Looney Tunes and Unheard Melodies
© An Oulipian Colonescapade, with a Critique of
“The Great-Ape Love Song Corpus” and Its Lexicon
It is not sufficient to be elsewhere in order not to be here.
—St. Thomas Aquinas,
Summa Contra Gentiles
Abstract: The ultimate aim of this paper is to raise the conscious-
ness of colonized scholars—to free us from the colonic obstruc-
tions that have become a rampant academic disease. This is a
colonescapade and not a colonoscopy for two reasons: first, we
are investigating the waste regions of the linguistic and not the
biological body; second, our “escapade” is not an “oscopy” be-
cause it seeks to go beyond diagnosis and operate on the dis-
ease directly. The procedure is radical, arguing by example, not
precept. It operates under the eleventh thesis of Feuerbach: “In-
tellectuals have only tried to understand the world in various
ways; the point is to change it.” May there be no more colonic ob-
structions in our lives! This is my hope and fervent wish.
Some fifteen years ago an essay appeared in Paris in a marginal publishing venue that altered forever the practice of trans-phylogenic linguistics. Jacques Jouet’s paper did more than translate an Obliterature1 that had been to that point complete terra incognita. His modest— traditionalists call it his bestial—essay shook the foundations of language study in the West. So radical were its implications that it remains either ignored or treated as a kind of looney tune by academicians; and beyond that tight little professorial island, the essay is unheard. To specialists the essay appears even more suspect than Saussure’s early researches into the anagrammatics he discovered in Silver Age Latin poetry.2 Saussure, as we know, turned his back on his own disturbing discoveries and proceeded to his fame and glory. Jouet, by contrast, has stood game and steadfast.