Integrated Information Theory as Formula for Poetry (the whole essay)

i am very much aware that this isn’t light reading so i thank you for putting some welly into it & getting at it with yer brain teeth. i want it in one place & i want to push it, because writing this kind of thing is tough going— it took maybe 1 month of thinking & a couple of weeks drafting & taming into shape with hoops & raw fish. so here it all is, under one faithful sky.  

Integrated Information Theory as Formula for Poetry

The Abstract

i want to examine, as organically as possible, with, as unfathomable an approach as possible, which still retains & transmits, due to the vague, self-imposed pressure to make sense, a cohered message, Caesar of Consciousness Giulio Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) & its terminology in a literary, largely poetic context, which i have perceived directly without influence from outside hands planting germinated seeds in the soil-goop of my brain.

he [Tononi] talks effortlessly about it in a Youtube video ( , which means he is the real deal who knows his stuff & to add to that, his distinguished chair, which he sits in & does Consciousness Science, at the University of Wisconsin, gives him ample authority to be heard.

how far can we use Tononi’s theoretical love child as a correspondence, approach & paradigm in our wrestling a poem out of the void [허공]? how is//can our reading & writing of the poem [be] radically altered when we begin to measure its consciousness, as according to Tononi’s theory (as you shall discover or may already know) everything is tagged [possesses] with consciousness. the poem written on a page, typed on a computer or typewriter, or even the ones hewn into mountains or scribbled in protest on walls, whether spoken with a voice or experienced & so we can designate them with consciousness. it seems to me that if the objects & experiences we put into the poems have a measurable consciousness then surely the poems carry in their pliable paunch the avoirdupois of tangibly measurable conscious reality— a measurement already made by us upon recognizing the objects or experiences as we see or have them act upon our sense.

—(i must make an admission of ignorance: i don’t fully understand Tononi’s findings, but i don’t need to, this is all experience— i have experienced the information to my benefit, if i am culpable of talking crap, please read my crap first— doctors have divined ailments from faeces & the indomitable Greeks & Romans divined by offal, it was called hepatoscopy (for organs) or extispicy ( for innards), perhaps crap might be divined from too, think of yourselves as hierophants as you read this, but hierophants of essayed crap.)—

Tononi’s Abstract for the journal Nature is our spring board into the cornucopia of the void (허공):

[it] provides a means to determine, in principle, the quality & quantity of experience. The theory leads to some counterintuitive predictions & can be used to develop new tools for assessing consciousness in non-communicative patients.

let’s say this is a manifesto (latin. manifestus: clear, evident). or a paradigm forward to the poem. or intention to act upon. a grip up to the heart of experience. a vision of the earth from the perimeters of the Milky Way. we have a great deal here to guide our step where there is no ledge. & only a brief Abstract. (there is so much information bombarding us even during our brief cessations from reading//talking//listening//watching
—even as we sit in quiet, waves of information rush through our ears, up our nostrils, sneak up through our abdomens & for once, i’d like to take as much from as little as possible.

shouldn’t the poem anyway determine the quality & quantity of experience or better still add to it? if not, what is the poet doing. i don’t think it is ever the case that a poet is not doing something, perhaps at various levels of deterioration or rejuvenation, no quarrel there (otherwise every poem would be reacted to with gasps of joy). how is it we know the poet is doing experience? that’s easy: we all see from our perspective, even if we try to imitate, we will say things in as incoherent & ugly a form as someone else, but it will 10 times out of 9 be different. the whinny of whale song all sounds the same to us, but to a whale it is unique each to each.

in our age the carnage of change is overwhelming us from all directions
— chaos has always been a part of the established way of reality, but we seemed to have heaped spoonful upon spoonful to this unsatisfying, immovable enigma of life— which has kept us busy so long. even a view of the earth from the moon couldn’t staunch our bickering. i have grown to quite like it (not the bickering, but the untidiness of us): i used to want some form of a spiritually interconnected harmonious upheaval of the status quo— for us to realize some higher psychological state & all walk about with blissfully carved grins across our stupid faces, homo spiritus or something to that effect. pah!
— that seems boring or rather more importantly, an impotence for tolerating entropy.
to utilize the flux in order to manufacture something inedible, unusable; something with the sole charge to stir chest clutching rasps from the uncommon arrangement of words— a letting of things happen (fall into place), seems more profitable action.

how? : this generation needs to put information to any use whatsoever if only to justify there being so much of it. else we run the risk of plasticity— a super-abundance of useful but unused information, all with its own petty, unrecognized, unorganized consciousness.
our poet today must be the infrastructure of society & take no token of gratitude, must branch his poetry to the Blakean definition of creator: Blake’s poetic genius was not only a poet, but a man of learning who spoke truths, imagined or real. poet as everyman & individual. poet as legislator for the beginning of a handy thought. not the only one (poets get different names) but one nevertheless.

to write some bygone time is valueless to poetry & to the Millennial (which even Microsoft Word Spelling & Grammar Check has caught up to). the Millennial is screaming their throat hoarse their lungs dry, but the generation of Boomers who raised (razed?) them, foolhardily vitiate their creative endeavors in some Russian Dolls of ignorance that befell them, as if that’s how it goes (i am generalizing i know)— & this becomes the sexy nymph dragging Hylas off his tiny boat gagging for it. how many articles (i’m looking at you Guardian dicks) have there been derogatory of the Millennial or their spawn for identity: the Hipster. Millennials have to learn about the past if only to break the tradition, to give some reasoning behind the severance. they are always i agree, but… else they are ignorant. & good for us, good for us to reckon with the past & to give it a duty in the world we inherit. it’ll be different when you’re gone.
the Millennial is committed to acts of genius. to works of breathtaking importance.
i have watched so much uniqueness peak briefly & collapse into doleful obscurity— a memory for the few who cherished it.

but we have to don’t we. we have to use the integrated consciousness. be part of it. recognize each other in our pains to be heard.
this all sounds so puerile, but i rebel against tat tvam asi our teachers gimleted into our soft, malleable heads:
this is valuing the efforts of each generation. if that generation must tend blogs or clouds of sound like gardens or court their peers with the best work they can produce day to day. to live & work & in their idle moments spared them, create— then it must be acknowledged.

this is behaving to counter any comment to the contrary that poetry or what we create is not an annex to determine the quality & quantity of experience.

counterintuitive predictions should be a golden phase that amplifies to the pitch of the heart of many carrots in the ear of the poet as they read it. it scaffolds freedom to ruminate the many facets of experience available to the human animal (DO NOT FORGET we are animals that apperceive, who can look solid in a mirror facing another mirror & recognize infinity domino either side of them— that is as close to touching infinity as were ever going to get, sup it up.) : to language things. to form & to technique things on top of other things, this is man’s duty to his consciousness & the things he consciously takes for granted.

to willfully dig out the present down to the future, some guesswork that may with coincidence become reality. we are prophets if even 2% of our guesses come to pass. to be poetic-seers in a digital age & to know it, to not be phased even when erroneous. this is revolutionary. with such aspirations to this despite hypocrisy & despite knowing it is utter non-sense. soldiering on with this is to look outside of any current crisis, to be more human than our warring & hatred allows us. we are not two Onyx scrapping over a female or a drying pool of ochre coloured river bed. we are civilized. we are many & from many. we have choice & so we need not spoil this with our belligerence.

we brachiate like the arms of Avalokiteshvara, but arms holding telescopes or made of telescopes that look to more fertile times, where nothing has changed but us, who have changed to re-appropriate our feelings toward what would try to tear down our furor to create. if something doesn’t change you change. if others don’t write what you want to read, write it. if others won’t clean the land you want clean, make pains to clean it yourself. if others won’t stop eating meat, stop eating it yourself. if the elements are not to your liking, change to like them. if the only food you have is simple, learn to eat simple food. (there are dire circumstances where this logic is not applicable. but for many of us reading this, we can take this into account & do a little bit of good.)

otherwise, don’t alter anything: wu wei wu wei wu wei.
or kick back, write a poem— eat some fruit. eat a flower. drink paint. snort music. eat a poem.
let everything be glimpse (apercu) like//with//as George Didi-Huberman translates the word.

we all know not much really changes: evolution is slow. look how long it took us to not be monkeys. there are still monkeys y’know, they just have fake tans & play golf rather than pull their foot out their own arses.
the consciousness of things persists, goes on the same even when we are gone
— let’s fully integrate ourselves in that consciousness.
full immersion with poetry & creative-movement: read David Bohm’s On Creativity, right now!

who will the non-communicative patients be?— them that can’t see past their own nose.
them that see nothing beyond everything. those that compartmentalize reality rather than seeing it as uniform (i have blundered into hypocrisy— that is life now, y’know)

: without borders. without edges.

these people will not be left out, they will be used— used as cannon fodder for the poet should they recruit them into their forms, to fire anything they can stuff in there & fire at them, just to make them react, organically. the poet sees beyond them. sees they’re an unbroken continuation. they will be other & yet the same, like two cups either end of a piece of string. they will discriminate themselves but as poets we will take pains to include them, to not be discriminatory. they’ll become something like brass door knobs or tins of paint, an un-decorated paper fan.
pens or canvas or Moleskine notebooks. paintbrushes tied to branches above easels. utilitarian but useless to act in & of themselves. so the poet will borrow them. their state will bring them no discomfort or pain. they will not be different other than in a marginal world they’ll have no clue about. they chose not to see when seeing is for the taking. the poet will recognize them as objects capable of higher function. they will be the integral information of a new theory on poetry that produces something remarkable. as lay-abouts of the status quo they will be beyond their own comprehension but comprehended through an art of elapsing, rippling glimpses. it will take time for them to take definition. perhaps this is happening in some germinate mode. i cannot say for sure.

IIT gifts a poem a mind, a consciousness with a weight in the measure of poem. cherish this like an old Collected Poems that you sleep with under your pillow so that its forms & functions seep into your head while you sleep.

the poem will think for itself when it realizes. we can help it. just like Disney personifies objects & animals, making them talk, the poem will apperceive— glimpse itself in the mirror, give itself a twirl. be an ego all its own fiasco.

how IIT seems to work— an analogy

as an amateur Analogist (not that one, the one i made up) i’d liken it to a compressed folder: the content is not anywhere else but in the compression. the compression isn’t the content but a code from which the content can be obtained, providing they have the correct tool, or software to decompress the compressed information.
i suppose something like the point of infinite density exponentially expanding into mattered things— a microcosm of that event.
as with a compressed file, objects remain inert (compressed) until the content is required, at which moment, the brain decompresses it with the code or software, instantly. this is why, when you have never seen something before & someone else has, you both see the same thing.
no one asked why, when Kaspar Hausar was released from his long confinement, he could distinguish things visually from one another— that he could see what everyone else sees despite having never seen them.
obviously, the content of things requires outside influence, in the same way that the content of the compressed file, may contain information that the receiver needs to process or increase their understanding of with additional resources. the content of the information is just that— as the physical information is just that.
an apple requires you to taste or touch it to fill in the gaps of what additional information it can convey, just as the file’s compressed information must be read to be understood.
only the physical specifications are tied with our consciousness, there is no additional information that tells us anything about the thing— a general rule the aggregate of objects share.
the poem then is compressed emotion decompressed into a physicality, whether that physicality takes the form of sound or writing, nevertheless it has a form which can be managed & projected. the decompression of the emotion is a form & any additional information of meaning is to be decided by a reader or by the poet as the decompression takes place. as it transforms from inner motion to outer solidity, which is capable of motioning someone utterly.

the axioms of IIT as given by

(all italicized passages are IIT’s axioms from the link above.)

Intrinsic existence

Consciousness exists: each experience is actual—indeed, that my experience here and now exists (it is real) is the only fact I can be sure of immediately and absolutely. Moreover, my experience exists from its own intrinsic perspective, independent of external observers (it is intrinsically real or actual).
the poem gestates in the mind. takes form from a germ. editing is the preparatory crafting of the limbs & body in the limbo between conception & birth
— it has a womb life, our mind is that warm sanctuary. a poem is born.
know your deictics like you know your mother’s face. you can make the existence of a poem intrinsically now with deictics & you can acutely point out something you want people to attend to. know them well. they are your here & now // you & i // this & that.
According to Jonathan Culler, “the importance of such deictics as technical devices in poetry can scarcely be overestimated,” for they “bring into being a voice and a force addressed.” Roland Greene concurs: “lyric must rely on deictics to maintain and adjust its internal process, to found fictions.”[6] “Whenever we use the terms now or here or I or you,” observes Susan Stewart, “we find ourselves immersed in the ‘now’ of articulation, the ‘here’ of the space in which speech is spoken, the ‘I’ of the speaker, the ‘you’ of the listener. It is … not just that such terms are context-dependent: they themselves define and create the circumstances of specific contexts.” (Kilbane, Matt:

this is proof of something profound & commonplace, you know it even if you don’t know the word deictic, which gives me hope to laud over.

it is crafted into complexity just like an animal is crafted by cells & D.N.A in harnessing fluids. become actual it stumbles into the world. a poem is like a baby foal or calf: it can walk as soon as it exi(s)ts. it must do else how will it make its impact on the passive. it knows itself in a mirror quicker than a baby. it has understood how to please itself with gregarious alacrity. breathless to its own design. i show you a living thing. feel the poem & your own pulse, they emit the same rhythm, simultaneously.
it can praise its creator. makes a god of them. meets on Sundays with other poems
: love poems, metaphysical poems, Zen poems, religious poems, experimental poems, Dada, Imagist, sonnet, villanelle, terza rima, heroic, couplets, iamb, anapaest, trochee— all the poetics bundled under one metaphoric roof. they determine their meaning. debate the fallout of their endeavours to understand, like a Hindu giving up on knowing Genesis in its multiform because they know Prajapati. speaks Freudian/Jungian. knows its Kant from Nietzsche— no help there. understands economics & mathematics but never calculates infinity— no point: won’t care for far thinking like that— depth & length are two faces of a poem, but it is multi-faced. thinks in matar, but doesn’t have to count, more organic that way.
debates sexual discrepancies. how they dream of foreplay with verses from The King James or Vedas pursing their lips on the nape of their necks. shambolic nights with Aphorisms. dirty weekends in Cornwall with Apothegms. an accountants stanzas in the back alley, drunken & flustered until they cum the building blocks of themselves on cobbled streets, which magpies sup & sing from the top most tip of cypress.
none of this is a lie. i give it intrinsic existence by my creating it— let no one tell you otherwise. i could go on but always know when enough intrinsic existence is enough.


Consciousness is structured: each experience is composed of multiple phenomenological distinctions, elementary or higher-order. For example, within one experience I may distinguish a book, a blue color, a blue book, the left side, a blue book on the left, and so on. 
Consciousness is specific: each experience is the particular way it is—being composed of a specific set of specific phenomenal distinctions—thereby differing from other possible experiences (differentiation). For example, an experience may include phenomenal distinctions specifying a large number of spatial locations, several positive concepts, such as a bedroom (as opposed to no bedroom), a bed (as opposed to no bed), a book (as opposed to no book), a blue color (as opposed to no blue), higher-order “bindings” of first-order distinctions, such as a blue book (as opposed to no blue book), as well as many negative concepts, such as no bird (as opposed to a bird), no bicycle (as opposed to a bicycle), no bush (as opposed to a bush), and so on. Similarly, an experience of pure darkness and silence is the particular way it is—it has the specific quality it has (no bedroom, no bed, no book, no blue, nor any other object, color, sound, thought, and so on). And being that way, it necessarily differs from a large number of alternative experiences I could have had but I am not actually having.
composition is the bread & butter of a poem. the poem is composed. i could end here & i’ve made my point. it is phenomenological. has a way about itself. punctuated by higher order. full of weather & objects. peopled with acts. acted with peoples. dimensional. just as something is made & then bulldozed, burnt & mortified— so the poem. it is composed of feelings & so it feels. it feels your eyes all over its naked flesh. it knows when you cry wolf. it may be contained in a blue book. it takes all the blame. won’t dob its mates in. left facing — or right facing. it is its own book. we are all books. all of us a poem. they are not so much composed from out of us as they are worn on the thin skin of our wrists or nourished by the flab of our waists. we should write in patois trepanned as the lyric of the unsung culture.
James Longenbach is a special kind of wizard: he can pull poems apart with his teeth, grapple them in his maw as he surgically pulls them iamb from rhyme then rearrange them so that if the poem is ABABC#DC#D, he can reorder it DADABC#BC# & miraculously, the meaning does not subside into nowt, but rather survives the mad rending.
cause & effect is there still.
turn out the light & in the cupola of dark you will still be able to read a poem as if it is written in invisible ink & our eyes saturate it in a self-modulated strobe of UV. phenomenologists are busily attempting to understand this peculiarity of the IIT poem. there was an article in a book on a book shelf of the libraryofbabel, which explains the mechanism within the poem that enables this but, no. it’s all gibberish & we haven’t got the handle on gibberish quite right as of yet, despite our heavy conscience.
i’ve explained poems are made. you make them with a communication of mind to hand. like most things.
look closely at an amplituhedron, a lot, as long as Keats looked at that Grecian Urn. i’ll give you time [… … … …] did you see it?
& poems will burst out of you composed like the tintinnabulations of a Vajra fixed in its Ghanta. no one may understand what the heck you’ve drabbled out of your Self, but someone will get the gist of the composition at some point in time— isn’t that immortality in a nutshell? compose yourself. proceed…


Consciousness is unified: each experience is irreducible to non-interdependent, disjoint subsets of phenomenal distinctions. Thus, I experience a whole visual scene, not the left side of the visual field independent of the right side (and vice versa). For example, the experience of seeing the word “BECAUSE” written in the middle of a blank page is irreducible to an experience of seeing “BE” on the left plus an experience of seeing “CAUSE” on the right. Similarly, seeing a blue book is irreducible to seeing a book without the color blue, plus the color blue without the book.
a blue book in a dream & a blue book in your lap, in reality, are the same blue book if the book is not opened. the poem dreamt or the poem wrote, too. they have the same amount of consciousness, because they are the surface of the experience. content is still absent, so they are seen with as much consciousness as one another because of the definition we give them as experienced. they inhabit radically different spatial environments. however, if asked to describe them as detailed as possible you’d end up with strikingly similar descriptions. i saw a blue book in a dream it isn’t open i do not know the contents. i have a blue book in my lap i do not want to look at the contents.

i can’t help but think of all this like the difference in defining the word grunt or using its onomatopoeia or explaining gravity with an equation rather than watching an anvil fall from the Eiffel Tower.
what am i saying: that all experience is integrated into the domino of moments that we perceive or someone else perceives for us & so our experience is an integrated one. the touch of rains, the smooth of glass, the prickle of nettles is one to another alike.
fall under the category of experience, integrated under that one word, be trodden into it like gum on a footpath. if we can describe something or something that took place, there’s potential.
how can we do this even if something has never been experienced?
because it has a measure of consciousness annexed to it, which the mind cooperates with to enable our interaction with the world at a higher level.
what does this mean for poetry: write about whatever the fuck you want. just make it damn good.

be a poem.


Consciousness is definite, in content and spatio-temporal grain: each experience has the set of phenomenal distinctions it has, neither less (a subset) nor more (a superset), and it flows at the speed it flows, neither faster nor slower. For example, the experience I am having is of seeing a body on a bed in a bedroom, a bookcase with books, one of which is a blue book, but I am not having an experience with less content—say, one lacking the phenomenal distinction blue/not blue, or colored/not colored; or with more content—say, one endowed with the additional phenomenal distinction high/low blood pressure. Moreover, my experience flows at a particular speed—each experience encompassing say a hundred milliseconds or so—but I am not having an experience that encompasses just a few milliseconds or instead minutes or hours.
the poem is definite. it is not a marginal space. nothing is marginalized. or it shouldn’t be. not everything has to be put into one poem. a poet is capable of many poems. so know what to exclude. know your pace. know the poems pace. don’t/do get high blood pressure from a poem. you’ll figure something out. one thing to disagree with here is the potential to alter the poem. it is easy to talk to. however, if you want it to remain unchanged, then do so. it can be definite in its consciousness. think of it like explaining a little about yourself when you meet somebody new: you may not use the exact spiel you used the last time you gave out your autobiography. you will use different words. a different order of sentences. you may update it with something important that recently happened. but essentially the meaning goes unaltered, the subject, unaltered. so too the poem can remain definite in content & spatio-temporal grain & yet something of this content may have been altered in form alone.

how can we test it

Tononi has many graphs & charts, which do not communicate anything other than confusion to me, so i have developed my own method to test IIT— i have yet to find my guinea pigs for the experiment.
get yourself hired as a third party middleman by a person who knows very little about very much (no money should exchange hands). find an object you can introduce to them that they do not know. it will probably be best if it is foreign to their homeland: these tend to be the most flabbergasting. on seeing it they should go something like pfft… fucked if i know!
despite their ignorance, the object should be such that given time they will at least be able to describe it using the vocabulary they have to hand. enough to prove they see it & to prove their seeing it to another person.
bring another person into the fold. a person who knows the object exceptionally well: an expert. these may become more difficult to find as more politicians rebel against them & lynch mobs chase them down from institutes they themselves can’t get appointed by— cuz if ya don’t know you don’t get a say. do not let them meet each other. put them in separate rooms. don’t hermetically seal them— you need them both alive for the experiment to work. use the same object for both. ask them the same set of questions. the questions should be general & no ambiguity should be possible.
they should be questions that determine the objects dimension, shape, sound, colour, material— basic sensory impressions.
correlate the answers after each has taken their turn with the object. it should be clear that the subjects see the same object. if the test results are inconclusive blindfold them & have them both sat before the object. remove the blindfolds at the same time & see if they both look at the object. if they do, then they see the same thing. the room should have nothing to interfere with their seeing the object. if the results are still inconclusive then Tononi is wrong & IIT is for the slag heap. i doubt it though. it’s more likely that even an object unknown to someone, though they may articulate their seeing differently to an expert, they still see the same object, because it is fixed & constant to everyone because it possesses some degree of consciousness.

if anyone does perform this experiment, please allow me to submit the details of your findings, in full, as an annex to this essay. who knows TEDx might give you a bell. they will pay better than me. i will pay you, but it may be unconventional in its manifestation. if you do the experiment in a lab coat tailored from famous pages of 1st edition poetry books i’d be most impressed & inconsolably saddened in one odd maelstrom of emotion. thanks for bearing with me.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. pseudonymous says:

    Put the post on a timer for 3am Jeju

    1. on a spool for a week? i’m sure i’d be kicked off WordPress.

      1. pseudonymous says:

        Sometimes wordpress is like a dead zone in the ocean, I think it’d get more exposure then, especially on a sunday, I see people reposting the same stuff like 6x sometimes, I wouldn’t worry about the boot

      2. haha. i usually just re-post my essays as i they take so much energy. my poems i know i’ll regurgitate over longer stretches of time for they too take so much effort. but they tend to harvest more readings than the essays. essays though are like me showing my working out, like in a maths test (which i actually have nightmares about) where you have to show your process for full marks.

    2. Pablo Cuzco says:

      That would be 1PM American Eastern time. Is that a peak hour?

  2. Pablo Cuzco says:

    I put this on my “to read” list.

  3. Pablo Cuzco says:

    I put this on my “to read” list.

  4. kvennarad says:

    Never mistake freedom for chaos. 🙂

    1. Wouldn’t dream of it, from now.

  5. Pablo Cuzco says:

    This is some great insight into your writing process, Paul. It shows great minds do think alike. The consciousness connection is intrinsic to my writing. Words after all are just words, aren’t they? Until we weave them into a tapestry.

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