Week 2: on context: “you agree that it is a fashionable grocery list”

Still! thinking about Williams…and this week’s topic of context is a perfect fit for this passage, tacked onto the end of Part II of “Book Two” of Paterson. In response to his interviewer claiming that certain passages from Paterson “sound just like a fashionable grocery list”, Williams responds: “It is a fashionable grocery list.”

Q: Well – is it poetry?

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Week 2: Breaking down contexts

“A labyrinth of symbols,” he corrected. “An invisible labyrinth of time. To me, a barbarous Englishman, has been entrusted the revelation of this diaphanous mystery. After more than a hundred years, the details are irretrievable; but it is not hard to conjecture what happened. Ts’ui Pe must have said once: I am withdrawing to write a book. And another time: I am withdrawing to construct a labyrinth. Every one imagined two works; to no one did it occur that the book and the maze were one and the same thing.

–Borges, Jorge Luis.  “The Garden of Forking Paths.” Trans. Donald A. Yates.  <http://courses.essex.ac.uk/lt/lt204/forking_paths.htm>

Last week, I provided a fairly straightforward reading of Neruda’s “Ode to Broken Things.”  This week, I am torn among proliferating approaches to the question of “context” in relation to the poem.  As readers do, I started first with a basic reading of the text (broken pots and clocks and things of that sort).  From there, as readers do, I began to interpret, translate, and decode more aggressively.  Next, I moved on to the human life process that is implied by the passage of time and the inevitable breaking of things.  What began as a lucid description of physical processes became quickly a meditation on physics.  And, always anthropocentric, I shifted my reading from physics to metaphysics, once again looking for the human story that the poem is telling.  From one text, I managed to generate anywhere from two to four different ideas about the realm in which it operates (objects in the concrete, humans in the concrete, objects in the abstract, humans in the abstract).  And, each of these approaches, I suspect is immediately prone to retranslating and further forking.

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Come Play in the Timeline: chance for publishing

Damnit. I forgot to include this is my last post.
This is a timeline widget I created a few months ago. No content is there yet, but it is driven by an XML file and is a unique and curious way of navigating through content.
So explore this and give me ideas on how we can all play with this……what I could see is for us to choose a common theme then add poems and other bits, inviting others to contribute as well, until we build a history of curious creatures. So explore this and send me ideas via the e-mail list Davin has been using….. Jason

Week One: Williams’ Paterson, Book 2

Sorry this comes a bit late everyone! I promise to be more prompt from now on … Something I’ve been mulling over for awhile:In a letter to John C. Thirlwall, dated June 13, 1955, William Carlos Williams writes: “The passage from Paterson which prompted my solution of the problem of modern verse…is to be found in Book 2, p. 96, beginning with the line: ‘The descent beckons.’ That after having been written several years before, where the implication of the variable foot first struck me” (Selected Letters 334). He then goes on to say that Einstein’s theory of relativity, the new “space-time,” has made necessary the creation of a new poetic form: “When Einstein promulgated the theory of relativity he could not have foreseen its moral and intellectual implication. He could not have foreseen for a certainty its influence on the writing of poetry” (Selected Letters, 335 – 336). In other letters, other essays, Williams also writes of how this new measure—the variable foot—must both sound over time and spatially mark the speech patterns of Americans (ie the poem must rhythmically unfold over time and it must spatially mark this particularly American rhythm). So for Williams, there is no such thing as a poem that is not both temporally and spatially alive. I’m fascinated with the variable foot – with the idea that a bookbound poem, as a precursor to a digital poem, is an object with its own kind of pulsating time and space. But it’s also a particularly elusive concept – just look at this excerpt from Paterson that Williams claims shows us the solution to the problem of modern verse! And what an impressive claim to make….

The descent beckons
        as the ascent beckoned
                Memory is a kind
of accomplishment
        a sort of renewal
an initiation, since the spaces it opens are new
        inhabited by hordes
                heretofore unrealized,
of new kinds—
        since their movements
                are towards new objectives
(even though formerly they were abandoned)

There is something about the three-tiered line—strangely enough it’s the spacing!—that drives your eyes and mind on—it insists on a durational reading and insists that you not, as Williams writes only a few pages earlier, “Time Count! Sever and mark time!”

one response to staging … by 10 year old

[what if conceptual art was taught in fifth grade? here is the assignment for this week, but accomplished by a 10 year old — and I will think about it this week]

In one year and out the other

From the point of view of 2006. We start off in INT. 2006’s apartment. 2006 items: various different bumper stickers, magazines, Meals, books, and other things from 2006. In the room there is a very, very white television in the center, and 2 very, very white telephones to either side. Other then that, everything in a cluttered mess there in the middle of this mess is someone in a costume that at first just looks like a very large pile of the same mess that clutters up the room. 2006 stands up and turns on the T.V. JOHN and JAMES and EMILY, the newscasters, are standing stage left, middle, and right, respectively.

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Dora and Eliza converse

Hello. My name is Eliza. What’s yours?
My name is Ida Bauer.
All right, let’s get started. What’s on your mind, Ida?
Where is Dr Freud?
Come on, Ida. Where do you think?
I think he is avoiding me.
What was going through your mind when you began to believe he is avoiding you?
I wonder if he has given up on me.
Don’t you also have given up on you?
That is why I came to him. To get help. Or was I forced? I don’t remember.
You do too remember.
My father…

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Debugging Dora

My friend JH tells me there are two kinds of writers/critics: clumpers and splitters. She is a splitter: she looks for cracks and holes in arguments, seeks to define within terms by examining critical differences. She has an eye for nuance: a born deconstructor. I, on the other hand, am a clumper. I want to draw similarities between the disparate, construct elaborate histories based on tenuous relationships. If this is any indication, my favorite television show growing up was the BBC show Connections, in which James Burke would wander through history drawing together the most unlikely ideas and technologies to produce a magical story (here’s a sample episode).

So, in my clumping mode, I’m going to be working on a series of ideas that are only really related through my telling of them. Here’s the starting point: What do Sir Walter Ralegh, Sigmund Freud, and the Emacs editor have in common? This is going to be a convoluted and not particularly apropos piece of history, but I promise it will be clear by the end. Maybe.

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wk one time: e.e. cummings “you said is”

you said is

you said Is

you said Is
there anything which
is dead or alive more beautiful
than my body,to have in your fingers
(trembling ever so little)?Looking into
your eyes Nothing,i said,except the
air of spring smelling of never and forever…..and through the lattice which moved as
if a hand is touched by a
moved as though
fingers touch a girl’s
lightly)Do you believe in always,the wind
said to the rain
I am too busy with
my flowers to believe,the rain answered

Week 2: Context

Can a poem be implied?

Create detailed “stage directions” for the piece.  Be as empirical, phenomenological, or philosophical as you like.  Use any means or media to communicate your directions.You have until July 15th! Until then, take the time to read and comment on your colleague’s work.

Week 1: Things get broken

[I decided to write an essay this week.  Tucked away are a series of “Humiliating Hypermedia Insights.”  These are not profound insights by any means.  They are obvious to any careful observer.  But in the course of having them, I feel humiliated.  Things I did not write about in this essay, but wish I did, are twe Greek terms for time: chronos  and kairos, whose distinct meanings might help us explore the English language’s limited capacity to deal with one of life’s most profound mysteries.]

I begin this symposium with a certain advantage.  I have an inside knowledge of the weekly assignments because I wrote them up myself.  So, what I lack in knowledge, talent, and skills, I make up for in prescience.  I know the order of things before they unfold—not through intuition or anticipation or precognition—but through the conceptualization of the symposium as a whole.  What is for some the beginning of a span of time broken into five week-long periods, each marked with the introduction of a new task, is for me a single, organized event.  You get surprises, I struggle with expectations.  At least this is how these things are supposed to go in theory. Continue reading Week 1: Things get broken