Publié le 15.08.2016

The English Method

Dear diary,

I woke up early in the morning amidst the result of my carnage, with the stench of corpse all around me and the chitter-chatter of maggots that had sprouted inside. And inside my head, heavy like after an evening of drinking, I could still feel its monstrous existence; its careful examination of the fresco that decorated the room inside my mind, the way it let its claws slightly chip off their paint. I felt ashamed of my erratic use of violence; and I went home, my thighs bitten by the brambles, my arms nibbled by the nettles, my belly and my brain full of bile.

But there was no safety inside my house, nor anywhere, for the enemy would follow me always. I watched myself in the mirror, thinking foolishly that there could be some physical mark of the infection. Then I had the idea of talking to the mirror. I mean this quite literally, not talking to myself through the looking glass, but using the Universal Language to speak to the object itself. At first I thought, surely the mirror would be like a parrot, repeating my every words. It was actually rather articulate. “I dislike your face blemishing my perfectly polished glass, living thing; I have no intention of talking to you”. (This is the best translation I can give, but it should be noted that you cannot really render the Universal Language as it is and particularly as it feels when heard or spoken).

I thought about breaking the insolent thing, but then I supposed all common objects that surround us, would they talk, would only complain about their condition and their abuse. Is a bar of soap pleased of being a bar of soap, an agent of cleanliness in a world of dirt and dust ? Or is its existence a constant torture, a never-ending and terrifying descent into an oblivion of slimming, slimming at each contact with hands and water - surely, it must dream of things that grow rather than shrink, things that are fed and not eternally thinned, dream of being a force-fed goose. So, harassed by the bickering of everything around me, I couldn’t as I had the night before, go around breaking or murdering every caustic piece of furniture, every mocking animal; I had to follow a more reasonable course. And I apologized to the mirror, adding that nonetheless, every other odd week, I’d comb my hair and need its help. While I was offering this olive branch, I wondered if the mirror really did communicate, or if all those apparent conversations were a ploy produced by the Language, since it could probably control my mind somehow. But then the mirror, second-guessing me, said mysteriously : “You fight fire with fire”. And then it struck me that universality ought to be fought with universality - or at least, my own brand of it. Which is how I refurbished my memory of this incident and wrote in the real universal language of our times - had it happened a few centuries ago, this would have been written in latin.

I decided that I had to use the most universal language available - not as Universal as the Language itself, of course - not only to starve the intruder, but to unlearn it and replace it in my memory. At first, English appeared as a poor substitute; my personal use of English was a mess. I had kept some old Frisian and Saxon roots; some Norse and French from Normandy; and since then through my many travels, I had picked up expressions from around the globe. My vocabulary a mixture between the American and the British, with bits and pieces taken from New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica. As such, it was far from universal, it was the wonderful hovel and trove that builds the core of the English language. I had to let go of my mannerism, of many of my beloved outdated expressions and of words that even dictionaries shun. Hence the poor state of my current English, and I apologize, dear diary, for that tasteless paste, that pale copy of the yonder wonders.

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