in a review of Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language at the Museum of Modern Art
by Desi Gonzalez
“Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” Noam Chomsky composed this sentence in 1957 in an attempt to show the world that language could be grammatically accurate yet semantically bankrupt. Since then, linguistics students have devoted inexhaustible hours trying to attach meaning to the cryptic phrase. “Green” might refer to immaturity or youth, some say; others insist that to “sleep furiously” is to experience a nightmare.
But that’s not Chomsky’s point. “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” is about the existence of grammar, even when language’s supposed function—communication—is absent. This is language gone haywire, severed from its primary aim of conveying meaning but maintaining an underlying, inherent structure. continue… Riot Of Perfume