Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tech Talk

All the vivid tech und theory talk blooming on the blogs prompted me to post these comments I’d left on K. Lorraine Graham and Johannes Göransson’s sites. If there’s any theory they're inching toward, it might be that technology makes visible changes in our social reality—in the kinds of labor we’re doing, and the characteristic shapes of our encounters with one another—which, in turn, make themselves felt as shifts in our time sense. A poem is in one of its aspects a representation of time, both visual and aural, so has a way of finding the pith of the now more quickly and cheaply than, say, software upgrades or new CGI.

The way parts of speech connect in a sentence has been seen as analogous to the way persons are connected within a society. What about the speed at which those connections within the poem happen, and the patterns of repetition—the meter—within that speed? Can that be socially meaningful, too? And does a poem have to be socially meaningful—does its “meter” have to have the pace of lived experience right—before it can be politically meaningful?
Lorraine had posted about her work life leaving her tired in a way that “changes how I experience new work.”

Hi Lorraine,

I've been thinking along these lines, too. For me, it's been more a form of wondering how the sheer quantity of blogs, and the speed-reading (and writing) they encourage, extend the day job rhythm you describe into private life. I like Galatea Resurrects, and Ron's big links pulls, but there's too much of both I think, all pulled together too fast, to encourage much quality thinking or responding.

Since I've lost the wind on my own blog lately, I was looking back at some old posts and came across one on "Numbers Trouble." That seems a decade ago in blog time, but I was shocked to see it was only Feb.'08. For those of us who ride the blogs regular, since then there's been a large round table on the Gurlesque, Orono, Flarf vs. Conceptual Poetry, announcements for the launch of precisely 234.6 books and chapbooks I'd like to read, and Heath Ledger as The Joker.

I keep imagining there's some place I'm not privy to where people keep in touch with poetry in some other way, discuss poems in paper journals that appeared more than a year ago, savor and carefully respond to something as serious as Numbers Trouble. Or that the future will sort it all out: some scholar will write on the "Numbers Trouble" debate deep in the next century and it will shine with its proper significance. But in my neck of the woods, everything's feeling a little these days like noise. Corporate fighting-for-mindshare day-job-like noise.

I'm with you in thinking there's no no easy solution to this problem, until something in our neoliberal work life changes. That won't happen I think until they (we?) stop spinning downturns, in every sense of the word, as disasters.
Johannes noted his recent habit of reading poets mostly 40 or under. “When did this happen? When did I start to ignore my elders?”

Hi Johannes,

I’m sure the neglect of the elders is a regular stage-of-life thing, but I’ve been thinking lately too how quickly the blogs and la vie Internet are shifting our time-sense, so that poets who came of age even as late as the ‘90s feel quaint and slightly antiquated to me already. Looking back to the elders may be coming to feel like looking back six months on a blog roll—who needs yesterday’s papers?

If I’m right, I should say I’m value-neutral about the change—it’s just a change, not a decline, and a fact either way whether I like it or not—but that’s not entirely true. The way poetry’s normally preserved and transmitted is through a sort of informal underground protection of the elders—a minyan of the freakishly committed—that shelters them until the university finds them. Is that still happening as our attentions stretch out more horizontally online? Probably I guess, it’s just no easier to see than it was before, despite the Internet’s promise that you just might be able to see just about everything.

The poetries I find most interesting these days are the ones that try to tackle that new time-sense on the level of meter or ‘tude, but the big challenge I think is won’t that look like yesterday’s papers soon, too? Or is all “Tradition” yesterday’s papers yellowed until they become desirable as antiques, projecting the sexy aura of the archive?


GJPW said...

Hi Rodney,

We haven't met but I've been reading your blog since you opened it. Your comments here have clicked with me, as I find this whole discussion on technology & poetry fascinating. I've been away from the Internet for the last month and a half and sort of feel like I've missed several years worth of "information" or discussion and now I won't ever be able to catch up. But anyways, your mention of the archive is what sparked ideas for me, as I feel that so much of what poets are writing on the Internet today should be archived but I can't imagine who might take on that monstrous (and probably impossible) task. And also, who will actually have time to make sense of that archive? Like you say, the speed of the Internet is definitely showing influencing the "meter" of certain poets, though I hadn't thought about it until reading your post.

Best wishes,


troylloyd said...

dead spot on post Rodney.

so true about the time aspect -- it's a strange alteration not only in the work being produced but also how it's being read,

i was thinking on this topic earlier this evening -- when a reader discovers a new-to-them blog, what % go "deepreading" thru the archives, what % read all the comments?

itsa interesting topic & as you stated, i think also ten years from now this "poetic shift" will be taken note of with the full-on academic treatment, Perloff's already pushing toward that.

i started blogging a couple of months ago & it has been a beneficial kick-in-the-pants prompt for me to make new work -- as well as try to keep up with the huge poetic blogsphere, which in my eyes is a totally natural evolution of the traditional self-publishing conduit that poets have been at since forever -- instant mimeo, free xerox -- the wide world web is the broadest broadside one could imagine!

there are a few poetic blogs that have really great commentstreams & i deeply value the writer-reader interchange inherent in comment boxes -- but all too often, not many people take a moment to leave a comment -- & i understand the time aspect, just keeping up w/ alltha blogs is a task in itself, let alone actually leaving a substantial comment,

altho, possibly alotta good "online" work will be lost due to the ephemerality of the medium or the sheer amount of it will situate itself as an unclimbable mountain?

i refer to this phase of poetics as " postinfo ", is that a silly term?

rodney k said...

Hi Guillermo,

How fitting, given the post, that we should "meet" here! I wonder how they're going to handle the archiving thing, too. Ain't the future gonna hate us?

Hi Troy,

I sort of like "postinfo" as a name for poetry itself! Do you have a blog I might link to? Is it "Exit, pursued by a bear"?

troylloyd said...

hey rodney --

upon re-reading my comment, the opening line did not come out proper -- what i meant was dead accurate spot on post! in the Britsy manner.
: )

Lucas invited me to be a contributor to "Exit, pursued by a bear" & he's probably pissed i ain't came up w/ no goods as of yet, dammit -- itsa a very fun blog to read.

my main blog is:


& i have a smaller, less frequently updated blog fulla "googpooms" :
word w/o word

again, great post!
good reading.
i'm 38, so i'm
hopelessly outdated!
; )

troylloyd said...

again, i've been tossing this topic about-- pardon any incoherent rambling (ranbling) as i've been drinking a nice 14.5% Spanish red wine --

the readership thing, i think the audience has grown as the "creative class" has grown, wayback there were only a handful of practitioners on the edges & now there's like an explosion, as Silliman points out about the #'s & how many "regular" folks link to Silliman --

what kind of audience did the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E have? who was reading alltha Black Mountaineers? How quick was a response to the work?

i prefer reading Ezra letters as opposed to his poems, is that bad? With blogging, it's kinda like a world fulla Ezra letters, listening, reading, responding & w/ grt attd of passionate discourse.

How does poetry matter? It ain't gonna be no baloney sammich for nobody, it ain't gonna stop the wars, it ain't gonna rapid the evolution, hmm, maybe it will do the rapid as txt mssg clipping was utilized manymoonsago, so what now?


laughing all the way to the bank?

in America, not many folks care about poetry & most bookstores don't even carry contemporary poets.

Has the post-information horde of poetics broken thru to "regular people" (and should poetics even consider a "regular people"?) or are the poets merely chattering amongst themselves as the case has most often been?

Too many questions & i ain't swift enuf to answer nunna 'em.

brian salchert said...

And the technological advances are
speeding up exponentially. So
we're in this time collapse stage,
and soon changes will be occurring
beyond our abilities to comprehend
them, if they haven't already.