song – utopian turtletop
July 31, 2007
[splashcast TPUK7811XE HFYJ3473DQ]
at the pool today i was reading this book about women in the twenties (although i should really read a book about women in their twenties) and anyway i was reading about marianne moore who i don’t like poetry much but seemed like an interesting person so like anyone who wants to know a bite sized candy bar amount of something about someone without doing any work i went to wikipedia and:
In 1955, Moore was informally invited by David Wallace, manager of marketing research for Ford’s “E-car” project, and his co-worker Bob Young to provide input with regard to the naming of the car. Wallace’s rationale was “Who better to understand the nature of words than a poet?”
Moore, a loyal Ford owner, submitted numerous lists, which included such names as “Silver Sword”, “Thundercrest” (and “Thundercrester”), “Resilient Bullit”, “Intelligent Whale”, “Pastelogram”, “Andante con Moto”, “Varsity Stroke”, and “Mongoose Civique”. (One name she suggested, “Chaparral”, later coincidentally was used for a racing car.) Against the strong objection of her brother, Moore also submitted the name “Turcotinga”, which was a play on cotinga (the name of various South American birds) and the color turquoise; however, she noted in her letter to Wallace that it was simply a suggestion, that if he wanted to go in the direction of nature she had several volumes of works that she could review. In a letter dated December 8, 1955, Moore wrote the following:
May I submit UTOPIAN TURTLETOP? Do not trouble to answer unless you like it. Marianne Moore
All Moore’s ideas were rejected, although she received two dozen roses and a thank-you note affectionately addressed to the “Top Turtletop”, which she found amusing. In her reply to Young she regretted that she could not have been more help and noted that she was looking forward to trying out the vehicle when it was introduced. History has greatly exaggerated Moore’s relationship to the project: her contributions were meant to stir creative thought and were not officially authorized or contractual in nature. The car was finally christened the Edsel.”
that whole thing is great on a lot of levels (“intelligent whale”?!) but my favorite part is this
“In a letter dated December 8, 1955, Moore wrote the following:
May I submit UTOPIAN TURTLETOP? Do not trouble to answer unless you like it. Marianne Moore”
like how adorable is that! like she’s written and submitted all these names and everything and i guess maybe one morning she’s having tea with her mother (she wrote radical poetry but lived a very prim life) in the garden and maybe she sees this turtle or something and she just goes “yes, utopian turtletop, that’s it” and she knows that this is the one, that in a few years everyone is going to be driving around in these utopian turtletops, like fucking imagine the alternate history if nick carraway’s car from ‘the great gatsby’ is a utopian turtletop if kerouac hitches rides from ladies in utopian turtletops and so forth, and so anyway she’s so excited she has to send this little letter and “do not trouble to answer if you don’t like it,” is such a dear way of trying to block the pain of rejection.
anyway, that’s why i like marianne moore. i would trouble to answer her any day.
this is a song i wrote called “u”. it is about the letter u. it is partially inspired by a novel by george perec called (in english) “an omission” which is a whole novel written without the letter e. i am way too lazy to do something like that, though. but this is kind of a similar idea. about the letter u. u.