[-empyre-] Towards [no] theory of digital poetics

Jim Andrews jim at vispo.com
Sun Mar 15 16:58:09 EST 2009

to me, the interesting stuff isn't so much the question 'what is art', or 
'what is digital poetry' as what is subsequently constructed/created.


the proposition that 'X is art' or 'X is digital poetry' is a bit like an 
undecidable proposition. undecidable propositions were created/discovered by 
godel in the thirties.

recall that undecidable propositions cannot be false and, if well formed, 
must therefore be true, but are unprovably true. the classic example is 
'this proposition is not provable'. if it's false, then it's provable. and 
if it's provable, then it's true, since only true propositions are provable 
(in a consistent system). contradiction. so it cannot be false. hence it is 
true. if so, then it is not provable.

'X is art' or 'X is digital poetry' never seems to be falsified very 
convincingly. In this (playful) sense, they 'cannot be false'. so, if 
well-formed (which they probably aren't), they must be true. but they aren't 
convincingly provable, either. they are more or less axiomatic. when one 
asserts that 'X is art' or 'X is digital poetry', one is basically laying 
down an axiom.

and that is not so much the interesting part as what you build from such 

such as web sites, books, and other bodies of work. and these are not so 
much exclusively definitive of art or digital poetry as productively 
explorative and constructive of the axioms that have been assumed. 
similarly, in math/logic, one does not seek to determine which of euclidean 
geometry and the various non-euclidean geometries is the one true geometry. 
they are all relatively consistent (as consistent as one another), all 
interestingly explorative and evocative of the worlds implied by their 
underlying assumptions/axioms.

some axiom systems are more interesting than others in that they result in 
richer worlds.


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