The First Annual Numéro Cinq Erasure Contest
Here’s a mini-contest. Not so hard, not as daunting as writing a rondeau or translating from the Dutch without a dictionary. The words have all been written for you. You just have to find the story. This should be a dream for those of us who are imaginatively challenged. The text below is from Monsieur L’Abbat’s Fencing, or, the Use of the Small Sword published in Dublin in 1734 (text and illustrations from Project Gutenberg). Dg is not sure what makes a good erasure text, so this is somewhat experimental. Someone suggested using a passage from the Bible, but that seemed vaguely blasphemous. A sword-fighting instruction book has the advantage of a certain drama in the choice of diction. Conflict is of the essence.
Rules: There are always rules. An erasure is a text created by taking words out of an existing text. In the best of all possible worlds, you’d have been able to submit the original text with words blotted out—this would make for a certain drama of presentation. And dg supposes it would be possible for you to convert the text into a jpeg and then use a photo processing program to effect the erasures and then submit the final jpeg. But somehow the mechanics of this seem anti-inspirational. For the purposes of this contest, you just need to take out the words you don’t want and submit the remaining text. You can’t change the order of the words and you can’t change the capitalization. The words in your new text have to be exactly the same and in the same order as they were in the original. You can insert your own punctuation. Try to make it something sensible–a love story, perhaps. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a story. It could be a poem or a scene. Let the words take you where they listeth.
Remember: at NC we value wit and arrogance as the paramount literary values.
The contest is open to absolutely anyone. Newcomers and people who cannot speak English are especially welcome. (People with memory loss issues would seem especially adapted to this contest.) Just sign in on the comment box and erase away.
Entries, as usual in these contests, must be submitted in the comment box at the bottom of this post (yes, yes, in the past, some NC members have been deeply confused on this point and entered under completely unrelated posts). Multiple entries are perfectly acceptable.
Entries must be submitted between midnight January 15 and midnight January 31.
There are no other rules except, of course, Gary Garvin will notice a loophole and dg will retroactively have to rewrite the rules. If anything is unclear, please mention it in the comment box.
Munificent prizes will be awarded (come to think of it, we forgot to award prizes at the NC party in Montpelier) as usual. A list of actual prizes will be provided upon request (send your requests to the chair of the Official Judges Panel).
Here is the official contest UR-text
It begins here. When you have for some time used yourself to push and parry at the Wall, according to the Rules that I have laid down, you must, (tho’ ’tis not the Rule of Schools, especially when you push with Strangers,) you must I say, when you push with a Scholar of your own Master, push and parry a Thrust alternately, disengaging, and then do the same Feinting, and sometime after you shou’d make the other Thrusts, telling one another your design, which makes you execute and parry them by Rule, especially if you reflect on the Motions and Postures of the Lunges and Parades. Being a little formed to this method, you may, being warned of the Thrust, parry it, telling the Adversary where you intend your Riposte, which puts him in a condition to avoid it, and gives him room to redouble after his Parade, either strait or by a Feint, at which you are not surprised, expecting by being forewarned the Thrust he is to make, which puts you easily on your Defence and Offence: by this manner of Exercise, you may not only improve faster, but with more art, the Eye and Parts being insensibly disposed to follow the Rule, whereas without this Method, the difference that there is between a lesson of assaulting a Man who forewarns you, helps you, and lets you hit him, and another who endeavours to defend himself and hit you, is, that except the Practice of Lessons be very well taught by long exercise, you fall into a Disorder which is often owing to the want of Art more than to any Defect in Nature. The taking a Lesson well, and the Manner of Pushing and Parrying which I have just described, may be attained to by Practice only, but some other things are necessary to make an Assault well; for besides the Turn of the Body, the Lightness, Suppleness and Vigour which compose the exteriour Part, you must be stout and prudent, qualities so essential, that without them you cannot act with a good Grace, nor to the purpose. If you are apprehensive, besides, that you don’t push home, or justly, fear making you keep back your Thrust, or follow the Blade, the least Motion of the Enemy disorders you, and puts you out of a Condition to hit him, and to avoid his Thrusts. Without Prudence, you cannot take the advantage of the situation, motions designs of the enemy, which changing very often, according to his Capacity and to the Measure, demonstrates that an ill concerted Enterprise exposes more to Danger than it procures Advantage: in order to turn this Quality to an advantage, you are to observe the Enemy’s fort and feeble, whether he attack or defend; if he attack it will be either by plain Thrusts strait, or disengaged, or by Feints or Engagements, which may be opposed by Time, or Ripostes: if he keeps on his Defence, it is either to take the Time or to Riposte. In case of the first; you shou’d, by half Thrusts, oblige him to push in order to take a Counter to his Time, and if he sticks to his Parade you must serve in what Manner, in order to disorder him by Feints, and push where he gives Light. And ends here.
But I thought the party itself was the prize. 🙂
Here is a minimalist entry, pushing towards aphorism:
Push where he give Light.
Oops. “Push where he gives Light.”
Correct the above and pull this comment?
Of course I can make it shorter:
Gary, the contest hasn’t started yet. The judges have convened and issued a Writ of Disqualification against you and all your generations unto the seventh child of the seventh child. You will have to enter under an assumed name. How about D’Artagnan?
Oops – does that disqualify me, too? I’m too disordered to read the instructions properly.
No, Catherine, you’re okay. A special writ of dispensation, covering all early entries after Gary’s entry, has been issued.
BTW, it is a very nice entry.
Actually, you fit right in. Nobody at NC reads the rules. 🙂
I take exception to that. I read all the rules, including the ones I make up myself.
Push . . . your own Master.
D’Artagnan, is it you?
Thanks, dg! This seems an easy way back into writing for someone who has been too distracted lately to do much of that.
according to the Rules you must design; execute
you may intend to follow the Rule
whereas the lesson is that Disorder is Art
Prudence, an attack is in order
take Time to disorder. push.
Okay, thank you, Catherine. Apparently, now dg has to amend the rules so that early entries are acceptable. As usual at NC, chaos reigns.
And so it should. Disorder is Art.
According to Monsieur L’Abbat.
Queries: (1) Are multiple entries permitted, as usual? (2) May we title our entries?
Ok, here we go again. It is clearly stipulated in the rules that multiple entries are allowed. And the Judges have conferred and will only allow titles taken from the UR-text—in other words, you may use the first words of your entry as a title.
Only the first ones? Are the judges amenable to some negotiation on this point? How about any group of words from the UR-text?
Well, OK. I was going to call this “Thrusting: A User’s Manual,” but my plan was foiled by an arbitrary and capricious rule regarding titles. 🙂
I HAVE LAID DOWN
I have laid down.
you must, you must I say, push and Thrust alternately
and then sometime after make the other Thrusts faster
but with more art.
endeavour, by long exercise, Pushing well.
the exteriour Part must be stout—so essential.
act with a good Grace, to the purpose.
don’t keep back your Thrust, or avoid Thrusts.
take advantage of the situation by plain Thrusts
or take the Time, by half Thrusts, to push and push.
Uh-oh. Why do I think you’re not writing about sword-fighting anymore?
As if this weren’t exactly the sort of thing you were expecting when you chose that text. 🙂
Moi? I honestly only noticed the sword stuff. Really. I am the innocent in all this.
There must be a plot afoot to redefine “innocent”…
Sword fighting? So that’s what this passage is about. I thought the guys in the pictures were holding baguettes.
Wait, so we can all submit now?
Yes, go for it.
When you Rule Schools, you shou’d design Parades.
you may, where you intend to Parade, either improve art or fear the Blade.
in order to defend Time, you shou’d Parade in what Manner gives Light.
Time yourself and execute them, especially on parades. Defend the Disorder. The manner of pushing which I have described may be necessary. You must act with purpose. If you are apprehensive, don’t fear the enemy. Hit him without prudence. Take advantage of the situation. The enemy exposes more danger. You are to observe the enemy. Attack! You must serve Disorder and push.
Johanne, Thank you for joining in. Great to see you here.
time to push
laid down ’tis you
a scholar disengaging
you room surprised
by the Thrust
which puts Parts
between you and him
and the very long fall
which is more than Nature
some necessary Body
without Grace nor fear
making you follow
the motion–you you him–
if he be opposed to take
the first push
and you disorder him
Lovely. How’s Saskatoon?
Saskatoon is COLD but beautiful–blue sky, sparkling snow, steam rising from the river. But I just got back from visiting family for 3 weeks so am still adjusting to the quiet.
You’re elegant. As always.
Thanks, Jill! And you are lovely, as always.
When you have some time with a Scholar disposed to a lesson, take advantage of the situation. Capacity to turn order to disorder gives Light.
It begins here—
When you have used yourself at the Wall, you must push Strangers, you must, I say, push a Scholar, your own Master, push alternately, and then do the same sometime after you execute them. If you reflect on the Postures of Being, you may redouble your Offence. By this manner of Exercise, you improve Art, being insensibly disposed to the difference between a Man and another. You fall into a Disorder which is Art, more than any Defect in Nature.
The Lesson may be attained by Practice only. Assault the Body, the Lightness, Suppleness and Vigour. Compose the exteriour Part, so essential. You cannot act with good Grace, nor to the purpose. If you are apprehensive, push home, keep your Thrust, follow the Blade, the Motion of the disorders. Hit without Prudence, take advantage of the situation. An ill concerted Enterprise exposes Danger, procures Advantage.
Observe the disengaged. Take the Time to oblige him.
Push in order to counter Time.
Order to disorder.
—and ends here.
Just so you all know, this is Gary Garvin, aka D’Artagnan. 🙂
1. What is the point of asking someone to resubmit under an assumed name when you later announce his real?
2. I am not R. Mutt.
3. Or a foppish French fencer.
R. Mutt will need to submit 5 pieces of photo ID and three valid credit card numbers.
R. Mutt does not carry credit cards.
Very neat (sorry, tired, shoveling snow off the roof all day). I did not know this. But I will persist in calling you D’Artagnan and thus you become another “thought object” and not yourself.
Well, whomever he is, the author of this piece did a nice job. I like it.
WHEN YOU PUSH AND PARRY AT THE WALL
When you push with Strangers
push and Thrust alternately,
Reflect on the difference
Turn the Body,
act with a good Grace:
Without Prudence you cannot take advantage of the situation.
Observe the Enemy’s fort and feeble.
If (s)he sticks to Parade,
serve in Manner,
disorder Feints, and
push where (s)he gives Light.
I laid down,
“you must” I say,
Sheila, This is about sword-fighting, right? 🙂
No. I’m a pacifist.
Sooooooooooooooo, this is not about sword-fighting?
Did I read the rules wrong? I am so bad when it comes to rules. I like my rules in bullet format no that I can pick and choose the ones I want to follow. I did like the rule where we could add our own punctuation. I have that bullet pointed in my mind – bolded and underlined.
I’m kidding. You read the rules fine. 🙂 Great entries. (I am still remembering you out in front at Noble during Talent Night.)
I like to write replies like a talk in front of a roomfull of my favorite people who don’t mind me being a little raucous and outrageous sometimes.
And I am still remembering you – reading that scene that was so violent I had to run to the restroom and barf. (As well as all those other times – listening to you, trying to grasp 1% of your brilliance – cause 1% of a lot, is still a lot.
Time used you, Man.
But turn the Body with Grace
and Time, in Time, gives Light.
I warned you, Art,
turn stout and you are out.
Marilyn, thanks. I suspect you have more.
these are an inspiration, Marilyn!
Elegant, yet poignant.
Rules have Schools.
you hit him,
you used yourself,
laid down the Rule,
must you push a scholar, push
and Thrust alternately, then do the same after
the other Thrusts, you execute
by Rule, you reflect on the Lunges
to this method, you may
intend a condition
he is your
Offence: you may with
which is often the want of Art in Nature.
you have attained
some other things to make the Turn
of the Body, you must
you don’t push home, or
you keep the Motion of the Enemy
of a Condition
the advantage of the designs
more to Danger than this Quality
Time on his Defence,
you oblige a
Counter and you must
push where he gives Light.
Ian, I’m so excited that you submitted something here!
If we update the 18th Century Irish spelling to the modern American will we be disqualified? Or should we use all the old, wacky spellings? Don’t want to lose on a technicality….
Yes, keep the old spellings. 🙂
you fall into Disorder
you cannot take advantage
you oblige Time, you serve Light.
I have another:
a Man helps you, owing to the want of the Body, Suppleness and Vigour which compose you. you don’t fear him, his advantage, his Capacity. he keeps on. and if he sticks to his Parade you must serve him.
I’m proud to say that I didn’t use the words push or thrust once!
It begins when you used yourself according to the rules laid down. I parry your rule, this method. You may intend a condition, room, strait, by which you improve faster. But art, without method, the difference. There is a lesson of another who endeavours: Fall into disorder. Want art more than any lesson and manner. Practice only things necessary to make the lightness and vigour, which compose you. Be so essential with purpose that you justly follow the motion of the disorders. You, a condition without prudence. Take advantage of the motion, which very often exposes the feeble, plain you. Oblige to serve in disorder and light.
you = a condition without prudence. I like this.
Rules of Strangers
you have for some time used yourself according to the Rules of Strangers, disengaging after you execute the Parades. you parry the Adversary you avoid after his Parade at which you are not surprised, expecting this manner of faster art, a lesson of assaulting a Man who lets you hit him. You Practice Disorder which is often the Manner of Pushing the exteriour Part, stout and without good Grace. You fear your enemy, you take advantage of the enemy, attack the Enemy’s Ripostes. You oblige him, and he Feints.
I have a question about the integrity of the rules, er, the rules about integrity. I am not questioning the integrity of the judges. What I am trying to say is do we need to respect the integrity of the words given to us by dg. Let me try again. If all of the LETTERS stay in the same order, is that allowed? Can Thrust become Trust?
Dg’s integrity is beyond dispute. The thing you ask is impossible. What would you ask for next? Thrust would become trust and trust would degrade to rust and then us and st. And then where would you be? On a st. with no name. The Judges have convened a special Privy session and denied your request for an amelioration of the rules.
I’ve always wondered what a Privy session was. Does that mean you convened in an outhouse? I would have expected the NC judges to have better meeting facilities than that. Perhaps you should take up a collection for improvements to the NC headquarters.
YOU MUST, YOU MUST! I SAY
You must, you must! I say,
Make telling one another your Rule.
Formed to this method
Gives room to the Parts (disposed to Art)
To Practice Lightness, Suppleness and Vigour.
Act with a good Grace.
Fear the Blade of disorder.
Demonstrate that Enterprise procures Quality.
Opposed by Time, Counter to Time:
Serve Order. Give Light.
Natalia: That was perfect. It allows me to happily give up, stand on the sidelines and root for you. What a relief!
Thanks so much Steve and Beebee!!!
A short craft lecture:
“You must execute. If you reflect on the method, you may not make art. The Eye is hit by Nature. Manner may be attained by Practice, but other things are necessary: fear, disorders, danger.”
oh, sarah. this is so great!
Push when I say push.
Wow, Sarah B! Good to see you here, and with such force!
he is to make
with more art
and hit you
by: Chirag (age 9)
Really? Nine years old? Nice job. 🙂
I’m still waiting for a “shy anonymous” entry.
I know nothing about enjambment:
It begins when you push.
Feinting, you execute
the Motions and Parades. Being the
Adversary gives you Offence:
without Lessons, you fall into a Disorder
which may be necessary to the purpose. If you fear
making the least Motion, you cannot
take advantage of the changing Capacity
to Measure Time.
Time to oblige him to serve, to push where he ends.
according to the Rules that I have laid down you must–especially when you push with Strangers–push and Thrust alternately. then do the same (you shou’d make other Thrusts).
execute by Rule: reflect on the Motions and Postures which puts him in a condition to redouble after the Thrust he is to make. this manner of Exercise may improve with more art. without this Method, you fall into a disorder which is often owing to want of Art.
but other things are necessary to Turn the Body: Lightness, Suppleness and Vigour compose the exteriour Part (qualities so essential, that without them you cannot act with a good Grace, nor to the purpose). If you are apprehensive––fear making you keep back your Thrust––the least Motion disorders you, and puts you out of a condition.
Prudence cannot take advantage of the situation. changing very often––according to Capacity and to Measure––procures Advantage. Thrusts strait or disengaged may be opposed. if he keeps on his Defence, to oblige him to push, you must serve to disorder him and push where he gives Light.
you Feinting Being
you Adversary you
you shou’d serve
I couldn’t resist a 2nd entry…
Time, according to you, must sometime execute Motions, which gives him Offence. A Man of Lessons, well taught, may Practice, but some other things are necessary to make a home. Fear disorders him. You cannot take advantage of the situation. Engagements take time. You shou’d oblige him.
Isn’t this from the I Ching?
Okay, here’s my second entry:
I have laid down the Rules:
1. Avoid Exercise.
2. Make art.
3. Follow a man who helps you and lets you hit him.
And, here’s my last one:
By your design, the Adversary is any Defect in Nature. Good Grace, if you don’t follow the designs of the enemy, You shou’d, you must, serve order. Order Light!
Fabulous! And all I thought I needed to write was a room of one’s own.
Love this. Simplifies things quite a bit.
This looks like a winner.
Are the numbers within the rules? 🙂
Yeah, I don’t know about the numbers. Unless they somehow count as punctuation. I await the judges’ decision. The are in the privy, I mean, they are in Privy session right now.
the author gives permission to the judges to delete the numbers before awarding the prize. (arrogance is important, right?)
Arrogance is essential.
Arrogance is essential, yes, but one must learn also to humble oneself before the judges and send bribes when possible, ur, small monetary tokens of esteem.
In this case, the judges will imagine away the numbers, not difficult really, considering the condition they are in. Apparently, some no nothing left the Talisker on the kitchen counter again.
It works beautifully without the numbers too!
Life lessons by Sarah B.
Must have been the blue dog.
that would explain the referent confusion. for a minute there, i thought the numbers were loaded.
some Rules, especially your own,
make one execute Postures of Parades
where you intend to make manner of the Eye and Parts,
you fall into Defect
I attained by Assault the Grace you fear
Good to see you here, David.
dave is the man i have chosen to follow. he meets the standards set forth in my “rules”
push and parry
be warned tell the Adversary
you may improve
you who endeavors
you must be
essential, with Good Grace
it is Time
When I have laid down, you must,
(tho’ ’tis not the Rule of Schools)
you must I say, do the same
and sometime after you shou’d design
by Rule, the Motions and Postures
at which you may, but with more art,
be very well taught.
The taking a Lesson well, which I have just described,
may be attained to by Practice only,
but some other things are necessary
besides the Turn of the Body, the Lightness, Suppleness and Vigour.
You must be stout and prudent,
qualities so essential,
that without them you cannot act with a good Grace,
nor take the advantage of the situation.
You are to observe or engage, or take the Time.
You must serve where gives Light.
The Judges have convened (in flannels and bathrobes and smoking jackets—one bearded old gent who may or may not be a judge was wearing only a smoking jacket) and issued a one-time dispensation on the grounds that the wit here involved in finding, yes, a vestige or ghost of Choderlos de Laclos in a fencing manual should not go unrewarded. 🙂
you have used yourself
I have laid down,
not a Scholar
do the same
make one design execute and reflect on Postures and Parades.
formed, you may, parry.
Adversary intend your Riposte, avoid it,
gives him room
you are not surprised, easily
your Defence; by this manner of Exercise, not only more art,
insensibly disposed to follow the Rule,
the difference between a lesson, lets you and another defend that Practice of Lessons
Disorder is the want of Art.
The taking a Lesson
I have just described Practice
other things are necessary; the Body, the Lightness, Suppleness and Vigour
Part, you must
so essential, act with Grace
the least Motion to avoid the situation
designs changing very often, demonstrates, exposes procures Advantage
In case you oblige him to push
he gives Light.
just include this in my first packet, dg.
Sure, this is your complete packet then?
you have the Rules
you must push
you must I say,
you shou’d reflect on this method,
Thrust, you intend which puts him in a condition to avoid it,
you are not surprised, forewarned
you may improve faster being insensibly disposed to follow the Rule.
This Method is between a lesson of who forewarns you, helps you, and lets you
who endeavours to defend you
very well taught you fall to the want of Art
the Body, the Lightness, and Vigour compose qualities so essential without them you cannot act
you keep your back
your Thrust, Blade, Motion
Puts you out of a condition you cannot
take advantage of the situation
you observe the attack
you serve in order to disorder
68 more versions and my creative thesis will be done. actually, diddling here may explain why my first packet is… light. but, this is so much fun. I’m sure my advisor will understand.
you have used yourself according to the Rules
laid down with Strangers,
you must I say, disengaging,
and sometime after you make telling one another your design, which gives him room to redouble he puts you on Defence
you may not improve a Man
you fall into a Disorder owing to the want
well some things are necessary
without them you are apprehensive,
besides, you fear his advantage
changing in order to observe
he will take his Time,
you must serve, and push where he gives Light.
Wonderful found narrative, Jill!
time laid down with Strangers you say,
and then do the same which makes you reflect
a little. You are surprised; you easily improve
art the Eye being disposed helps you, lets you who
endeavours, fall into owing to the want of Art more than to any described necessary to make Body, Lightness, Suppleness, and you, so essential, that without you, the least puts out Time either to take Time or to push Time where he gives Light.
Thank you, Meg! 🙂
Thank you dg!
Would that I had Time at my disposal!
Because I live in “the best of all possible worlds,” I’d like to submit mine as a jpg.
I love how you’ve made the erased words into bricks in a wall!
oh, great! you see them! thanks.
OK, Annamaria. You win again! 🙂
Some used to push you, you say, telling one another your design.
you execute them. Being little.
you are surprised, easily and not, insensibly. follow this difference: a Man who forewarns you, endeavours to hit you; you fall often owing to any Defect in Nature.
Well, Turn the Suppleness and compose. you cannot act apprehensive. follow the Blade, the Condition Without Prudence. take advantage of motions of changing Measure. Danger procures Advantage.
observe: it will be opposed by Time; you shou’d Counter Time.
you must serve disorder
Ah, no longer shy and anonymous, I take it. Nice one.
you fall into a Disorder
owing to the want of Art.
qualities so essential.
Grace disorders you.
you cannot take advantage
of Feints or Engagements.
opposed by Time, you must serve
where he gives Light.
the Adversary puts you into Disorder, but that Grace you fear in Time gives Light
Grace! are you home?
Prudence, very often you are feeble.
A very timely entry.
When you have used yourself
and laid down, reflect on
Motions, Postures, Lunges, Parades.
Being little formed, avoid it
which puts you on Offence:
a Man who forewarns you,
helps you; another, owing to
want of Art, may make Assault—
for Lightness: Suppleness;
Vigour: be stout and prudent:
act with Grace
Capacity demonstrates Quality
Observe his Manner,
Push where he gives Light
Couldn’t resist another, a la Emily:
When you parry—parry strait—
Exercise the Eye and Parts—
Without Endeavours of long Art—
act with Grace—
fear—puts you out—
attack or defend plain strait—
Time keeps Time—
or by half Thrusts—
A bit addictive, isn’t it? 🙂
(First time posting. Long time stalker.)
according to the Rules:
you must push and Thrust
and execute your design,
Motions and Postures.
Being little formed,
by the Eye and
There is a Lesson
of assaulting Man,
owing to the want
but some other things are necessary:
Observe the Enemy.
take Time (his Time),
and push where he gives Light.
This is my second entry for the Erasure Contest. Did I make it in under the wire?
Oops. Meg, see discussion above on the integrity of dg’s words. He seems fussy about it.
The judge’s fussiness and ensuing commentary is precisely why it’s so delightful when someone like Meg pushes the envelope. Or wall, as the case may be.
I did miss that, Lynne! Alas! No matter–I often buck rules and miss deadlines. I think as a result of my specail needs. Even so, all is not lost! I enjoyed myself immensely!
IMHO I followed the official contest guidelines to the letter! So, Shirley, I’m a winner!
Shirley, Meg, your specail needs are Precious. I am filled with Envy – I thrust my efforts with order and missed too much the Delight of Disorder. To follow you Rich can only parry his Art Counter to the flow of Time taking Light.
It’s that damnable invisibility again! I love hate it.
(Last minute entry from the West Coast…note, automatically disqualified for the 2012 Awards Dinner b/c I wrote the entry backwards.)
Light and disorder serve Time
Time keeps feeble advantage to Danger
Enterprise demonstrates Capacity
Grace often is Disorder
Practice endeavors Man
Method being Exercise
Being makes design your Master
I must push down that Wall
2nd link in case the first one fails…http://bluemoonnortheast.blogspot.com/
I really did mean to make another entry, but I’m in the throes of AWP Madness (with overtones of Weather Anxiety). Good luck, everyone.