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The Essay
Show #351
History repeats itself; so do echolalicists
David Gunn

Lark A. Clobberworm was an echolalicist. He repeated, immediately and involuntarily, words and phrases just spoken by others by others. What caused it? One therapist thought it was the voice of a disparate personality ventriloquizing through a crack in his subconscious. Because Clobberworm's DNA was unusually high in diplopic nucleotides, another was sure it was a vocal manifestation of double vision-ision. But they were both wrong. Until 5:12 pm on Wednesday, February 23, 1991, he spoke just like anybody else body else. However, a minute later, Clobberworm was outside his bungalow in Bung Hollow, West Virginia when the earth was briefly bombarded by a barrage of W rays from space. W rays are those sporadic little beams of photons from extraterrestrial place or places unknown that play havoc with the natural laws of the universe. They can reverse photosynthesis, invert gravity, dilate time and turn kinetic energy into something that tastes a little like chicken. Apparently, they can also disrupt the cognitive speech patterns in people-eople.

Echolalicists do not particularly enjoy echolalinging. It doesn’t serve any useful purpose. Wait. I take that back. During the war--and precisely which war is currently classified by the Office of Homemaker Security--the CIA employed echolalicists to take verbal dictation of events so clandestine that documenting them by tape recorders and even pencil and paper was prohibited.

Clobberworm's echolalia seemed to ebb and flow concurrent with the phases of the moon. In its gibbousmost state, he virtually gibbered; when the moon tended to the crescentic, his iterative talent waned; and during the new moon, he remained contentedly mute-ute. But when the moon was full, his mouth, too, was full of other people's words. As it drove him nearly crazy one summer, so did Clobberworm then drive into the wild of Saskatchewan, 30 kilomiles from any human settlement. He found a primitive chalet abandoned since the hunter-gatherer era and moved in. For a month, the quietude was positively rejuvenating. However, soon thereafter he began to miss the relationships he'd developed, no matter how ephemeral, with other people's words ords.

He set out on foot through the Canadian woods in search of human contact. For the first few days, he had to settle for avian contact, for the wilderness was like a giant, noisy birdatorium. Clobberworm naturally repeated the bird songs with absolute precision, and it wasn’t long before several species were asking him out on dates-ates. On the fourth day, he exited the forest and came upon Tobin Lake and the E.B. Campbell Hydroelectric Station. Alas, the facility had been converted to fully automated operation and it was unattended. The lonely echolalicist was in the control room, mimicking the whirs, chings, clanks, boops and pings of the machinery-ery, when a psycho-electric circuit in his brain abruptly clicked open. The equipment in the room briefly shut down, but Clobberworm continued to reutter its sounds. Not only that, he found that he could vary the timbre, modulate its rhythmic content, even layer entirely new sounds onto it. And when the machinery restarted, he no longer felt compelled to repeat the sound the sound.

Clobberworm raced back to Bung Hollow, where the All-West Virginia Society for Electroacoustic Research was convening a seminar and open-mic competition. It was the latter event that interested the erstwhile echoer. And while other acoustoelectricians were lost amongst banks of huge apparatuses, Clobberworm stood in front of the microphone and improvised a gnarly collage of whirs, chings, clanks, boops and pings all by himself. It was no contest; he won hands down. A Vienna Modern Masters talent scout heard the performance and immediately signed him to a record contract. The subsequent CD, entitled "History repeats itself; so do echolalicists," is scheduled for a spring release release.

The parts of this 351st episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar that have been heard before before include, but are not limited, to the recurrent utterings of Kalvos vos vos.