[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 52, Issue 8

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Tue Mar 10 22:52:00 EST 2009

On 10/3/09 01:00, Alan Sondheim wrote:

> (I wrote) Poetics is the creative practice of association. That is, the
> relationships
> between things are creatively evoked in a dynamic and often unstable manner
> such that new relational dynamics can be revealed. This practice can be
> applied to many media and through diverse disciplines. Conventional poetry
> (text poems) is just one instance of poetic creativity.
> [I find it problematic to say that "poetics is" {x} when, at lest for some
> of us, any definition is always under erasure. we could argue poetics and
> "its" definition for ages; this, like any other, seems somewhat
> reductive.]

Yes, we could argue about this endlessly ­ I was simply looking for a
workable definition, otherwise we have no subject to discuss. I fully accept
your use of erasure in this mix and wouldn¹t see that as in any way excluded
by the rough definition I propose. I would suggest that the definition
embraces this modality.

> (I wrote) Turing?s concept of computation does not
> have to involve a (electronic) computer ? it does not need a machine to
> assure its instrumentality. It can also employ the human. Perhaps other
> forms of instrumentality also exist?
> [what is the difference between this practice and that of any
> enunciation?]

It is this blurring of difference I am playing with. I am using the word
instrumentality carefully. I wish to avoid terms such as ³agency² as this
will amplify unhelpful (within the narrow context of this debate)
ontological issues. I also want to avoid the use of the terms ³author² and
³reader² as they immediately establish certain roles and functions around
the ³text². I am seeking to orient attention away from author driven and
reader-based theories of ³writing² towards an analysis that engages writing
as a process unto itself ­ potentially separate to the human. That is why I
suggest there might be other forms of instrumentality (there is no
metaphysical intent here either, in case anybody was looking for it).

> [YCHI seems as open as mez to me. mez modifies by
> writing, as does YCHI; both creates fiels of interpretation; YCHI garners
> a stricter temporality. Rosenberg is another matter altogether since his
> production is related to the intimacies of the software, and one might
> imagine a technoligical intervention into his work.]

Yes, I agree...this is the point I make in the following paragraph, seeking
to assure that any apparent difference in instrumentality is largely
cosmetic in relation to writing DOING writing. But as you say, in that
context, it depends on what is meant by the term ³digital². I am using it in
two senses at the same time (if I am permitted that Derridean indulgence)
but if I had to make a choice then I would go for the expanded definition,
where ³digital² means any discrete symbolic system of exchange with the
capacity for self-modification. As you observe, within this model all
writing (and poetics) is encompassed. That is problematic.

Your point that poetics is that which escapes such discrete systems is well
taken. However, whilst meaning (or not-meaning) might arise as an instance
of the poetic obscurely (and apparently irreducibly) it is the case that
such an instance surely be internally (and relationally/externally)
organised as more than one element. Any other understanding would provoke
that most reductionist of all apprehensions, essentialism. Given this, those
components must in some manner be discernable. The question then moves to
how we ascertain what they and their relations are. In this sense the poetic
cannot escape the digital.



Simon Biggs
Research Professor
edinburgh college of art
s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk

Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201

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