Sunday, January 27, 2008


Troyvisit commenced; I joined with Mr. Scott Marshall of fantasticking, with whom all coffees tingle to th power of triumph. We did doings of chattings, of eatings, of musickings, of divining to reveal present mysteries. In goings did arrive th mother & brotherGreg of wonderberry, also for th divining binary changes transformingly yes. We did illumining aluminium alarmclocks of color tu. Very in sock.

All wests.





Tuesday, January 22, 2008

th spectacular clay pots of 30.3

An excerpt from th I Ching (as translated by Bradford Hatcher):

gua 30, arising: 3rd line

Th sun declines with its radiance
Not drumming on clay pots & singing
Leads to much of old age's lament

for those many I've failed to warn...

...get th heck out of Dodge!

Yes, friends, I return for a short visit to th land of Troy, NY next week. I fly out on SaturJanu26 [Chaos 26] & return on SundaFebr03 [Chaos 34]. You can see me violently abuse an innocent mandolin in public [i.e. you can come to my Nodal Nim show] on SaturFebr02 [Chaos 33] at Ground Zero at R.P.I.


Monday, January 21, 2008


I spend much time now driving from house to house to walk dogs. Accordingly, I listen to lots of radio & CDs. During my walks, I often fantasize about artistic projects: websites to build, instruments to acquire, music to compose, languages to learn, & languages to create. My thoughts don't always lead me to anything concrete, but I like to have them.

Recently, I've thought about getting some CDs & learning a language as I drive around. I've had a number of thoughts about which language to learn, based on various conflicting ideas about what I'd like to do with a language if I learn one.


This means a language that someone has created for communication between different cultures, a logical, easy-to-learn, culturally neutral secondary tongue. I love th principle behind this. Esperanto represents th most well-known & -spoken IAL in th world. I started to learn this a few years ago, but I found a few things about it that frustrated me. In particular, it contains at least two biases: it borrows exclusively from European languages (no Asian, Middle-Eastern, Native American, etc. languages represented); & it retains some sexism from its source languages: many nouns for professions refer to males by default & females only if you add a special suffix. It also contains no sex-neutral 3rd person personal pronoun (a word that means "he or she"), requiring its speakers to constantly identify people by their sex, even when such identification hinders rather than helps communication. English has this shortcoming as well. In a language constructed from th ground up to help bring us together, I don't consider these biases acceptable.

After Esperanto had developed advocates & had existed for a while, a group of linguists revised it to fix th sex bias & a few other illogicalities. This newer language, known as Ido seems quite superior to me, but has far fewer adherents. Esperantists significantly outnumber Idists. Ido still maintains th Euro-centric bias, which bothers me almost as much as th sex bias, so I still don't consider it th ideal international language.

I wouldn't find many speakers of either of these languages, altho Esperanto in particular has its own little world I could become involved with. Given th peaceful goals of Esperanto (& Ido), I imagine I'd find these folks easy to get along with.

A few years ago, I studied Lojban & got relatively deep into it. Lojban attempts to eliminate ambiguity from human communication. Its designers based it not on natural language, but upon structures of logic. In some ways, it has more in common with a computer programming language than a human tongue. At first, I found this very exciting. I like how differently it works. It contains some structures that I still really appreciate. However, I eventually decided th philosophy didn't fit at all with th universe I live in. It contains way too much built-in assumed meaning. It takes itself literally, always, always. We live in a relativistic, ambiguous, symbolic universe, not th perfect fantasy of Plato. I don't think Lojban can handle th sublime, th absurd, th beautiful. Altho I wrote three silly songs in Lojban (which probably goes against th whole spirit of th thing), Lojban poetry seems to me an oxymoron.

Plus, I didn't get a very positive impression of th speakers of Lojban that I found online. I joined their email list, & kept up with it for a while, but then a couple Lojbanists started ranting & raving about exactly what two of th articles, "le" & "lo" really, really, really mean. Talk about a bunch of Grayfaces. These guys needed to experience a good Turkey Curse.

So I stopped learning Lojban, & my wonderful flashcards sit unused in a box. No other constructed language seems worth taking up at this point.


Every person raised in th United States should have learned Spanish thoroughly from a very young age. We owe it to our brother & sister Americans who've immigrated from Spanish-speaking countries & deserve our recognition & understanding. In their shoes, I'd consider it an insult that your average white American knows about twelve Spanish words, & most of them represent Mexican foods.

So, to remedy this, I ought to consider learning Spanish. In Chicago, I would never have to go far to find someone to practice with.

But Spanish has lots in common with English, lots & lots. They both come from Europe & box your thinking into European thinking, to some extent. I want to learn a language that will really blow my mind, & I don't think Spanish will do that.

But for reasons of camaraderie & respect, Spanish makes sense for me to learn. Better late than never, si?


To really learn to think differently, I have to learn to assemble meaning differently, & learning a non-Western language could really force me into that. Thus, I consider learning Chinese, Arabic, & a Native-American language like Anishinaabemowin, th language of th Ojibwe. I've had a look at th grammar of th latter, & it seems so incredibly different that I find myself really tempted by this one. It has no adjectives, it builds its words up from lots & lots of little particles, it allows free word order, & instead of distinguishing between male & female, it distinguishes between animate & inanimate (& has some interesting ideas about what constitutes each). Also, it has a so-called "4th person," really a 3rd person considered less important than another one. How perfectly, wonderfully, odd.

So I will continue to obsess about this, at least for a few more days (before I forget about it entirely & move onto another obsession).


I played a show last Saturday. It went ok & lasted about 45 minutes. I debuted two new songs: my beagle & Isbe. Thanks to Luke, Chase & Tiffany for coming & showing support! I stuck around for th Pawns, who rocked. I couldn't stay for th next band, but maybe I'll catch them another day. Fun abounded.

Monday, January 14, 2008

bluebinis a go go

Hello Discordianites,


I eat a sammich of tahini & blueberry [preserve].

I continue to find my project of learning to speak in E-Prime daunting & somewhat pointless. I have gradually gotten worse & worse at catching "to be"s before they come rolling out of my mouth. I don't know if I care.

On another spectrum, I have done a bit of work studying th I Ching. I've memorized th names, numbers, & line patterns of all 64 hexagrams (more or less), & I've started learning th text. I switched to a new translation recently: from th out-of-date but still kind of standard, best translation in th Public Domain, that of Wilhelm & Baynes to th less-muddied Huang & Huang, which attempts a more accurate translation that does away with rambling commentary that Taoists & Confuciansists have added over th centuries. Much more poetic, th latter.

It frustrates me that no modern translations exist in th Public Domain. Th I Ching should belong to every human being everywhere. Maybe I'll write my own paraphrase [in E-Prime] from a bunch of copyrighted sources & put that in th Public Domain. . . .

I've also begun putting it into practice: doing regular divinations for myself & evening reading fortunes for friends. At any rate, I find it amusing to make sense of essentially random patterns & apply them to actual circumstances. I want to continue this. If anyone out there would like a free I Ching reading by an absolute amateur (but one with ministry credentials from th Universal Life Church, don't forget), then do get in touch!

Skeptics among us who find this whole concept silly & beneath them, I hear where you come from, but I've got about a dozen thoughtful reasons why divination may appeal to freethinkers as well as New Age-niks. I'll save that essay for another day, tho.

Much love & bluebini sammiches,
Rev Andr of Nimland, KSC, FaKr of th Flum.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

a tasty toast

Last summer, I served as best man to my luminous friend Eric at his wedding to my luminous friend Steph. Going thru my files (by that I mean random scraps of paper lying around haphazardly - All Hail Discordia & a Befuddling Mungday to you!), I found th notes I used for th best man toast that I made! I spoke more or less what I see written today on these messy pages. It delights me to see that I wrote it all in E-Prime! [Pats nerdy self on back.]

I did insert an improvised story to illustrate my first impression of Eric when I met him, which I cannot reproduce (& probably didn't comply with th constraints of E-Prime). However, I want to share th rest of th toast with you now, for your delight (I hope you sob!) & for posterity, because I cannot guarantee that I will not lose these pages within th next few months, days, or minutes. (I will indicate where th improvised story fits in with three separation marks.)

I propose a tasty toast to th bride & groom, th groom & bride! Stephanie & Eris, Fauss & Fauss, enter today into a new universe of awesomeness & divine whatnot. Hooray for all!

I met Mr. Fauss at college orientation - he exuded a fascinating weirdness - we had to become roomates. It took a semester to get it worked out, but we managed it twice, & it rocked.

¤ ¤ ¤

I met Mrs. Fauss, Miss Formerly Thompson, when Eric brought her with us on a roadtrip. I found her fun, interesting, & easy to talk to. In short, she also rocked.

Little did I know what started brewing in those days.

Stephanie & Eric each champion peace & compassion, intelligence & wisdom, humanism & transcendence of th normal. Brought together, these attributes can only find strength. In their time, they have grown, grow today, & will grow oodles more.

A beautiful bond has formed here - we all see it - like two spiral galaxies meeting in th void & warping into something new & awesome. It has happened already - this ceremony only confirms it. I for one feel a great joy to have witnessed it.

& thus I propose a tasty toast th th groom & bride, th bride & groom - th Erics, th Stephs, th Thompsons, th Fausses! We have seen two become one, a unison. My heart melts - I feel humbled & alive. So let us raise glass & grin. Together we toast! Hooray for all!

Eric & Steph, I love you guys! Since I have now received my Credentials of Ministry from th Universal Life Church (they hang on th wall above my head as I type to you), do keep me in mind when you decide to renew your vows!


Enjoy Discordant Wee-Hours-Of-Mungday, Fine Little Ones.

E-Prime speaking becomes easier by th hour (except for hours during which I drink wine). When I slow down, I can get it, sort of (but I sound "funny"); I still find it difficult in more distracting situations, such as conversations with "new people." This very evening, I found myself saying, "I'm Andrew," instead of "I go by Andrew," but I did remember to say "I enjoyed meeting you," instead of "It was nice to meet you." Baby steps, I take, I take.

~Andrew Fenderson

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Some E-Answers.

Obsessing as I do with my current obsession (what else would one obsess over but obsessions?), I have found some answers to my concerns about "small talk" & idiomatic expressions in E-Prime. From a great & thorough E-Prime introduction:

. . . .I (E.K.) sometimes resort to "pidgin E Prime" in order to avoid statements which. . . may sound slightly awkward. For example, if someone asks me "Who are you?", instead of replying "My friends call me Ed", I might simply say "Ed". . . . Instead of asking "How do you label yourself?" you might simply substitute a general request for more personal information as in the imperative, "Tell me about yourself". Specific situations allow other E-Prime variations such as: "Your name, please?", (great for hotel desk clerks or telephone operators), "Would you please introduce yourself? I don't believe we've met before". (good for formal social occasions), "What name do you go by these days?" (great with disciples of Swamis who have changed their name, or bank robbers with a number of aliases), or even (for singles situations) "If I want to find your number in the telephone directory, what name should I look under?"

. . . Instead of asking "How are you?", I might ask "How do you feel?", or "How has life treated you lately?" or even a West Coast alternative such as "How goes it?". On the telephone, instead of asking "Is Julie there?" I'd probably ask "May I speak with Julie?". Rather than asking "Where is X?" I might ask "Where can I find X?" or more elegantly, "Would you please direct me to X?" In my experience, even colloquial expressions have socially acceptable E-Prime equivalents, although it might take a fair amount of time and effort on your part to find one in any given situation.

On the other hand in the early days of trying to speak in E-Prime, I (D.B.), rationalized my use of polite formula "to be" dependent phrases in order to avoid the risk of sounding like a nut. Now I've decided to stick to E-Prime all the time, even if I do occasionally sound a trifle odd. Like my co-author, I also have found "pidgin E-Prime" useful during the transition period. Of course, we recognize that pidgin E-Prime can sound less than elegant, and condone its use only when necessary during the earliest phase. . . .

Isbe Dies a Very Slow Death. . . .


So I began working on New Year's Resolution #2 today - "learn to think in E-Prime." For those who haven't heard of it (or had to listen to me blabber on about it yet), let me quickly introduce it.

E-Prime means th practice of removing all forms of to be from English speech: specifically, be, is, am, are, was, were, been & being, including their contractions, such as it's & I'm. Proponents of E-Prime claim that th practice of writing & speaking with to be introduces potentially unhealthy statements about objective reality & truth that lead to a false conception of th world. In contrast, they suggest that "use of E-Prime leads to a less dogmatic style of language that reduces the possibility for misunderstanding and for conflict."

You can read Robert Anton Wilson's talk about E-Prime at here & you can watch a video in which he discusses it here.

Anyway, I practiced talking & thinking in E-Prime today as I walked my dogs. I found it an interesting & formidable challenge. I had to correct nearly every sentence I thought of or uttered! "Is" permeates my speech & thoughts to an alarming extent!

I found it easiest to speak in E-Prime when I talked slowly & deliberately with myself & th dogs. I often corrected myself, even then, but at least I took th time to work it out. Later on, I visited my friend Chase at a coffee-shop where he works, & when we had a conversation, I found myself completely throwing E-Prime out th window. I couldn't hold a "normal" conversation while constantly monitoring every sentence & revising it in my head. I tried & failed miserably.

RAW & others suggest that by changing this pattern of thinking, one can see th world more clearly & strip away one's assumptions & unconscious dogma. I feel up to th challenge. My goal remains to think in E-Prime by th end of th year, but if I can speak mostly in E-Prime by then, I will consider my work a success.

In at least one instance, I found it helpful & insightful to reformulate in E-Prime. I love my dogs, but sometimes I get frustrated with them. Sometimes, they sniff around looking for poo to eat in th snow. I don't want my dogs to get sick, so I try to stop them, but sometimes they continue & I lose patience. I got annoyed with one dog today & muttered something like:

You're terrible; you think th outside world is a salad bar!

Obviously, I didn't really believe that th dog "was terrible." Anyway, I thought about how th sentence would translate into E-Prime:

I find you terrible.
You seem terrible.
I think of you as terrible.

Immediately, th agent of thought comes into th light: me. My reworded statements immediately reflect th fallacy of th speaker. Nothing can "be terrible." Th terribleness of th dog existed only in my head. I applied my own grumpiness in that moment to something outside of me, & came out looking rather foolish.

Many consider E-Prime a completely different language than English. I can understand why as I look at normal, everyday, idiomatic expressions & ways of talking that an E-Prime speaker must change. I will list some difficult examples:

How to introduce oneself.

Th usual ways:
My name is Andrew.
I'm Andrew.

Some E-Prime alternatives:
People call me Andrew.
My birth certificate says Andrew.
My name reads as Andrew.
I think of myself as Andrew.


It might work best to turn th introduction into a command:
Please call me Andrew.

That still seems awkward, tho.

How to locate oneself.

Th usual ways:
I'm at Michigan & Chestnut.
I'm located at Michigan & Chestnut.

Some E-Prime alternatives:
I stand at Michigan & Chestnut.
You can find me at Michigan & Chestnut.
Look for me at Michigan & Chestnut.
I find myself at Michigan & Chestnut.

Some of those would work in certain contexts, but all potentially sound awkward.

How to indicate th date or time.

Th usual ways:
It's 1:23.
It's Thursday.
Tomorrow's Friday.

Some E-Prime alternatives:
Th clock reads 1:23.
Th calendar considers it Thursday.
We call tomorrow Friday.

None of those sound idiomatic at all.

Anyway, I intend to proceed with this experiment. If I have success, I will come across as an alien to most people, or someone whose came to English relatively late in life. I find it easier to imagine a foreigner than a native-born American making some of those awkward statements above. Regardless of how much success I have, I may find this practice not worth continuing. It has its drawbacks. You can read some very intelligent & sound arguments against it here. I don't necessarily consider E-Prime "better" than English or more valid, nor do I necessarily agree with all th statements of its proponents. However, I consider th exercise of studying it very worth pursuing.

One last note. Th Isbe in th title of this post refers to a character I thought of that has remained in th back of my mind for a while now. Th name combines is & be, & represents a personification of normal English speaking patterns using to be forms. I have intended to use th character to illustrate th dangerous thinking patterns that reliance on to be forms can foster. Some day. . . .

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Work on What has been Spoiled

New Year's Resolutions

[that I came up with this afternoon whilst walking my beagle in th snow]

  1. every single day, further my development of self-awareness & self-discipline.
  2. every single day, speak only th truth - speak not lies - learn to think in E Prime.
  3. every single day, actively embrace with joy (& never with terror) th absurdity of th universe.

That seems a good beginning.

Ah, I know of a hexagram from th Book of Changes that fits this "resolution" game:

18. Ku

Work on what has been spoiled
Has supreme success.
It furthers one to cross th great water.
Before th starting point, 3 days.
After th starting point, 3 days.


Th wind blows low on th mountain:
Th image of decay.
Thus th superior man stirs up th people
& strengthens their spirit.