[-empyre-] Poetry and/or poetic

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Wed Mar 11 20:19:08 EST 2009

I am arguing that all language, being a discrete system, is effectively
digital, using an expanded definition of language here, including all human
languages as well as other phenomena.

I am not employing the word digital here limited to its use in computing but
in the sense that any discrete system or phenomena can be described as

The question remains whether it is possible to signify without or beyond or
prior to language. It is unclear if this is possible, but there are
certainly cases where it is unclear where the significatory origin of an
event lies. There is probable value in taking a relational approach to this,
considering all signification to be a function of the relationships between
things and that meaning cannot arise where there are no relationships (can
anything be situated without a set of relationships?). These relationships
(which may themselves be divisible) are discrete (this is probably a
tautology) and so are functionally digital systems. Similarly, poetics
indicate the dynamics of these relationships. Poetry is a very specific case
which I am not addressing here.

I am not that familiar with Badiou¹s writing. I am rather comfortable with
the orthodoxies of postmodernism and apprehend the Zizek¹s and Badiou¹s of
the world as over-bearing in their certainties. In your reference to his
writings I am not sure what you are intending to mean when discussing an
event and its relationship to our finite rules. What finite rules? In what
sense breaking away? Aren¹t events the dynamic interaction of things,
occuring as a result of their relations? How can something escape those
relations and be at the same time of them? I don¹t think I understand what
you mean here ­ unless you are seeking to consider these things as a
politic. I doubt the value of totalising an apprehension of human
interaction and applying it to other kinds of relationships, although I
might be tempted to attempt the inverse.



On 11/3/09 01:00, davin heckman <davinheckman at gmail.com> wrote:

> I do not mean to quibble, but are you saying that since poetics must
> find their expression in some discernible phenomenon that it cannot
> escape the digital?  I would say that the poetic "event" can be
> provoked through digital media and its passage can be marked in
> digital media, but neither of these are the same as the event itself.
> If we take it in light of Badiou's writing (and, since I am a lunatic,
> I may very well be misreading him), an event is what happens when
> things break away from those things which are bounded by our finite
> rules.  We can always go back, after the fact, and write the equations
> that can account for the event.  But the event itself, happens outside
> of the set of hypothetical possibilities.  And, so, I don't know if
> this means poetics escapes the digital.
> I would say that while the digital (or any system of order) must
> always either incorporate revolution into its system or become a
> incorporated into the new system, I would say that the event, when it
> happens, runs contrary to any system of order that cannot contain it
> at the moment of its occurrence.  So, maybe escape is only a fleeting
> thing.  But even fleeting things can alter a person's entire
> relationship to a system of order.  (Look, for instance, at the life
> of a junkie--all life potentially becomes recast in light of a single
> event, which is always pursued but can never be reclaimed--an eternity
> of struggle captured in a single, indelible mark of ecstasy, that is
> nevertheless written and re-written in the succession of hope and
> disappointment.)

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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