Tuesday, June 23, 2009

blogs, completeness, and "pathologos"

I've been wanting to say something about completeness. This gives me the chance. The other day, Anonymous commented on my post about Big Bridge's Slow Poetry feature:

You seem like a reasonable intelligent guy. Perhaps you should give yourself the adequate amount of time to do a complete reading of this. Then take what you find useful and leave the rest. It's obvious in your post that you kinda sorta miss the point more than once. Which does nothing but make you look silly when you comment publicly about it.
I'm not interested in writing a blog (or an anything) that is the complete and final word on anything. I'm interested in a blog that shows my thinking, as it develops over time. I'm very careful to make clear what my level of interaction with Slow Poetry has been, and to only speak from that experience. As far as that goes, I'm really not concerned with whether or not I "look silly". I'm not trying to refine an image here, I'm trying to participate in a conversation.

So many poets have this idea that language is permanent, that "good art lasts". No, Art and Language are wholly ephemeral and become irrelevant the moment the act is "complete". It's only in the recontextualizing, the engaging with, the talking about, that it becomes relevant again.

Print people tend not to know how to approach blogs. Don't realize you can make mistakes, think "aloud", say stupid things and learn from it. I shudder at the idea of working only with print. I say too many stupid things, and have too many stupid ideas to worry about filtering all of them out of my blogs/poetry. And actually, the fucking-up and "looking silly" aspects of writing/making are particularly interesting to me. I filter out plenty as is. For instance, so far, during the writing of this post, I've tapped on the keyboard during times where I was thinking and then erased these:

tellenine amnd;lkjasdf

putputputputputputputpine ie ie ipu e;lkanfn



I'm WARTY (I was trying to type "I'm wary" but somehow accidentally hit capslock and another T)



I fiddle when I think. And I think the artifact of that fiddling is interesting. It reminds me of the physical nature of thought, and the kinetics of language (something that I've heard many "school of quietude" poets say is absent from all but spoken language).

I'm wary of cutting things out of things I write. I learn a lot from the mistakes I make, get a lot of ideas from bumbling around. I'm not against editing or some shit like that. I'm no "first thought, best thought" kind of guy. I'm interested in the mechanics of the whole process. First thought, first thought. Second thought, second thought...

Martin Earl once commented to me:
don’t your think that in the end grammar will prevail over ephemera, which is the stuff of the blog?
I responded:

I do not think that grammar will prevail over "ephemera", in fact I actively try to promote an ephemeral view of grammar (in the sense that it’s always in flux). I also don’t agree that “the stuff of the blog” is particularly more ephemeral than any other language act. For instance, if you delete your blogs at Harriet, they are still stored in my RSS reader (which is in turn backed up on my hard drive) for me to access any time I want. In fact, in that the blogs are easier to traverse (easier to find desired information), blogs are somewhat less ephemeral than books. Sure, my books are still there, but since I’m rarely at my apartment, it’s as if I discard them for most of the day.
When you say “ephemera” in the print world, you’re talking about something that’s very wasteful. Whereas on the Internet, it’s just time/context specific material, which is the case with all language acts to a degree. I don’t think there is anything about the blog (or rather the Internet) which hinders the creation of more “lasting” content. Rather than use the word “ephemera”, I would, myself, describe the Internet as being geared toward “language-in-process”.
I guess though, at this point, I'm more ready to agree that ephemera is "the stuff of the blog". Or rather, that the blog is more suited than print to the already ephemeral nature of language. It's much more suited to the way I think and communicate. And looking "silly" is certainly a part of that.


Annandale Dream Gazette said...

Someone telling you that you've made a fool of yourself for what you've written so far about Slow Poetry is merely an attempt to intimidate you, to try to get you to shut up. Nobody is making a bigger fool of him or herself than Dale Smith these days.

For what it's worth, I don't think you "kinda sorta missed the point" at all. Your observations have been on target, and your writing on your blog is clear and concise. The only part of the Slow Poetry feature at Big Bridge that I've read so far was Dale's introduction. It was completely & ridiculously vapid & dishonest. He is full of shit in a big way. You're totally on the right track. Don't stop talking.

Iain said...

Thanks Lynn, it's worth plenty.

K. Silem Mohammad said...

What Lynn said. With the semi-qualification that the anonymous commenter did cause you to write this very thoughtful and interesting post. I especially love your remarks to Martin Earl on grammar and ephemerality.

Dale said...

My two cents, for what it's worth: Anon, Pathalog, suggested you read the Slow Poetry thing before passing judgment. For one, it's not a unified statement on poetics: it's an open source network open to critique and contribution by anyone. I have appreciated your comments, though I look forward to seeing how your reading of SP will change as you develop a more complete perspective on the textual evidence.

Annandale, I would love to see how you could in any way support your obviously anxious response to my intro. (Why all the anxiety? I realize Flarf must round up the troops and go for my kneecaps, but some thinking would obviously make the performances more entertaining.)

KSM, ditto. (Oh, but that's not your m. o., is it?)


Iain said...


Thank you, very much.


I understand it's not a unified statement on poetics. However, as far as it's an open source community, this fact actually makes me more likely to judge it on the type of attitudes I've seen in people sympathetic towards slopo. It's hard to see why I should want to contribute to a community that carries such animosity, not just toward poetry that I like, but poetry that has at least played a role in my becoming more socially conscious. But yes, I will be reading more of the actual poems before saying much more about all this. Thanks for reading.


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