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In No Man’s Land, preface

Upcoming posts will include a series of derivations ex The “Mohawk” Code, General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Forces (1918).

There will be 25 sections (in probably fewer than 25 posts). These texts are derived from the phrases listed in “decoding” (numerical) order, 2500 through 4999 (one hundred entries per page). I have limited each section to phrases taken from a single page, and only in their original order (which, phrase-wise, is randomized by design). More details (about the code, and about my method) may follow.

One imagined scenario : a shell-shocked signal officer/poet, courage and inventive powers depleted, comrades dead and dying in the mud around, finds comfort in mis-reading the only text at hand, The “Mohawk” Code. These could be his scribblings.

My selections tend to exclude explicitly military vocabulary, although enough remains to set a tone. I suppose it is thus a form of erasure writing, a form of compromised reading too. The sections are uneven in clarity. Meaning comes and goes (surfaces and recedes), in a local way, as one reads through and gains familiarity with this trench code, as is the case with signal and telegraphic codes too.

As the case, for me, with Gertrude Stein, who was compiling Sacred Emily, Lifting Belly, and other minimalist, repetitive, and otherwise similar texts in the same decade (1913, 1915-17). It is her plays that read most like telegraphic codes, Short Sentences (1932) in particular.

But I digress.

7 July 2015

tags: digressions; trench codes; telegraphic codes; In No Man’s Land; Gertrude Stein