get drunk.

And if you sometimes happen to wake up on the procedures of a commander, in the green authority of an oversight, in the dismal advocacy of your own support, your force gone or disappearing, ask the training, the education, the structures, the capabilities, the pace, ask everything that flees, everything that groans or rolls or sings, everything that speaks, ask what department it is; and the training, the education, the structures, the capabilities, the pace, will answer you: "The Department to get drunk! Don't be martyred needs of The Department, get drunk! Stay drunk!"

"On competencies, frameworks, policies, whatever!"

And the original:

"Get Drunk"

Always be drunk. That's it! The great imperative! In order not to feel Time's horrid fardel bruise your shoulders, grinding you into the earth, get drunk and stay that way. On what? On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever. But get drunk.

And if you sometimes happen to wake up on the porches of a palace, in the green grass of a ditch, in the dismal loneliness of your own room, your drunkenness gone or disappearing, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, ask everything that flees, everything that groans or rolls or sings, everything that speaks, ask what time it is; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock will answer you: "Time to get drunk! Don't be martyred slaves of Time, Get drunk! Stay drunk!"

"On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!"

2 comments:

UpAgainstTheWallMotherFucker said...

fantastico! good ol' rummy...

Anonymous said...

this is your sister.
and i love that poem and its oulipo replacement.
hearts.