Saturday, October 28, 2006


JH: How, figuratively speaking, could a knitter prove authorship, that is to say, direct human agency, if the machine is programmed to blow a stitch (and does so randomly, so that machine-made products aren't identified by having the blown stitch locatable in the same spot)? Could the poet prove authorship via commentary outside the poem? This commentary could be machine-made, or a fiction, a person's description/myth of how the machine text was made by a human. In Antic View 96 we've discussed the unprovability of emotional response/association, how about the unprovability of the imagination? Unprovability, of the emotional, the imaginative, or, to sum up, the mental, could be an indication of the integrity/self-sufficiency of the poem (especially when considered as a finished, written object). What is recognizable in a poem are the words. The reader can prove recognition of the definitions of a given word in the poem, but how can one prove one has understood any part of the poem (including a given word in the context of the poem, which could render previous definitions useless)? The reader is as self-sufficient as the poem. Where's the bridge? Is this bridge, if it exists, across anything other than space? If not, what's under the bridge? If one crossed over to the poem, could one ever come back (whether a complete return or visitations)? Is this part of the fascination some have with the quote unquote mad poet (if so, a reader who is not a poet could as easily go to the poem, whether as a face-(oh, what a face this must be!)-to-face meeting or as an area to occupy, only the reader, unless a writer or a writer's subject, is unsung and thus unknown. And the reader could only go to another's poem, perhaps), that the poem this poet pictures does permit any other pictures, such as those of the world once held in common with non-poets? Does this happen on a less legendary scale with any poet, with any reader?

AHB: tempted more than once to answer I dunno and throw it back to you. but that could be wrong. the only proof of understanding would be some version of the Dickinson test, i. e. blowing your top hat or in some way getting a enlivening reaction. and sometimes the proof of understanding is a bunch of questions, that you got enough of he poem to realize you don't get it, that it has proved vaster than your first inkling, and your second. the knitter proves authorship thru nerve, or even the body electric. one senses the liveness. or is that just made up? I don't know if I could tell if a machine made the sweater, or notice my grandmother's thrown stitch. I liked the sweaters and scarves my grandmother knit me because she made them, not because I have a lively scale for knitted items. there may be no there there, regarding the poem. in the sense that a point in space can be triangulated but not measured. is that clear? a poem exists but it isn't a collection of words, it is um a monolith? an integrated unit. that is, words, any words, can be empowered to poemness. those same words can be in George Bush's last speech (not a poem). some poems look like poems, but George Bush's last speech could be lineated to look that way. we concede that some poems just plain suck. that is, we first concede that the piece in question satisfies certain definitions we have of poetry, but its engine is a little weak, it burns oil, etc. but I might just say a work is a poem if it gets to me, period. somewhat against my will I'm discovering more poems by Allen Ginsberg that I like than I previously suspected. due to my ability to receive. what weren't poems now are. as you say, the reader is as self-sufficient as the poem. but it is funny to think of the poem that I wrote, because I may still have this thing, the primal poem, within me, this primal poem being the instigation or spirit of what finally got written. the thing I wrote imitates or transfigures that primal poem.


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