Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Is Poetry a Technology?



In Heidegger's 1958 essay "The Question Concerning Technology," as in other writings of his, he rehearses the old relation between poiesis and techne--"making" and "know-how," in the most simplistic translation I can render. Without getting too far yet into Heidegger's notion of "enframing" (Gestell), the phenomenon he points to as the result of modern technology, that is, the "challenging-forth" of resources (including human beings) as a "standing reserve," I want to stop and mull over the poiesis/techne nexus, in ways that run the risk of stating the obvious, and/or simply reworking the gist of Plato's Ion.

Poiesis is making; techne is knowing how to do things, including making. When the making in question is of an explicitly material nature, as in sculpture, architecture, carpentry, etc., the role of techne is relatively unproblematic. It involves a knowledge of materials, tools, and, physical techniques (hence the word techniques). The techne of the builder, the craftsperson, the designer, is measurable and finite, at least at a certain basic level that defines minimal competence.

At some point poiesis develops the specific sense of having-to-do-with-poetry, that is verbal poetry, that is an activity for which "making" starts to assume the status of a metaphor, something performed intellectually and/or emotionally that results in a physical artifact, but does not actually involve the manipulation of solid materials, other than a pen and paper (or keyboard, etc.). I say "other than" in order to point out that these materials, unlike, say, the marble used by a sculptor, do not inhere in the finished product--not that particular paper and ink, touched by the hands of the artist. The making performed by the poet is at a remove. It is a making that, for one thing, requires very little bodily exertion, things like repetitive-stress-syndrome aside. Most of it happens in the mind.

So poiesis eventually assumes this specialized sense. Or is this sense there from the beginning? That is, does poiesis from the very start stand in a relation of resistance to techne?

By invoking "resistance," I mean to ask whether there is some implied distinction between the practical functionality of techne and a dreamier, more perverse aspect of poiesis. And if there is, is it there from the beginning, or does it emerge only at a certain time, under certain circumstances?

I want to ask if there's a way of thinking about all this in which it becomes clear that poetry absolutely cannot be a technology, almost by definition. And at the same time, I wonder whether poetry assumes an ironic relation to technology, in which it exploits technological resources, explores technological themes, and generally behaves as though it were a member of the set "things that are intelligible under the rubric of technology," precisely in order to burlesque that relationship, to flaunt its total resistance to any subsumption by (modern) technology.

In looking at the tendencies of the past century or so that involve heavy interaction between poetry and technology, one observes a fairly constant perversity quotient. Almost never is the interaction one of straightforward cooperation or mutual embrace, and even when it sets out to be, as in the case of the Futurists, the results are hardly coherent as a smooth symbiosis of industrial efficiency and artistic epideixis or supplication (let alone the inverse). Rather, one is always aware of the absurdity of the union, as though vandals had broken into a factory and readjusted the machinery so that its gears ran in useless circles, or so that its mechanized arms produced frivolous and obscene objects. This, in fact, is almost the entire program of 'pataphysics: an indulgence in the rote motions of "scientific" procedure, but with the prior knowledge and intention that any equations or formulae thereby derived will be fit for nothing more creditable than the outfitting of ducklings with bullet-proof vests.

Now, it is true, we live in a time when poets use technology constantly as a convenience and an aid to composition. Certain poetic works are designed expressly to be viewed/heard/experienced via technological media. Their very existence, in fact, would be unimaginable in the absence of technologies like Boolean generators, Flash animation, and so on. Is there a fundamental difference between these apparent alliances and say, Bob Brown's "readie" machine, a little wooden contraption with rollers that allowed a spool of text to unravel its message in an anticipation of digital advertising marquees and cable news networks' "crawls"?

I suggest that when poetry puts on technological goggles and overalls, it does so ultimately to highlight its intrinsic incompatibility with the overarching agenda of modern technology--its capacity, perhaps, for "enframing" us all as a standing reserve of resources. This is in a sense yet another variation on the old "poetry makes nothing happen, and that's what's good about it" position. I'm tempted to push back further into history and suggest that poetry has also always had this relationship to philosophy, albeit in a necessarily subtler form.

Part of what led me to write all this was the idea that the writing of poetry is most "successful" when one knows least what one is doing: when the poet's claim to techne is least sustainable. It almost seems, however, as though there has to be some claim to techne in place, just so that claim can be travestied, either overtly or in some secret laughing chamber of the poet's mind. Therefore, poetry written by persons without any literary or craft sensibility whatsoever will almost always be negligible, because the poet therefore has nothing to misapply or subvert. But poetry written under the misconception that there is a reliable set of techniques one can use in some "correct" way will be sterile, inert. If there is a technology of poetry, it is a technology of failure--a technology of the failure of technology, except so far as technology can be made to succeed in assisting its own failure as a measure of poiesis.

35 comments:

Chris said...

ποιέω; ποίησις. Or, τέχνη. But poieo means "make" or "do", and even "make" in the sense of "make happen". From what little Heidegger I've read, he seems highly invested in the odd notion that in some proto-Greek, words had simple and hard-edged meanings, free from metaphorical extension and without polysemy. This is, I would argue, linguistically unlikely at best, and probably oh-things-were-so-great-in-America-in-the-50s–style wish fulfillment on Heidegger's part. But, like I said, I haven't read much of him, so feel free to ignore that if it doesn't seem right.

The term "technology" didn't have any particular connection with material sciences until 1859. Before then it had to do with systematic thinking on arts and grammar.

But perhaps I have a looser sense of the word "technology" than you do? Paper is a technology (says the medievalist); language is a technology (if you think anthropologically). Poetry has been using both of those technologies fairly comfortably -- though they are no Flash.

Why wouldn't poetry be a technology? We can't tell the "outcome" of poetry, but we can't tell the outcome of dice either, and they are still a technology; it's just the kind of technology that has an indeterminate outcome.

Perhaps we only notice them as technologies when they're novelties. Once we're used to them, they're not "technologies" any more, they're just assumed. They're facts.

I wonder if the first poets to start using the technology of writing were understood as "highlight its intrinsic incompatibility with the overarching agenda of" that new technology?

ag said...

I think the answer is going to be a matter of opinion, not fact. Philosophers always disagree with other philosophers. :D

I re-read the H. essay, and here's the best "answer" I could find (from another philosopher!):

Alain Badiou: "Heidegger distinguishes truth as aletheia, and understanding as cognition, science, techne. Aletheia is always properly a beginning. Techne is always a continuation, an application, a repetition. It is the reason why Heidegger says that the poet of truth is always the poet of a sort of morning of the world. I quote Heidegger: 'The poet always speaks as if the being was expressed for the first time.' If all truth is something new, what is the essential philosophic problem pertaining to truth? It is the problem of its appearance and its becoming. Truth must be submitted to thought not as judgment or proposition but as a process in the real. This schema represents the becoming of a truth. The aim of my talk is only to explain the schema. For the process of truth to begin, something must happen. Knowledge as such only gives us repetition, it is concerned only with what already is. For truth to affirm its newness, there must be a supplement. This supplement is committed to chance—it is unpredictable, incalculable, it is beyond what it is. I call it an event. A truth appears in its newness because an eventful supplement interrupts repetition. Examples: The appearance, with Aeschylus, of theatrical tragedy. The eruption, with Galileo, of mathematical physics. An amorous encounter which changes a whole life. Or the French revolution of 1792. An event is linked to the notion of the undecidable."

Other articles that may be of interest:
Why the Digital Computer is Dead ("New media mediates powers of invocation" -- "the computer as Muse")
http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?
id=334

The digital transformation of words (discusses the acts of writing and reading using the computer)
http://wwwsoc.nii.ac.jp/jaems/
icomej/vol1/IJEMT1(1)4-15.pdf

Digital poetics or On the evolution of experimental media poetry
http://www.netzliteratur.net/block/
p0et1cs.html

Soteria said...

Thanks for the provocative entry. I am most interested by your suggestion that the poet must have some mastery of techne but also a willingness/ability/inclination to subvert techne (rambling elaboration of that interest to follow). I've spent some time studying prosody and that observation is consistent with what I have often observed. If one is a poet, the interest in prosody (or form or linguistics) is an interest in the raw materials of language, which are, of course, also the raw materials of poetry. My interest in those subjects is related to an interest in the body of the poem - that which conveys physical presence: how the poem sounds, looks, and feels on the tongue when spoken. I don't think one can overstate the significance of those elements in the reader (and writer's) initial and subsequent experience of the poem. However, it is not simply the materials, but their formal arrangement that ultimately makes a poem what it is. To use an analogy with nature, graphite and diamond are made entirely of the same one material (carbon); it is only their very different arrangements of carbon that result in what we think of as very different substances (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Diamond_and_graphite.jpg). Poems are like that too. But to this point, poetry is still only a kind of techne.

What I learned studying prosody (which, since it is hardly original, is what I hope everyone learns studying prosody): I could not find poets on whom constructive theory could be consistently imposed. One gives Shakespeare credit for blank verse, but he is everywhere subverting that model, varying metrical patterns to the point that entire lines can no longer be deemed primarily iambic. He is a master of that form because of how well and how purposefully he deviated from it. Likewise, to give Dickinson credit for writing in hymnal stanzas is to miss a double subversion - to miss that Dickinson's metrics are as pointedly ornery as Shakespeare's (if not more so - her rhyme is certainly more ornery) and that, in subverting her metrical scheme, she likewise thwarts and bastardizes the religious authority on which her mode is modeled. When I read of Hopkins anxiety about the innately subversive element in poetry, I read that as an accurate charge. There cannot be a system - whether theological or compositional - that poiesis will be able to resist. She is drawn magnetically to manipulate and, ultimately, thwart them. What always ends up being of interest in the study of prosody is just how a poet has thwarted what the poet has also worked so diligently to build: Dickinson does it laughingly, coyly, and sometimes coldly, using each sung syllable like a knife.

If one accepts that trait of poetry, then the constant attraction and repulsion of poetry and philosophy naturally follows. The poet and the philosopher are working with the same essential materials (language, logic, rhythm, syntax) and may even be one and the same person. Insofar as the philosopher has the reins, one will desire to create flawlessly - to make a poem that is a jewel of a system. Insofar as the poet dominates, one will need to destroy or to modify to the point of inconsistency or alteration. Why? I think it is because poetry and philosophy constantly enact a war between universal and particular (both between and amongst themselves). A related thought is that perhaps the poet's subversion of the system arises in part due to love of the materials, which seems true intuitively.

Andrew Christ said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I liked your post so much I decided to post it at my Birthdays of Poets blog, http://birthdaysofpoets.blogspot.com. If you prefer, I'll remove it.

Jordan said...

The innately subversive power of poetry is not unlike the solvent property of water; poetry.. art.. both make it possible to break rigid structures down not only so we don't get cut by those structures (which we need to survive) but also so we can digest them (which we also need to do to survive).

Or anyway. Brilliant sentence worthy of Austin: "...but with the prior knowledge and intention that any equations or formulae thereby derived will be fit for nothing more creditable than the outfitting of ducklings with bullet-proof vests."

BB said...

woah, terrific post KSM.

Chris suggests that Heidegger approaches the Greek with a desire, so that his works feel like “wish-fulfillments”—I see Heidegger approaching the language in a total appropriative sense. Terms like poeisis and techne, it seems to me, emerge in his writing as useful (for him) registers through which his philosophy develops. If this is done so at the expense of proper interpretations of Greek terms, oh well, right? No, I mean it, who gives a fuck? That shit is my bread and butter, anyway. And now and then I think H. does illuminate some philological truth by way of his circuitous problematic method and those moments are spectacular.

But Kasey, I was really disappointed that you didn’t fulfill your promise to bore my pants off with the reworking of Plato’s Ion! One of the terrific things about that text is that Socrates in effect proves what you’re trying to prove, though from the other side, that poetry is not a techne. I don’t have the text in front of me, so trying to present this from memory: poetry in material terms ends up being something more like sophistry, dangerous texts which guise around as a techne, but precisely because poetry can be no means to no ends, it cannot be. In something like authentic or perhaps “spiritual” terms, poetry isn’t a techne because a techne, and I want to say “by definition,” belongs to the realm of human knowledge and as Socrates elaborately proves, poetry does not belong to that realm. I think you’re iterating this when you write, “the writing of poetry is most "successful" when one knows least what one is doing: when the poet's claim to techne is least sustainable.”

It is an interesting question about the hitstory of poiesis. It means as such as early as Herodotus…and I can’t tell you if it already meant as such in Homer—though I think Homer refers to his own works mostly as “songs,” not using the word poiesis. In Ion, it can clearly be used to refer to poets, and opposed as such both to “prose writers” (the barely-understood meaning of idioteis in that dialogue) and “painters” (who are called grapsoi, or, literally, “writers”!)

I think one of the questions underneath your question, at least in terms of the ancient Western world (for whose history vis a vis the emergence of writing, the alphabet, etc. we actually have the historical evidence to study!), is that writing as a technology postdates poetry as a phenomenon. Poetry’s not the first thing by any stretch to be written down—nevertheless at some point before 500 b.c.e. it occurs to the “writers” in Greece that they can use this new technology and apply it to that cool shit the rhapsodes do, making them more or less obsolete, and guaranteeing a futurity in which poetry and technology are in tenuous relation.

phaneronoemikon said...

makes me think of Jean Tinguely's
self-destroying machines

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Tinguely

and also the Post-Structuralist notion that all 'machines' or assemblages operate by breaking down.
I forget exactly how it works into their thought, but I think in Capitalism and Scitzophrenia, they describe the actual functioning of any machine, as a kind of erotic deferment of collapse. Is deferment even a word? If everything is at heart a kind of solitonic movement,
the plus and minuses of these things become necessarily braided, ie entropy is part of extropy and vice versa, or in a neural networking sense, a tree, or pinus,
a positive minus.

since poetry is often connected with trees, see your blog title,
i would think the key concept would be movement, but a kind of athleticism or lyricism when one gets from one label or branch, or lea to the next.. if poo in finnish
is tree, then~

ag said...
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ag said...

Sorry for typos -- uses instead of "use", etc. Technological difficulties resulting from using a laptop keyboard hooked up to a 17" RoboMonitor three feet away from me. Technepoo!

jdaviddark said...

This is awfully helpful and I thank you for it.
Perhaps, poetry is the technology that stays technology.

ag said...

Technepoesis is the gift horse that keeps on giving!

Stan Apps said...

Nice stuff Kasey. I'm looking forward to a continuation of this. . . Take it to the bridge baby!

Rik said...

[i]I'm worrying over all of this in order to get to my title question, whether poetry is a technology.[/i]

I can't envision poetry as technology - I can't conceptualise poetry as an independent entity from language. Though I can (just about) see a connection between language and technology in that both have the ability to result in some form of product.

I wrote an article a while back trying to argue that poetry (which is common across all languages afaik) is an evolutionary adaption helping to establish bonds between individuals and within social groups. I don't know if those thoughts would be of any help to you in answering your question, though I think there are parallels given the importance of tool use (and thus technology) as a successful evolutionary strategy to the species.

ag said...
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TT said...

I think Vico imagined the first humans as poets, makers who more or less made themselves human through an embodied-intuition. So it's kind of interesting that in this case poiesis and techne are pretty much evacuated from episteme -- the idea that at the heart of poetry/humans is a doing that doesn't rely on the subject-object arrangements that get propped up for 'knowing.'

Is poetry technology? Maybe? Heidegger's whole enframing I think crawls towards a totalizing arrangement where time, rivers, dirt, cotton candy, etc. are all understood as being on-reserve for efficient extraction. I have to dig deeper into this, but the sense of potential horror I get from him on this topic is the mass, culminating systemic aspect of modern technologies that all link up with one another to flatten being out all on the same, efficient and soul-killing plane. In Being & Time he talks about this feature of equipment, that no piece is ever by itself but always evokes a sort of room of other pieces of equipment that it links up with.

The whole question of poetry's relation to this, I think, might pivot on the writing/speech briar patch, and the split (according to Eric Havelock) between mythos and logos (which were before this partners) around the same time that writing as a system, and Platonic thought, rose up together. Once the storage and retrieval system of writing became extensive, logos took privilege over mythos for having a claim on The Truth (they were previously equals), with logos hardening into written, verifiable and fairly static notions like data, facts, eternal forms, and mythos transformed from being the flip-side of logos to being shut off from any claim to truth, and being more or less false stories common people tell each other.

So in Havelock's account, there is a massive transition from the oral culture that had poetry/music/internalized-memory as its storage and retrieval and pedagogical system, to an increasingly written culture that favored discourses like philosophy and histories like Thucydides (as opposed to Herodotus).

This kind of gears I think back to the breath-based thing from mid-20th century forward, which often ends up in a caricature but has its seed in the attempt to not just have speech-based poetics in an immediate sense, of some kind of idiotic boogie-woogie private spontaneous utterance, but to try and create something close to that previous pre-Platonic situation, with the poet as mouthpiece/medium/memorizer of a collective poetics.

So the link in Olson, Rothenberg, etc between speech and myth. But then the interesting thing is stuff like Olson using the typewriter, with its externalized, standardized alphabet and script as the means of scoring his breath-based line. Or the uses Spicer/Cocteau imagine for the radio, etc. Or like you point to with Bob Brown, how the whole transition crew seem to have a really strange approach towards technology. So like you were saying, Kasey, it's almost never (even in the initial moment of engagement, let alone the later, unanticipated consequences) a simplistic either/or of embrace or rejection of technology by poets. So I hate Grenier’s I HATE SPEECH not because I’m on the other side of the debate, but that it grinds down a sense of writing into being opposed to speech; I think Rothenberg, etc are trying re-invigorate the assumed borders between the two, but come up with a very different stance than a Derridean one. Instead of trying to undercut the sense of presence in the assumed private authenticity of speech, they’re trying to re-situate poetic writing in a kind of mythic crossroads between the personal and public so it doesn’t just link up with (or frame itself as an antinomy to) privileged logos-derived rationalized writing practices but that finds a way of re-imagining a connection of mythos and logos, and how that would position the poetic act.

My friend Tim Van Dyke once said he thought it’d be interesting to see a poet trying to combine a shamanic or vatic poetic impulse with a google-sculpting technique, which might generate a contemporary version of what I think these folks were up to in their moment, or what I think Maya Deren did a lot in her films.

The idea of failure at the heart of poetry is one that I can roll with. Heidegger suggest that the situation of equipmentality only becomes apparent when equipment fails: until then, the situation and the assignments that follow an entrance into equipmentality are more or less invisible. Written on a larger, contemporary scale, something like Y2K I guess would be illustrative; the enmeshing in contemporary technologies can be expressed either as invisible or as catastrophe. Maybe poetry situates itself somewhere in there.

I’d try to write more, but Simon just woke up from his nap.

Word,
Tony Tost

ag said...
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ag said...

Tony,

"My friend Tim Van Dyke once said he thought it’d be interesting to see a poet trying to combine a shamanic or vatic poetic impulse with a google-sculpting technique, which might generate a contemporary version of what I think these folks were up to in their moment, or what I think Maya Deren did a lot in her films."

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is actually what I am after, although that's a tall order to fill...

ag said...

Ach! Also meant to say this is similar to what Burroughs did, except with printed text.

phaneronoemikon said...

Not to 'pee' on Tony's comment, but,

'but'

So I hate Grenier’s I HATE SPEECH not because I’m on the other side of the debate, but that it grinds down a sense of writing into being opposed to speech;

This is a huge problem for me.
Take the spirit of Grenier's sentences and look at this line again. The sentences are all about incremental perceptions and following "the line"

that line is thought.
thought is neither written nor spoken. It is, my friend, an event
quite outside the determination of language except through the guideposts of our supposedly Janusian friend "sprighting and weech"

whatever.

Read with a little creativity there
Mr. Toast!

Here is one possible reading using my own patented hermeneutic systemics

Ih ate speech.
we can give Ih an Eww
and make this

Disgust Ate Speech.
ie Wordless disgust.

We can give Ih an Eye
making this

Eye ate speech.
ie 'Writing'
therefore a confounding
of writing and speech.

we can go further into
DS land (disjunctive Synthesis lan.d)

and get

I hat es peech

[The] Eye-Hat is Peach.

Probably a kind of clockwork orange
image where the bowler hat
is peach colored and has an eye
on the front. and maybe the
back of the bowler looks provocatively like a peach colored pudenda! mmm.

or to get even more crypto

P-etch

p = tongue

tongue etching
= experience

or to reheal some of it

"I hate" is a tongue etching
ie, hating and by extension loving
are programs, and hence choices.

This relates to existentialism
and to the debate surrounding
a phrase like
Is all form inflection?

which clues us into the
paradoxical pervasiveness
of non-human subjectivity
ie what might be called
'post-structualism'

ie the question

"Do we speak language, or does language speak us?"

One must take hold of language at the letter level and ideally at the leve of the line.
I think Grenier amply provided this model.

Reading was already a shamanic technology eons ago.

AND

big surprise folks.

Human have been wearing shoes
for 40 thousand years.
Long enough for our feet
to actually change because of


you guessed it!

Technology.

So what do think words, let's forget poetry for a second, but just words are doing to us?

Hmm?

Don't be so hasty to suck the copula of any recieved knowledge
that floats your way.

Line and Taxis
Affect and Line

Shape for god's sake
and the eye, for Chry-Ist's
S-ache..

The Von Neumann Computer
is a folk mandala based
on an inside out understanding
of the mind, and in a greater sense
in the landscape itself

animals leave trails, and tracks

sand, soil
is an archive

the noosphere is
the zoosphere

Zeus and Nous
Zoos and Noose

Soothing News?
Gnosis!

Know the system,
understand systemics!

The Fates stood above the gods,
and what were the fates?

Weavers!

The labels are lenses
the lenses are drugs
The drugs are demons
the demons are daimons
the daimons are diamonds

refract
refract
refract!

K. Silem Mohammad said...

At one point I kidded myself I was going to find the time to respond to all these great comments, but then reality intervened.

One thing, though, Lanny--do you know the entirety of Grenier's "On Speech," from whence the infamous "I hate speech" bite comes? I think you'd find that it's not grinding things down to an opposition between writing and speech, and that that key phrase is embedded in quotes in a way that makes it a kind of conditional hypothetical example.

But yes, the eye-hat is peach. No argument there.

ag said...

Lanny,

I agree with most of what you said, but:

Reading is a technology? I would think writing is the technology, printing, etc. Not the act of reading itself.

And yes, shamanic spells, texts, etc. have existed for centuries.

Pee Eth: The only part of TT's copula I hastily sucked on was the part about combining Google sculpting and shamanism. THAT has not been done yet, to my knowledge, with any consistency or in a body of work.

Cur-rect me if I'm rong.

TT said...

Well, I guess I'll have to go back to the Grenier w/o any huffy-puffiness and see what I find this time . . .

TT

ag said...
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ag said...

After much more reading, including some McLuhan (how could I forget?!), Kroker, and others, I have come to yet a new conclusion:

(Especially if you read this essay from the beginning, I think you might arrive at the same conclusion when you reach this page:)

POETS are technology!

SOYLENT GREEN is US, PEEPS!!!

Whatchall think?

Cahya said...

Agreed.

phaneronoemikon said...

I don't know anything! I was just trying to see if I could get someone to talk to me! I'm like a sock hanging out a window ova heah..

nnnnnnn
nnnnn

speech ach!
dew leebdin!

ag said...

Better a sock hanging out a window than a foot poking out of a woodchipper.

phaneronoemikon said...

Angela,

yes, reading.

look at the Dogon

Fox trail divination grids..

very old practice.


drawing a grid.
then. divining according
to what box
the box trails move
through.

reading.
very old.

very techno.
done.

you'lllearn

i'm

ALWAYS RIGHT!

:)

hehe

phaneronoemikon said...

not box trails!

fox trails!

ag said...

Lanny,

You must have missed my last comment (which I made after my original comment to you about reading). Here 'tis again:

After much more reading, including some McLuhan (how could I forget?!), Kroker, and others, I have come to yet a new conclusion:

(Especially if you read this essay from the beginning, I think you might arrive at the same conclusion when you reach this page:)

POETS are technology!

not gnu theory
NEW theory

Patrick said...

Yes poetry is a technology. Poets are technologies as well, special kinds of technologies that can make further technologies. Making them a set of desiring machines. Shamanism is just a particular arrangement of machines. Being machines makes us no less mysterious, no less mystical, and, most importantly, no more determined. That living material can arrange itself or be arranged by its context into inherently chaotic and non-functional things for me at least strips out any fears of Matrix-like dystopic visions.

But maybe I should back up. Is the question about the poet-perjorative-sense of the word "technology"? If so, well then, we already have an answer prescribed to us, because it writes into us the correct answer, thus determining our answers in most cases, save for the antinomian, who will flip a negation on and choose the opposite of what's prescribed. But if we're talking about technology as a term referring to a Bucky Fuller-like sense, in the sense of making, specifically making more out of less, then, yes, poetry is perhaps the most amazing form of technology ever created. It is the crystallization and the most powerful arbiter of change encapsu8lated in another technology that already does a good job of that. Poetry changed language. Swiftly. And by doing so it enables our very ways of being to be rapidly rewritten, no, reimagined, re-desired, recycled, repurposed, redirected. If there's any doubt about this, look at the one-word poem going around America that is actually changing everything so quickly. No one questions it, no one debates it. That one word poem, a meta-poem really, is "Change." And it's bigger than its author-purveyor, Barack Obama.

ag said...

Patrick, that was one thing I was trying to address in my comments, but I didn't do a very good job of it, which is to ask if we are talking about techne or technology, and poesis and poetry, and in which sense(s) of the words.

Advertising has had a much larger and more profound effect on language, culture, society, and billions of people than poetry.

"Finnegan's Wake," maybe, but not poetry.

And Barack Obama certainly did not author the meta-poem "change." That meta-poem goes back to the beginning of time -- if there is such a thing.

What he's purveying is what politicans hawk: bullshit, snake oil, lies, and empty/meaningless words used to evoke emotion.

Clinton, Bush Sr. & Jr., Obama, and all the rest are "merely errand boys, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill." -- Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now"

Chris said...

Advertising has only had an effect on "language, culture, society, and billions of people" because of its use of poetry!

Or, are you trying to define poetry in such a way that it excludes such tainted contexts?

What he's purveying is what politicans hawk: bullshit, snake oil, lies, and empty/meaningless words used to evoke emotion.

That sounds like as good a definition of poetry as anything!

ag said...

Chris, aiiight! I agree with you on that one! We are but pseudo psychoactive toads in the grand scheme of techne hawking hallucinogenic tryptaminic poetry!

Dale said...

Jeff Walker's work in recent years looks at the origins of rhetoric and poetics, and may be of some use to this discussion:

Jeffrey Walker, Rhetoric & Poetics in Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).