[-empyre-] Poetry and/or poetic

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Thu Mar 12 00:57:19 EST 2009

The way I take Badiou's discussion of the event is in the following
way.  An even is something which happens, but in order to regard it as
an "event" as opposed to all the other things which happen all the
time, but which are not considered "events."  Another way to think
about it is that even "stasis," a predictable "trajectory," and
so-called AIs (trajectories enhanced by algorithms) are situated along
the stream of time.  They happen, and they yield predictable results.
The predictable results can be contained within a set of possible
outcomes.  But none of these things are "events," because, if you
consider them within their set, they are quite clearly bounded, they
are finite, we can find the edges.  And though we might experience
such things as happening over time, we can also see the conclusion
from the beginning.

The event, in Badiou's work, is subjective in character.  Not because
of some kind of inherent human subjectivity (although I would not
necessarily rule this out), but that subjectivity is produced where
consciousness perception of the event.  Something does happen at the
point where the situation defies the expectation (where it differs
from the situations described above).  For Badiou, the event happens
prior to its explanation.  It is a revolutionary moment--and he
describes four "truth procedures"--art, love, politics,
science--through which events take place.  A lot like Heidegger might
say, being is something that is experienced precisely at the point
where the partitions break down.  I don't know that I would call
Badiou a Heideggerian....  but I do think that his idea on this point
does resonate strongly with Derrida's interest in "openness" and D+G's
various discussions of "Becoming."   Another affinity would be between
deCerteau's discussion of tactics, versus the grid-like structures of

Thinking about this alongside electronic literature is productive,
because my experience of the digital has been one of boredom.
Machines are always neat until you figure them out.  Games are cool
until you figure out how they go (I don't even care about winning
them).  But where things get exciting is when someone figures out how
to make a machine do something it isn't supposed to do.  Hackers have
been doing this with computers.  But poets have been doing this to
language for a lot longer.  And when I see a poet try to test their
are on a machine which is ruled by numbers...  it's impressive.
Especially if they can make the language of the machine into the
language of the human.  (And, those two languages are a bit different
in their theory, origin, evolution, and daily use).


Davin Heckman

On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 5:19 AM, Simon Biggs <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk> wrote:
> 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.
> Regards
> Simon
> 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
> www.eca.ac.uk
> www.eca.ac.uk/circle/
> simon at littlepig.org.uk
> www.littlepig.org.uk
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number
> SC009201
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