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Coining Sepulchritude

This Portmanteau Won't Fit Under the Seat


"I present memories as they occur to me, but you have taught me to distrust my own mind."
the Marquis to Bat


One of our older attempts at documenting our history hit a snag right off. Bat had attempted to encapsulate the history in an old draft, explaining the group's origins and progression where she could and soliciting Kallisti to fill in the missing bits where she was fuzzy.

Shortly after Bat mailed Kallisti the first draft of the "history," on the morning of 1/5/00, the Marquis in a letter to all (namely, the other three editors), took up a separate but relevant musing from a previous email where there had been a brief allusion to the word itself: "Sepulchritude."

The pertinent fragment that jumped out from the Marquis's mail:

MARQUIS: Hell, that's how I came up with the word in the first place.

This casual little statement alarmed Bat as she had just sent to Kallisti the history of Sepulchritude draft, which contained her own casual statement of how Bat had coined the word. She always *thought* she had.

So, she wrote back the Marquis and Kallisti (as Kallisti now had the history that had come into question)

BAT: I was trying to remember the word coming-up-with thing, because I thought I had come up with it. Actually, I remember it as all a spontaneous yelling betwixt both of us one hungover morning visiting in the kitchen in the Lyon St. house. But this is important .... as I just gave Kallisti a draft of history where I claimed to be the originator of the word. So .... was it I, or you, or both of us? I know it emanated from all of us seizing on the word "pulchritudinous" and spouting that at each other for days and days ....

So, the claim in the history will have to be revised if you claim inventor's rights and are not indulging in your dyslexia* ....hehehe. I am not certain. We could always just split the diff and use the royal "we" and say Sepulchritude created Sepulchritude .....

But I'm open to being argued with if you remember it differently ....


* IMPORTANT ASIDE: The Marquis's Dyslexia, or actually, The Marquis's Dyslexic Memory, as we have come to call it, is a trait of his that is both maddening and endearing. He has been known relate an anecdote and get the gist of it in there, but switch locales and or the people present. (Ever the writer -- for the Marquis, it's the words that count -- the stage backdrop and the cast are wholly irrelevant!) This means he has, not infrequently, managed to relate an anecdote to the person who had actually been present, even sometimes key, at the anecdotal event being told. He will say "so-and-so" and "so-and-so" were there and said "this-or-that" when neither so-and-so's were within miles and the "this-or-that" was what you, the person he's now telling the anecdote to, actually said. Usually, smiling sardonically and saying, "I know. I was there." is sufficient to jog his memory. But sometimes he protests and insists, and the most surreal of arguments can ensue.


Continuing the email exchange. These are excerpts, edited, and pieces of the threads contained within the multiple emails were matched up to clarify. So, it's not in strict chronological order, although these were all from the same day.



This is hilarious. I just read this and felt behooved to go outside for a smoke and a reflective moment.

To my memory, I originated it, and there is no doubt. But due to the last Kookigami/Brainchild dyslexia fiasco, [see footnote for some parenthetical history] unto which I deferred to your better memory, I thought it prudent of me to reflect a moment and get the facts straight in my own head.

I am dyslexic, a mite. 'Tis true.

But I don't think there's any dyslexia involved here because nothing's being swapped.

It was shortly after the Anne Rice thing, I remember, because I had erstwhile not been familiar with the word. I remember thinking how much the word sounded like sepulchre initially, and how cool was that.

BAT: I remember it having come in the kitchen. Most assuredly.

MARQUIS: Hercule Poirot would be FURIOUS with us.

MARQUIS:I also remember writing a poam one night, on that inspiring orange bank carpet in my Greg Brady Attic, on my Performa 550. I wrote the poam, then searched for a title. I can still almost hear the Ding of inspiration as that word popped into my head, and that became the title.

Read the poam later and hated it. So it's gone. My Exhibit A is inadmissable. heheh.

Sepulchritude first poked its head up when you and I did our highly-succesful graphic design company. I think I still have a biz card somewhere: "Sepulchritude: 2 Leos, No Waiting".

I remember you were not particularly impressed with the word, nor in a big rush to use it as our graphic design co. name. And I sharply remember being a little disappointed because I thought I was so clever, and your lack of enthusiasm took some wind out of my Leonine sails.

Bat: No, no, no, no ..... I remember you chiding me for my lack of enthusiasm over the thing you proferred, but it WAS NOT the wording -- it was the Perseus graphic you desired to use as an icon. THIS I do remember. And I LIKED the Perseus icon very much, but apparently I didn't enthuse at you enough to please you at the time and you never believed me ..... heheheh.

MARQUIS: I'll check my email archives and see if I can find anything concrete on this matter. When would this have been, approximately? I'm so bad with time.

BAT: I am not certain. I just did a word search on the computer correspondence through 94. Nada. I might have to open my diary. Drat. I don't want to look at THAT.

MARQUIS: Well don't actually start READING it. Just glance for the key word. It is never recommended to read one's journal once it has aged.


MARQUIS: 94? Gads. Have I known you that long?

BAT: Yuppers. Time slouches.


MARQUIS: So, anyway. I'm not stomping my foot or anything. I present memories as they occur to me, but you have taught me to distrust my own mind. Well, not you alone. I have lots of other reasons to do that of course. But I distrust myself, all the same.

Still though, it's a sharp memory, the moment the word popped into my head, I seem to recall. I remember it flying from my fingertips easier than it should have done, being such a strange word, the first time I typed it.

Your turn.

Heheh. This is funny. We're going to have wonderful, wicked fights over the past when we're 80. Crabby old farts, scratching at each other's eyes. "Sins of Coffee was MINE, dammit!" "No! You stole it from me!" "Pish-posh!" "Bitch!" "Trollop!" "You wish!" "Argh! My teeth!" "Let go of my prosthesis!" "Well I made absinthe first." "Did not!" "Shaddup, you!" "Go to hell." "I'm there." "Good!" (etc.)

BAT: I think you are right ... we'll have great tussles of memory. Just now, my memory's better than yours, so I have a slight edge. Hehehe.

MARQUIS: But I am not allowing you to claim default victory on skirmishes on that count alone. I am positive is was my word, dammit, and you can't have it. Pout.

Another thing I remember is thinking, in actual words (not fuzzy thought-colours): "Ooo, Bat's gonna love this one. I can't wait to use it on her."

Well apparently you loved it enough to appropriate it out from under me like a tablecloth beneath a vase.

I don't know who you think you are, but you're hassling my buzz.

I still think it was me, in the attic, alone, with the lead pipe. It's really so vivid, the memory of the moment it hit. As if it had been bubbling and lurking in the back of my mind for weeks and its arrival was not at all unexpected. Yet there was still a Ding. Like toast. You know it's in the toaster, but when it pops up, it's always so very, very exciting.

Don't you find that about toast?

"Ooooo," is what I said to myself. And that happens so infrequently that I can map the times it has.

I think, in your histoire, it might be a good idea to sensationalize this little snafu. Mention the origin of the word as "a long-fought-over point of contention between two Editors who will not relinquish their stance on the subject, each believing that they, sole they, were the originator of the word."

Imply a lawsuit pending.

And various points of Untold Intrigue. Mention an estrangement period. Etc., etc.



In the middle of these emails, much of the debate actually raged on ICQ for a while. Those verbatim conversations weren't saved, but are mostly along the same lines as the emails. Except that Bat offered her theory of supporting evidence as to why she was pretty sure she was the coiner. As she a few months after the coining of the word used it briefly for her freelance graphics biz, she obviously felt the word was hers enough to use at will. She gets anal about attributing credits and would never, never have lifted a word invented and presented by the Marquis without some elaborate permission-asking ritual (no such thing ever happened) and as she knows she's always felt entitled to use the word as she pleased, she is certain this is circumstantial evidence that she had made it up.

AND she knows she would remember had the Marquis presented her with a clever portmanteau and she would have pointed out the Marquis' cleverness to everyone else. The fact she didn't point out the cleverness is strong circumstantial evidence she coined itthat winter morning in the kitchen with the coffee, the gargoyle, and the camera.


BAT: But I am going to look through peripheral material and see if I can find a corroborating source for my contention.

MARQUIS: Me too.

BAT: Hehehe. This is sorta fun.

MARQUIS: I love the sight of flying fur in the morning...


KALLISTI: Ok, I DO remember something afterall ...

I remember when preparing to register the domain, asking Bat's permission to register, which I think means that at some point I had the understanding that she held the intellectual copyright. And since I was living with said Marquis at the time, I think I would known whether or not I needed her permission. A clue? A hint? I wish I could help more!

Now MELUSINE has an excellent memory, try plumbing HER depths!


MARQUIS: I think if I had been privvy to your query to Bat, I would have told you then that she is not the one to ask. I didn't know you were asking her however, and therefore didn't say anything.

Rrrow. Ffft. Hsss.


MARQUIS: There are two major Dings of inspiration I remember from that period. Bat was in mind for both of them.

1) Inventing the Brainchild game in the dingy filing room of MK in SoMa one boring corporate afternoon. I remember precisely the scene and can describe the envelope I used to test it, the yellow legal-pad papers I cut up, etc.

2) Coining the fucking word Sepulchritude in my attic and being very happy about it and thinking "Bat will like this one."

BAT: Now, now. What we must do is find what it was the Marquis concocted that he remembers as Sepulchritude. I could not convince of the Kookagami* [see footnote for that story] argument until I showed him what he had switched the memory for. So. I'm supposed to come up with something he did alone in his room he was proud of.

Uh. Resisting Chaucerian humour here.

MARQUIS: Hehehehe. I'm having a ball. Chaucer be damned.

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The Kookagami story was another illustration of the Marquis' dyslexic memory. In the intro to Kookagami, the scene he paints was another event where we played the Marquis' Brainchild game at Monique's flat with everyone. It was an entirely other occasion when Monique brought the hilarious Kokigami book to Du Nord. That weekend, still inspired by the fascinating book, the Marquis had a flash. Modern versions! Bat was visiting at the time, and recalls spending the afternoon making up some of the newer ones at the Marquis' insistence. Great fun.

Bat, upon reading the Marquis' intro to Kookagami and mirthfully recognizing the ravages of memory dyslexia, gave the Marquis her recollection of events. At first, he scoffed, but a couple of days later said, "You know, I thought about it. And you're right."

If Bat were given to paranoia, she might question why it so often seems to be HER that gets bumped from the cast in the Marquis' carousel remembrances, but she won't pursue that thought .... the Marquis's cerebellum is a mystery best left unresolved …




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