A memory of an emphatic friend

I originally posted this piece on Medium, which I recently discovered. I want to ask a favour of you. I have never asked anyone to follow my blog, & I now have over 700 followers, so I don’t feel guilty asking something of people now.
I may (most likely will) be returning to England in a few months & I’ll find myself in a limbo state, in my hometown, until I return to studying an MA. In that time I want to try & make a little beer money from writing. Medium offers something called a Partner Program. It is all free, but you can make a bit of money from the volume of people who read your articles. You can see where I am going with this. Right now I just want to build a readership while I am in Korea (as I have no bank account) but by the time I return to England & sort out my accounts, I’d like to be trying to publish regularly on literature, culture, ideas in generally, my usual effort at insight into what sways me etc & make enough to get drunk at least, say… once a day (& beer is very cheap in England).
So if you’ll head over to my Medium, you can sign in with Facebook, Google or Twitter (don’t even need to sign in really) & follow me, clap for me & just show some bare support. It isn’t much to ask & you all follow me here, I am not asking for the heavens to be moved neither will I in anyway get rich quick from this, just beer money, maybe a bus ride. Here is the link to my Medium profile. Enjoy the personal essay below, it is also over at Medium too, give it a clap, comment, rant, disagree, whatever is fine. Thanks.


A memory of an emphatic friend

Funny how memory works. I was going about life, something unrelated to the following & it just announced itself, direct, immediate as an incoming update on your phone.
While studying at university, I used to have small gatherings, most nights, like-minded people coming together in my flat to drink, eat, get stoned, listen to records, usually a game of chess ongoing & talked until late. Very cliché-boho, but earnest, we just wanted to be good at stuff & so socializing in this way meant we were continuously active.
One night, emphatic with drink, a friend posed a question: Why is Shakespeare better than a soap opera on TV? This would have a profound effect on me & by extension offer a justification for the importance of study in literature & the humanities. (It’s a sad reality that, at times, I have been called to justify words on a page. I will use this anecdote in such discussions.)
Most present simply laughed and replied, “because it’s Shakespeare”. The quality of Shakespeare was self-evident, no justification was needed. My friend expressed his dissatisfaction with this. He was hankering for air-tight justification — why was the bard undeniably better & by extension, necessarily more important?
Our first volley of “just because” deflected, we began to look at the similarities & differences.
Language was analyzed. Shakespeare was inventive,”everyone knows that!” He gave us memorable lines, he fleshed out his characters with his great ear for speech; he makes us believe his worlds. We think of iambic pentameter as affected speech, but in the drama it is a unit of measure most resembling the cadence of speech; it becomes stylistic edifice too, a device for arranging the difference of noble & common. Essentially though, like a soap opera, it is still dialogue, language traded between people.
Was it the language itself? Shakespeare’s language, the range of words at his disposal was arguably less diverse than the English of a current soap opera. The potential diversity of a current soap opera after centuries of evolution in the English language, enables the writers of soap operas to build characters around a single idiolect, to diversify through age specific idioms. Shakespeare could arguably do this to some degree, but perhaps not with such clear demarcations, or perhaps too narrowly, as the differentiation of sovereign, noble & common is a limitation of Shakespeare’s time. But the gregarious pockets of contemporary culture, encourage diversity of character.
Someone mentioned themes, the action that results from them. Shakespeare writes about love, death, betrayal, conflict, comedy. These are unavoidable themes for all writers and they are especially cogent to the soap opera. Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism outlines (some may argue conclusively) that the range of themes available to a write are limited; if anything, the soap opera would enable more diversity in themes, there are less taboos, or more ways to explore a taboo if they exist. We have had decades to converse on free expression, the idea was practically alien to Elizabethan/Jacobean England; Shakespeare wrote plays to order in some instances, to the preference of his patron James I, angering, was a risk to Shakespeare’s status & career. No such limit exists for the team of soap opera writers.
Someone mentioned memorable characters. This too didn’t cut the mustard as my friend pointed out, tabloids had actually printed stories, which had led to public influence over the outcome of the character, not the actor’s, fate. The case of Deidre Barlow in 1998 (a fictional character of the soap opera Coronation Street) comes to mind. Deidre is sent to prison for mortgage fraud, which she is framed for by her lover Jon Lindsay, a con-man; who charms Deidre with his claims to being an airline pilot. The millions of viewers were so outraged, fiction spilled into reality. The newspaper tabloids ran front page: FREE DEIDRE BARLOW!
Then Prime Minister Tony Blair investigated, as did Home Secretary Jack Straw, even the Conservatives, notably, William Hague expressed their concern and willingness to help.
Everyone, even people who hate Britain’s soap operas know quite a few of their characters, probably more than they know any of Shakespeare’s.
Could it be the plots? “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players.” explains Jacques in As you Like it. Soap opera, on going as it is, sometimes for decades, with generations building, plots looping back to previous years makes a stage of the world, especially when fiction spills into reality. Shakespeare could only make the assertion, be somewhat philosophical about it, but soap opera does it.
At this point we were hanging on for dear hope. So many times the emphatic “NO!” from our friend, resetting our search for the answer. Would we really have to submit to soap operas actually being better than Shakespeare? It was inconceivable. It was staring us right in the face, hiding in plain sight. We wanted answers.
It was well past midnight, we we’re all emphatically drunk, everyone, was involved in solving my friends riddle who was strumming blues chord on a guitar even though he’s left handed, he’s that sort of man.

Some months later with this same friend on a train from Lille to Strasbourg to cover some miles so we could get to Germany quicker, as my pal was eager to visit his girlfriend, who lived in a small town called Oftersheim, close to Mannheim. We played a similar game of guess. This time, the game was to guess what the other person is thinking. The same logic applied, the thing to be guessed was hiding in plain-sight; there was no trick, only a matter of stripping away the layers. I was too irascible to be clear headed enough for such things, I just wanted to know and from that knowing move on to something else. In hindsight, my friend was light years ahead in terms of his control over the occasions of time. I failed to see that; in the discovery there was a whole host of possibilities for understanding and learning. As you peel away the layers of what was not, there was time for a moment of reflection, of realization that though this wasn’t the answer, it was part of what it isn’t and therefore worth remarking. I got wound up as tight as a string playing that game on the train. I accused him of thinking something too obscure.
The answer to our guessing game on the train was the passport of a French girl we had met on the ferry, who’d had a distressing time for a reason we did not know, but was clear to us from her body language. We invited her to sit with us, gave her coffee and cigarettes and spoke with her a little. On arriving in Calais, because of our kindness, she had her mother drop us off at a local camp sight, with a warning about sleeping on the beach, due to Algerian immigrants.

Everyone was pretty much done. We felt as though we’d ripped Shakespeare inside out, we’d got down his Collected Works and riffled through it, through books of essays and various critical volumes. Still we were none the wiser, yet we were fingering through the “plain sight”. My pal stayed resolute, not brazen, nor arrogant, but a perfect picture of a drunken Zen master.
“Are you ready for me to tell you?”
Every one of us, eager but exhausted to know exclaimed “YES!”
“It is care, the care of 500 years of scholarly attention, the multitude of books, the inspiration, the symbol that he is to the cultural heritage of a nation — it is simply care.”

It was so brilliant, so obvious. Of course, a reason, which all our reasons were without doubt wrapped up in, but not it exactly. No one would ever go to any great effort to write scholarly texts, to be influenced by, to make spin-offs of a soap opera. It is passive entertainment. People may be interested, but ask them what happened last week, they’d probably struggle to give an overview. But there Shakespeare enthusiasts who can quote, debate, enthuse with their admiration and knowledge of Shakespeare. Even my own father who never reads, can recite passages of Shakespeare learned at school over 50 years ago.
This can be active in our justification of any good literature, even in our passive Internet age. When we write reviews of someone’s chapbook, or comment on someone’s blog, we do so in this same vein of care. It is a concatenation of that tradition of literature, which we choose to give expression to no matter the status of the writer. This is how we keep our literature alive. This is why reading, humanities, literature, matters: it is the conversation of what makes us uniquely human, it is concern for storytelling & the marginalia & conversations this has produced.

An Inquisition into Populist Poetry

An Inquisition into Populist Poetry

Paxman’s Inquisition

A couple of days ago, i was listening to the Talking Politics podcast, presented by David Runciman. He was speaking with Jan-Werner Müller on the topic of populism.
As i listened, i wondered if populism had parallels in poetry. i had something Jeremy Paxman said when he judged the Forward Prize, in 2004, on the tip of my tongue. A Google search later & i found it. Paxman had said that poetry

“connived at its own irrelevance”

& went on to say in the same breath that

“it seems to me very often that poets now seem to be talking to other poets and that is not talking to people as a whole.”

i think many poets & readers will have heard something in a similar vein before.
i suppose, thankfully, Paxman is a reader & defender of poetry, at least he’s on our side & believes poetry can be a force for social good. His prescription is that poetry should

“raise its game a little bit, raise its sights” & “aim to engage with ordinary people much more.”

Paxman calls for an

“inquisition” in which “poets [would be] called to account for their poetry, to explain why they chose to write about the particular subject they wrote about, and why they chose the particular form and language, idiom, the rest of it, because it would be a really illuminating experience for everybody”.

i can see Paxman, a sort of Pacman, gobbling up the poet’s missteps, poets, trying to fend themselves against his big yellow face & enormous maw, with iambic pentameter, outworn tropes & quills.
Paxman doesn’t let politicians off lightly, but criticism is part & parcel of the politician’s job. i agree, in some respect, that poets should be at least capable of explaining themselves. Transparency in poetry, is something i believe in. However, an Inquisition is not a suitable word to describe what should take place.
What will be the ramifications of this Inquisition? Will it be to call the poets to account? Will inspiration be judged on how apperceptive the poet was of the line or themes as they were composed? If the poet stumbles on themes founded by philosophers or members of other disciplines, quite by accident, without thorough foreknowledge, will they be penalized? Will they have points knocked off for stating that the poem appeared to them almost fully formed (as Hughes says of many poems from Crow) & little editing took place, thus bringing into focus the question of craft? How about abstractions & ambivalence? What if a line break just feels right, but has no other function? Then what of rhyme; what if the coupling of two sounds is purely sonic, but doesn’t intensify the tensions or themes of the poem further? Not to mention who is this panel of grand Inquisitors: Paxman & friends? & how will they rate, score, deliberate to agree thumbs up or down? Will they have to rely on emotion, pure reason or both, & how will they achieve this? Poetry isn’t a beauty pageant or even a debate contest. In the manner we call our politicians & journalists to account, so too our poets— sound fair? i don’t see why not; however, the reason for writing, is entirely different for poets, journalists & politicians.
Paxman, in the way he raises this issue, assumes that poets aren’t up for this, but they are. i wonder, if people unschooled in the considerations & sensibilities of poets & poetry critics, are really up for it?
There are further problems if we consider the current movements in art as a paradigm; an art that challenges perceptions through ambiguous shapes & forms (not too dissimilar an aim as contemporary poetry), which in addition to its physicality, sometimes attempts explanation & justification, alienating a general audience in the process & risking pretension.
To explain, is to rely on terminology, which is translated to the uninitiated as tangling jargon, as language only a select know. The art is an intellectual product & takes an intellectual language to explain it; so what good does it do for poets to explain? Would it not be something like a comedian explaining a joke? Once it is explained, the delight of its idiosyncrasies becomes deflated; aloofness is part of the appeal. Does it even continue to be a work of literature? i don’t know the answer & perhaps this is an inappropriate question.
What i can’t agree with Paxman about, is a poet under obligation to write for a mass audience. They shouldn’t necessarily avoid it, but if it becomes the standard by which we judge poetry, it stifles the art with all manner of problems. There is room within poetry for all levels of reader.
One way around this, could be for the public & the poet to meet half way; the public making efforts to read better, respecting more the poets role, & the poet responding, by writing more approachable poems. But even this is unnecessary as poetry has a wide reach, if you rummage.
It seems peculiar that because something doesn’t entertain it must justify its right to exist & yet, what good is a blockbuster movie? It costs exorbitant amounts of money, for the majority of people to watch once & fall into obscurity. Why isn’t that being charged with justifying its existence?

Populism = ?

What do we understand about populist politics that offer up parallels to poetry?
There are two events of late that no one can ignore, yet many (even intellectuals) want to avoid using as an example, or even thinking about. They are of course the election of Trump & Brexit. Trump won because of his populist appeal, because he Tweets & speaks his mind. Of course if the Russia business is confirmed, then that cannot be ignored, but for now, we can assume it was his social media campaign & straight talking promises to remedy the problems of the man on the street. He won because he speaks to people with their same dog eared use of the English language. i love it (dog eared language, that is).
It concerns me, that politicians from here on out, in America (but quite possibly aboard, well England), may end up following Trump’s populist strategy, so as to secure the large demographic of people that think a politician who speaks plainly, is worthy of their vote.
Brexit was much the same: “The Poles are taking all your jobs & soon Turkey will enter the EU. On top of that we have to give the EU 300 million quid every week, for what? That could be spent reinforcing the crumbling NHS. Here look at this picture of Muslims in Munich, which we are implying is Britain. Be worried. Panic. AHHHHHH!!!” Everyone with half a brain cell panicked & proudly ticked the LEAVE box. This tells us 1. People are actually pretty irrational & think with emotion & 2. They want something dumbed down because they feel spoken-down to by intellectuals. The easy way to remedy this: read more, become informed, we have all of human history & every major newspaper compacted into a beveled device, at our fingertips, in our pockets; we should use it for something more than watching Fail Army clips & pornography.
i sound acerbic, yes, but it was all lies & prayed on the populist concerns of irrational, nationalistic people. What if these people tell poets what to write? These are the people Paxman is saying poets need to write for. Perhaps we do. But what can we say?
As much as i like Corbyn, i have my reservations about his populism. Yes, it is brilliant that he got young voters into politics. But are they in their naïve, revolutionary mentality any more informed than the Conservative voter who only reads the tabloids & votes out of nationalistic pride?
David Runciman explains in his recent lecture How Democracy Ends (which you can listen to at talkingpoliticspodcast.com) that it is younger people who, in the great revolutions, Communism, Nazism, Fascism, Islamic State, who started & perpetuated the violence. At a certain age, a population seldom resorts to violence. Due to our population in the west, being an aged population, & wealthy enough to support the youth, Runciman determines that there is less likelihood of any violent uprisings because of Brexit or Trump. By which he means, violent revolution & mass murder on the streets, like the 1930s.
Neither of these 2 events when looked at reasonably are sensible antidotes to the toxic problems that led to them: that for too long politicians have used a rhetorical strategy that evades directly fessing up to or addressing important problems that affect people’s lives &, that we have left ourselves vulnerable to irrational, unmitigated policy making because the divide between educated & uneducated grew too wide & the ways in which they quarreled fell on each other’s deaf ears.
Paxman wants poets to stop talking to each other & address the public, a public hostile to intellectuals (recall Gove during the Brexit referendum: “Britain has had enough of experts”); a public ill informed & unwilling to improve their understanding of expressive mediums, because it doesn’t settle well with the cultural affinities they deem important to their identity, yet they’ll passively digest, silly, high-budgeted films that mean nothing, but entertain.
i’m from middle, racist (though they won’t acquiesce to that nomenclature, it’s always “i don’t mind Pakis, so long as they fuck off back to Paki-land; if that’s racist, then i’m racist.” i am pretty much quoting verbatim & there is nothing you can say to deter their opinion) England & it is a cultural waste land. People are very proud & do not appreciate being looked down upon, they believe in themselves & they all think they are right. It is a majority white population & it is an everyday occurrence to hear racist slurs. For all this, they aren’t actually bad people (i know, i know), they do look after each other & there is community. So populism appeals to them, as they believe that the changes made affect the small community they belong to. So the wider repercussions don’t really matter. Isn’t this the same as poets talking to each other rather than the wider public?
i don’t see it as poetry’s task to stoop itself to gain the favour of this section of society. It may be a noble challenge, but it seems to me that poetry is to be self-discovered & the person who discovers it can be transformed by it, because they found it in their own way. So it is natural for those who discover it for themselves, to seek out others like them. Reading poetry can be a lonely enterprise.

Longenbach & the Underground Poetry Resistance

James Longenbach in his brilliant essay The Resistance to Poetry says

“the marginality of poetry is in many ways the source of its power, a power contingent on poetry’s capacity to resist itself more strenuously than it is resisted by the culture at large.”

People who discover poetry do so because it sets them aside, it makes them feel unique, they receive something, something they feel, which a majority can’t. This is not be ignored. Unlike politics, poetry doesn’t need to be a part of life on the whole, but only for personal transformation.
He explains later in the essay that

“If the assumption of poetry’s relevance can be oppressive to poets, the assumption of its irrelevance can be liberating, especially when a culture threatens either to foreclose or to exaggerate a poem’s potential for subversiveness.”

Ignored, sent to the margins, the poet is free to express variously the pitfalls & wrongdoings in society. In turn, the poetry reader is able to think outside the demarcations of the status quo: how many poets or readers of poetry do you think are duped by the sorts of political charlatans & saboteurs, who engineered Brexit?
Thomas Hardy conjectured that if Galileo had written in verse, he may not have been bullied into silence. & it just might have been what saved Blake after his treasonous utterance about King George. & Milton was able to continue his incendiary critique of monarchy throughout Paradise Lost, old & blind as he was; why else would he give all the good speeches to Satan as in

“The mind itself is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven”.

God never says anything as insane or interesting, he just spoons out, boring, regal commands.
Poetry’s potency lies in its ability to conceal, intensify & protect, whilst contributing to the reasoning faculties. Poetry basks in the fringes of society, involved with the culture, without bleating for recognition, or special significance.
Longenbach goes on to say that “poems do not necessarily ask to be trusted.” Poems are not policy. You may heckle a politician into accountability for immoral acts, for putting themselves first before their constituents or countrymen, they may be put through an inquisition, but the poet doesn’t necessarily ask to be trusted. Paxman is wrong to treat the poet in the way he would treat a politician. & returning one last time to Longenbach, he gives (me at least) a solid reason why in his concluding essay Composed Wonder:

“The very things that resist wonder must also be the things on which wonder depends, or else we could never feel it. Wonder contingent on inexperience and firstness can be easy to feel, and the challenge is to be wounded by “composed wonder”— wonder produced by poetry’s mechanisms of self-resistance: syntax, line, figurative language, disjunction, spokenness. Without these mechanisms, poems would be vehicles for knowledge, explanations of experience that would threaten to dispel wonder. They would be useful then disposable.”

The wonder is the pull of the poem, the poem’s peculiar hold over us, that no matter how many times we have read it, we return to it, it is a constant act of discovery & rediscovery; because of the techniques that are used to compose it. It is not disposable. For poets, the act of discovery is challenging themselves to articulate common processes, actions, moments, environments, ideas, in ways at once unfamiliar & unexpected, but which register nonetheless. If a politician attempts this, they appear to be obfuscating the truth behind a muddle of rhetoric. It is a product of poetry that it commands additional thought, repeated readings to extract more life from it.
Though i don’t deny some people may enjoy & repeat read or watch political speeches, it is not a characteristic that we require of them. English politicians these days are woefully droll & dull when they give speeches, they inspire nothing, it is nothing more than a formality, which everyone receives passively. The best speeches you hear seldom makes the news; i’m thinking here of Dennis Skinner, but the wider public don’t know him, he seldom makes headlines, yet he is one of the most sensible voices in parliament. & yes, poetry’s lack of popular appeal, means it is passively received, but not by those that make it part of their life— it is practiced like prayer.

Noah: Man of Answers—what do you use for clickbait, pal?

Do we even know what a populist poetry might look like?
The Atlantic’s Noah Berlatsky seems to know. He enticed criticism of contemporary poetry with the sexily italicized clickbait tag line

as verse becomes increasingly dry, it’s getting more and more irrelevant.”

O Noah please, i’m all ears pal, it seems you know your Browning from your Glück, like a book. Let’s read on, come on people, here is an expert opinion, he sounds the Man of Answers. Preach Noah, enlighten, dance us back the tribal morn, what’s the antidote to moisten the parched lips of poetry, to crack the sky with a poem of wonder? :

“not one, not two, not ten, but more than 40 different versions of ‘This is Just to Say’.”

Huh!… O… Noah… really pal? My disappointment is palpable. So what poetry needs, is imitation, parody even? Do i need to spell it out? i mean, how is parodying or borrowing the structure of an octogenarian poem, 40 times! going to reinvigorate the apparently, decomposing body of poetry? i don’t need to answer this, it is absurd just to hear it spoken out loud. This is Just to Say is a great poem, but is it the re-boost poetry supposedly needs? It never ceases to astound me, how clever, people think they sound in their own head; when they say such fatuous drivel.
Noah, if you’re reading, take the next job going at yer local supermarket, y’flapjack; you’ll be more useful.

We ‘av 2 stick wiv the txt

A few years ago, a feud took root: Carol Ann Duffy’s comment that “poems are a form of texting” didn’t settle well on the austere, high brow of Geoffrey Hill. This feud made the news— well, it wasn’t really a feud as i don’t recall Duffy responding to Hill; i can’t imagine why.
Hill is a difficult poet (in more ways than one it seems), he says this [difficult poetry] is

“the most democratic because you are doing your audience the honour of supposing they are intelligent human beings” & that “so much of the popular poetry of today treats people as if they were fools”.

This really flips Paxman’s hope on its head.
i think Hill’s defense is partly wishful thinking though. His criticism of why the popular txt is not a good form for poetry is that it doesn’t “condense” but rather “truncates.” When to becomes 2 or you becomes u, nothing is intensified. i don’t think this is necessarily a strong incentive: if it doesn’t intensify, it also doesn’t weaken the scansion, it is only a replacement, it is not the same as a poor simile or trite metaphor, or god forbid, a cliché.
i can’t say as Carol Ann Duffy’s remark set a precedent, she isn’t referred to as the SMS poet Carol Ann Duffy, with people flocking to her style, writing etiolate replicas, which they jot into texts & send to friends or even magazines. Though she’s the poet laureate, which once upon a time may have made her the most popular poet, now, Instagram has set the high watermark. The most popular poet is often referred to as the Instagram poet…

Rupi Kaur & the Instagramization of Poetry

Rupi Kaur is probably our best example of a populist poetry. i personally don’t get along with her poetry, but then her poetry isn’t for me, i am not the target audience. Therein lies a problem: if the most popular poet doesn’t write the poetry i want to read, what kind of poet can be an acknowledged legislator of the world? Should it be a man, woman, a Sikh, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, a banker, NGO team leader, refugee, soldier, revolutionary, shop keeper, Man of Answers, Boris Johnson (who did write a book of poems for children, in which he instructs them in their moral obligations to family & country— is he a Confucian deep down?), a nurse or prostitute? It could be anyone & yet it’ll never be anybody. Whoever that anyone is, they will always fall short of somebody’s expectations. Some (& i actually believed this with every fiber of my being in my early 20s) believe there is an arrangement of qualities that someone can possess & will, like a messiah, speak the magic words that right all wrongs & suture the wounds of man, bringing peace—(i was heavily into Shelley, especially Laon & Cythna). This is something i abandoned as hopeless & more importantly, useless. It is unnecessary: there can be uniformity in disparity.
Kaur has achieved something remarkable: she has made poetry popular, moreover, she has done so by appealing to a section of society who might not otherwise read poetry. Her fans are attracted to her for her grassroots rise to popularity, for voicing their concerns, for being a unique, earthy voice in a superficial world. My hat goes off to her.
Her popularity began after she self-published Milk & Honey to a warm reception. Her publisher Andrews McMeel reissued it later. They are not a big publisher; they made a smart decision to take on Kaur, & they’ve benefited, much to the envy, no doubt of other presses. She has used social media exceptionally well, especially Instagram & particularly her image to harvest over a million followers, who hang on her every word & move.
It is difficult to give reasons why i don’t think Kaur is a good poet. i can only admit that it isn’t to my taste, it is too pithy; they remind me of a message you might read in a fortune cookie, a meme or birthday card. Undeniably, she treats important issues earnestly, without sounding uninformed, including feminism & the plight of ethnic minorities. Her reach extends beyond the young: she writes about her mother’s sacrifices so she could be successful, at the same time, highlighting the subjugation of women through marriage in Pakistan society.
& yet, though i tried to read her work, it doesn’t land for me. The obstruction being her inclusion of fashion, online. Kaur poses, a lot. She looks no different from the girls who harvest fans with orchestrated photographs of themselves in pseudo-profound acts: sipping coffee, far away stares into imagined distances, sitting at a desk with an open page & pen in her teeth. Poetry doesn’t need superficiality like this. It changes everything for me. It is one thing for a poet to be photographed, it is quite another for them to habitually photograph themselves overanover againannagain. If poetry was in dire need of an ambassador, i’d have no issue with using any means at our disposal to promote a figurehead, but i don’t think there is a need. Kaur just seems to be securing her success. It works.
There are much better feminist & ethnic poets, who cover the same issues. i could read the Turkish poet Gülten Akın or the Korean poet Kim Seung-hee, who are both from oppressively patriarchal societies & write about the subjugation of women in intelligent, unexpected & highly digestible poems. Or Alice Oswald, whose latest collection, Falling Awake is one of the best bucolic collections i’ve ever read. There is a poet whose blog i follow, her name is Zoha B. Khan, she too is from Pakistan, her writing is little known, but her poems are inspired, her energy & the unexpected turns her poems organically take, is something to marvel at. There are countless women poets from all over the world, but because they focus on writing rather than image & fashion, they’re unlikely to become as popular.
Populism invites parody. & parody is stagnation. Kaur has suffered for this. The parodies of Kaur’s poetry have not all been kindly, she has been mocked & so poetry has been mocked. Kaur’s poetry is furthermore, not a poetry that can easily surmount its simplicity; if the audience that has elevated her to success do not expect her to move to more challenging climbs, she risks alienating them, if or when she makes the switch to challenging poetry. If she cannot extend her difficulty, Kaur, if she risks alienating through change, then becomes a starting point for amateur readers. She is a refreshing change as a figure to imitate & follow as a role model, at least.
Her particular rise to popularity, is one i admire, but it also creates a feeling among her readers that they can do it too, or worse still, her competitors, who abandon their own voice for Kaur’s in search of popularity. This saturates the world of poetry with trite mimicry. There is the risk of a hegemonic school of poets parodying each other & setting the formulaic rules for others who shouldn’t have to dabble— a sort of Bossa Nova of poetry, Kaur in the role of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Poetry may be grouped into generations, but into schools it risks becoming a code of conduct; a right & wrong way is established, which is erroneous. We essentially get exactly what Paxman thinks a populist poetry should avoid: poets talking to other poets.
i hope the parallels to Trump’s election are clear: use of social media, use of image, appealing to the concerns of a majority demographic; the concern of a need to imitate in future elections. These are all what made Kaur as popular as she is, in the context of poetry.
It isn’t the end of the world if poetry gains popular appeal, & certainly Kaur & Trump are in no way alike in their moral stance, i want that to be clear. But the stagnation they are capable of establishing through success, the example they set, is something that should be avoided.
Poetry appeals by resisting appeal. It doesn’t have to be one thing or another. It is an act of rebellion which keeps everything on it toes, eager to discover more. Ironically, Populism doesn’t suggest diversity, but rather makes a subject myopic, erecting boundaries, squeezing its challengers out.

“Poems reawaken us to the pleasure of the unintelligibility of the world”

Longenbach tells us, but that unintelligibility is made intelligible with a template set by populism. The poet needs to go at the world alone, figure things out for themselves, then they can say something worthwhile, then, part & parcel, offer up a meaningful contribution to the wonder of poetry.

The Larkin Industrial Complex: time for confession

Larkin, cigarette unlit, almost gesticulating with it, sitting in a squat, claustrophobic living room, bunny beside him, LPs lining the shelf, is nattering with John Betjeman, & delineates the whereabouts of a Poet’s influences. After remarking that people often criticism him for being miserable (though he believes himself to often be, somewhat humourous & doesn’t explain how he deals with criticism, which is what Betjeman wants to know), he explains that

“One’s poetry is based on the kind of person one is & the environment they find themselves in— one doesn’t choose the poetry one writes…”

with the implication we might add, that it, chooses the Poet. Nice to think that the poems i wrote have a mind & picked me.
What interests me though is how conscious can a poet then be if the poetry has chosen them due to factors, not exactly out of their control, but having been accrued from a lifetime spent in the company of one’s self & their environment? Is all poetry in some sense, inescapably confessional? We must watch our step. If the poem has a mind of its own, does it, in return, confess us? Wish i could have asked Larkin this.
The Confessional as a school of poetry is still disliked by some (i have seen it mocked in Facebook feeds, by poets, with books of theirs on bookshop shelves) & even the writer’s that make up its canon, were none too favourable of the label. Berryman famously denounces it in his foreword to The Dream Songs. Roethke, though i read his book of prose writing On the Poet & His Craft, never (if memory serves) acknowledges it, nor even mentions it. Ted Hughes expresses its influence as freeing him from the fustiness of English poetry at that time, Plath introducing him to it.

—(Aside: perhaps anyone reading this with further insights can add it in the comments— i write all these pieces with the few texts to my disposal, what trustworthy essays i can rummage out of the internet; & these days i’ve found some good podcasts & old documentaries, i am at the will of my own volition, which is worrying)—.

What is the root of this criticism? Well, i’d hazard a guess that its due to the capitalization of “confessional” being viewed as a pointless annexation to poetry. Poetry is organically a medium in which the big I AM takes the proscenium, without much truculent opposition? We expect to read of somebody, of the poet, even when their subject is not themselves. The choice of theme & subject reveals much about the author. It stands in, whether directly or indirectly as an expression of self & environment— we are to interpret what we read after all.
If then, poetry is a mode of expression that capitalizes on confession, it doesn’t need to be endowed with any special relevance by being bent into the laws of a School. If what Larkin says has any validity, it stands to reason that if any noun should represent the poet’s efforts, then the poet’s name is a perfectly acceptable label to mark their poetic style & range.
We might add what his longtime friend Kingsley Amis says, that he is

“Almost [don’t be swayed by his passivity; i interpret this as a rhetorical forage for the correct words] convinced he’s telling me what he feels. That none of the attitudes, none of the sentiments, have been thought for the occasion, or are ones he doesn’t hold.”

So we have some evidence that Larkin is being himself in his poems.
i should outline, before i go on, my definition of both “Confessional” & “confessional”, in poetry, as i want it to be understood, going forward in this essay. My interpretation does not lean on the religious confession of sin or guilt, nothing so secretive, the poem may act as a confessional box, with a divider, behind which the poet may pour themselves outward; but nothing really so, dare i say, sinister— darkness & madness linger behind both; though faith too may be both an existential & spiritual problem for the poet, it is not exclusively a religious one.
Rather, i have always thought of it as a use of self to engage with the world through poetry, an act of cathartic release from the cooped up quarters of one’s mind, a jettison of anxieties that are caused by the world & can in turn, affect the world (of the reader) for good or ill. In short, treatment of environment & self.
Though Larkin is known for writing a you-can’t-fool-me-rational-democratic poetry, he isn’t always straight with us & i would put this down to his Englishness. We English, or at least a good chunk of us, don’t feel comfortable wearing emotions inside out. We cluster everything within & they wend their odd ways out in quirks & fumbling, but usually excessive politeness; Larkin was well mannered in the upper middle class English way.
Larkin, i’d say, reveals much in the locations he picks, which is why he persisted living in Hull for so many years: he didn’t want to be a writer who visits a place & writes as a tourist, but as part of the fabric of the region. Larkin has become synonymous with Hull, something i don’t think he’d quarrel with, though he never felt he belonged anywhere & dreaded that how we live measures our own nature as Mr Bleaney explains from his spartan boarding house room.
In the poem Here Larkin doesn’t tell us he’s swerving east, from rich industrial shadows towards Hull, but his closing line (if you’ve been to Hull) is a giveaway: as you approach Hull, you travel with the Humber to your right, large enough to not see much, if any land beyond it & it feels, once you finally arrive at the station, as if you’ve reached the end of England (or one of its ends). But i would contest that Hull is a figurative front for something celebratory.
Here, is the 1st poem of Larkin’s 1964 collection The Whitsun Weddings, which was his 3rd volume, following from 1955s The Less Deceived. He was drip feeding lines, erasing them to re-write them with minor adjustments, which in turn would be erased. For title poem The Whitsun Weddings, this went on for some 2-3 years; i think he began writing the title poem the same year The Less Deceived was published.
During the time of writing The Whitsun Weddings, Larkin was the librarian at Brynmor Jones Library. This casts a different light on his opening line swerving east, from rich industrial shadows. Is Larkin (perhaps, unbeknownst to himself) saying that he has finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel, or ocean at the mouth of the estuary, his route highlighted through the terrain of the creative impulse, having left the shadows of creative industry, the shadows of the quotidian, which, consider, he doesn’t use a bleak adjective to describe, but the word rich? This is an unexpected word choice & illustrates a desire to articulate that he is impressed with his industriousness, celebrates it even as the integral dynamo for his productivity, which despite being slow, does find its way. Larkin says somewhere that he couldn’t, nor would he want to be tasked with writing all day, if he were a full time writer; that he actually enjoyed working a day job, the order & duty. The title Here is telling: as if to say, “I am still here, writing & being industrious, even if you haven’t heard from me in a while.”
Larkin, is often charged with being miserable, as mentioned above, but i think some of this was a character he played. He knew like Dylan Thomas how to appeal to people’s sense of what to expect from a poet’s extrovert personality. His poems reveal much & to me, a conflicted man. The last line of the 3rd stanza leading into the 4th of his poem Here goes

Isolate villages, where removed lives
Loneliness clarifies.

Larkin never married. He hated marriage. Perhaps, it was a dislike of permanence, of something sticking & growing fetid; which is ironic considering his fidelity to place. Though it may only be the fact of his using the images that tell us so, permanence makes an appearance in the 3rd stanza, as a list of locations, which include tattoo-shops, the slave museum & mortgaged half built edges, which are all permanent things.
But despite the loneliness, there is a Romantic element burrowed away in Larkin’s stanzas. We have the pastoral of ships, the potential to journey beyond restraint, to become changed; a foreshadowing of a more Romantic Larkin, of Romantic content, or even just intent. In addition there is the luminously peopled air which ascends. A clear upwards motion, the people changed from the derogatory cut-price crowd. But then the ending leaves us, well me at least, feeling ambiguous & this is where i really draw my conclusion that Larkin is conflicted. Reaching the land suddenly beyond a beach Larkin concludes that Here may be

                                  ,..unfenced existence:
Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.

Now unfenced existence may be a lusted freedom, a freedom we don’t even know we want, like the paradise he expresses previous generations secretly desire, when they see two youngsters who he guesses are fucking each other; but that paradise comes later in High Windows. However, if we are facing the sun, the sun is in our eyes & we can’t see this unfenced existence without squinting, & we can’t trust someone or even something untalkative to describe it to us & we also can’t touch what is out of reach. So all our senses are reduced to being useless fixtures. We are blank. But then we know the paradise is out there, it is ahead of us always. Is that it for Larkin? To exert yourself, with only the hope that the next poem will come? That time will gradually alter everything whether for better or worse, without us ever really witnessing it till much later?
There is always hope as long as the poet remains industrious, on his toes; so long as the confession is always on the tip of the tongue to be chased into form; so long as his characterizations of the tall I AM’s depictions of place, cooperate & soldier onward; then existence, i guess, remains unfenced, it must always be so for the poet;— what would a poet have to write about in a perfect world?

—(i want to repeat, as i have said in previous essays that this is not a definitive criticism with stable foundations, i know many who read these are extremely well read & can bring a lot to the continuation of the essay, through discussion; the comment feed in previous essays was great. So please, the comments are below & i am all ears & willing: do you think poetry is essentially confessional? What does that say about Confessional poetry? Is that the only poetry there is? Should i shut up & go jump in the sea? Do you think Larkin is Confessional or confessional in other way? Do you like/dislike Larkin? How about Confessional poetry? Do you confess [un]consciously in your poetry?  If this essay interests you but you don’t feel confident, do not be anxious, people are more magnanimous than you may think & your questions or criticisms with be received fairly. Thanks for reading. One last thing, Larkin’s poem here, for those who don’t know it, can be found easily by searching it in Google, it is very good)—.

Some thoughts on difficult poetry

Before my hiatus, i did something i have never done. i wrote a handful of poems in a style i assumed a chosen journal would want to read. i made a royal pig’s ear of them. The poems, if i should salvage anything, would be nothing more than an egg cup full of lines, with room to spare. They are clunky, difficult, clearly forced. The information, the subject matter, is honest enough; they are on the surface interesting & yet fall far of the grade, considerably.
Why couldn’t i write difficult poems packed with dislocated ideas & disembodied images, rather than rote, concrete images & anecdotal snippets which, i have directly perceived & then designed into poetry? i have written imaginative poetry without struggle. My Charlie Malurkey poems are odd beyond good reason, written in a difficult, nigh illegible  English slang & yet they don’t make me wince in horror.
After reading a short post on difficult poetry, by the poet Marie Marshall, a poet who constantly challenges & upgrades my perceptions about poetry; i was able to finalize some reasons for venturing to the difficult mode, leaping over the spectral fence i kept bumping into.
Marie begins with a quote by Lyn Hejinian (a poet i must make an effort to become better acquainted with), who explains that poetry which is hard to read, may in fact be a form of realism giving the poem’s language material reality, palpability, presence and worldliness. This avenue of poetry is engaging in its own right.
Marie takes from this her own base, from which to justify writing difficult poetry. Justify isn’t supposed to insinuate the necessity for defense; or at least it shouldn’t need to. Rather, something like a manifesto of intent.
Marie herself says ‘Accessibility’ isn’t the point. Everything is inaccessible until you access it, and to access something doesn’t necessarily means you’ll instantly ‘get’ it. i’d like to expand on this.
Marie really is bang on the mark here. i had it rolling round my head for a while, trying to extract what i needed to compel my own writing. It was that odd sensation of feeling what you need to know technically.
There are a variety of criticisms against difficult poetry, a frequent one, is that it is poetry for a studied elite, which is bosh; at the personal, subjective level, even to the most duteous reader, this form of poetry is tough going— the difference is that a duteous reader’s approach & acceptance of its difficultly, demands of them a consistently, unique misprision. Other’s find its seemingly meaningless content & stumbling block; but then it goes back to approach. Isn’t all literature at the mercy of our subjective opining? No one knows the exact message a poet had in mind when they wrote a line. & yet it doesn’t stop us applying the line to contexts far removed from both the social & historical juncture at which it gasped for air & scrunched its eyes at the hard light of day.
Dylan Thomas is a difficult poet & yet immensely popular, in his own day & now. But if we take one of his most famous lines, Rage, rage against the dying of the light couldn’t we use it in more than the context of Thomas’s father’s death or any person’s death whatsoever? We could use it to personify the early onset of night during an English winter. We could use light as a metonym for any number of problems or objects that affect us. How about I make this in a warring absence or my favourite, Light breaks where no sun shines? Though admittedly limited, there are nevertheless additional contexts with which we can place these lines, & they make sense. We essentially give lines a proverbial function.
Difficult poetry seems to me an invitation to contextualize loosely, to place yourself in different contexts & sample them. To pick at the poem like you might rummage through a shoe box full of fragments or a skip full of broken machinery. While reading it, you have a safe place to cut your teeth on underdeveloped contexts. I write for everybody. I write my poetry to turn it over to you. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to read, Marie explains. This is an offer, an environment where you can get things wrong without having to worry about the consequences. How often do we find such places? Life isn’t like this you may respond. Does that mean we shouldn’t create spaces where these regions can be parsed? How this can be contextualized negatively is beyond me. It is far removed from any egotistical, intellectual posturing.
If the difficult poet is just writing to showcase their intellectual aplomb, then i am in cahoots with their critics. The act of creation should be about draining ideas, testing the waters of them, an act of catharsis to plunge out the depth of the poet’s mind, not showing off, it’s preposterous. But it’s just as preposterous to use this as an argument for not challenging oneself to read poetry openly, even if a serious attitude potentially, ends in humour.
i read a lot. i am a voracious reader of news & i read broadly. It all gets processed somewhere. As a poet i am at the mercy of gauging my understanding of a subject & reckoning, from a volume of knowledge, whether it is recyclable into poetry. What difficult poetry gives me the opportunity to do is put to use all this information, to put it to diatactical use (click here to read Daniel Schnee on this). Why do i need to be an expert on Foucault, Integrated Information Theory, Trans-humanism, biology or politics to find a line for them in a Contemporary poem? Born in a slapdash, passive world, where all topics burgeon, incessantly refined or nitpicked to a fault, by all manner of people; in such an environment, a poem becomes a statement about that society.  i have, under the blanket of difficult, the duty to make use of everything, & turn it over to you as a reader & together or even individually, to entertain the world’s complexity if only for 5 minutes.
So when a poet decides to mash this all into a bunched up space of 10 lines, we should not see this as an inability to stay focused, or assume they struggle to write something meaningful; not a jot— we should encounter it as a statement of intent: to show reality for what it is, an attempt to formulate an earnest expression of what has been observed. This is sensitivity on overdrive.
Life is complex. If art is to take up the project of technological, political, economic & societal complexity, which is clear for any person with their eyes open, then the simple lyric of bygone eras is not going to cut it. It is an anachronism. It has to evolve to deal with what is happening, to address in some way this era. If it doesn’t, it risks being labelled, & abandoned as useless or merely, entertainment. It risks its own utility. It is usually salvaged by the plethora of viewpoints about art, which i will speak about in another essay.
Difficult poetry has been part of literature syllabuses for decades now. It is naïve for people to still be criticizing it for being meaningless. My curiosity was always tugged at by high output writers, like Charles Olson, John Ashbery, or Adrienne Rich; all wrote copiously, because they had untangled themselves from the constrictions of conventional sense & perhaps saw an interconnectedness that few can articulate with everything. i have been the worst critic, not so much for my approach to reading it, but mostly for failing to find the value in writing it.
Considering these developments, it’s clear that awareness of the poetic skin i wear, understanding my timbre & limits over the last couple of years, as i’ve zeroed in on writing about a particular (peculiar) environmental subject, has enabled me to make a value judgement & begin seriously working in this difficult mode, with the knowledge that it is not a default. Put simply, i have evidence enough that i can write a poem with a conventional meaning, it is only logical as a poet that i strive to attempt poetry that is unconventional, even meaningless. Light breaks on secret lots, / On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain. I’m thereabouts.

Keep yer ears puckered for some difficult poems by yours truly, in the meanwhile, read Marie’s original post on difficult poetry.

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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7oiHtoHH_0&t=831s) , 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 http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Integrated_information_theory

(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: https://jacket2.org/article/indexical-lyric)

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.

Composition

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. un.be.lieve.a.ble.
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…

Integration

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.

Exclusion

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.

Part iii & iv of my essay titled Integrated Information Theory as Formula for Poetry

Part i & ii here. 

the axioms of IIT as given by http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Integrated_information_theory

(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: https://jacket2.org/article/indexical-lyric)

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.

Composition
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. un.be.lieve.a.ble.
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…

Integration
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 thing of the 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.

Exclusion
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 of 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.

Part i & ii of a iv part essay titled—Integrated Information Theory as Formula for Poetry

i don’t have the foggiest idea what i’ve done. i suppose i’d call it connecting the dots in some odd way. reading up on IIT all these thoughts homed in on me & this essay was produced. though i have edited & worked it, all the ideas were spawned organically, quite automatic & even against my will— as if it wrote itself, if that makes sense. it feels much like what i’ve been doing with the ‘Soliloquy Poems’ but on a much more wild & expanded canvas— like painting a map of the stars on a naked person, who is sleeping  hasn’t the foggiest what is happening to them while they dream of galaxy stuff bursting into dolphin clitters, which is directly caused by being painted. this is i suppose profoundly academic non-conformity without being a dick about it. haha. sorry. please enjoy & comment below if you actually know anything about IIT so i might get the gist & maybe write a better essay, with more parts. 

 

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, die 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7oiHtoHH_0&t=831s) , 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 scribble in protest on walls, whether to spoken with a voice are 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 through 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 rushes through our ears, up our nostrils, sneaks 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 perhaps 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 in 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 conscious he 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 their & 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 weight in 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.

Of Rhyme & Reason: i, ii & iii under one roof

really want to push this series, if only because i’ve been working on it for a month— after the weekend i promise to leave it be & return to largely poetic & photographic posts.

so here is:

part i— both short & long feet skip the line

part ii— the reason the rhymer rhymes their rhymes

part iii—the coda (vino in veritas revised)— the end as the beginning as the end of the…

thank you to anyone who gave me feedback thus far. & i endeavour to plead others to follow suit.

regards

daniel

 

Of Rhyme & Reason iii: the coda (vino in veritas revised)— the end as the beginning as the end of the…

need some feedback on this so i’ll be pushing it like a boot peddler over the weekend, bring me your thoughts.

Daniel Paul Marshall

Of Rhyme & Reason: the coda (vino in veritas revised)— the end as the beginning as the end of the…

vino in veritas (revised)

i stopped tallying birthdays around the 17th Century
—if my mind serves me faithfully my well of ink ran dry
& only coin enough spare for my grape fused booze
my choice was simple: force of habit see. a fear of death.— i chose vino.
a lot of people think the longer you live the easier it must be to die
but there’s a tipping point once tipped beyond you can’t return
: eventually you’ve been alive so long you cannot comprehend not being alive
& so you slog through the centuries, in my case, inebriate & lonely
semi-divine if only because you chose to see out the universe
which even gods opt out of living through— i’ll tell you that for tuppence.
at first when…

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Of Rhyme & Reason iii: the coda (vino in veritas revised)— the end as the beginning as the end of the…

Of Rhyme & Reason: the coda (vino in veritas revised)— the end as the beginning as the end of the…

vino in veritas (revised)

i stopped tallying birthdays around the 17th Century
—if my mind serves me faithfully my well of ink ran dry
& only coin enough spare for my grape fused booze
my choice was simple: force of habit see. a fear of death.— i chose vino.
a lot of people think the longer you live the easier it must be to die
but there’s a tipping point once tipped beyond you can’t return
: eventually you’ve been alive so long you cannot comprehend not being alive
& so you slog through the centuries, in my case, inebriate & lonely
semi-divine if only because you chose to see out the universe
which even gods opt out of living through— i’ll tell you that for tuppence.
at first when the BBC approached me for a documentary series
i thought it best to maintain shtummness on the details of my autobiography
to save myself the hassle of people laughing at me at the bus stop
or snickering in the Off License where i buy my bread & fags.
but then i thought bollocks to it— what do i care if people take the piss.

i recall clearly how the events unfolded on that fateful day shy 2 & ½
thousand years ago— you don’t forget encounters with the son of Zeus in a hurry.
the men i’d been working with had been tipped off about a forest
with the moniker Cithaeron (we should a’friggin known) stuffed with oaks
which fetched a nifty price with aristocrats, who reckoned they had
more clout than the gods themselves— & cut out furniture from the holy wood.
the trees were ripe for picking as the village that had owned the coppice
was recently pillaged & everyone who wasn’t greeted by Thanatos fled.
i’d heard rumours from a village on the way that Zeus’s son had charged
the village with the cultivation of those trees— they were sacred
as mistletoe had been spotted growing in the branches only eyes can reach.
but superstition fell on deaf ears when my fellow lumber jacks: the foreman
being a devotee of Stoicism— he even did a job for Zeno back in Athens.
i tried to warn ‘em but they just gave me a load of crap for being a wuss.

Hollywood ain’t done too bad a job depicting the entrance of a god
: so much noise beyond the pitch that mortal ears can stand
light more luminous than hot sparks off magnesium welding, a light
that rakes out the back of your skull & rattles out your vision like coins from a purse.
my heart leapt out my throat. apoplexy grounded me. one man bold as brass
chest like the prow of a trireme charged mindlessly at the pre-pubescent god
roaring crudely somethink like i’ll roger his arse with me sledgehammer i will!
him— still as a button— raised a hand & sent vines barbed with thorns from his fingertips
& quick as an imperiled snake down a burrow, thread them down the lumber jack’s
throat ripping it open as it tunneled, eventually bursting out his chest, shattered
bone chunks of organ & blood hosed out with the same speed as the vine.
this was repeated in a domino effect to each man clenching a weapon.
leaving me. ephebe. shitting my pants. eyes clenched in anticipation
for death to be dished out as the trade-off for the trees we wrongly felled.

instead the god walked up to me & kissed me on the mouth & i
drank the wine off his lips, the stench, paunch out thick as mulch
— i instantly became intoxicated, more so than i ever was since
with a drunkenness that makes you see yourself remotely from the margin
of your skin. later one of his Bacchantes told me that he offers
sanctuary in his troupe for those of pure intention only. the train
of revelers, bells hung round their necks & waists tasseled, wine seeping
out their fingertips— fucking & fondling while they danced & marched
in synchronicity that needs its own adjective— movement uniquely its own
— through the protected copse, into its deep interior, melting in umbrage
& i too followed them giddy with gods & wine toeing erect in
articulated movements i didn’t even realize my body able for. done.
the eyes in the TV studio call bollocks on the whole unfettered yarn
—all i can say is i’m glad the god gave up alcohol many centuries ago.

(in case you need to refresh after two weeks here are i & ii of the series: i & ii)

style:

it is clear from an initial glance at the poem that it is physically different. this revised, rather updated version, is written in sonnets, corpulent, stumpy sonnets. for me the sonnet form is, if multiplied, a brilliant form for narrative— my cue comes from Dylan Thomas’s Altarwise by Owl Light, a poem also designed on the canvas of 4 sonnets. Thomas’s poem is very odd, i don’t think anyone, including Thomas knows what it means, but it is full of dense imagery, such as

The atlas-eater with a jaw for news,
Bit out the mandrake with to-morrows scream.

which, i believe is afforded it by the bulk of the sonnet × 4— it also includes mythic allusion & a uniquely modern perspective. Ovid still hovers within this present version, perhaps the death scenes lend a hand from Virgil’s Aenid, as the descriptions of demise are ample in that ancient foundation myth.
—& so too my revised Vino in Veritas is crammed with imagery, enough to choke a snake. but the notches on the sonnet’s belt encourages more than density, it reflects so much of what the original form did in more subtle ways (if only because the hexameter is much poorer in girth than here) : it reflects the weight of the man’s years, his experience, the size of the men who are killed (their ego), the purity of the god, the over brimming jug of wine, the fat trunk of the oak, the size of his audience & perhaps some that escape me but you may sift out with your eyes keen as web cams.
the meter remains largely risen, full of yeast, iambic mottled with anapest, though the notches on the foot expand to the heptameter & beyond; anything too far beyond heptameter & you have prose, pretty much; so you will find some hypercatalectic iambic heptameter (you couldn’t say that with a mouthful of pork pie) which hummed goes da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da (what the thunder said) or DUM
— : if MY / mind SERVE / me FAITH / FULLy / my WELL of INK ran DRY is one such heptameter minus any hypercatalectic, a very traditional line, only one word, central to the line, which is disyllabic; the rest monosyllables with the disyllabic word falling into a trochee as the well empties of ink. a line which fulfills the promise of both form & function, the stew dished out in equal measure to the hungry line. on the other hand
: LIGHT more / LUM-i-nous / than HOT / SPARKS OFF / magNES / Ium / WELDing, / a LIGHT is a traditionalist’s nightmare: octameter for starts— one lonely iamb tacked on the end, majority trochee, a spondee in there & even a dactyl (which falls into the ranks of a mythological poem adeptly). the problem with such a line is that determining its exact prosody is different depending on someone else’s intonation— it is structureless, the line is only tied together, tonally, with the repeated use of l, m & w. but just as whistling or even belching abides by the laws of music, so a line abides, albeit loosely, to prosody— if you’re so inclined.
so we still have breeze blocks of tradition used for the infrastructure of the poem. i’m am sure many of you know that the iamb is the predominant metrical foot of Western poetry, especially English, because it suits the natural inflexions of English speech patterns— i therefore chose to have the poem entirely spoken by our unnamed ancient lumber jack alcoholic immortal, as our apt iamb allows.

much of this poem was written relatively fast, for my standards at least— since starting this series of essays i have had the germination of these ideas aching for the light; i kept them hungry for becoming like a pack of nymphomaniac Maenads going cold turkey— so the actual writing was automatic, a frenzy of activity in a short space of time, like the rending of Orpheus’s flesh from bone & bone from joint, by the Bacchantes. in addition, the prosody has that speech like quality fixed to it rather than the diminishing sense that it has been wrestled into shape.
punctuation too is reassessed— i reserve commas for caesura within a line only, there are none at the end of a line, the end of the line is a time for pause, as i will it. i no longer use semi-colons, they seem too unsure about themselves, a sort of pause-stumble, i want either the organic pause of emptiness, or the Freudian-slip-of-the-tongue-dash— if i want you to stop i’ll. . — you catch my drift.
in the original, punctuation was traditionally implemented, the labored caesura regulating the reader’s breath into reciting it in the protagonist’s faux aristocratic elocution— like a child having their hand held only to realize they are 28 & still doing it, with their mother smiling up at them.
you’ll find no established system of rhyme. i did away with it. but i am sure if you read cautiously, attentively, you’ll discover plenty of melody, which will perhaps, if it is there, illustrate my original points in the first essay about how learning the traditional methods infiltrate your process against your conscious inclinations. keep your eyes & ears peeled. any rhyme is purely “accidental”— the traditionalist judders at the thought.
i had an overhaul of the language too. i think sometime around the time i wrote the original i had read Robert Browning’s Hohensteil Schwangau: The Saviour of Society one of Browning’s dramatic monologues, which has Schwangau sat in a comfortable chair, probably before a raging fireplace sipping a cognac anecdotalizing in his slippers, or some such stereotyped 19th century literary scenario. i wanted a character in a similar domicile, with similar comfort— my man to be the archetypal anachronism, as i thought (still do) old stuff was cool & he was to be cool old stuff in modern times. the language ultimately mirrored a lavish, affected manner of speech. but now i feel it silly & Romantic— i’d rather rude speech, it has more poetry about it. moreover, the bloke is a lumber jack, a tradesman— the way i thought before was that with time he became refined, however, i like it more that he hasn’t changed, or rather that he has gone full circle, perhaps numerous times: a cycle of high mannered / crude / …
there is something so interesting about the ingenuity of crude speech, like when the first of the lumber jacks to attack the pre-pubescent god says

i’ll roger his arse with me sledgehammer i will!

it’s a terrible image, a hyperbole, a sledgehammer is never going to actually fit there, utterly ridiculous. i think due to my Englishness i see the stupidity & thus the adroitness. i am concerned the uninitiated in the nuance of British comedy will find it grotesque, but the point is not to think it literal but rather allow the hyperbole to work for the comic effect.
i came to this conclusion about vulgar language in poetry after many years of thinking about Berryman’s Dream Songs & what could be achieved with a British version, a language saturated in beautiful slang & vulgarity— my upbringing, the locale in which i grew up, provided me with ample vulgarity for such a feat— all in good time though. lucky me for that to come.

content:

the content is similar in outline: he still recounts his initial meeting with the god, the men still transgress & those transgressions are punished severely & the protagonist still tells his anecdote from the present day pissed as a fart, as my ol’ pa would say— i even thought to put slurring in the poem, perhaps an eructation or two, but it didn’t work sonically.
there are some subtle nuances, which gives the reader a glimpse at the fate of the god, if you read close enough. that subtlety wasn’t present in the previous poem.
in Contemporizing the poem, i have made the protagonist the focus of a documentary series, which it is implied will cover his memories, his direct experience of the history of the world. this leaves the poem open for expansion into a series of poems (don’t get your hopes up, it isn’t likely i’ll bother)— or for the reader to expand the series for themselves by imaging or forming community discussion groups that meet weekly to eat spiced cakes & drink Ethiopian coffee or Assam tea with milk, while conferring on

what a man who has lived for nearly two & a half thousand years just might have to say on the news of days like the death of Christ, the rise of Islam, the Fall of Rome etc.

i’d probably end up disappointing people, make him unconcerned with any of that history stuff & rather have him perambulate (awful) on a tour of French vineyards, or make his study of alchemy be how fortified wine got invented. daft/dull crap like that. he’d probably turn out to be the inventor of port or something along those lines.
owing to expanded form, as mentioned, i was able to make the imagery denser. density of image, of description, feels uniquely Modern to me— Modernist & of course owing to Post Modern & Contemporary schools of poetry, which really starting going to town on incidentals: poetry became unfettered when the subjects acceptable for poetry became more varied, evolved— once the poet’s task was not merely to prettify what is already beautiful, once poets could express the world in all its flux, ugliness, oddity & mundanity in tandem with its unity & beatitude, there was inevitably ample room prepared for expression to flourish, for the maturity of sensation
— the development of the visual & the sonic truly became.
few poets, before Modernism, other than Browning, were really packing their poems with incidental detail, because unlike Browning, they were restricting themselves to end stopped lines— Tennyson famously turned his nose up at Browning’s blatant use of enjambment, & called Sordello (the first Modern poem in my opinion) a load of crap (not in so many words) & furthermore [that] There were only two lines in it that I understood, and they were both lies; they were the opening and closing lines. it would be erroneous to say the better poet has stood the test of time, the lesser poet won history & the adoration of academics — i don’t think Browning gets onto university reading lists, he’s too difficult. pah! i’d take Browning over the man with the bad hygiene any semester of the year.

coda:

i hope i’ve at least outlined my point, i hope that you can feel the difference between a poem written traditionally & a poem unfettered, free to wend its way. i hope that i have hinted powerfully enough that this freedom has to be earned, you have to put the hours in, & with those hours spent retting traditional poems & mimicking them, you can through force of habit, with the unconscious ever present in the act of composition, create a more fulfilled poem, be a more complete poet. i am not complete (far from it)— no poet is complete, the Rimbaud’s though they excelled at poetry still had much to learn, their aplomb was youthful ego, perhaps writer’s block, but they sure weren’t done, how could they in a world ever changing.
poetry must be ongoing, a poem is never complete, it is only abandoned said Paul Valery— quite right, but if you don’t abandon it to its fate, then you can’t progress, it is the essential trade off for development. say adieu to your poems once you start being fickle, then whisper in their ears this is just how it is love.

afterword as to when the end as beginning as end as…

i want this essay to serve… as a document, to inspire Roethkean hard work in the writing of a poem— to inspire people to strongly misprision their own poetic endeavours, to labour under the search light of tradition, & in that search light be making mistake after mistake correction after correction— there is a standard of beauty there, perhaps already written about, perhaps to come.
—i took a slightly peculiar approach to the composition of this essay, it feels much other than the previous ii, it is the beginning of something for me, a sort of gonzo post-prog lit crit, not sort of gonzo post-prog lit crit, but actual gonzo post-prog lit crit
— i have had a vision, a dystopian full of pitch & obsidian— a future where the reading lists of literature students are packed with such, well-meaning but ultimately [e]scatological essays. the traditional form gone underground, its mitigated, pursed lips fell into disuse with the anterior world of wild states— but it will revenge, resurface in a knuckle biting renaissance, promising steadiness-as-alternative to the mantra of self-inflicted mania that will be the grip of gonzo post-prog lit crit— & my one man movement will burn on the pyre of history & i’ll be proud of myself for all my terrible endeavours, which i will have committed into commentary. fingers crossed for the futurity of academia. in the meantime lets do our best to blow our own socks off.