Wednesday, September 23, 2009


To yelp: open your mouth. Convulse your stomach, as you would before a belch, or before vomiting. Now form a word, a thousand words, but emit none. In place of the words you might attempt, make a sound. The sound is a combination of three sounds. Each of these represents a third of your yelp.

First: there is the shrieking sound you might make if you hit your head on the bottom edge of an open kitchen-cabinet door. It is sudden, high pitched, angry. It speaks of the stupidity of pain.

Second: there is a whining aspect. Imagine that you have not slept in many days, and after those many days, you are punched in the gut. Then you are told to run over that hill yonder and back. When you return you are punched in the sternum. You ask for mercy. They laugh and kill your dog. They break the objects you care about. This is the whine to keep in mind. This is exhaustion.

Third: the last factor of your yelp is the moan. The moan is the moan of powerlessness. The moan is shock in the face of natural horror. A landslide. An avalanche. Brutality. A flood. Machetes. This portion of your yelp says that you did not think you could be surprised or overwhelmed, but you have been proven wrong. You did not think that, after seeing some ten thousand or so murders on television, after reading so much history, that anything could stick its fist through you. But you have been proven wrong. You did not want to be proven wrong.

When you combine these three things- the shriek, the whine, the moan- and condense them into a sharp burst that originates in your liver and expels itself from your body via all six to seven different orifices at once, you have yelped.

Yelping cannot be practiced or forced. Yelping will come only when provoked.

The yelp is efficient. The yelp says a great deal with great economy. The words, questions and statements which are encompassed in one quick yelp: Fuck! Shit! Piss! How could you? How could you? How do your hands do such things? I won't believe it. Stop it now. Please stop it now. Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. Motherfuckers! Animals! That poor man. Those poor women. Look at her arms. Look at his face. I cannot believe it. I will not believe it. Those bastards. Those motherfucking bastards. This is not how it should be. Nothing should ever be like this. Goddamn all this. I give up. No, I will fight. No I will give up. No I will fight.

{From "When They Learned To Yelp" from How We Are Hungry (again!) by David Eggers}

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this entry was great babe. made me think of this immediately.