zondag 19 juni 2016

Taal en het Land van Kokanje: intoxication by verbal accumulation

In the Land of Cockaigne - revelation of the mundus inversus ('world turned upside down') - the happy time returns; indeed, it is blocked in. It reappears in an immobile circle, just as the rhymed and obsessive words of the propitiatory lullabies, spells and litanies compose bits of repeating, calming, sedating and drugging words. In this verbal dimension, the consoling word of the minstrel is utilized by the poor as a surrogate for the frustrations of psychic and bodily miseries: as an opiated word which, even across the anaphoric techniques of repetition - the wheel of words returning like the wheel of time - tears itself from the ordinary, opening fleeting but necessary parentheses of consolations glimpsed in dreams, of phonic and verbal surrogates for existential sadnesses and bodily miseries. The dream of plenty magically suspends, subdues and soothes the pangs of unsatisfied bowels.
Many people, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, were reduced to living mainly on beau langage and feasting on names instead of tasting things.  For them, these 'succulent' enumerations were like a little compensation for everyday poverty. But let us note well: this compensation obtained by force of words is only possible if a certain intoxication first attenuated the feeling of distance which separated the dream from the reality, and intoxication cannot here be but the fruit of verbal accumulation. Each term in these enumerations, taken in isolation, is nothing but a desire or a lie; it is the magnificent abundance, the uninterrupted flow of words charged with captivating flavours that create the illusion. In this state of euphoria provoked by the juggling of words, one ends up believing that one has played with things. (R. Garapon, La fantasie verbale et le comique dans le théâtre français du moyen âge à la fin du XVIIe siècle (Paris: Colin, 1957), p. 87)
The artifice of the word opens up consoling horizons to the starvation and catatony of the listener. The histrio turpis ('deformed actor') - man of filth, contaminated mediator - assumes the mask of consoler and therapist. Not by accident the minstrel, at a certain moment in his historical course, is attributed with demonic characteristics, to the point of almost perfectly resembling the lunatic."
(Camporesi 1996, '6. The World Turned Upside Down', pp. 79-81)

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