Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rosaries, ovaries, penis, Jesus: in praise of prosody

In another life as an academic, I frequently fell foul of simple-minded yet well-meaning ideologues (they didn't mean well towards me, of course, but that's another story) who sneeringly decried any attention paid to literary technique or the craft of writing as 'formalism', which they regarded as the demonic half of a simple and oddly Manichean dichotomy. If one paid any attention at all to the aesthetics of any text, literary or other, one was deemed automatically to be not just ignoring but actively denying its function as a carrier of ideology.

This was and is the biggest load of bollocks I've ever heard in my whole life, and that is saying a great deal. It seemed and still does seem obvious to me that understanding the micro-details of the craft of writing gives one far more skill and scope in both the decoding and the production of meaning, including, obviously, its ideological dimension.

And this is why I have joined the ranks of those offended by Senator Kerry Nettle's silly t-shirt. Not because I object in any way to the message, but because 'rosaries' and 'ovaries' is as half-arsed an attempt at rhyme as the original slogan on which I presume it's a variation: 'Get your Jesus off my penis.'

Both of these slogans are pretending to be using rhyme when they're actually not, and in both cases that's the reason why they come across as kind of lame. Three of these words are actually quite hard to find rhymes for, but the fourth is relatively easy: Jesus rhymes with breezes, cheeses, freezes, eases, geezers, pleases, seizes, sneezes, squeezes and teases, and that's just off the top of my head. If you were in Gollumspeak mode you could even rhyme it with 'treeses', a construction for which the Greens might well, at some point, find a use.

'Penis' is more difficult but still possible if one is creative. Conceivably you could rhyme it with, say, 'Uh oh, the headmaster has seen us.'

But 'ovaries' and 'rosaries' don't rhyme with each other or anything else much, although at this point I do feel a competition coming on. I have no prizes to offer -- but can anyone think of full or 'perfect' rhymes for either of these words?


Zoe said...

Can't help you with the rhymes,. But I will try and demonstrate truly offensive clothing by finding the picture of Owy and Kerry Nettle at the school formal.

Bronze ruching, anyone?

(MY naughty mum is peering over my keyboard, and just said Kerry looked quite nice too)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Bronze ruching, eh? Hmmm. I suppose it could work.

And Nettle is tall and slender (cow) so even bronze ruching probably looks better on her than it does on me. I'd need to see the photo to be sure, though ...

Zoe said...

No amount of tall and slender can fix bronze ruching. Can't find the bloody photo, though I bet his mum's got one somewhere.

FXH said...

Once in first "form" I have was "beat" by a nun wearing "rosaries" over a "meter" long, she had "flow" some "cadence" but not "rhyme". She gave me "chapter" and "verse" and I could barely "stanza" it although a "couplet" of other kids copped it that day too.

I am unimpressed by Miss Nettle, amongst other things she looks like a miss goody-two shoes who thinks she's terribly naughty wearing the t-shirt.

wtf is a bronze ruching? sounds smutty to me. what happens when you get sloppy drunk and all over a lifesaver?

ThirdCat said...

What do you think of 'I can say sandwiches in ten different languages'. A line from a Paul Kelly song which I always quite liked, but now you have made me wonder (and I might have mis-sung it in the way you do - it might be seven languages or some such - but still I like it).

I can't do any better than rosaries- hosieries. Lame, but it is the end of a lazy weekend.

The bronze ruche would need to be topped by a perm, I think.

Pavlov's Cat said...

You'd have to say 'sangwidges'. As one does. Rosaries/hosieries is pretty damn good, as long as you say the latter as a 3-syllable word with a hard z sound in the middle. As one also often does, especially when in a hurry.

The centrality of the aural (as distinct from the written) in assessing rhyme came home to me forcibly one day when I was teaching Yeats's 'Leda and the Swan'. It's a perfectly regularly rhymed sonnet -- but only if you recite it in an Irish accent.

I am about to write a whole new post on the subject of ruching, including illustrations. No verbal description could do the ruching effect justice.

FXH said...

ha can't keep secrets from me. women. hrrrmph. A bit of super sluething and manly research (yeah I googled) I know what bronze ruching is.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Oh, that is a FANTASTIC illustration. Much better than anything I found for the separate post I am planning. (Not trying to keep girlie secrets, honest. Just very slow.)

I've got a feeling that illustration is much more beautiful than the particular bronze ruching to which Zoe is referring.

comicstriphero said...

What rhymes with 'ovaries'?

"Oh look over there! There are several Emma Bovaries talking about their ovaries!"

Don't be too hard on me. It is Monday morning.

Lucy Tartan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lucy Tartan said...

oh dear, what a particularly dreadful crossposting - I am horrified and deleting right now

Pavlov's Cat said...

I think comicstriphero ought to get some sort of prize for that. The virtual bottle of Moët is yours.

Laura, what on earth did you do? I missed the whole thing!

FXH -- agreed re Ms Nettle. Definitely not a fully thought through gesture.

Kate said...

Nope. Rhyming's never been my strong point anyway.

My objection to the t-shirt is that it is UGLY. If you're going to do politics via t-shirt, it should at least look cool.

I have no opinion on ruching but bronze? Blurgh.