Do you remember how we used to love to read MAD magazine and see the clever social and political satire and wonderful caricatures by great artists like MOrt Drucker and Jack Davis?
Well, MAD gave up the ghost last year. It simply was no longer able to compete with reality. We are living in a time when the Onion and the Beaverton (the Canadian Onion) are indistinguishable from the news headlines of the day. They, too, cannot compete, or even keep up with, reality.
So, since we live in an age of fake news and hoaxes, I am going to be writing a few posts about some historic, and sometimes hysteric, hoaxes. I used to collect books of them. None of the posts will be political. We get enough of that in the daily news.
And one of my posts will also be a hoax. But not this one. You will have to guess when I finish. Then maybe you will win a prize.
My first hoax begins on a New York day in 1916. Two poets were sitting around, drinking. I do not know if they were socially distancing. The term would not be invented for another century. They decided to make a parody of the then popular poetic style, Imagism. This required that they develop suitable poetic noms de plume. Wytter Bynner and Arthur Davidson Ficke wrote under the pseudonyms of Emanuel Morgan and Anne Knish and got their collection published.
A knish is a potato filled pastry sold in New York. Clearly they were not Jewish and did not expect any Jewish readers to call them out on this.
“Morgan and Knish” wrote a suitably impenetrable manifesto for their brainchild, “Spectra” that appears below.
“In the first place, it speaks, to the mind of that process of diffraction by which are disarticulated the several colored and other rays of which light is composed. . . .”
“In its second sense, the term Spectric relates to the reflex vibrations of physical sight, and suggests the luminous appearance which is seen after the exposure of the eye to intense light, and, by analogy, the after-colors of the poets initial vision.”
“In its third sense, Spectric connotes the overtones, adumbrations, or spectres which for the poet haunt all objects of both the seen and unseen world. . . .”
They would have definitely gotten a grant with that gobbledygook.
The poems were similarly absurd. Here is one by Morgan:
If I were only dafter I might be making hymns
To the liquor of your laughter
And the lacquer of your limbs.