Friday, September 23, 2011

The Archaeology of the Page, Test 1

This is a fun exercise from just about any perspective. Digging around this page, you can unearth a ton of stuff: some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue. The text is from Mae West's novel, Babe Gordon (1930), reprinted as The Constant Sinner. Let's poke around a little, shall we?

X-ray lamps. What the hell are those?  These are probably not medical X-ray lamps at a boxing match, so must be a slang term from the 1920s. The term "X-ray" was coined in the late 1800s.

"The restless spectators were howling and stamping for the bouts to begin." Could apply to anything from a Roman gladiator fight to a Duke-UNC basketball game. Timeless human nature.

Aisle seats. These go back at least to the ancient Greeks, eh?

"Old-timers of the fight club."  Old-timers = veterans, experienced people.  The term goes back to just before the American Civil War (1861-1865), if not earlier.

Fight club. I have no idea when or where this idea began, but clearly Mae West's text --  written during the 1920s -- spells it out a long time prior to Chuck Palahniuk's hugely influential 1996 novel, Fight Club, which was adapted into a 1999 film starring Brad Pitt.

Folks, that's just the first four sentences of one page . . . see what I mean?

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.


Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting. A lot of those elements call to mind boxing immediately to me. I think part of that is from reading Robert E. Howard's boxing stories from the 20s and 30s, which expressed some of this same lingo.

Erik Donald France said...

Cool beans, man. Lingo rules !

jodi said...

Erik-the word 'dame' cracks me up! So does 'broads'!