07/2/17

Supplement (see: Supplement)

In one of the first reviews of The Ethnography of Rhythm (New York: Fordham University Press, 2016) to appear, Jenny Webb suggests:

I did find myself wishing for audible aids along with the visual. In a volume concerned with re-reading and reorienting prior expectations and conceptions, it does not seem like it would have been too far a stretch to include access to a few additional recordings (audio and/or visual) illustrating some of the more experiential items under discussion on a website, blog, or even YouTube channel. (Jenny Webb, review, _Recherche Littéraire / Literary Research_ 33 [2017]: 147.)

Splendid suggestion. Consider it already in progress. I’ll add a link here when it’s ready.

06/20/17

Arthur Platt, 1860-1925

In The Ethnography of Rhythm (p. 42) I briefly mentioned one Arthur Platt who responded with incredulity to one of Antoine Meillet’s best ideas, that the Homeric epics were composed out of stock elements passed down in professional lineages. “Things are said about the epic on p. 61 which make one stare,” was his brief verdict. I had a vague impression that I knew something, or should have, about Arthur Platt, but didn’t follow up at the time. I now make amends. The great A. E. Housman writes in his memorial piece that Platt

was a Fellow of the Zoological Society, frequented its Gardens, and inspired a romantic passion in their resident population. There was a leopard which at Platt’s approach would almost ooze through the bars of its cage to establish contact with the beloved object; the gnu, if it saw him on the opposite side of its broad enclosure, would walk all the way across to have its forelock pulled; and a credible witness reports the following scene. “I remember going to the giraffe-house and seeing a crowd of children watching a man who had removed his hat while the giraffe, its neck stretched to the fullest capacity, was rubbing its head backwards and forwards upon the bald crown. When the object of this somewhat embarrassing affection turned his head, Platt’s features were revealed.” (Housman, Selected Prose [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961], pp. 156-57)

Si monumentum requiris…

05/26/17

Word Needed

We need a pithy designation (one word would be best) for something that happens frequently in political and social life. The gist of it is as follows. People get furious about, say, the injustices of capitalism, and conditions license them to act. They can’t attack the actual capitalist, who lives on a yacht out in the bay, so they drag the owner of the corner store, who is barely more fortunate than they, out from behind the corner and beat him. What will we call this? Proximate resentment? Neighborly betrayal? Narcissism of small class differences? Power differential of the relatively powerless? I see a lot of it going on (viz., Chris Christie’s berating of school teachers and firemen for being featherbedders, which was well received by people who make about the same amount of money but can’t look forward to a pension; university politics…). Lexicographers, do me a solid, give that thing a name so we can direct more attention to analyzing it.

05/23/17

Free Speech in an Age of Trolling

At the University of Chicago, we’ve been discussing a report on sanctions for “disruptive conduct,” led by Randal Picker of the Law School. The committee had a difficult task: revising a code of conduct that itself derives from a university statute which only the Board of Trustees can amend, the so-called Statute 21, which hasn’t been revised since 1970. Lots of people wrote in to express their unhappiness with the very idea of sanctioning “disruptive conduct,” and saying, quite accurately, that sometimes disruptive conduct is the only way to get a point across. Here are my thoughts about the matter, prepared for today’s meeting of the Academic Senate, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to deliver them.

We are having a conversation about how the University should respond to disruptive incidents on campus: whether they should be treated as infractions of the student code, leading to disciplinary action, or should be accepted as free speech. This is naturally an issue about which each of us has passionate convictions. I want to address those convictions. I submit that the responses we have seen to the Picker Report are driven by implicit narratives—examples and scenarios of expected behavior. And many of these narratives are out of date. They miss an important point about the age in which we live: the age of free-speech trolling.

The U.S. Constitution, in the first of its Amendments, lays down that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Though this formulation is negative, subsequent legislation has established the freedom of speech as a right possessed by citizens and not to be abridged or restricted by other agencies, public or private, except under certain well-defined and limited circumstances. Other democracies have similar laws guaranteeing the rights of speech, publication and assembly. Such provisions are in fact one of the most reliable tests for determining whether a state is a democracy or not.

Yet nowadays “Free Speech” is a slogan often brandished by people who are in favor of, for example, expelling immigrants, denying the benefits of citizenship to black people, privatizing public education, demeaning cultures outside a fantasy construct of “Western Civilization,” rejecting the conclusions of natural science in regards to climate change, and so forth. How did this come about?

Recent incidents at Berkeley, Middlebury, DePaul and other institutions follow a regular pattern. This is not surprising, because these are anything but random events; they follow a pattern because they are scripted and designed to achieve a certain outcome.

A controversial right-wing speaker is invited to a campus to give a speech about the inferiority of certain races or cultures, or the vapidity of liberals, or how the men’s rights movement is imperiled by feminists. The invitation is issued, not by the university, but by a student group; nonetheless, it registers as “Anne Coulter speaking at Berkeley” or the like. And there is outrage. Students converge on the site of the event, or on the administration building in advance of the event, chanting, screaming, waving signs. Maybe someone breaks a window, occupies an office, punches a rival demonstrator, sets a police car ablaze. The demand—that So-and-So not be allowed to speak on campus—is met. Or it is not, and the person declines the invitation, citing safety issues. Or the person comes anyway, and is met by screaming, heckling, flag-burning, and what not. The incident goes on Fox News: “Out of control liberals deny free speech rights of others on college campus.” “The thought police in action.” “First Amendment shredded at City College.” This is exactly what was expected, and the so-called “liberals” and “leftists” have played exactly the role they were supposed to play. The anti-racist, anti-misogynist demonstrators have been comprehensively manipulated by the right-wing agitators. Meanwhile, campus precedent about free speech, picketing and the treatment of visitors haven’t provided adequate guidance for handling the situation.

The scenario that many of us have in mind is a 1960s newsreel. Students are on the march—against the war in Vietnam, for civil rights, for gender equality, for considerate treatment of the disabled. Touchy or unfeeling university administrators direct campus police to arrest them and then, after hearings of questionable objectivity, expel or fine them. We all agree that it is a terrible shame and we wish that the university had been more understanding of the scope and purposes of the First Amendment.

The present-day ruckus is of a different kind. The purpose is to create a disturbance and to score propaganda victories. The calculation is that if riots ensue, “leftists” (who are actually in their great majority simply non-fascist supporters of an inclusive democratic society) will appear as emotionally-uncontrolled, violent suppressors of free speech, colleges will appear as agents of suppression in the service of hysteria, and the “conservatives” (i.e. fascists) will appear as victims and reasonable adults, winning thereby support for their cause on Fox News and other channels of communication already lined up to spread this narrative. Whether the university steps in and breaks up the demonstration or stands by and lets it rage, Fox News gets a story about campus chaos either way. That is how “free speech” becomes a fascist slogan.

In such usages “free speech” is hypocritically deployed in the furtherance of only one kind of speech. These right-wing activists are not interested in guaranteeing anyone else’s right to speak freely, nor are they seeking to discover the truth through reasoned debate or to arrive at solutions for pressing problems in a way that excludes none of the stakeholders. Their aim is to create cover for actions on the part of political parties and corporate interests that shorten, impoverish and thwart the lives of people who might be standing in the way of their ideal, an America in which only certain people enjoy the benefits of self-government and prosperity. Denial of health care through fiscal and distributive means, punitive sentencing, restriction of the right to vote, defunding of public education, demonization of groups of citizens on the basis of their skin color, ethnic origin, language, religion, or political beliefs, and a raid on the public treasury are possible at present only when the dominance of the few is submerged in a pseudo-democratic veneer. As a step toward achieving those aims, it is important to discredit universities as bastions of free inquiry and disinterested knowledge. Once you have convinced the Fox News viewer that colleges are nests of spoiled snowflakes demanding to suppress speech that disagrees with them, you have made it easier to discredit research into climate change, gun usage, early-childhood poverty, epidemic disease, industrially-triggered cancers, and a host of other questions. By marginalizing universities, more space is won for irrational, self-interested, collectively harmful discourse. This is what free speech trolling is about. With so much at stake, we must look into the issue of free speech and disruptive conduct analytically, broadly, and with attention to consequences. I do not think that we are ready to do this without a further study to which every member of the university has an opportunity to contribute.

 

Free speech is important, yes, but I hold that it is never the goal of goals; every theory of the desirability of free speech posits that it is an avenue to reasoned outcomes in an unpredictable world and a channel for non-violent resolution of social conflicts. Those are the desirables which free speech seeks to guarantee. Universities have an important role as laboratories and life-size experiments in democratic governance, precisely because we are the place where speech is freest and no statement goes unquestioned. If there’s anything we need to safeguard, it’s that. But how to keep the “free-speech commons” open without delivering it into the hands of the hypocritical manipulators and wily agitators? This will require thought, policy, and consultation. As you might expect, I have some ideas…


Partial bibliography:

Pete Grieve, “Disciplining Disruption: Inside the High-Stakes Faculty Debate.” Chicago Maroon, April 13, 2017.

Pete Grieve, “Faculty Senate Creates New Disciplinary System.” Chicago Maroon, May 23, 2017.

Frederick Schauer, “The Wily Agitator and the American Free Speech Tradition.” Stanford Law Review 57 (2005): 2157-2170.

Stephanie Saul, “The Conservative Force Behind Speeches Roiling College Campuses.” New York Times, May 20, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/us/college-conservative-speeches.html

 

04/25/17

Dump the Trolls

Yesterday, President Obama came down to the University to have a little chat onstage with five or six “young leaders,” college-age and younger, and to pep-talk at them about getting involved in politics. A few hundred people were in the audience, and something like 12,000 were watching the livestream; I was in that second group.

The organizers of the event opened a sidebar for comments. That wasn’t a good idea.

As the lights went up, about thirty or forty people made more or less the same comment, “I miss him,”  “Nice to hear somebody who’s truly presidential,” “What a difference.”

Then the trolls came on. One kept going on about “BARRY SOETORO” and repeating “GO BACK TO KENYA.” When the camera swerved to one of the Young Leaders, this troll’s contribution to discourse was “That nose– OY VEY.” When someone named Freedman spoke, his name appeared in the now well-known antisemitic brackets as “(((Freedman))).” As the conversation went on, the loquacious zorg was reduced to typing again and again “Nobody cares” and “SHEEEEIIIT.” Another troll was reiterating Trump slogans, irrelevantly, just for the aggression high.

So that’s where we are in America in 2017. If these dolts had been causing a disturbance in a public venue, the management would, uncontroversially, have been empowered to eject them. The fact that they were stupid racists would also have been noted. Who knows what else might have happened IRL; even liberals have tempers.

But lacking the courage to appear in person, the trolls just cluttered up the screens of the people who were trying to watch the event. Unfortunately, the University of Chicago, perhaps putting too much faith in the power of free and unconstrained discourse, had omitted to add a “Hide comments” button. So the trolls trolled on. For a moment I considered logging on and telling them to shut their idiot Nazi traps, but realized that this would just be giving them the attention they craved.

The troll is a person who takes advantage of a public forum in order to discourage, inhibit or destroy that which makes it a public forum. The troll enters rational discourse with no intention of committing rational discourse, only that of subverting it, and for no constructive purpose. (At least not in the immediate. Perhaps destroying democratic forums in general corresponds to somebody’s game plan, e.g., as part of the construction of a new era of dictatorship.) In brief, the troll shits in the swimming pool and provokes all the other swimmers to get out.

This was, in its way, a response to Obama’s advice to get involved in politics and find ways to make life better for those around you. The troll wants to raise the cost of doing that. The troll wants all decent people to get disgusted by the very idea of political engagement.

Of course, the trolls were impotent to crash the actual event, and the inconvenience of being reminded of their existence didn’t ruin my day, or even my half-minute. But the trolls are living on the tolerance of others, a tolerance they don’t show anyone else. For reasons of fairness and public access to a public good, let’s throw them out until they agree to some ground rules (i.e., cease behaving like trolls). Free speech for the enemies of free speech is a waste of good speech. But we are living in the era of the trolls, not just disrupters of conversation, but rapists, hijackers, and pirates of the economic, ecological, sexual, etc., domains.

 

02/14/17

Chacun pour soi

« In like Flynn, » dit le proverbe irlandais, en d’autres termes: c’est passé comme une lettre à la Poste. Eh bien, pas cette fois-ci. Flynn est dehors comme un chien. Et à juste titre. Il avait tellement envie d’apporter de bonnes nouvelles à ses amis du Kremlin qu’il ne pouvait pas attendre le 20 janvier pour leur promettre la fin des sanctions. Las, ce genre d’intelligence avec l’étranger laisse des traces fâcheuses pour un futur directeur de la sécurité nationale.

Qu’il ait menti ensuite ne veut probablement rien dire; comment, dans une Maison Blanche remplie de mensonges, un menteur de plus serait-il impardonnable? C’est que la ficelle était pour une fois vraiment trop grosse. Peut-être y a-t-il plus dans cette histoire qu’un simple manque de confiance. J’y vois la confirmation d’une petite théorie qui me trotte dans la tête depuis des mois sur l’équipe Tr*mp.

C’est que ce businessman qui se vante d’être aux commandes, qui demande l’obéissance totale chez ses subordonnés, s’est entouré de gens qui ne rêvent que de faire passer leur coup d’état en douce, à la faveur de l’incurie du président touiteur. Flynn mettrait bien volontiers les organismes de sécurité à la disposition des Russes. Pour Bannon, c’est le KKK. Pour Tillerson, c’est Exxon. Pour Tr*mp, à la fin, c’est la marque Tr*mp. Chacun son petit coup d’état.

« Pour qui travaillez-vous? » Voilà la question qui devrait obséder le peuple américain. Ça peut commencer par Flynn. Espérons que ça continue.

02/11/17

Correspondence

A relative sent me a sheaf of family correspondence from the early 1930s. Imagine getting a seven-page epistle beginning as follows: it’s not the same sensation, is it, as receiving an email beginning “Hey.”

I am put in mind of Ignatius O’Reilly. Readers, please revolutionize your practice henceforth.

02/8/17

L’âme soeur

Depuis quelques jours nous avons un site correspondant (pas tout à fait un site miroir– plutôt “un autre soi-même,” pour citer Aristote) hébergé par Lemonde.fr. Il sera réservé aux commentaires en langues étrangères, que vous trouverez également ici. Bienvenue sur les deux.

02/7/17

Hépatoscopie.

Il y a quelque trente ans, pendant que je faisais la queue devant Louis’s Lunch, le stand à hamburgers célèbre de New Haven, j’ai entendu deux chercheurs en langues antiques se plaindre de ce que le glyphe qui revenait le plus souvent dans la tablette qu’ils étaient en train de lire ce jour-là était “hépatoscopie.” Apparemment, les Hittites, ou c’était peut-être les Akkadiens, pratiquaient l’art de l’aruspice à tout bout de champ.

Le procédé consistait à ouvrir le corps d’un petit oiseau ou d’un animal pour étudier la conformation de l’un de ses organes. Ce soir, je me suis soudainement rendu compte que ces Hittites, au lieu d’être simplement superstitieux, étaient angoissés par l’avenir, et qu’ils l’étaient toujours en dépit du nombre de prédictions qu’ils faisaient faire. Pour eux la conscience de ce que nous appellerions des “événements au niveau d’extinction” persistait malgré tous leurs efforts.

Nous autres Modernes, nous nous occupons de notre temps, et nous n’avons plus d’aruspices. Pendant un temps nous disposions de sondages et de têtes pensantes, mais désormais nous nous débattons dans le noir. Nos dieux étant à usage privé, il est difficile de les voir à l’oeuvre dans le monde. Nous avons la capacité de faire ce que les Hittites n’auraient pas pu faire: détruire le monde, rompre son mécanisme. Aucune civilisation future ne prendra la relève de la nôtre pour déchiffrer nos disques, nos rouleaux et nos bandes sonores, pour se pencher sur l’énigme représenté par ce glyphe qui revient sans cesse, “Tr*mp.”

Tr. H.Saussy

02/4/17

Judith Gautier, Victor Segalen, translation and printing technology

While looking for something else (as it usually happens), I ran across these notes for a talk I gave a few years ago about Judith Gautier’s pioneering translations from the Chinese. I never had the time to write them out in full, but somebody may be interested to see the train of thought. A shout-out to Steve Yao for the invitation, and to C. Bush and T. Billings, who made the day memorable as fellow panelists.

“Not Illustration: The Book as Object from Baudelaire to Pound, Via the East”

Hamilton College, April 12, 2012

 

[everybody is paying attention to circulation of literature, as a form of “world literature”; history of reproduction techniques is also part of this; but gets less attention. It would be reductivist to overrate, but naïve to underrate, the importance of printing in making possible communication of literary ideas between China and Europe. Here I focus on a few examples of an early stage of that communication in which the reproductive technologies are (with or without the authors’ consent) thematized.]

Continue reading

02/2/17

Même Pas le début d’un débat

Chers amis de Berkeley, si vous êtes d’accord pour dire que le “Muslim ban” fait le lit de Daesh en formalisant une gué-guerre entre les États-Unis et l’islam, pourquoi avez-vous choisi d’exclure de votre campus un petit néo-facho du nom de Milou Ygrec? Cela fait aussi bien le lit de Fox News et du dictateur-en-herbe, qui aiment tant à se poser en victimes et qui auront maintenant le prétexte de vous peindre en ennemis du droit à l’expression, vous le savez?

Vous vous êtes peut-être dit qu’il ne fallait pas donner une plate-forme à ce personnage de la droite raciste. Eh bien, voilà qu’en résiliant l’invitation à son égard, vous l’avez comblé de publicité gratuite. Ces gens-là ne demandaient pas mieux.

Il aurait été plus astucieux de le laisser venir, puis de le descendre (intellectuellement, dis-je, non physiquement) par quelqu’un de sensé. Imposer comme condition préalable qu’il soit confronté à une opinion contraire, l’obliger à répondre aux questions du public. (Et lui faire payer les dépenses de la sécurité, car une bonne et grande manifestation pour protester aurait été de mise.) Je ne crois pas qu’il s’en serait tiré facilement, car vous êtes des penseurs, n’est-ce pas, vous avez sous la main les faits et les chiffres pour démontrer que l’idéologie de la droite facho repose sur des balivernes, ou je me trompe? L’université est faite pour ça. Si Ygrec pensait faire un meeting de campagne, vous n’aviez qu’à lui montrer que la parole à l’université est toujours soumise à la réponse et à la vérification. Lui interdire la parole, c’est une manière de dire que vous avez peur de lui, et ça, je ne veux pas le croire.

Et pensons stratégie. Taper sur Berkeley est terriblement populaire dans ce pays. C’est ainsi que Reagan a gagné sa réputation nationale en 1968. En promouvant l’auto-victimisation d’un réac à la petite semaine, vous avec peut-être gagné une de ces batailles qui font perdre les guerres– ou qui, au moins, vous enlisent dans une lutte prolongée qui n’était pas nécessaire sur le “politiquement correct,” écran de fumée qui profite exclusivement aux fascistes.

Une lutte sur les faits, d’accord. Une lutte sur l’opportunité de confronter les faits et les mensonges, non. Il est toujours opportun de tenir ce débat.

*

(Bien sûr, il y a une ligne à ne pas laisser franchir. L’incitation à la violence ne doit pas être, à mon sens, permise, car elle s’érige contre le droit de parole des autres. Il faudrait prévenir tout conférencier qu’au moment de proférer des paroles qui ne respectent pas les droits fondamentaux des autres, son micro sera coupé et l’événement sera terminé. Mais prétendre que tel personnage, en considération de ses opinions, incarne un danger aux autres et que sa parole est d’elle-même la violence en acte, cela revient, je crois, à donner trop d’importance, trop de pouvoir, à ces dictateurs de carton, et c’est encore réaliser leurs ambitions. N’alimentons pas les trolls!)

02/2/17

Jeu de Rawls

Que les gens très riches devraient se tenir à distance de la politique, c’est une idée répandue. Mais les raisons mises en avant me paraissent incomplètes. On craint que les riches instaurent une politique qui ne profite qu’aux riches, agissant en somme comme les représentants organiques de leur classe. Ou bien on craint qu’ils sapent la démocratie en achetant les votes, ce que ne pourraient pas faire des candidats moins aisés. Nous avons eu l’occasion ces derniers jours de remarquer une troisième raison de méfiance.

Les gens qui sont absurdement riches et qui l’ont toujours été n’ont pas eu les mêmes chances que d’autres à apprendre les arts de la coopération, de la conciliation, du compromis. Ils ont l’habitude de s’imposer par la force ou par la menace. Rien ne leur est plus étranger que le principe exprimé par John Rawls dans A Theory of Justice, que l’égalité des personnes exige du pouvoir public les mesures qui donneront les moins mauvaises conditions à la personne la moins bien située, plutôt que celles qui donnent les meilleures conditions à la personne la mieux située.

J’appartiens à la classe des gens plutôt bien situées. J’ai bénéficié de conditions extrêmement bonnes. Je n’ai jamais été face au mur de la faim, de l’isolation, de la pauvreté; j’ai toujours disposé de ressources. J’ai pu m’éduquer, choisir de m’affronter à certains défis, voyager, trouver un emploi qui correspondait à mes capacités, m’entourer d’amis qui m’apprennent beaucoup. Et je trouve raisonnable que je doive rendre à la collectivité une partie des biens qui me reviennent en conséquence de cette situation fortunée, et que d’autres personnes chanceuses fassent de même. Combien faut-il être fortuné pour ne pas comprendre cette simple règle du jeu, et pour vouloir garder tous les avantages pour soi?

C’est une incapacité psychologique qui devrait disqualifier quiconque de la fonction publique. Les gens qui souffrent de ce genre d’aveuglement ne se reconnaissent pas comme citoyens. Ne les reconnaissons pas non plus, pour la symétrie.

 

01/30/17

Tolérer, et non seulement

Les Saussy d’Amérique descendent d’une poignée de réfugiés. J’en suis fier. Et je reconnais que l’histoire est toujours plus compliquée qu’un dessin animé où les bons et les méchants sont faciles à reconnaître. Quelques réfugiés, parmi les millions de malheureux sur la planète, ont bénéficié d’un calcul, à la fois intéressé et généreux, de la part du gouvernement anglais du dix-huitième siècle qui leur a donné l’asile. John Locke a fourni les arguments de principe qui étayaient l’engagement diplomatique. Un livre récent de Teresa M. Bejan reconstitue la situation de fait autour de la Lettre sur la tolération de 1685 et en examine les conséquences pour nous. La séparation de l’église et de l’état fondait pour Locke la doctrine des droits de l’homme:

As Bejan notes, in the Letter Concerning Toleration (1685), Locke advocated a conceptual separation of church and state. The civil magistrate’s only duty, he asserted, was to “secure unto all the people in general, and to every one of his subjects in particular, the just possession of these things belonging to this life.” He concluded, “nobody therefore, in fine, neither single persons, nor Churches, nay, nor even commonwealths, have any just title to invade the civil rights and worldly goods of each other, upon pretence of religion.”… For Locke and other tolerationist authors, then, state persecution was not just a violation of individual rights, but also a decision to treat individuals in an inhumane, uncharitable, and harmful manner.

Le compte-rendu de Catherine Arnold vire sans prévenir de ce sommaire anodin vers le registre de l’accusation: “John Locke is the villain of Bejan’s story: She argues that Locke-inspired calls for disagreement based on mutual respect and affection restrict public debate by excluding those who do not embrace these values.” Un point, donc, où il subsiste un certain suspense qui ne sera résolu que par la lecture effective du livre. Mais à partir de ce qu’en dit Arnold, on peut prévoir quelques motifs derrière la mise en cause de Locke, “le méchant dans cette histoire.” Bejan préconise-t-elle une tolération sans limites, qui tolère aussi bien ceux avec qui nous avons un accord fondamental que ceux pour qui la tolération elle-même est une hérésie à détruire (problème à la fois logique et opérationnel)? Ou veut-elle partir de la proposition que l’interventionnisme est en soi un mal dont la motivation par “le sentiment d’humanité” serait à critiquer?

Depuis le jour où Bejan a renvoyé le bon à tirer, je soupçonne, la donne a quelque peu changé. Dans un monde où Obama ou Hilary seraient les décideurs, la constellation philosophique autour de l’humanitaire gravite autour du besoin de déterminer où, précisément, le mieux devient l’ennemi du bien. On aurait alors de bonnes raisons de discuter la question pour savoir si les bénéficiaires de notre politique d’inclusion sont suffisamment “divers” quant à nous pour que notre inclusion soit véritablement inclusive. Dans un monde où l’action diplomatique, militaire, et humanitaire américaine est décidée par une politique orientée sans ambages par la discrimination de race, de croyance, de nationalité et de revenu, la leçon de Locke est, hélas, de nouveau nécessaire.

01/28/17

Reminiscences of Famished Chickens on the Edge of a Machine

(by Zhao Yuanren/Yuen-ren Chao)

唧唧雞,雞唧唧。几鸡挤挤集矶脊。幾雞擠擠集磯脊。机极疾,鸡饥极,鸡冀己技击及鲫。機極疾,雞飢極,雞冀己技擊及鯽。机既济蓟畿,鸡计疾机激几鲫。機既濟薊畿,雞計疾機激幾鯽。机疾极,鲫极悸,急急挤集矶级际。機疾極,鯽極悸,急急擠集磯級際。继即鲫迹极寂寂,继即几鸡既饥,即唧唧。