For “obscure poetry” read “dignity.” Read “personal information.”
Say exactly what you mean, tell it exactly as it happened. You don’t have to hedge on specifics out of fear the reader won’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever provoked the poem, whatever cliff face you clung to in the night after your saint’s day, name it. Any strange name will be found, now. Here, have some Kaiserschmarrn.
That time you fell asleep on the subway. Days in Zuccotti Park. The spectacular breakup and the aftershocks, the friends egging each of them on. Or just the overdue fines on Irony, Contingency and Solidarity, the Grundrisse, The Anarchist Cookbook.
Every effort at totalizing human knowledge ends with the capture and destruction of that library. And then again, maybe not -- the encyclopedia led not to the fall of French enlightenment but to its apotheosis -- the Revolution.
The kingdom will be yours, but first you will need to tell us your story, all of it, especially the parts no one must know. Those are the most important parts, and they alone will assure you the kingdom.
Dick Cheney led the Vice Presidential search committee.
I remember the first time I used Google how clean the page was, no ads, no banners, no headlines. Just, “I’m feeling lucky.” Spoken like an enduring cultural icon of masculinity.
Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: “In days gone by, it was not uncommon to buy loaves of levain bread that weighed in excess of a dozen pounds. What a marvelous sight that must have been!”
C.M. Bowra’s Poetry and Politics: “Poets became easy victims of ideas so vapid that even the public found little attraction in them.”
Secrecy causes lying. Security clearances throttle the flow of information upwards.
We work with limited information about a moving target while our faculties decline.
How much storage would you need to take a copy of all public domain material? The 15 terabyte statistic doesn’t seem to be circulating anymore. But you can get a terabyte for less than $100. A silver briefcase could hold enough drives, I’d imagine. So on the logic of cell phone miniaturization, it should be a pack of cards by 2020.
It won’t do much good to put these packs of cards in every child’s backpack if their parents have no time to read along and talk with them about it.
Data is fragile, as are learning and civilization.
Ted Nelson’s Xanadu -- transclusive copyright with micropayments -- somebody quotes you, you get a penny. It sounds wonderful, but how is this not the intellectual equivalent of estate tax repeal -- infinite copyright?
The most valuable books destroyed for the jewels in their covers. Selznick/Scorsese’s Melies -- the celluloid boiled down to make high heels.
Nothing is difficult forever. Why is this not comforting.
David Bordwell, quoted in Paul Cobley’s Narrative: Film narration is understood as “the organization of a set of cues for the construction of a story.”
David Lodge, in same: Middlemarch “survives to be read and re-read without ever finally being closed or exhausted.”
Gerald Edelman’s Second Nature: “What can we learn from the examples of evolution and immunity? First, we see that there must be a generator of diversity (GOD). Next, there must be a challenge by the environment confronting a species with competition (evolution) or a body with foreign molecules (immunity). Third, there must be differential amplification or reproduction of these variants that are fitter (in evolution) or that fit (as in antigen binding). But note that the mechanisms by which these three principles operate are not the same in the two cases.”
William James, quoted by Edelman: Narrative is a process whose function is knowing.
To know Middlemarch, do I have to say it in my own words?
Einstein, quoted by Edelman: Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
I wonder if he meant allusion.
J.H. Prynne, “Difficulties in the Translation of Difficult Poems”: It is these features that make prose discourse quick and relatively easy to read without too much semantic hesitation: we mostly know what to expect, from one sentence to the next.
Prynne, cont’d: “Poems are mostly not like this, and in a developed literary culture “difficult” poems are very distinctly different. The level of predictable linkage between one text component and the next, often between one word and the next, is often so low as to provoke continuing strong surprise in the reader, and a rich uncertainty over many possibilities crowded together. Not only is poetry characteristically condensed, so that some semantic links may be cut off or completely absent, but also a diversity of apparently incompatible reference is often deliberate and a valued feature of complex poems. A reader can move slowly through dense compositions of this kind, and pauses at moments of choice can enrich the activity of reading; it’s not necessary all the time to make precise decisions, because uncertainty may be intrinsic to the text and its internal connections to its method of thought.”
Why do we not often refer to the speed of reading -- it seems significant. The text I return to moves me along continuously, but always it slows me down, makes me patient, temporarily closes off my standing order for new information.
To read and re-read. To have a companion who is the source of ongoing (happy) surprise.
Poets who value surprise above all else either have not lived very long or have not had enough surprises, says the critic. And the poets respond, we pity you.