A poem is nothing.
The conversion of nothing into something is the task of criticism.
By persistence a poem can be made something, but then it is something not a poem. Why is it nothing? Because it cannot be looked at, heard, touched or read (what can be read is prose).
Once a poem is classified as the cause of an effect or both cause and effect, it counts itself out of experience - as a nothing masquerading as something.
Literature is preferable to experience, since it is for the most part the closest one can get to nothing.
Poetry is an attempt to make language do more than express, to make it work; to redistribute intelligence by means of the word... The distribution must take place within the intelligence itself... Poetry always faces and generally meets with failure... But even if it fails, it is at least at the heart of the difficulty, which it treats not as a difficulty of minds, but of mind.
These lines (above- from Laura Riding's Anarchism Is Not Enough) first published in 1928 are still provocative after 80 years.
Turning towards more recent provocations:
Conceptual poetry: "an unfortunate noun modified by an adjective."
Is there a difference between the term conceptualism(s) vs conceptualist(s)? The prior implies a schema - and even a system furiously attempting to cross itself out is still a system...
Another (big picture - because it is a vision thing) related and provocative problem:
How to aesthetize? That is, if you accept, as I do, that the anti-aesthetic strategies are all played out.
But I should get back to the point - an alternative way of saying nothing....
NON-POETICS (a translation across disciplines or non-disciplines - RMUTTS NOTE - this means that what follows is derivative work).
Non-poetics is not open to criticism - it's a theory that can be proven or disproven, ie, on its own terms.
It is unintelligible from a poetic perspective. To approach it poetically is to invite confusion and dissatisfaction (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Non- poetics seeks to reduce poetic decisions to indifferent materials, rather than authoritative theories. Non-poetics opens the possibility of a non-authoritative use of poetry that does not collapse it into a convenient fiction.
While non-poetry begins as an explanatory theory of poetry, non-poetry is nothing but poetry as non-decisional or non-authoritative. Non-poetics does not wish to put an end to poetry but to liberate it from its self-imposed strictures, it is not merely an explanation of poetical theories, but a way of using poetry itself as creation of concepts, in a way wholly alien to poetical authority.
What can a non-poetic use of poetics do? Once released or disengaged from their decisional determination, concepts no longer pretend to sufficiently explain, or determine, or give the Poem or the Real, but rather, they are posited as given ACCORDING to the poem, concepts become real materials for use. There is no longer a theory of practice or practice of theory. Concepts and theories become subject of experimental use.
Concepts should no longer function as conditions, but as fracalizers, capable of inducing unprecedented forms of experience, like what the telescope and microscope did for the natural sciences.
Non-poetics as a use of poetry no longer seeks to enact the real, but like science, to enact thru experimental testing and constant negotiation amongst disparate poetics. For non-poetry, poetry becomes the empirical phenomena to be explained, experimented with and theorized.
The non-poet no longer claims privileged access to the real or the word, but rather, confines herself to a kind of empirical pragmatics determined according to the real or the word.
The results of an experiment are more important and take precedence over the hypothesis. Determination is left in the hands of the real, the theory is secondary.
Non-poetics offers a universal pragmatics of poetry, or a use of poetry that is not determined according to poetics. This is a use not only of poetic materials taken as given, but poetry itself taken as a means of production of conceptual materials.
(By thumb, he sd)
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