:: Article


By Richard Barnett, art: Sliced Bread Man, by Tahnee Lonsdale.

(An affair observed in example sentences from Noam Chomsky’s Topics in the Theory of Generative Grammar and Current Issues in Linguistic Theory.)


What disturbed John was being disregarded by everyone. Everyone regards John as incompetent. Everyone regards us as incompetent. The police were ordered to stop drinking after midnight. John didn’t find the book. John was frightened by the new methods. John read the book and so did Bill. Bill was persuaded by John to leave. Bill was a farmer and so was John. John compelled. The shooting of the hunters. I expected it.

The car was stolen by the boy. By the tallest of all the boys in the school. The car in the garage was kept by John. The garage that John kept the car in was demolished. The man who quit work was fired. Someone find the man. Who did he know who has something of yours? John doesn’t know how good meat tastes.

John is eating. His car was stolen. John is easy to please. John is eager to please. John pleases someone. This pleases John. John pleases everyone. John is easy (eager) for us to please. This knife is very difficult to cut (meat) with. They don’t know how good meat tastes.

John admires someone. Who admires who(m)? Which boys are in the room. You know the boy with (who has) a scar. I know a boy who was expelled. He found something of yours. What did he find of yours? He found someone else. What else did he find? He found someone of yours. Who did he find of yours? He found a boy. He found a friend of yours.

His rejecting the offer surprised me. Mary saw the boy walking towards the railroad station. Her car was stolen. What presumably did Bill see? Presumably Bill saw something. I don’t approve of his drinking (cooking, driving etc). His refusal to participate. His rejection of the offer. His destruction of property.

The clever boy saw the friendly man.

The book is what I want. I want the book.



Richard Barnett is a writer, teacher and broadcaster, and an award-winning poet. His first book, Medical London: City of Diseases, City of Cures (2008) was Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4, and his latest book – The Sick Rose, on art and anatomy in an age of revolution – was described by Will Self in the Guardian as ‘superbly erudite and lucid’. He has taught the history of science, medicine and evolutionary theory at the universities of Cambridge and London, and in 2011 received one of the first Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellowships. He received the 2006 Promis Prize for poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2013 Poetry Business prize. Seahouses, his first collection of poetry, will be published by Valley Press in spring 2015. He has made many appearances on British and US television and radio, and was a judge for the inaugural Wellcome Trust Book Prize in 2009. He is online at richardbarnettwriter.com, and on Twitter @doctorbarnett.

Tahnee Lonsdale, born 1982, lives and works in north west London. ‘Search For The Holy Grail’ is from her last collection, Waiting For Entry Into That Holy Place, a profound yet humorous study into our expectations of faith. Colour is intrinsic to Tahnee’s work, creating the illusion of frivolity while underneath lies a macabre and cynical view on life and what comes next. Tahnee’s next show Your Epoche will be showing with Roberta Moore Contemporary at Imitate Modern. She also has a painting hanging at Somerset House (September-October 2014) as part of the National Open Art Competition. More of her work can be seen here.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, November 10th, 2014.