hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö

hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö (2004) for clarinet, violin, cello and piano

Premiered by Lenora Schneller, clarinet, Kia-Hui Tan, violin, Stephen Palmer, cello, and Emily Goldman, piano; Barnes Hall, Cornell University

Duration: 12 min.

Excerpt from the III movement of hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö

The nations of that planet are, congenitally, idealistic. Their language and those things derived from their language—religion, literature, metaphysics—presuppose idealism. For the people of Tlön, the world is not an amalgam of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts—the world is successive, temporal, but not spatial. There are no nouns in the conjectural Ursprache of Tlön, from which its “present-day” languages and dialects derive; there are impersonal verbs, modified by monosyllabic suffixes (or prefixes) functioning as adverbs. For example, there is no noun that corresponds to our word “moon,” but there is a verb which in English would be “to moonate” or “to enmoon”. “The moon rose above the river” is “hlör u fang axaxaxas mlö” or, as Xul Solar* succinctly translates: Upward, behind the onstreaming, it mooned.

(Taken from Jorge Luis Borges, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”. From Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley. New York: Penguin Books, 1998, pages 72–73)

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Audio MP3

This recording: Ensemble X: Kia-Hui Tan, violin; Rick Faria, clarinet; John Haines-Eitzen, cello; Read Gainsford, piano