The Ecphorizer

Symbols & Ripov
Albert Russo

Issue #19 (March 1983)

Ripov had a fascination for the written word - whether it be the Code of Ham O'Rabies or that of Chameleon Buonapasta, the great classics from Shake'em Pears to Trust-your-whisky (the Russians pronounce it Dusto ....), passing through the gamut of whatch-its and what-not-bits.


Ripov's malady developed into word congestion...

was so insatiable he would read government statistics with no less enthusiasm than the flyers and political pamphlets handed out in subway stations. Such variety of literature -much of it free - boggled Ripov's mind. To say however that Ripov was a walking encyclopedia wouldn't be fair. "Letter gobbler" is more appropriate, for our hero could read English from right to left and Arabic upwards.

The symptoms of Ripov's readomania manifested themselves at a very tender age so that aside from mastering his native tongue, Ripov learnt the different signs and alphabets humankind had invented since Sumer. Though he immediately identified Cyrillic vowels - which he by no means found to be the silliest -- he was utterly unable to comprehend a Bulgarian sentence. It didn't stop him from munching Turkish delights. But as time went by and the readomanic fits intensified, Ripov's malady developed into word congestion and he gradually unlearned the English syntax. In spite of the fact that he couldn't fill out his IRS forms any longer, Ripov didn't seem to lose his joie de vivre.

People mistook him for an eccentric. Yet something was taking place in Ripov's mind. The world around him became a landscape of living symbols. Let the reader grasp (gasp!) and appreciate Ripov's Codex sui generis from the following illustrations.

  • A gal slapping a guy: "Why didn't you rape me?"
  • A dog peeing on the front wheel of a Volkswagen: ecological gesture; tires should roll back to their roots, the rubber tree.
  • A boy on a surfboard: man's envy of the fish species from which the dinosaurs evolved, long before his apelike brethren.

Here are other more primordial examples of Ripov's symbolism.

  •  "Nobody is           ": hieroglyphic transcription for "perfect."
  • "Don't be such an      !"
  • "I'm getting very       ."
  • I really think you need a        ."
If you've read poetry in your life, you'd certainly not want to miss Ripov's more lyrical cris.

  • "Arv? Argh... Grunk!": "Will you let me sleep or should I bash your head? Here, take this! Next time I'll crush your bones."
  •       : "Boyoboy, am I hungry!"
  •       : "You touch my woman and you'll see the stars" just now!" 

Albert Russo is a Belgian citizen living in Paris.  His writing won the Prix Colette in Cannes in 1974.  He speaks Swahili.

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Albert Russo

A bilingual author and amateur photographer - English and French are his two "mother tongues", raised in Central and Southern Africa, Albert Russo is the recipient of many awards, such as The American Society of Writers Fiction Award, The British Diversity Short Story Award, several New York Poetry Forum Awards, and the Prix Colette, among others. Praised by James Baldwin, Pierre Emmanuel, Paul Willems and Edmund White, among others, his work has been translated in a dozen languages. His award-winning African novels and his hilarious Zapinette series have appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a member of the jury for the Prix Européen (with Ionesco until his death) and sat on the panel of the prestigious Neustadt Prize for Literature, which often leads to the Nobel Prize. He has published more than 20 photo books with Xlibris and many of his photos have been shown at the prestigious Musée de la Photographie de l'Elysée, in Lausanne, Switzerland.