Thursday, March 24

Why i don't put links in my poetry

hyperlink -- (a link from a hypertext file to another location or file; typically activated by clicking on a highlighted word or icon at a particular location on the screen)
=> link -- ((computing) an instruction that connects one part of a program or an element on a list to another program or list)
=> instruction, command, statement, program line -- ((computer science) a line of code written as part of a computer program)
=> code, computer code -- ((computer science) the symbolic arrangement of data or instructions in a computer program or the set of such instructions)
=> coding system -- (a system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages)
=> writing -- (letters or symbols written or imprinted on a surface to represent the sounds or words of a language; "he turned the paper over so the writing wouldn't show"; "the doctor's writing was illegible")
=> written communication, written language -- (communication by means of written symbols)
=> communication -- (something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups)
=> social relation -- (a relation between living organisms (especially between people))
=> relation -- (an abstraction belonging to or characteristic of two entities or parts together)
=> abstraction -- (a general concept formed by extracting common features from specific examples)


That's what WordNet, my very fine instance of the graphical interface program to the WordNet online lexical database version 2.0, says that the coordinate terms for the noun hyperlink are. Now those guys over at the Princeton University Cognitive Science Lab are very smart guys, i guess they are about ten times smarter than me in a manner of speaking so you are not going to hear me questioning the correctness or relevance of these coordinate data. I guess they are just about to do some extremely clever things with these data, things that are going to knock us poor poets right off our feet.

Right. Let's get stupid again, you should know by now i do excell in stupidity.

Now sure the information above is not what a 'hyperlink' is. This information, together with synonym indications, hypernyms and familiarity ratings together with some derivative info and some meronyms that perhaps aren't yet included for this word, and some (grammatical?) processing instruction code, is all that we can possibly give a machine to deal with the word 'hyperlink'. Possibly? Well, scientists don't very much care what a word 'is', they're too busy trying to teach machines what a word can do and how it does it, and vica versa, what it, the machine, could do with a word should it be able to use it 'correctly'. 'Correctly' being equal to 'human understandable', i guess, anyway that's how i read these smart guys' intentions and how i read them while attending a Tutorial on Semantic Web in Antwerp the other day. Don’t laugh, i did understand about 85 percent of what was being said ( i had a good day and lot’s of toothache, that always helps me to concentrate on the subject and not to stare at the bare shoulders of a woman in front of me or be thrown into blissfull oblivion by other, minor distractions ).

Now for me all that information is about 10 percent of what a word, any word, ‘is’. It’s the ten percent I’m usually messing about with in a very stupid and disrespectful way, because i’m just no good at it or at being ‘correct’ in any way, for that matter. I do need computers for that, correcting me, i mean.
The other 90 percent of what a word ‘is’, has to do, i think, with it being a process. A process that changes over time. Each time you use a word, the process changes, it stops being the word you just used and it becomes another word. Now that’s what i mean with the words written on the flash animation embedded in the KRISTINE file on the site.
Difference>Absence>Difference. It’s the language process according to (well, not Garp but it’s close) dv. It’s a little magic trick we all are very capable of: you take a word (differentiated), you make it disappear into eternity (absence) and then you somehow return it, albeit different. Let’s call it the DAD process, shall we? That surely has a nice religious and Freudian ring to it. From now on we can start dadding DAD.

Now perhaps I wasn’t too clear about the absence bit. How is it that a word disappears when you use it? Well very simply because the very fact of using it at a given time-in-space-coordinate, changes it, so it becomes momentarily absent. It changes it like you change any process when you use it. It changes like your car process on its way to the car cemetery changes everytime you drive it. It changes like a river changes when you step in it. It changes like your lover changes whenever you make love to her/him. It changes like any process changes when it is met with or infused by another process.
Now all these minute changes are part of the differentiating process. The differentiating process is what makes life fun. Without it nothing would move. It is in a very literal sense the prime mover of things as we know them.
The differentiating process produces absence and therefore it produces another differentiating process. It’s the continuation of things through their absence. Pretty deep, isn’t it?

Now us poor poets are pretty good at dealing with differentiating processes because we make our living with it. Ok very poorly so, but we do. What we do is, through some very profane magic with the magic itself, create the reality of absence in our poems in such a way that the attentive reader, not being distracted by any bare shoulders in front of him, can reconstruct that very same reality in her reading process. It’s what TS Eliot used to call the ‘correlate’, i think, you should forgive me if i use the wrong term, i read Tradition and the Individual Talent way back in high school and i do remember being struck by it as by lightning but not the exact phrasing and i’m too darn lazy to look it up. It was that dark gray pocket book published by who else but Faber & Faber, that’s one of the reasons why I like that particular shade of gray i realize now, it symbolizes the very essence of something that is beautiful because it ‘fits’.

You see? Through stirring dull roots in your reading process, mixing memories and desires, i almost manage to create a reality for you. (i say almost because i believe there’s more to it than that to create).
In that reality i can spin the logic of poetry. i can do pretty much anything with it ( if i may presume for a moment) if i’m in a good day, having no toothache at all and lots of bare shoulders to look at.
I can do that because through practice and failure upon failure upon failure, i have somehow managed to learn the basics of creating reality from absence. The absence in turn being created by the words i use.
Now i put before you, the almighty non-existent audience, the bold assertion that all these ‘basics’ as i call them are pretty much profane magic. And that by analysing these forms of magic properly, you could somehow manage to ‘correlate’ them to machine programming instructions enabling machines to perform the same trick, or at least something similar, something so close to the ‘real’ thing that the process would also, like poetry, create divergence, escape routes, ‘lignes de fuites’, as Deleuze would call them. And that about adds up, according to Guattari’s Chaosmose book and according to stupid me, to exactly what our society would be very much in need of.

Now why don’t I put links in my poetry? Well the idea is tempting and like you I’ve witnessed experiments with the hyperlinking of poetry. You know those early cd-roms with very clever programs where you start reading a text and then oopedeefloop you click a word and you’re oopedeefloop in another text? Basically, I think it can’t be done. Because that would imply that the reality constructed in one poem process would be the same (exactly the same) as the reality in the other poem. That is quite impossible, as Morton Feldman rightly put when he was saying that there can be no repetion, that repetition doesn’t exist. So if you really want to know why I don’t put links in my poems, go and buy one of his records, Crippled Symmetry would be a good one to start with if you don’t know the guy’s work (shame on you). Put it on. Listen. No repetition. Can’t be done. Tragic, isn’t it? That’s beauty for ya.


Sunday, March 20

Floating in a Zeppelin


"Le livre unique, l'oeuvre totale, toutes les combinaisons possibles à l'intérieur du livre, le livre-arbre, le livre-cosmos, tous ces ressassement chers aux avant-gardes, qui coupent le livre de ses relations avec le dehors, sont encore pires que le chant du signifiant"

Deleuze & Guattari, Mille plateaux,p.159

When Deleuze and Guattari wrote this, there was still an obvious need to speak out against all modernist utopian ideals. Now early 20th century European Modernism is perhaps rapidly being turned into a set of interesting algorhithms useful in the search for and production of machinic methods to arrest human(oid) escape art.

Again, i say perhaps, because i'm too stupid too have any real coherent ideas. I'm only useful as an auctorial process because i'm rather receptive, i have a natural(?) tendency to be struck by things-as-they-are-happening in the face, and those things stick with me till some time later, perhaps years after, they finally reveal why they once struck me. There's nothing mystical about it, i'm sure i must have a describable brain disorder of some kind, well you know, all poets are utterly nuts in a way, that's what makes us interesting, but it kinda puts you off balance from time to time, when you read about your 'case' or a similar one in a scientific magazine. There used to be a time when poets were at the heart of society and we were held in a higher esteem than priests or statesmen or hangmen, nowadays people start nodding to each other knowingly when they meet us on the subway.

There, i did it again. What i was babbling about was that Modernism is perhaps being chewed up into managable bits these days, and fed into our overall controlling process as learning material. The film the Matrix might be a good example: with all of its undoubtedly clever intentions, Baudrillard & simulation & simulacra stuff, the overall effect of the trilogy is that you are momentarily free to fantasize that if the book's plot is clever enough, the utopian ideals might be recoverable. Like object oriented games, it encourages you to think in levels, behave like 'well it might be all sh*t down here but i'm still only in level one and soon i'll be out of here and climbing up to the next level where things are faster,the guns better and the (wo)men easier. That's probably why everyone adored the first part and spits out the rest of it, because secretly everyone expected some more levels after that submarine-heroism crap they put us through after Neo's awakening. Objectively speaking, if i'm still allowed to use that word, there's no reason to dislike the two other parts: the action is faster, the effects more thrilling and even aesthetically more pleasing, and the plot does take some nice turns and introduces some great characters like the Keymaker, my personal favourite.
But then the need for levels wasn't satisfied, accustomed as we have become to thinking in them. Nothing is absolute, there's always a meta-level to things.
That, of course, is the result of our training in object-thinking. Objects are arranged hierarchically in systems in such a way that they are controllable and managable. Capitalism isn't right, socialism isn't true, but if you think of them on a meta-level, they can be usefull objects.

I distrust everything that starts with meta. Especially metaphores. They are part of encapsulating processes that effectively destroys everything that could be harmfull to the way things are going. Metaphores effectively destroyed pop music from the moment it emerged in the fifties. The sixties could escape off and on for some time, the punk movement still had it's brief moment, but after that all vulnerable area's were tightly shut and the doors were open wide for the carefully planned creation of metapop, a tedious and tragical form of bush-or-whomever-is-in-charge bashing.

But all of that is common knowledge, what i meant to say is that however hard our ruling machinery tries, it will never be able to capture the ultimate value of these Modernist supersystems, because that is exactly placed at the centre of their failure: it's when they break down in exquisite gibberish (Joyce's Finnegans Wake) or in paralysing silence (Beckett) that these works of art evoke what they were after in first place, the poetic realm of absence, it's reality as a counterpart to the simulating realm of differences differentiating nothing.

Now, on one of my hunches, i introduced some pretty heavyweight words on this in the starter file on the site yesterday and, probably effectively scaring away the few visitors i have, even put them up front on the homepage yesterday. i state that machines could be fed with software enabling them to perform an action similar to the reading of poetry. That they could run programs that create the reality of absence. Now, in the end, i dont really know what that would actually mean ( if you do, do give us a mail or comment). But it just sounds like the best description of the things that i'm trying to do, so i'll just stupidly leave it there. Embarrassing, isn't it? It's probably a contemporary charicatural version of the fashionable poetic sickness once known as 'ennuy'.

Perhaps i'd better consult that scientific magazine again. Right now, i don't feel like any heroic avant-garde at all. I rather feel like one of those poor chaps they sent up in a zeppelin to watch enemy troop movements and then completely forgot about. Cut loose, i'm drifting helplessly, high above Nomansland, for everyone to shoot at. Hi guys. Please be nice. Say cheese.