Frames /sing


What if There was Only Poetry? What is the Referent of a Word?

Walking Between Spaces

As a happenstance some of the best thinking can sometimes be done in the footnotes, in the margins, and in the comments section it seems, where the constitutive effects of a text, refracted off of a number of diverse and unanticipated points, come to confluence themselves again, baring the traces of their brief travel. (For those who write without comments, without spaces, sad.) This is the secret to the bloggist form of intellectual cross-seeding and creative process. Epistolary reflection at an inspired rate.

Again, an interesting trail come from the side discussion over at The Whim, where Nicola responded to a comment of mine. He had written a poem, and I responded to the verse in verse, as somehow this seemed appropriate. And I mused, what if one could only comment upon poetry in poetry?:

…Sometimes I feel that this is the only response that should be permitted…in an aesthetic, or even epistemic sense.

What if we only spoke of poetry in verse?

Is there a reason why Parmenides who said there is no change wrote only in meter?

What did Plato lose when he took the meter out? (…and how did he smuggle it back in?)

Nicola, returned with a beautiful quote from Agamben), and then some thoughts about a possible utopian notion of language as poetry:

“Perhaps only a language in which the pure prose of philosophy would intervene at a certain point to break apart the verse of the poetic word, and in which the verse of poetry would intervene to bend the prose of philosophy into a ring, would be the true human language”  (Agamben)

The opening issue of Hot Gun! make a good poetic utopian pitch: “To achieve utopia, all language must be poetry . . . Poetry is the vocal mimesis of the experience of being in the world which gave rise to language. . . . Only once we have negated instrumental language, and brought ourselves back into the present, can we reintroduce result into mimetic language whereby the pleasure of telling you my feelings and of you understanding my desires in the present of action might be understood as a purpose. Poetry keeps language accurate but also does the opposite and slows it down to the point where language is itself and itself is the world” (Josh Stanley).

What an interesting proposal that language might best oscillate between the philosophical conceptual “intervention” with a kind of linear or spatial imposition, and then the returning bend back of poetic language itself. The ring composition of all truth. Do not the best philosophical works “rhyme”?

The Eutopia of Language

Instead of viewing this as a utopian project (which it is in a certain sense), perhaps as if often the case with utopias, we need only to realize that it is already the case. All language is poetry, (but simply does not know it). I have in mind Spinoza’s interesting recursive notion that any idea that is “in” the human mind (that composes the human mind), takes as its true object an extensional state of the body. The ideas I have of trees, Copernicus, newspaper print, chocolate cookie recipes, dust, Higgins Bosons are all ideas of various states of my body. In a certain oblique sense, the referent of the words I use, is “me” (or this compositional body). It is more than this though, for Spinoza. Any idea that we have is the expressed power of my body to act, and as such it is an affirmation of a certain degree of power of my body. Each time we “think” we affirm the flesh in one way or another, perhaps like a mainsail and jib that catches more or less wind with their ever fluctuating angles. In this sense, the words we speak, no matter their abstraction, come from the material dynamism of our bodies, are the poiesis of our bodies (and our bodies in combination with all others). They are poetry. Even the most instrumental language is instrumental in a different sense, in that it is expressive of powers far beyond its mere design.

If there is a utopian aspect of this, it is not that language must become poetic, but its very poetry must be recognized. A programmer may read a line of code and be moved. An archivist an inventory list and become stirred. Our language comes up and out of our bodies, but our bodies as they are precisely connected and materially joined to all others. If there is a philosophical/versed oscillation, perhaps this is only the one of our awareness.

Are not even the logic-chopping Analytic School stackings merely highly constrained quatrains without overt spatial imposition (I remember writing an entire novel chapter in Hexameter verse, yet letting it be “prose”) ? Is not the question of philosophy ever “From Whence Does it Come?” and the answer of poetry, “From here.” Is not each word a hiero-glyph under conditions self-traced and yet immanent to a horizon beyond any self that does not necessarily touch a community of things?

[addendum] Nicola ruminates that his desire for commentary is a desire for a space,

Of course something like this happens/is happening only through the wearing away of “poetry” and the practice the finding/possessing of other language as (always already) poetry. I am learning more and more how my desire for commentary is a desire for such a space, or as Agamben would gloss it a desire for language as mode of both understanding and possession/enjoyment.

While he seems to agree that other language is already poetic, I am unsure of this notion of a space of possession as an equivalent of enjoyment. I sense rather that commentary is (and my last post touched on this) the space of transmission and pollination. To understand is to transmit and be transmitted to, for the wave to have reached you. The space of this, in terms of commentary, seems to be not that of possession, for “enjoyment” is never held, but rather is more one of eddying, a folded-over zone, which may link to other such eddies elsewhere, a turbulence of continuities (or ratios, as Spinoza might have it).

It is not that instrumental or objective language should be eliminated, or even undermined, but rather when we see it, speak it, read it, we should do well to trace out and fill-up its full history of affective roots as a place and determination of its strength.


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