1970. Totem

I probably took my high school's yearbook for granted at the time. To quote Frank Zappa: "My school spirit's at an all-time low" ("Status Back Baby" (1966)): in other words, I hated school, more or less from Kindergarden on. I participated in my high school as minimally as I could. The best thing I did was fuck on the grounds during school hours. I never went to the dances, I wasn't in the band, I didn't go to any of the entertainments, I hated the sports. Now I find the yearbook interesting as the 1st place I was ever published. These days actual physical books are probably being replaced by inadequate social media substitutes.

I wrote my entry in 1969 shortly after my 16th birthday. As I've explained many times elsewhere, I had to go through the entire dictionary to find the words that fit my encoding plan. I'm still very proud of this text to this day. I wonder if anyone ever looks through their copy of the yearbook & comes across my self-description & wonders about it. Looking at the inscriptions in my yearbooks I almost get the impression that I was slightly popular - something I certainly don't remember otherwise!

The most important thing about the above being my self-description (which follows the form of Adjective-Adjective-Noun-Verb, Adjective-Adjective-Noun-Verb, & Adjective-Adjective-Adjective-Noun-Verb) is that it uses formal constraints to generate an unusual text. As such, I can safely make the claim that I was OuLiPo long before I ever heard of such a thing.

If you look at the words in reverse order you get: magnetize, intarsia, crispy, hydrophytic, accentric, excogitate, labiac; turgid, oleographic, luxated, sabaist, orthopteran, nascent. If you take the 1st letter of each word you get: michael; tolson. If you take the 3rd letter from the end of each word you get: is straight ire. The "ire" is extraneous.

"Michael Tolson is straight" was a bit of a joke insofar as because I had long hair & was very skinny to the point of having not enough hips to keep my pants much above my crotch I was believed by some to be a speed freak. I was "straight" because I didn't even take aspirin, let alone illegal drugs. Furthermore, I liked the word "straight" because it's only 1 syllable but has 8 letters - which impressed me as unusual.







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