Friday, September 17, 2021

The bric-a-brac of the Right

Very strange, meaningful-seeming dream:

I was part of a group (I just thought of them as "my friends") that met twice weekly to share ideas and creative output. The dream consisted of a few disconnected scenes having to do with that group.

In the first scene, I was preparing to go to one of our meetings and then suddenly remembered that it was actually scheduled for the next day. While I was preparing, I was aware that there was some major disturbance going on outside -- perhaps a war or something like that.

In the second scene, one of the members, a woman, had created a short animated film that progressed very quickly from playful to "edgy" to deeply -- and I do mean deeply -- obscene. No one raised any objection. I didn't either, though I wanted to, because there was just this feeling that we were all supposed to be too cool to take issue with that sort of thing.

In the third scene, another of the members, an older man, was telling a story about some third party (not part of the group) who had made a shirt for himself and "decorated it with the bric-a-brac of the Right -- a slice of pizza, a Torah scroll, other such things. And this of course made him guilty of both the sin of fragmentation and the sin of creating a coherent story."

I thought of the "bric-a-brac of the Right" as being something like the "secret symbols" in Bizarro comics (recurring random items, such as a slice of pie or an upside-down bird, which the artist adds to his cartoons), and I was pretty (but not entirely) sure the man was using "sin" ironically -- saying that the public disapproved of these so-called sins. I took the slice of pizza to be an allusion to the conspiracy theory associated with that foodstuff and the inclusion of a Torah scroll to be some kind of anti-Semitic thing. 

Upon waking, I thought of the incongruity of characterizing the Torah as bric-a-brac, of all things, and it reminded me of something. Back in the days of daily newspapers, my father and I used to share the hobby of creating what he called "subliminal comics." The idea was to cut out three or four panels -- each from a different comic in the same paper -- and combine them to make a new strip that sort of made sense. One time (it was, apparently, on the palindromic date of October 2, 2001) I bent the rules of the game a bit, by combining a headline with a comic-strip panel. The headline, from the Style section of the local paper, said "Crosses are once again popular, but some see wearing a religious symbol for fashion's sake as a desecration" -- and I juxtaposed it with this panel from that day's Dilbert strip.

Before looking up the comic just now, I had forgotten that it featured a 2020s-style surgical mask and that the creature with which Dilbert is conversing -- a flubbed clone of his boss -- is half horse, as in a recent birdemic joke.

Later that day, I was out on the road. When I stopped at a red light, the motorcyclist in front of me was wearing a shirt decorated with the letters of the alphabet, each accompanied by two associated words and illustrations. This made for a pretty random assortment of pictures -- what the dream in its not-quite-normal use of English would have termed "bric-a-brac."

Of the 20 or so words I could see on the back of shirt, three were misprinted, and they were all in the same area. I snapped a photo.

With a large "letter Q," do we now have not mere common or garden bric-a-brac, but specifically the bric-a-brac of the Right? Notice that both of the words associated with Q are misprinted so as to omit the key letter. Instead of a question, a ruestion; instead of a quail, a uail. Of course, "No Q" is also a Q thing. There's the NOQ Report, and included in the boilerplate at the beginning of every Anonymous Conservative post is the disclaimer "No Q." Just below these two Q-less Q-words, we have V for wolcano.  I remember reading some symbolic interpretation of the alphabet in which W stood for the Roman god Vulcan (since historically W = VV = VU), and volcano comes from Vulcan. (Thinking of such words as uomo, uovo, buono, and ruota, I checked if perhaps vuolcano might be Italian; it isn't.)

Having mentioned "a uail," and also noted that U and V used to be interchangeable, I am reminded of my first mention of Joan of Arc on this blog, in this comment:

I have recently been reading Scott Alexander's novel Unsong. One of the running gags is "biblical pun correction." One of the characters mentions Joan of Arc and is "corrected" by another: "Jonah whale; Noah ark." Later in the conversation, someone says "to no avail" and received the converse correction: "Noah ark; Jonah whale."

The correction is based on hearing "avail" as "a whale," echoed by the V/W confusion seen in wolcano.

All of the items in the photo above also have Torah connections. In Exodus 16, the Israelites are fed with manna and quail, and the word manna is said to derive from the question "What is it?" Mount Sinai, with its fire and smoke, is certainly suggestive of a volcano. (Freud and a few other fringe critics have concluded that it literally was a volcano, but that seems geographically unlikely.) And, in the archaic spelling of the King James Version, Moses "put a vail on his face" (Ex. 34:33).

What does it all mean? Well, that's the point, isn't it? I've been collecting coincidences like bric-a-brac, like a Bizarro reader playing find the secret symbol, only occasionally discerning a coherent message. Maybe it's time to stop amassing data and start trying a little harder to understand it. I always tag these posts with a line from Dylan; maybe I should pay more attention to the rest of the verse:

The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense
Take what you have gathered from coincidence
The empty-handed painter from your streets
Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets
This sky, too, is folding under you
And it's all over now, Baby Blue

Update: I thought, "Give me a hint. What's the core meaning of all these syncs?" and drew a single card from the Rider-Waite. It was this one.

And I thought, It's the wolcano! -- a mountain-like structure with fire coming out the top of it, with a W-shaped lightning bolt. "The Tower" is also an anagram of "two three," and W is the 23rd letter of the alphabet. The card features 22 little yellow flames, with the 23rd being the W-shaped bolt from the black.

The image also punningly suggests bric-a-brac -- the Tower of Babel was built with bricks (apparently a novel construction material at the time), and the Hebrew word for "lightning" is baraq. It is even "brac of the Right," since the baraq comes from the right side of the card. Brique à baraq -- brick for the lightning!

Bric-a-brac is b-a-b, -- bab, "gate," the first morpheme in Babel, "Gate of El." El, besides being a name of God, is how a Cockney would pronounce hell -- as in "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). The tower on the card is built on a rock, and the Tarot de Marseille calls it not The Tower but La Maison Dieu, "the House of God."

Babel is also synonymous with the confusion on tongues -- exemplified by, say, ruestion, uail, and wolcano.

Bric-a-brac also contains the string abrac, as in abracadabra.

Nimrod, besides being the name of the man behind the Tower of Babel, is a nickname used by Bugs Bunny for Elmer Fudd, a character notable for his non-standard use of the W sound -- "That wascally wabbit!"

But none of this is an interpretation; it's just adding more synchronistic bric-a-brac to the mix.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I notice that I posted this on 9/17. Seeing the number 17 as a reference to Q is commonplace among conspiracy theorists, and 9 is also Q, as in the Japanese novel 1Q84.

cae said...

Maybe your dream and the tarot card were trying to give you a 'heads up' about the volcano in The Canary Islands which recently started showing signs of possibly erupting...

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Why would I need a heads-up about a volcano in the Canary Islands?


Except when it occurs at the end of a word, the [z] sound is difficult for many Chinese speakers to pronounce correctly and often comes out ...