It is common knowledge that in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, no unified, national language existed before the advent of European colonialism; as far as colonial interests were concerned, the disparate array of tribal and regional dialects was too inefficient and disruptive, so particular languages were plucked and enforced as national tongues. In Indonesia, for example, the language that became “Indonesian” was a very basic, limited language primarily used for market transactions, and thus known across tribes and regions. Someone should write a novel from the perspective of a parent watching his or her child, or grandchild, being brought up with a mother tongue previously spoken exclusively for its utility in regional commerce. Presumably, linguists and anthropologists have studied how these “market” languages have changed in the generations since early colonialism, but it would be interesting to read a novel that addressed the emotional and psychological issues involved in the adoption and transformation of a market language into a mother tongue.
Antonin Artaud’s To Have Done with the Judgment of God is considered by some to be the greatest piece of radio drama in history. Listening to the recording while following along with the book gives English speakers a clunky experience quite removed from what Artaud intended. An able group of performers should create an English-language recording of the piece, possibly with new text to reflect current times.
Invite different kinds of people—architects, cartoonists, plastic surgeons—to attend a lecture on an undisclosed subject. Tell them that they will be tested on the information. Instead, take their notes, doodles and all, and display them as an exhibit, perhaps in conjunction with a transcript of the lecture itself, or perhaps with the subject of the lecture remaining a mystery.
Someone should make a documentary film about current apocalyptic cults in the United States. The documentary could focus on how different groups have dealt with what millennial scholars and writers call “disconfirmation.” How did groups adjust when the world did not end with the millennium? Have events like 9-11 and the war in Iraq contributed to the resuscitation of faltering and discredited apocalyptic mysticism? Have millenarians and assorted eschatological new-agers rationalized some kind of ongoing process with the year 2000 marking a beginning, thereby saving their belief systems?
Please send your ideas to [email protected].We’re not looking for ideas that are funny jokes. The following readers contributed to this month’s assortment: Edan Lepucki, Patrick Brown, Jason Roberts, John Veldhoen, and Colleen Montag.