When I first read this passage it seemed to me that something I had long felt and valued were finally being articulated. For as long as I can remember I’ve been sensitive to the distance between an object of thought or perception and any given way of expressing it, knowing that the most efficient, utile, or commonplace way of putting it might be appropriate for the daytime, so to speak, or in the marketplace, but at night, and in the forest, all bets were off—or else they should be. A sharpened pencil might become “a stick of gold with lead in it, excited to a point.” A glass of ice water might transform into “a liquid clearness contained in a slower liquid clearness, interrupted by solids of the first clearness.” And somehow, sometimes, to re-conceive the near-at-hand in a way surpassing that in which routine and its dry tongue compels one to experience it has seemed like more than just recreation or refreshment—it has felt like a necessary refusal, a saving mutiny.
These examples might suggest that prolixity is the surest way to achieve quasi-intelligibility, but I think its riddling effect can be produced by other means as well, including metaphor, syntactical and lexical high-spiritedness, pronounced sound patterning, parataxis—pretty much anything that serves to complicate the uptake, slow the flow, and draw attention to the language itself before that which it indicates. The idea isn’t to break from reference altogether, I don’t think, but to soar far and forcefully away from the workaday rendition of things, to flee from the “characteristically flat rhetoric” you often feel the world wanting to pen you in, but to do so without snapping the chain that prevents you from attaining orbit, the tether that keeps you able to ask for a donut when you want one. [emphases added]
comics code calvin and hobbes
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