Inflection

Inflection is a process of word formation. It essentially means that a given word will be modified in order to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, mood, etc. Some languages are highly inflected, especially those closer to the Proto-Indo-European, such as Latin, Greek, Spanish, Biblical Hebrew, and other modern Romance languages, such as my own native one: European Portuguese. Others, like modern English and contemporary Scandinavian languages (Icelandic excluded), are markedly less so.


An example. In English you can start with “cat”. You need “cats” to convey plural. “Catty” to mark someone out as being prone to sly and spiteful remarks. “Categorical” to point out something or someone as an absolute, a sphynx-like mystery, standing in the deep silence of staring cats. “Concatenation” to single out a group that behaves not like a unity, but like an intensely telepathically linked hivemind, covertly scheming to rule your house from the catnip hangout. Oh, “catnip”, here we go…


In earnest or less so, one speaks of the inflection of a given voice. Some languages, like Maasai (spoken in Kenya and Tanzania), Tlatepuzco Chinantec (Southern Mexico) and Mandarin, are even prone to inflect using tone change alone, producing distinct meanings merely by the sonic variations of pronunciation of the same word. But when one speaks of the inflection of a given voice, one is bound in a specific conversation, meaning pouring from every corner of the acoustics of the room, or forest, or beach, or tunnel, or bunker, or airport lounge, or shopping mall, or school yard, or favourite waffle café.


Audio-books are all about inflection and situation. To have a text, in its literal complexity and unabbreviated glory, read out loud into your ears. Pages and pages and pages, every single one full of sentences and words and words, each of them inflected by a human being. An actor in a recording booth, a minor god of literature. A gift of meaningful sound.
And the situation? That is all yours. Washing dishes, jogging, sitting in a couch, sharing an earbud with a significant other, playing it out loud so the cat can hear. (If at this stage you are, however understandingly, assuming I am a cat person you are severely skewed in your assumption.)


Books are dead things mostly built by now dead people. Or are they? Yes, they really are. Except… When they are being choreographed in someone’s mind and body, by a voice, be it inner, outer, or unqualifiedly all of the above. The browsing eye, skimming the contrasting surface of immovable tiny black bodies on white shores, the fingertips chasing bump after bump, ridge after ridge, or just fucking shutting up and paying attention, for as long as we can muster, creatures of distraction that we are.


There is an artistic project behind these gangly words, and it is about bring text into sound. It is called “Lived Anthologies”. It departs from NSU’s body of publications, produced between 2000 and 2018. I am reading all the texts, some closer than others. Out of the mess, and my own criteria, and a few opinions I will seek, a selection will come about. Around seven to ten pieces. And then we will go into compositional cacophony, and use every dirty trick and every available tool to turn these into sonic compositions, unabbreviated, messy enough, hopefully drinking deep enough of the original meaning to create other, unsuspected layers of relation between reader/listener and the words put down. Listening forward to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s