On Tue, 23 Jun 1998, Jordan Davis wrote:
> Is it absurd to ask a question on the order of: who are the twins in John
> Wilkinson's "The Speaking Twins"? What is he twinning, is it a kind of
> double-consciousness? Pardon the inarticulation, I don't have the
> vocabulary to talk about what he does yet, and wonder if I could draw on
> the not inconsiderable resources of this list, especially with respect to
> what holds that poem (and others of its genera?) together; if it is the
> changing yet always parsable syntax, the variety of tones, agh, I'm lost
> again. At any rate it seems important to say what is happening in this
> work and how it differs from other serious (or not serious!) work.
This might be a bit belated, but as the other not inconsiderable resources
on this list might be too preoccupied or might find such a question
self-evident, I will allow myself to be flattered into a kind of answer,
which of course, those who believe in High Conversational Standards are
welcome to cast aside as an irrelevant mot in the eye of absence.
'The Speaking Twins' have 'real person' counterparts, sister-twins whom
the press called 'The Silent Twins'. These then-teenage twins were
sentenced to indefinite detention in a psychiatric institution after
having been convicted of a series of random arson attacks on public
buildings. I seem to recall the diagnosis was schizophrenia. It was
considered notable that these twins did not speak to any persons other
than themselves, and then, amongst themselves, they spoke what seemed a
dual self-generated language comprehensible just to each other. What
seemed a dual self-generated language, turned out in fact English spoken
extremely fast and with a Barbadian intonation. They also wrote stories
and made voice-dramas which they spoke into their taperecorder in their
room. Others might supply names and dates, if they care to, and what
happened to them.
I offer this 'historical information' as I recall it, as a tangible
possible reference framework, but not to do down a priori a critical
analysis proceeding from the linguistic difficulties and possibilities
of this poem. Like you, I found that I could not talk about what is
happening in that poem (then yet) and this was a crisis. The acquisition
of fluency about, via a rote-mimickery of received opinion, seemed, to me,
not at all an adequate response to the crisis the poem had elicited. So I
translated the poem into Dutch.
This may be "Double-Dutch":
Zoals een droom haar engel loswikkelt, of de genie
uit zijn met wasemde stinkdampen gelade lamp
springt, vrijwoelend van moesslierten als
windsels of verfrommeld papier, zo is koppie-koppie
beter dan een & botsen tegen elkander
uitwisselende stereoschikkingen top tot teen.
Slechte adem zou het iniatief herbemachtigen heh
verpieterende puimsteemzakken. Droomschakelaarwegkwijning.
Zegt'ie 'Dat was ik, een slapjanus die fladderend
in z'n eigen smoel vloog, wiens engel een koperen
amfora voor snelle winst wrijft, sluw flanerend,
wiens kousebandvel zijn hete dunne teerkardoes
als een kikker zou strekken: Herakles van zijn
tweede natuur naar verwezenlijking verdraait.'
Tegenbuit, gemene spil.
And yes had I made known the vocabulary:
alterity, dialectic, synthesis, autonomy, repetition, mirror-phase, media,
you might have understood me. And sentenced it.
I am sorry if this is inadequate. I am sure others will explain it all.