A Passage from Luminous Airplanes, or Things As They Were: A Hyperromance
What is a hyperromance?
In Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, one of the few books I still own (and only because I left it in Norman Mailer’s car during my brief, disastrous stay with Suzanne, and never carried it up to her apartment, because it was so heavy), I find the following under romance (n.):
1a. a tale in verse written in medieval times based chiefly on legend, chivalric love and adventure;
1b. a prose tale written in medieval times and resembling a metrical romance;
1c. a prose narrative having romantic qualities or characteristics: as (1): one treating imaginary characters involved in events unrelated to everyday life—compare FANTASY FICTION (2): one dealing with the remote in time or place, the heroic, the adventurous, and often the mysterious—compare the HISTORICAL NOVEL;
2. something (as an extravagant invention or wild exaggeration) that lacks basis or foundation in fact;
3. the quality or state of being romantic;
4. a love, love affair, or marriage of a romantic nature;
5. the languages developed from Latin (as Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian).
And under hyper: over, above, beyond, SUPER-; overmuch, excessively, EXTRA-; excessive in extent or quality; located above; measured upward.
Each of these definitions, I’m sorry to say, has its place here. There is a tale of love in verse, and prosaic adventures as well; there are stories unrelated to life and stories all too closely related to it. There is certainly much that lacks a basis in fact. The whole is wildly romantic in its hopes and in its discouragement also. It is, furthermore, Romantic, in that it treats of mountains and nature and time, the bignesses in which the human spirit hopes to lose itself. There is a love in it: many loves: too many loves. And also a language derived from Latin by way of French: langue d’up. You will not have heard of it. But be patient: you will.
As for hyper: haven’t you guessed? There is too much of everything here, far too much of everything. There is hypertext written in a state of hyperactivity, not to mention hyperbole, and Hyperboria. And hypercriticism, if you choose, and hypersensitivity, whether you like it or not.
© 2008-2015 Paul La Farge. All rights reserved.