The Flowage Rebellions

by Lane Hall

The Muratorian Fragment contains a list of the extant histories of the Midwestern Water Wars. The most interesting witness to the formative stages of the rebellions was a woman known only as Sister Pulcheria, who, in either tribute or "penance of the spectrum", added mysteriously potent dye concentrations to water sources, inadvertently creating the first Flowage Rebellion according to the Chronologies of the Water Wars. Bright spectral coloration became synonymous with covert insurrection, which led to both the Forbidden Palette Act, and the sweeping Pigment Prohibition Laws of the mid-century. Color attacks, characterized by their vehemence and violence, were frequent, and their punishment swift and brutal. Words such as tone, green, yellow, hue, blush, crimson, blench, redden, color, colorize, discolor, people of color, vividness,chromaticity and tinge were forbidden in public use, creating the Covert Lexical Movement, often subsequently associated with baroque and poetic syntactical style. "Lexical" thus became shorthand for "one who brings color-to-water" and has since been used as both rebuke and honorific.

The Muratorian Fragment includes various apocrypha attributed to guerrilla cells of the Covert Lexical Movement. Chroma Proclamation was practiced among the rank and file, though was by necessity secretive as all Color Enunciations were deemed seditious and punishable by incarceration, fine or death. Chroma Proclamation is defined, in The Chronologies, as:

1. Complete color-dousing.
2. A testimony of oneʼs commitment to the full visible spectrum.
3. A symbolic equipoise of shadow and light.

According to the Chronologies, rainbows assumed talismanic effect frequently inducing ecstatic display over sustained periods of time. The following devotion was found in a bolus-cache near the Low Head Plants of Hauserlake Dam:

From the Chronologies 6:4

"For I have placed my chroma in the clouds. When I send clouds over the earth, my chroma shall be visible. Color by Water is my covenant with you and with everything that lives. Never again will flood destroy all life. As water flows from rock, so you are free to wander among nations."

"Bolus-caches" were found in the following locations and revealed numerous and varied accounts as testified in the Chronologies:
• Substation "A", Taylor Falls, (National Water War Historic Site)
• Hauserlake Falls, (low head), near East Bank Spillway
• Winnepesaukee River, 6 miles southwest of Laconia
• Verdi Diversion Dam and Headworks
• Chattahoochee River, 14 miles north of Columbus,
• Nooksack (medium head) Diverting Weir
• Penstock Forebay and Spillway
• Outlet Excavation, White River
• Puyallup River, 30 miles southeast of Tacoma in the Western Watersheds.

"The Noblest of the Elements is Water" --- Pindar

The Carbon Child Describes the Color Red

Some things are light, while others are dark. If we put a hand in a bucket of water, that water might feel cold to the touch. If we then put our hand in a bucket of iced water, and submerge again that hand in the original bucket, our first water now feels warm to the touch. Terms for color invite mistake and disappointment. A single hue of green cloth might be labelled pea green, sea green, olive green, grass green, sage green,evergreen, verdigris, lime green, chromium green, viridian. We refer to toys and clothes of baby blue, peacock blue, Nile blue, lemon yellow, straw yellow, rose pink, heliotrope, magenta, plum. We have no syntax for color, only vague nouns and imprecise adjectives. If music resembled a lark, canary, crow, cat, dog, wolf, whale, nightingale, would we refer to corresponding musical tones as larky, canary-like, wolf-pitched, nightingalish, or speak of a crow-like chorus with roughed grouse percussive tympani?

The carbon child sees a hat of faded red, and desires this hat. He is never content to merely call it red, for he knows that it has no resemblance to his brightly painted red truck, or the red of his mother's adornments, or the red of the running fox. He understands that a lot of red is different from a little bit of red. He gropes for a means to define this particular red, and finding none, retreats in sullen silence, unable to attain his object of attraction. He is cramped by the poverty of language to describe. HIs sister is no better equipped, even though she speaks of tone, timbre, shade, tincture, shadow, trace and vestige. When she acclaims a color "painted in a minor key" she further confuses her brother and mother, reducing our three-dimensional model of perception to vague metonym. A sphere can be used to unite our dimensions, but she sees only a flat plane, encircled by the vague boundary of imprecise cognition.

A Problem of Indeterminate Descriptors, From Color to Water

The carbon child gathers flowers, hoards colored fabrics, chases burrowing grubs and lives longer without food than water. Water means granaries of light, strong seed printing, good fishing described in erotic language of Viburnum red, light-on-shimmeringyellow, purple of the deep bruise. We observe that often water is undemanding and moves skyward, though some makes thin film around soil particles determined both by water's cohesive vision and by water's hesitation of water to water. If we desire to describe a surface of water that has ground soaked at summer shower, we haltingly suggest that it is an indeterminate darkening stain. The carbon child gropes for a means to define this particular dull stain, even while begging for the gaudiest of painted toys.Thus he is again cramped by the poverty of language to define surfaces of darkness and light, and we collectively suffer the insufficiency of our lexical and perceptual maps. We must encourage concrete and precise description of spectral conditions, an essential attribute for ethical conduct as citizen. Our inability to maintain accurate language concerning surface light on simple objects increases tenfold as we attempt to comprehend fluid systems over rich surfaces of time which decadent underground syntax, or ground-water-talking, perversely, though same say purposefully, obscures.
"Clear mental images make clear speech. Vague thoughts find vague utterance."
---A. H. Munsell, A Color Notation

"Precise Utterance asserts Form. Shapelessness is violation."
---The Utterance Army, Violation Campaign

Fragments from the Chronologies

1937 had been, as everybody knows, a momentous and sinister year for the Flowage Rebellion. Marriages and births in the Western Watersheds had fallen off nearly eighty percent, due in part to groundwater poisoning by The Utterance Army's radical fringe,and due in part to menstrual anomalies associated with regional cloud purgations. The establishment of Vivid Suffragette Unions in every town and village throughout the Midwestern Sectors, and their obedience to the dictation of the Central National Franchise of the Covert Lexical Movement led to the almost total suspension of social functions throughout the region, threatening eventually to paralyze the nation.

Clergymen were in pitiable condition for lack of fees, local water bureaus were only open Mondays and Saturdays for distribution purposes, and strict rationing was brutally enforced. Social columns of newspapers and electronic networks, believed to be distributing encoded directives, were abolished entirely. The pressure upon the privileged Water Holders of the Republic was mounting as women were denied franchise in the Powers of Water Act of 1941. The Central Federation of Vivid Unions was to deliver a deadly blow ostensibly lead by the shadow figure of Sister Pulcheria,resulting in the infamous Forbidden Palette Act. As we now know, this terrible policy was first inaugurated in secret; a trial of the idea was to be made in the MinnesotaWater Zones; neither the state nor federal governments had the faintest suspicion of what impended; not a single newspaper had any inkling, though pirate radio wavelengths frequently covered response to early campaigns through encoded poetic readings and anagrammatic playlists.

The martyred minor poet and boat enthusiast, James Carrick, was forced into national spotlight after The Utterance Army made first discovery of the covert bolus-cache network by decoding the now famous poem, Dingman's Pond. The stanzas "While gliding o'er fair expanse/ And gazing at the shore beyond,/ What simple joys the soul entrance/ Evoked by crossing Dingman's Pond" seemed innocuous enough, although the iambic count associated "the shore beyond" and "the soul's entrance" with a causeway at the Low Head of "mildly beauteous Dingman's Lake" near HauserlakeFalls, thus offering concrete proof of the Lexical Movement's growing resistance and sophisticated organizational strategies. An epoch of draconian repressions ensued.

Though school children now recite the poem in common curricula, and "a Dingman" has wormed its way into popular speech, the mysterious Mr. Carrick has never been seen again, and was perhaps never seen at all. There is ongoing controversy among various intellectuals prone to analysis of abstract causation regarding Carrick's disappearance, death and even existence. Analysis of poetic algorithm has become a popular academic pursuit and it is often asserted in scholarly journals that "algorithmic agents cannot be said to disappear;" and that they are "always present, everywhere" and "combinatory recoding is proof of its own agency."

Further Reading

Living the Water Underground. 1951. Braun, Ernest and David Cavagnaro. American West Publishing Co., Palo Alto, California.
The Gaudy Toy: Tales from the Color Frontier. 1964. Thomas Taylor. W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco.
A Color Notation. 1905. A. H. Munsell. Rough Algorithms of Dingman's Pond. 1960. Reginald Willet. Routledge Press