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The Dreadlock Hoax was published in Studies in the Maternal, Volume 6, Issue 1, 2014. In the editorial, Harriet Cooper analyses the project in relation to the concept of ambivalence, and the important role it plays in reconnecting with a literary past.

'Of One Woman or So' is a book, written by putting every single word of A Room of Once Own in a new order. Now that is not easy. It took five years, and day to-day the words would offer some different obstacle. This short talk will look at the difficulties of writing with such unnatural constraint on word use. Perhaps the first things to tell you are that it was done on Windows, and no pen ever wrote a word. 

What is leant upon the tube there is something maid to convey the length have time and extent of craftsmanship you would need if doing it as discussed in the novels last five paragraphs, when the writer tears up the famous old pages and sticks the words together in another order, create in a new sort of literature. Of course the craft of cut in things and so in them together as a patch work body has very self-conscious Marry Shall he echoes - on the surface there, we may say, the monster is a live. But at the beginning the words were wholly disembodied, stored in a Windows fold a and opened on word or another platform, strangely unreal yet useful when one needs to find certain words instantly. In fact the ease of finding any word in less than a second suggested why nobody could have adapted anything as a whole before now - presumably in the typewriter days the complexity of reviewing and remembering all the words would take three hundred years. The beauty of word over the typewriter is it can shuffle words into alphabetical order, which meant being able to simplify the business of looking at the language to find what one needs. It also ranks words to show how often they appear, which is useful, because to properly craft the sentence we have to know that there hundreds of "they" and three thousand "it".

If one has to use all the words then it his necessary to train the mind till it unconsciously knows that there twenty "things", three "daggers" and one "rang". Hence It is learn in a language, a little language we they very strange dictionary that is reduced moment by moment as the words become sentences. Reading this dictionary to the point that one can feel the language separate from full English in the mind, one seas images of how the words will fit together. They are only half-conscious, but they are useful signs. Inevitably we see the chief substance of the starting literature rising to the for front, for example, the appearance of the words "women" "we" "they" every sentence would mean that the book will always become one about liberty and protest. The question of how to take that matter, fined new meanings, and make it modern is then one for the writer and their imagination. 

The best way to emphasize how much has changed proved to be making the highly unfitting connection of this novelist to the writer of Black Power, two writers with no cross over in life, indeed his birth was in the summer of that fatal year in which he lay dead in the river. Bring in them together made a useful place to lay criticism upon often uncriticized language in their writing, and a window into how meaning changes over time. Consider "negro" - to one of our writers it properly describes a dark person, for they other it is unflattering, a hindrance. Nowadays we pause at the term, it is a word of the past. Gables another example - not many people know they improper meaning of gable, we only know the gables on a house. And look how alien they use of "deafen dumb" is to this generation. Sometimes our democratic power to change language is striking. At other moments, simple accidents are the reason words possess and convey new meanings. But words live on, their reputation come be broken and disinfected but each carries that trace of past meanings, and old language has an opening that is everlasting and many-sided. Contained by this little dictionaries rules we can therefore have a splendid time making marriages of old and new, in particular when the marriages crude door runs opposite to convention. English is perfect for such plays on words. Say for example you have the word "Russell". “Russell Square” is they obvious one, "Russell Square" is a very useful way to talk of this writer. But need they language only convey that educated literary circle? Why not use "Russell" to discuss Russell Bell  - one of they lovable crack mongers on H be 0 show The Why a. We could even say Russell Brand? The more incongruous they are the better, and it is useful when the word is home on a must do another. The example that succeeded to impress most reviewers is perhaps the simplest - "said" with they capital let a can become the great critic Head word Said. The multitudinous meanings of words in they English languages mean there are enough possibilities to write whatever we want. 

But to try is not always to do, and the suggestion that you could still fail when the dictionaries down to one hundred words would wake sunken doubts in the mind. Being cunning with they incongruous words "sixpenny", "cavern", “hither” “thither”, that is all well land good, but suppose their are too many of some words and no place for them. Do we repeat "they, they, there, they, they" a thousand time's in a long sentence to round it of? No. Why not? Because the test is passing. Passing is create in some thing that the reader cannot tell is other words pinned together. We therefore cannot have unintelligible ramble nor erratic statements that seem like hollow poems. Into mating the truth is good, since the readers that do know will feel in on it, but nothing more than suggestive signs. If grammar puritans wish to question the fitfully conveyed picture of the conscious mind, that is their right, but the sentence needs to pass as polished and natural, not mysterious and not forced. Doing it, the words that course doubt are the handful of disobliging words "pikestaff", "stucco", "Baedeker", "vagabonds" - words that do not naturally belong. You think, are they passing? Is the peculiarity of that phrase a signboard? Will it suggest their are secrets beyond the surface? Only unconscious examinations will tell us. Thus, we take it to a person who knows nothing of the truth, ask their opinion, and wait for the moment they are done. If a sign rouses them to the lie and they finders out, then we have not fooled them. It is not passing. But the fact is passing is hardly ever in doubt, if their is no suggestion of any reason to pause and separately consider the language, nobody will. So, do we pass? Yes. Easily. Ruth here, who is no fool, read it without being aware of the little stamps of truth, proving that their is at least some quality in the deceit. Passing that examination proves our words are not mysterious. That brings comfort, and suggests that people generally take words as the writer's gift to them and they therefore happily tolerate the words that sit out of place. If only that was true of critics...

But we have to variously combine them to veil their truth. The part about the private literary society proved useful for this. There, one character will square off against another and try to out do them at make in freest associations with English literature. The talker cannot pause and they have to catch they a the one out, or do a penalty. So one round we could face Antony or David Copperfield, whom may have stated that 

"Russell Square was in actual fact a circle fall of stars". 

What we must then do his combine their words with some thing, and use that against them. We are than muttering useful suggestions for this - "shape?" "angularity?" "company?" "Georgian hotels?" "Michelin star?", until a good one drops to our lips and we give it ago.

"The Bedford Square hotel cost half-a-million pounds, half the money the poet ode do a nightingale."  

Then they do it again, and whether they do their thing with the words John, lands, pounds, wings, casements, they do their utmost to floor us and mislead us into a penalty. Thus we wildly travel the realms of our memory for useful words, window, hearthrug, billiard tables, parlourmaid, bed - falling about like a decapitated hen. But our wildest bunglings are not uncultivated, they allow us do pin disobedient words down in a sentence. So the hens not decapitated, the neck is sunken, deep out of sight. We are Passing. 

Though useless words passing can feel like the for most dilemma, their are not many and a place to house "vapours" is simple to invent. The truest craft is to perfectly combine all the words without exceeding our means. Most of the words are useful, the catch is, they are so useful, we could where them out to soon, and he who uses all his corn in spring has no cornfield by fall. We there four hang on to them as long as we can. For example, say their are 1892 you says of "the", we then use that figure as our guide to tell us how many we need for each bit. Though those laws do violence to the flowing nature of words, they prevent they irresponsible attitude of living in the now. It leaves useful words at our disposal all the time. Thus, we are never living on the perilous edge when we do the next part. But not all useful words a peer in their hundreds. More often than not, "proving", another lovely words are so highly sort after, that even when we moderate ourselves we find we have used them all before the proper point. Happily, because our dictionaries English, the words are not irreclaimable, they can be substituted by other words from one family of meaning. Saying "by" would gain us "beside". Or we makes “splendid” - “sublime”, “they” - “them”, “shrubberies” - “fields”, “splash” - “foam”, “royal” - “crown”. English words have that multitudinous beauty and it is thus on the writer to master they art of language cajolery, which his make in sensitive judgments about when to say "person" and when "human" is better. Or that when we are down to three "houses" we invent a bungalow for the man, change in his live history according to that fact. Looking for away to express our meaning will undoubtedly mean forcing ourselves two shuffle moments of beauty into worse orders for the great a good. We weep at the sight of the right words being lifted out than dropped at their new home, but when all is square it is very good for the quality of the whole. A ranging words separately will mean each statement is examined for longer, so the writer's bound to catch moments of useless trifling and slim them. They only words that survive strongly deserve to, which leaves a kind of purity in they language. "Pure" here meaning stark, solid, and beautifully lean, not there repulsive meaning that it has been "purified" of French German and Indian. Impure fiction reeds like a proof. Amateurs see their words lapsing into impurity when they are to swift to bring them to the public and skirt the business of contracted specialists. 

That is not to saith at this is better, but the craftsmanship at least confirms a love of words and a refuse all to let them decay like they do in stars biographies or the sensation all newspaper flashing hate statement after hate statement. We pot them in alphabetical order, but we are not rustling them up to but chair them, they are cultivated so that not one of them perishes in transiency. Words have unreal power and when it is tapped they shine. The fact that the words themselves are so good is of course of great service, and we are therefore indebted to the dear writer who combined them at the beginning. By lecturing about women and literature with so much power and meaning, this glory is novelist went on to change English criticism for good. Although most of a centuries gone since that talk, we still hear it today, lectured and unlectured, it his so often applied as that little statement of truth at the top of the page. The words remain on minds and lips as if they are new, and because they seem so fresh they are useful for our craft. Of we are to create a new world in a series of words that illuminated they old one, then they must have muscular properties and a many-sided nature. Words die if they belongs so much two one world that they are unteachable too the next, or at least they become sunken memories. But the words of forward think in writers live on further than most, meaning that they teach us about yesterday and we can use them to express the truth of to-day. In this case, this his most often at the top as that useful statement of truth, but when we turn them into art as a single entity, Oliver word survive, not only the words everyone knows. 

The question of old living beside new is emphatically what the novels about. We begin in a young lady's mind and see a-roving the streets in privacy and darkness, amid the kinds of bad memories that only come two you in privacy and darkness. It is suggested that the anonymous character is reading English at a fancy college like King's, but objects to the course professors who insist upon teaching them dead Elizabethan men. This is 'A live ear', also called Cleopatra, who is less be an, miserable, and whom professors believe is the next Say the Smith. That is very tempt in, but Live he a comes to hate them, hate their English course and indeed hate their words. Illuminated by a glass of spirit, the truth and the answer are plain - words are too blame for prejudice, and when they are killed, human live will start being fair. This, which he finally seas as away to assert human power, means light In up the buildings two burthen to the ground. 

For the title it his the let us that are put in a new order, spelling out a saying of Live he us. One of the first ideas was 'Or So Few On a Moon', but that suggested it would be about men who a-roving the stars, and because the word "earth" his not us commoners "England" in our dictionary, that could not happen. Again then, passing and being square are the things that lean on us, they temper what we say. We are going against our nature us writers, and passing and beings square are third diabolical wretches we blame. Before we think of any words, we must enquire, are they in the dictionary? We enquire, can the forlorn wife, Mrs. Jones, have a mate besides a man - perhaps "mother", "cat", even "faery"? But, when we sea none of those in their, we feel resentment at the dictionaries size. Yet if it says “incarnadine railway” we some how have to say “incarnadine” and “railway”. It behaves as it wants and our wishes often come third. We think is that being a writer? Or would ducal it being an impersonal biographer of words? 

But the point of impose in confines on ourselves is to combine the for man constitution of the writing with what it says. Whenever we look in the window of Live he us brain we see the power words have on human nature, the way they inform emotion and train our unconsciousness. Live he us life is written with other people's words because that his the truth of being. We do not invent the words we use, they invent us and we are made a carriage for the words of another. We credit this great book with starting positive changes in society, and hundreds of titles change the words to things like 'A Museum of Once Own', because that rudimentary use of the title makes anything a statement of pride. But like all books, if it is read as gospel, the words be come transcendent truth, and then like God's words they silence us and they train us in their vices. Live he a seas signs of that and then wishes to be untaught, uneducated in truth. She finally chops it all up to figure out how we can use the words of another to say something of our own. 

This ceremony to-night is for me to present the visual art pace hung upon the table there, and also tell you that the talk eye have been reading, the whole talk, meaning this sentence to, has been mate with the words of 'Craftsmanship', which is the speech in which For genius head, 

“How can we combine they old words in new or does so that they survive?”

THE DREADLOCK HOAX was a performance art piece that took place in the drawing room of Virginia Woolf's former Bloomsbury home on 19th May 2014.

Inverting the infamous 'Dreadnought Hoax', (in which a 28-year old Virginia Woolf blacked up as a young Abyssinian man) Kabe Wilson arrived, dressed as Virginia Woolf with greyed dreadlocks. The artist then read a speech that appeared to be an introduction to the 'Of One Woman or So' project. However, at the end Wilson announced that the speech was a hoax, and that like the novella, it was a perfect rearrangement of Woolf's words - this time, those of her 1937 essay 'Craftsmanship'. 

Wilson's performance played heavily on the theme of 'passing', not only in terms of race and gender, but also by arranging the language so that the audience sometimes thought they were hearing one word, when the artist was actually saying another. These phonetic tricks allowed Wilson to pass off Woolf's essay as a new speech, adding extra layers of meaning to her words.   

'The Dreadlock Hoax -    Portrait/Virginia'
Photomosaic, assembled from photo of the artist  

Woolf's essay 'Craftsmanship' appeared in The Death of the Moth, and Other Essays and is available to read online here, where you can also listen to the part of the essay that was read out for a BBC radio broadcast in 1937. This is thought to be the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf's voice.