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This book was written over 20 years ago, over a few days.  A result of my own “Foerster’s Syndrome”, a kind of lexical illness which I suffer gladly. Both an incessant need to pun and an uncontrollable reflex of seeing meaning within words. A kind of inability to see the forest (word) for the trees (the sounds / meanings).

But I’ve lived with it and learned to control it. Still, ever so often, this Jabberwooky, this moloch and primordial beast attacks and I’m back in the land of the idiot’s dictionary ……

I’ve written a lot about the power of words over the years. See my previous book – “The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Teacher” for those.  I’ve studied and been influenced by all the creative writers / poets who’ve pushed the frame of reference in  which language lives. Valery, Mallarme, Stein, Breton, Borges, Gass, Calvino, e.e. cummings to name just a very, very few.  The Gagaism manifesto, born of the same time as the dictionary (at the end of this book)  –  stands as my own theory of language in the world.

I also must emphasize my own use of the word “dictionary”.  This book is my belief that “We, the people” should have control of the language – not the Websters and Murdochs of the world. A dictionary is not a definitive source but rather, an interpretation. This book, my small attempt to put a dent in the prescriptive armor we wear as we walk the world, in the flesh born of “the word”.


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