SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 4 Contents Letters to the Editor

A Celebration of the Mesologue

A Letter from Loggerheaded Editor K’Dae K’Rim-K’Ma

As one wanders through a forest, the leaves and branches of ancient oak trees respectively whispering and creaking above one, as the slats of light slide through the slits in those self-same branches and leaves, it would be easy, would it notone’s attention taken by the stretch upwards of this magnificent flora to the bluey domedness of the celestial tentto miss the lowly log as it lies upon the ground? Why, we find ourselves asking each other, does the log fail to register upon the retinae, let alone the cortices, of your average human wood-wanderer?

The simple answer is that many societies have shunned logs as being ‘down on the ground, short and round’as Homer’s Odyssey famously put itwith numerous cultures developing lengthy log avoidance rituals as part of the cultural infrastructure. A case in point is the Celtic communities of pre-Anglo Saxon Britain, whose fear of logs was a critical factor in allowing Angles, Saxons and Jutes to sweep westwards across the island with such speed. Once the Germanic hordes got wind of the logophobic tendencies of the Celts, they swiftly abandoned their swords and axes and charged head-on into the fray with logs. The Celtic arsenal of nakedness and nature worship were to no avail and tribe after tribe of Celts simply scarpered before the invaders’ loggy terror.

Frank McConnell, Gary Westfahl (ed.) 2009, The Science of Fiction and the Fiction of Science, McFarland & Company.

Chiasmus of the Month
March 2021

Logs are only really known to humans as a result of their (that is, logs’) close association with beavers. Canadian explorers befriended beavers in the early 17th century, learning their snuffly language and adapting to their customs. It was this chance event that catapulted logs over and through the psychic barrier that Homo sapiens had so long set up against them and established the log as a primary artefact in human society, as opposed to an object of fear.

Since then, logs have gone from strength to strength. We can now log incidents in a report (itself, incredibly, also known as a log); we can log in and out of a computer (but not yet up, down, around or throughalthough time will no doubt endow us with these techno possibilities); and for of us who’ve done a hard day’s physical labour such as slaves, retail workers, coal miners and academics, we can sleep like a log. The rise and rise of the log has even influenced human genetics: newborn babies are now endowed with what cognitive scientists call coglog, e.g., the knowledge that log10(1000) = 3. And loganberries are now more popular than strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and gooseberries in Midwest American households.

However, in no field has the log had more influence than in language studies. Where texts were once uniform, basic, truncated, simplex and dull, the log has given human written communication a nuance and complexity that Shakespeare, Dante and Cervantes could only dream of. Specifically, those bastions of textuality, the prologue and epilogue, are now so much part of our written communicative cultural inheritance that we scarcely remember that there was a time when plays simply began at the beginning, leaving the audience to figure out the whole context for itselfand then ended, with the audience invariably asking itself, ‘Is that it?’

Here at SpecGram, we’ve been enjoying prologues and epilogues for many years. We have our yearly prologue-epilogue party where each staff member comes dressed as a famous, post-log era prologue or epilogue. Literally endless hilarity ensues as we have what seems like months of fun guessing what each other’s pro- or epilogue might be before the clock strikes 6:00 and we must head home for tea. However, as one of the admin monkeys pointed out the other day, there’s even more to logues than we yet know. The prologue and epilogue might be well established, but the mesologuethat short, self-contained textual subpart occurring in the middle of a broader, longer texthas yet to be fully exploited. Logs really are the gift that keeps on giving.

[This is a mesologue. I’m taking a short break from writing this to have a cup of tea and a biscuit.]

So, at SpecGram we’re declaring the 2020s to be the Decade of the Mesologue. After the resounding success of our celebration of the cedilla during the 2010s which engendered corridor chats, several occasional comments, some brief notes on at least one or two occasions, a meeting or two and a first draft of a few articlettes, we’re confident that assigning the next decade to the yet-to-be-fully explored mesologue cannot fail to generate widespread, energetic and ultimately climactic interest.

So, send in your mesologues! Create some mesologues for well known texts, anything from Kafka to the Mr Men books; send us a paper on comparative mesologueography; take the historical perspective and analyse the emergence and spread of mesologues. Or, for the courageous, why not venture into metamesologoegraphy and report on the use of mesologues within prologues and epilogues, a field ripe for harvesting. Again, for those on the creative end of the scale, why not attempt what no writer has ever achieved before and send in a mesologue2: that fabulous beast that is a mesologue with its own self-contained mesologue. You could even submit your contributions on a log, in an homage to that once-despised object that has given birth to this now central part of text.

The list is endless and the challenge epic! We have the newly formed Mesologue Analysis Department (MAD) on standby to review, rate and respond to the thousands of mesologues that we’re expecting. Get your mesologue hats on and get busy!

Letters to the Editor
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 4 Contents