[-empyre-] Poetry and/or poetic

Sally Jane Norman s.j.norman at newcastle.ac.uk
Thu Mar 12 00:53:58 EST 2009

I'm intrigued and confused Simon. In my clumsy thinking, discrete phenomena can be described BY the digital (digits) insofar as they're containable, finite state entities, but mightn't it be a perhaps over-exclusivist or distorted leap from there to describe them AS digital (?).

I'm also interested in that peculiar tension whereby language's purported characteristics as a discrete system built up with/ of steadfast, definable meanings are challenged to make it an evolving system that messily seeps and oozes emerging meaning. Non-discrete if not indiscreet and probably my definition of poetry/ poiesis/ poetics.

darn. interested in the non-binaries. the unfathomable in-betweens. including those perversely spawned by digital systems. can't sets of relations be hypothetical/ ephemeral constructs that allow us to conjecture, without having to smack of finitude forever after?  The rest is over my head. Wanted, dead or (preferably) alive!


From: empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Simon Biggs [s.biggs at eca.ac.uk]
Sent: 11 March 2009 09:19
To: empyre at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Poetry and/or poetic

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 digital.

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 Badiou’s writing. I am rather comfortable with the orthodoxies of postmodernism and apprehend the Zizek’s and Badiou’s 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? Aren’t 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 don’t 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

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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