Open and Closed, Part 7

18 Comments

  1. Joseph Hutchison
    Joseph Hutchison February 23, 2009 at 11:12 pm .

    "My question is: why can you say ‘why not walk down the street and experience the same effect?’ about Cage’s work but not ‘why not go to a pond and experience the same effect’ about Basho’s? Please explain how Basho’s very simple (and somewhat obvious) framing of an experience at a pond is more of a ‘framing and interpretation of experience, the revelation of a mind giving shape to experience,

  2. Iain
    Iain February 23, 2009 at 10:00 pm .

    Basho’s frog poem is (obviously, as all haiku are) very minimalist. It is very powerful, but also very easily dismissed if one were so motivated (or more likely unmotivated to engage with it). It’s not flashy, or very impressive to a casual observer.<BR/><BR/>Also, Cage’s work is not very flashy or impressive (also he’s very much a nature composer/poet like Basho). Cage finds beauty in chaos.

  3. William Michaelian
    William Michaelian February 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm .

    Even when we say we understand each other, and feel in our hearts that we do, our saying is not proof. It might simply be that we agree, or think we agree, or that we have set aside trying long enough to permit our friendship or kinship to take root.<BR/><BR/>If we say we don’t understand each other, it might simply be that we do, and have reached a point beyond which we no longer wish to travel

  4. Joseph Hutchison
    Joseph Hutchison February 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm .

    I really don’t mean to dismiss anything, Iain. I thought I <I>was</I> reacting to your "better challenges," and if you want to restate the ones I’ve "dismissed" I’ll try to address them.

  5. Iain
    Iain February 22, 2009 at 2:36 pm .

    It is frustrating to me that some of my better challenges were ignored for the purpose of mistaking a metaphor (one which I even immediately admitted was lame) for a literal statement. <BR/><BR/>Macdiarmid’s poem does not just redeem stones, but my metaphor as well. The simple act of combing through stones on a beach is turned into an infinitely complex experience, and couples with the reader’s

  6. Joseph Hutchison
    Joseph Hutchison February 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm .

    Beautiful, Iain! Thanks for posting. And yes, poems can be made about stones, but the poem is not made <I>of</I> stones, just as the map is not the terrain. In a way the poem <I>redeems</I> the stones (as if they needed it), or redeems them from our usual failure to observe. Thanks again….

  7. Iain
    Iain February 21, 2009 at 6:39 am .

    From On a Raised Beach by Hugh Macdiarmid:<BR/><BR/>All is lithogenesis—or lochia,<BR/>Carpolite fruit of the forbidden tree,<BR/>Stones blacker than any in the Caaba,<BR/>Cream-coloured caen-stone, chatoyant pieces,<BR/>Celadon and corbeau, bistre and beige,<BR/>Glaucous, hoar, enfouldered, cyathiform,<BR/>Making mere faculae of the sun and moon,<BR/>I study you glout and gloss, but have<BR/>No

  8. Joseph Hutchison
    Joseph Hutchison February 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm .

    I still think you miss my point—or it may be simply that you disagree with it!—that a poem must be more than an interesting stone. If you think has doesn’t have to be more than that, then by all means enjoy your Flarf. And you’re right, if poems are stones, there is no use in talking about good or bad. But since poems, by my lights, are more than stones, then good and bad can be at least

  9. Iain
    Iain February 20, 2009 at 9:45 pm .

    when you say "poetry is not the experience; it is a framing and interpretation of experience, the revelation of a mind giving shape to experience, external or internal or both" I fully agree. However, any response to experience frames and interprets that experience. My skin itches, I scratch it: a poem. Basho hears a frog jump into a pond and reacts: a poem. Cage hears beautiful music in

  10. Joseph Hutchison
    Joseph Hutchison February 20, 2009 at 12:40 am .

    Iain, my point is that poetry is <I>not</I> the experience; it is a framing and interpretation of experience, the revelation of a <I>mind</I> giving shape to experience, external or internal or both. Cage’s radios don’t do that—or don’t do it enough to be interesting (at least to me); just placing radios on a stage isn’t enough to make it music, just as raking through texts on the Internet isn’t

  11. William Michaelian
    William Michaelian February 19, 2009 at 9:11 pm .

    Three hundred years later, we still wonder at the simple complexity of Basho’s frog poem. Nature and our part in it endures. I don’t know how long we will be communicating this way, through computers and electricity. Things happen, cataclysms, and then the slate is wiped clean and we are back to listening to the frogs. Or maybe what we are currently experiencing <I>is</I> a cataclysm.<BR/><BR/>I

  12. Iain
    Iain February 19, 2009 at 8:32 pm .

    I apologize if I seemed to suggest that you thought poets should ignore the Internet. The presence of your blog here would reveal the stupidity of that argument. I only meant to frame the argument for the purpose of illustrating a point, not to accuse you of holding it. I very much respect and appreciate your blog here, and your willingness to engage with these issues.<BR/><BR/>You ask a

  13. William Michaelian
    William Michaelian February 19, 2009 at 6:56 pm .

    Hmm. It just occurred to me that our brains also “reflect or regurgitate or mechanically collect and reorder the data of our experience of forests, or cities, or the Internet.” Oh, god — maybe we’re <I>all</I> Flarfists….

  14. Joseph Hutchison
    Joseph Hutchison February 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm .

    Iain—I do care, of course, but haven’t been feeling particularly combative about such things lately. I do want to point out, though, that I never said poetry should ignore the Internet; it’s the mechanical procedures of Flarf that leave me cold. I felt the same way many years back about John Cage’s deployment of eight or ten radios on stage, each tuned to a different station; the idea of

  15. William Michaelian
    William Michaelian February 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm .

    I think we all express our humanity, whether we realize it or not. But we don’t all <I>speak</I> to one another in ways we can understand. That, too, is part of our humanity. We are drawn to some things and repelled by others. Naturally, we gravitate toward things that mean something to us and help us understand and enlarge our experience. The trouble develops when we stop taking delight in the

  16. Iain
    Iain February 19, 2009 at 4:38 pm .

    You seem to suggest here that it’s just a matter of taste, like preferring vocally driven music over instrumentals. Your blog in general suggests you care a little more than that (I do too).<BR/><BR/>When I walk around a forest (one environment), my poetry responds to that space. When I walk around a city (another environment), my poetry responds to that space. When I’m on the internet (yet

  17. Joseph Hutchison
    Joseph Hutchison February 18, 2009 at 9:57 pm .

    Hello, Iain—<BR/><BR/>You’re right, of course, that humans are behind Flarf, but they choose not to express their humanity, which is what I meant to say. As a result their work is of little interest to me, simply because I value "subtlety, identity, and introspective voice." I don’t care any more for mechanical "reactions" than I do for … oh, some self-proclaimed "uncreative writer" typing up

  18. Iain
    Iain February 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm .

    Perhaps you could talk some more about the comment you make here that "One magnificent quality of Wright’s work is that one never doubts there is a human being behind it, as opposed (let’s say) to some Flarfist bot wandering cyberspace like a nihilistic spider."<BR/><BR/>I don’t quite understand the need for the poem to remain "human". Not that I want to escape from what is "human", but that I

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