RE: [-empyre-] on electronic poetry

> > What I am trying to establish here is the difference between media that is
> > responsive, that can change itself fundamentally in relation to how a
> > "reader" is reading it, and media that is navigable (hyper-media).
> I think Simon is talking about why I find turning poetry into a string
> variable is so interesting. . .you change the 'ontology' of the text, and
> the text becomes a different type of artefact that is capable of behaving in
> ways that are not associated with text in traditional media, or, in fact, in
> hypertext.
> For example, I can make the text behave in accordance with user
> interactions, but more -- which interests me, I can apply generative
> algorithms and rudimentary ai principles, to allow text to organise itself
> beyond what I, or any user seeks
> That makes the semantics of the text an even more complex type of
> engagement, because the operator (not reader any longer) has to learn to
> understand that they are engaging with an algorithmic environment, a
> different level of textuality that intercedes in(?) the natural language
> semantics of the displayed text.
> These issues are one reason why 'electronic poetry' seems so misleading to
> me; it fails to distinguish between algorithmic and non-algorithmic works,
> which I think Simon was also pointing to.
> geni

it's also part of what i was getting at in talking about the role of programming concerning
form. when you code an algorithm to operate in certain ways on the content, usually the
algorithm could as well be applied to some other content as easily as to the content you choose
to have it operate on. possibly not with the same richness of meaning or emotional relevance or
whatever. but the algorithm itself is usually separable from the content, however well or poorly
matched it is with the content. the algorithm is part of the content's behaviour. and the
behaviour gives it sometimes a very different form from non-programmed literary work. and this
is behaviour of its own, as opposed to interpreted behaviour, though even motion is interpreted.
but the behaviour gives the piece its own identity apart from poetry on a page or static visual
poetry or recorded sound poetry or whatever. it demands its own unique individuality, or can; it
demands not to be read like a poemy poem; it demands a different sort of reading and a different
sort of poetry. It shakes up the notion of what literacy is. It expresses dissatisfaction with
the status quo of writing. It expresses a desire to see art be less squeamish about using the
tech of the medium, and it demands we allow both the intellectual and emotional in art. If it's
dainty, it's done for: here we have basically a strong disruption in what poetry is, and if it
isn't strongly disruptive of what passes for poetry, it might get approval from those who don't
want poetry disrupted much, but it'll suck all the same. and not only should it be deeply
disruptive but, additionally, it should be strongly communicative not merely of dissatisfaction
with the literary status quo but of ways to understand things that can't be written in poemy
poems, that are outside the realm of the writable, that are, as it were, truths unprovable
within the realm of writing. and even while it does this, it can draw on the past of poetry, if
it wants, but it doesn't need to. And it should be OK about being both intellectual and
artistic, because it's pretty much forced into being both. It's 'unnatural', it's intellectual,
it's geeky, it's intense, it demands literacy and yet it subverts behaves rather badly.
not only does it want to change itself. it wants to change the reader. and it demands to be read
on something of its own terms.

thanks, geni. i presume this is in the spirit of what you wrote.


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