A journalist asked me about the degregation of language in electronic communications, so I told him about the eloquence of blogs and the subcultures of leet and the art of codework and machine English. I looked up a piece I wrote mentioning NN and Mez’s emails, and found this quote from NN:
mor konfusd kr!!!!ketz. ! sh!ne m! metal!k zurfazez modulated b! 01 z!lnz Envelope + ztep at dze edge + uat !z ! z +? Dze modulaz!on korezpondz 2 dze beat!ng patern. !
I ignored emails like these (sent like spam to listservs) for ages, assuming they were garbage. When Amanda Steggell finally interpreted them for me, explaining that you just read ! as i, k as c and z as s, I began to see their beauty, though I still struggle to translate them. Amanda and her collaborators used NN’s words as part of the text for their performance Please try to speak English!, and she read them so beautifully!
I think the words above say the following:
More confused critics (crickets?)
I shine my metallic surfaces modulated by silence.
Envelope and step at the edge
+ uat !z ! z +?
The modulation corresponds to the beating pattern
There is beauty in this, and such a fittingness, that the words of a cyborg or of a machine (a being with metallic surfaces) should speak a language we must strain to understand. There is a beauty too in the idea that such a creature, should it exist, might spam mailinglists with its infuriatingly incomprehensible poetry. Who is NN? Grethe Melby wrote a wonderful article about her, them, it, in Norwegian. Salon wrote about her, too.
Can any of you read “+ uat !z ! z +?”? And is it true, that with practice, you can read words like these as easily as English?