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.