PUNNATURAL HISTORY

Are puns natural? Perhaps we could start with the assumption that they are not. As unnatural exceptions to the rule, they would be little monsters thrown into the natural order of things, or as the etymology of the word suggests, they would be little warnings from a deity, created by our Artist to invite us to devout worship and adoration of this perfect order, in which words and things exist in unquestionable unity. By its perverse logic, the exception would prove the role. But etymologies are monstrous entomologies that try to make sense of these little bugs called words, the very words that continue bugging and buggering us with their uncanny quality: An ingenious world-revealing word play can turn into a tasteless joke if it is not stored properly in the freezers of our culture that we call museums, just as every beautiful animal can turn into a monster if it has teeth and spikes. The surrealists, with their visual puns and chance encounters, knew this. In their fascination with the material and artificial world of the early twentieth-century they also pushed for an overcoming of the now dry and tasteless distinctions between kitsch and art, reality and fantasy. It is high time to bring their unnatural puns back to the nature, the goddess of the Romantics that breathes life into the teary I’s of poets. That would be quite an enjoyable punishment for them and for us. 

Introduction by Dr. Mert Bahadir Reisoglu

 © 2020 by Ozlem Akin.