’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimbel in the wabe; all mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe. And in the fulvious amertrube lay the amphigouri…

No, wait, that’s not it. If I wanted to completely desecrate Lewis Carroll’s work and get it all wrong to boot, I’d ask Tim Burton. But something’s afoot… So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf, to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. “What! no soap?” So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top; and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots. And the amphigouri sang “Den itan nissi.”

Oh, no, no, it was Nana Mouskouri who sang “Den itan nissi,” and the rest was made up by Samuel Foote for pronunciation by some panjandrum in an amphitheatre. But where is the amphigouri?

Well, I suppose it depends on what kind of amphigouri you want. Certainly an amphigouri of jabberwocky or some similar phantasmagoria could be rather gory (but then we might prefer to call it an amphigory), but others might be more, um, figurative. Or you could proceed post-haste to postmodernism (or at least Saturday evening post-modernism): visit for a postmodernist amphigouri (and every time you visit or even refresh the page, you will get something new).

So what, then, is an amphigouri? Well, to obnubilate in the clearest manner possible, it is a dicurtical strication of thematic varietation, surpondial but fundamentally based on an either paraciliastic basilon nor why it does when divagate. The morphological ecdysiation is in essence not merely evanescent but always already precluded by diasynchronic fuscus; we may identify amphi from a stereotopical conspectus, but beyond that we can but gather that the gouri. In semantic terms, it is paradipsically exemplified as follows:

There once was a clear amphigory
Who said, “That’s a whole nother story.
Parodic fantasia
Is prolix aphasia:
No guts, and quite often no rhyme, either.”

If that’s clear as mud, well. Very well, in fact, even if a muddy well. What I’m saying is that an amphigouri is a piece of nonsense writing, often but not necessarily in verse, typically aiming to parody. Also, an amphigory is a piece of nonsense writing, often but not necessarily in verse, typically aiming to parody. Which is to say that amphigory is another spelling of amphigouri, and in fact is probably the better-known spelling for English speakers, especially those who have ever seen Edward Gorey’s book Amphigorey. Amphigory is an English spelling of amphigouri, which we have also taken straight from the French. (I just happen to find the French spelling more exotic-looking.) And the French got it where? Well, the amphi is clear enough: “both sides” or “about”. But what’s it doing there? Is the gouri from agora or the same root as the ending of allegory and category, or is it from gyros “circle”? One way or the other, it’s made of bits borrowed from Greek, but apparently put together without a mind for coherence.

The term can also be applied to speech or writing that is not intentionally incoherent. And of course it can be applied to a work of literature that one may assume is meant to be obscurantist but is not parody per se. Which brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs…

6 responses to “amphigouri

  1. Israel "izzy" Cohen

    Groundhog Day Party on February 2nd

    Dwight Hines [actual quote]: It takes true wordplayers to write about the shades of mortality.
    Random House: shade 7. the disembodied spirit of a dead person.
    Walrus: The time has come to chat about eschatology.
    Banquo: We thanes know all about thanatology.
    Narcissus: What would you know about youth in Asia?
    Pegasus: Horsefeathers! He probably doesn’t know the difference between Calvary and cavalry. If pigs could fly …
    Beelzebub: … I’d be lord of the pigs.
    Izzy: When should we have this party?
    Marmota: Today, on February 2nd, of course.
    Elvis: You ain’t nuthin’ but a Groundhog. — with thanks to Cynthia MacGregor
    Izzy: But where?
    J Maccabee: At the Macabre Caberet. It’s an adumbral location for a dumb brawl.
    Izzy: How will we get there?
    Dorothy: We can felo-de-sallow brick road.
    Toto: Yep.
    Izzy: Suffering succotash. Who are you?
    Succuba: Men succumb to me. Call me Bella Donna.
    Atropos: I’m here. In a reversal of Fate, I give everyone a Sport-ing chance.
    Izzy: Do you cast a die? or just a shadow?
    Atropos: of nothing. Life hangs by a Hare …
    Grim Reaper: … that I cut with my scythe.
    Tortoise: People say I’m an infernal animal. They confuse me with Tartarus. If I were a sea turtle I’d be a martyr.
    Oyster: Who’s going to Host this party?
    Izzy: I nominate Walt Quader. Where is that guy?
    Quader: The phrase ‘dead as a doornail’ appears as though it mightbe a stubbornly persistent corruption of this disputed fragment from Shakespeare’s otherwise lost notebook of sketches for his (alas, also lost) last comedy, The Grim Knocker: …dead, Isadore? / Nay!
    I’ll… — Walt
    Lobster: Let’s dance a quadrille. — Lewis Carroll
    White Rabbit: I can do the bunny hop.
    Owl: I prefer the hootchy-kootchy.
    Wovoka: Will there really be dancing?
    Artemis: Of course. Just call me Diana, goddess of Dance. Do you like rhythm and blues?
    Izzy: Is that a form of synaesthesia? Where tints are produced by tones?
    Silenus: That sounds very interesting. I must tell my friend Memnon about this. Wonder where he is?
    Memnon: I’m luxuriating in LuxOr (aka Karn-ak). I still produce tones from (furtive glance + whisper) light rays.
    DH: The idea of this party is you become familiar with …
    Doppelgänger: … with your own familiar!
    DH: No. Just a time and place where no one takes umbrage … like the WordczaRus group where we all try to strike a happy medium.
    Witch of Endor: Ouch.
    Saul: Are you really a medium?
    Witch: I used to be. Now I’m a large. Beware … the … evil … eye.
    Cyclops: What is your name?
    Odysseus: My name is gnomon. How’s that for style?
    Ariel: Word play? That group is just a tempest in a teapot.
    Belial: A worthless group if I ever heard of one. Full of nuts.
    Satan: Don’t reverse my name in vain.
    Vampire: Where is that vein?
    Azazel: They’re as crAzy as ‘ell.
    Argus: I’d better keep an eye on that group … if only to see if
    anyone is actually playing with words.
    Humpty: If you can *see* whether I’m playing with words, you’ve sharper eyes than most. — (with apologies to) Carroll
    Caesar: If looks were daggers, Argus, you’d really be dangerous.
    Pluto: Woof. It’s He-l in Sheol.
    Cerberus: Arf, Bow-Wow, and How. [Israeli dogs say How-How.] I can fetch three Styx at the same time.
    Cynosura: Why is Argus watching me? Does he think I’m Gladly, the cross-eyed bear?
    Euler: You can’t cross all 7 of the Koenigsburg bridges without crossing at least one of them twice.
    Caiaphas: Let me try that. I know how to fix a cross.
    Valkyrie: Kyrie eleison. Let me carry you away from this Vale of Tears … to Elysium.
    Izzy: Do they have Shades in Hades?
    Satan: You’ll find out soon enough. We recycle lemures as lemurs, douroucoulis, and tarsiers.
    Riding Hood: My, what big eyes you have.
    Grandma: This has been one long bubbe-maise. It’s time to fly the coop.
    Azrael: Dei gratia. By your grace, I’ll deliver the coup.
    Israel: Just a minute. Una memento mori. Mama MIA. Son of Sam & Sara.
    Eli Goodman: Is Izzy schizy?
    Dr. Spock: No, just an ex-spook goin’ back to ‘is old haunts.
    Israel “izzy” Cohen
    Petah Tikva

  2. what does giga stand for in numerical amounts ?
    Answer: one million.

  3. what does giga stand for in numerical amounts ?

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