More Fun with Talismans

Once you have completed your Talisman and compiled a list of the resulting words, you can submit the words to a variety of randomizing and poetic processes.

Look at each word in your list and try to hear other words within the words. Develop a list of such words. For instance, in the word RAVEN you might also hear RAVE and IN. In the word NOBLE you might hear NO and BULL. In TUMULT you might find TWO and MELT. The sound correspondences need not be exact. In SIZE, SIGHS. In EVADE, EVE AIDE. NOTICE, NOTE IS. ETCETERA. EGG SET ERA.

Now number the words in your two lists. Create some formula to generate number combinations such that two numbers from the original list combine with one number from the new list. Use these number combinations to link two words from the original list with one from the new. (There’s no compelling reason to combine two original words with one new; choose whatever “symmetry” pleases you.) You now find an order for the three words that is most striking or meaningful for you, or most poetic, or evocative.

For instance, one of my sets of three words was the following: NOTICE, RAVE, FEAR. I chose to arrange them in this order: FEAR RAVE NOTICE. For me this seemed a clever way to talk about anxiety and my personal problems with the idea of success by using a “theatrical” metaphor. In other words, that which a performer should desire, a “rave notice,” I might dread. For me, no other ordering of the words generated as meaningful a statement. This is the little poem that works best for me using those three words. The statement you create does not have to obey the rules of syntax. It might work for you as a name, epithet, ideograph (like a Chinese character), image, anything. I must resist offering too many more of mine as examples because some strike me as rather personal and too revealing for the world wide web (though I realize it’s due in part to the private associations I make to the phrases; that’s part of the fascination of this process). Maybe just one more which is rather idealistic and works as an operating principle (when not functioning as a neurotic hindrance): TUMULT IS NOBLE. And maybe one more, another fear: ART GONE COZY.

I found this to be quite an enjoyable, creatively satisfying activity (I hope not an example of art gone cozy). Again, one goal is to let yourself be surprised by the possible juxtapositions. Strive for the too-true-to-share. Strive to laugh in miserable recognition. Or strive to encounter the inconceivable, the personally outrageous. You are attempting, in a way, to re-double the internal echoes already reverberating from your first encounter with the original talismanic words.

Further operations are possible. List column-wise your three-word statements. Using each stacked set of two statements, box together the stacked words. For example, suppose your first two statements in your columnized list are as follows:


The words line up and stack as follows:



Box together each word with its underlying word and you get three two word phrases:


How do these new phrases resonate with the history already contained in the individual words? If you wish, go further and use the three word phrases and two word phrases to create little profiles (random though they are in part) for each of the original words in your Talisman. Each word from the original Talisman appears in two two-word phrases and in two three-word. I created a visual arrangement to combine all of the phrases, the word in meaningful play through both random and determined processes. Both contingency and necessity at work? For instance, using the original word DEATH:





This mini-Talisman is not meant to supplant the meanings and connections of the original; it might supplement, rather.

You can make further creative use of this material, I would hope. I am tempted to try to talk about some of this in conjunction with my discussion in the article Work in Progress: New Performance Methods of Lacan’s mathemes (S1, S2, S, a) and their potential role in devising new performance strategies. Clearly, there are ways to use some of these word operations to generate new maps and territories for group performance explorations. Most importantly, of course, it’s a great way to find really awesome band names. Stay tuned.

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