[-empyre-] Starting the Third Week: Michael Boghn and Jerome Sala

Jerome Sala jeromesala502 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 20 09:54:25 AEDT 2016

Murat, your question, as to whether "the computer (and the web and its
consequence) has the ability to expose and criticize the condition it
has created...whether the digital can be 'revealer of is own truth',
brought to mind a book I've been reading - Discognition, by Steven
Shaviro. One of the points Shaviro argues is that, in our everyday
experience, "we're mostly unaware of how deeply our lives depend upon
the functioning of complex, expert systems..." -- we're the fish in
their ocean (McLuhan) (unless they break down). Another aspect we
don't grasp, as your question implies, is that such technological
entities, rather then just being there, inert until we manipulate
them, have an agency of their own: "...if we engineer them, in various
ways, they 'engineer' us as well, nudging us to adapt to their

I am not sure whether the "digital" can speak its truth (at least in a
language we understand), but Shaviro suggests one way we humans might
begin to see its truth/reality for ourselves - by creating art where
the "material and technological factors are explicitly foregrounded."
His book is about science fiction stories that do this. Perhaps this
is also what I had in mind by the poetic project I wrote about, which
foregrounds digital/corporate cliches that inform us, through the
jargon we speak. In any case, Shaviro's book may offer a clue as to
the great popularity of the SF genre. Often, in allegorical ways, it
acknowledges the agency of the technological (remember the Borg?), and
enables people to start talking about the power of its influence.

On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 3:15 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi Jerome, by your question on the nature of "knowing" in poetry, I
> think you touched a critical point, an issue running throughout the
> discussions and presentations this month.
> Knowledge that poetic experience contains or "reveals" does have
> multiple facets. On the one hand, the knowledge (in some incarnations,
> message/propaganda) may be transactional and implicitly points or
> leads to action. Some great classics are of that sort, for instance,
> Lucretius's On Nature or Virgil's Eclogues, Shakespeare's Henry V and
> also, in some sense, though a book of "revelation," The Bible, etc.
> The election of Trump last week drove the discussion to the
> transactional side of poetry (art), and rightly so. That is what all
> the writing invited to be sent to Dispatches for the anthology all
> about. So are the post cards Craig refers to, as conceptual acts.
> There is another kind of knowledge that poetry "reveals," not
> necessarily leading to action-- of course, the distinction is somewhat
> artificial since a poem or work of art contains both simultaneously
> each time creating a different balance. If one extreme side of this
> spectrum is propaganda (all nations/cultures/languages have propaganda
> masterpieces), the other extreme is gnosis-- a knowledge not quite
> contained in the practicalities of a language, but in its peripheries,
> the often unacknowledged overtones that emanate from words, space,
> etc. (embedded in poesies).
> It is in terms of this same dilemma (the nature of poetic knowledge)
> that Heidegger is discussing technology in his essay. On the one hand
> it is defined as "enframing" nature to exploit it (in terms that
> Francis Bacon asserts as "knowledge is power"). On the other hand, it
> returns technology to its roots as techne, a making that reveals the
> truth. Their relationship is dialectical.
> I have been on Empyre list for about two years, following it on and
> off with interest because it presents to me a digital culture that is
> of great interest to me; but in which I am not directly involved as a
> practitioner. What struck me most is that, save for important
> exceptions such as Alan Sondheim and Isak Berbic (and I am sure there
> are others), the focus of the participants was on what the internet or
> the computer can do for them, on the computer as a new potent enabler,
> the computer as artistic or political power. As far as I can see,
> little attention was given to it as a revealer of "truth," the
> knowledge of human condition and psyche in a digital technological
> age.
> In my view, poetry (art) is doomed to die without containing within
> itself both these knowledge, though the melange may be different in
> each.
> The underlying focus for me this month has been, that is why I
> accepted the invitation to moderate, to explore whether the computer
> (and the web as its consequence) has the ability to expose and
> criticize the condition it has created, in other words, whether the
> digital can be the "revealer of its own truth." I can not say I have
> been that successful up to now.
> The primary text for this month is the fifteen minute video clip I
> referred to in my introductory statement at the beginning of the month
> in which the film maker Jean Renoir discusses the effect of technology
> on art (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7Mtd6GE_PI ). He says that
> art becomes boring to the extent that that the art maker is in total
> control of his or her own materials and techniques. He refers to a
> group of 11th century French tapestries (the Bayeux, the first known
> ones) where the threads were coarsely spun, the colors were primitive
> and of a narrow range; but they contained great beauty, revealing the
> strife of their making.
> That is why "Overcoming Technique"--the first two words of my
> introductory title-- is crucial, whether one finally agrees with
> Renoir or not. In our daily lives with family and children and
> teaching and grading papers, etc., I hope some of us find time to
> re-focus on these issues the remaining days of this month. As artists,
> the issues are important for all of us.
> Ciao,
> Murat
> On Sat, Nov 19, 2016 at 9:28 AM, Craig Saper <csaper at umbc.edu> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Relevant to the discussion and the “dispatches” this event might speak to the issue of, what Jerome Sala called in a recent "poetry is a particular way of knowing the mind” …
>> "Post Card Avalanche"
>> Join in and send a postcard directly to Trump! Here are the basic instructions to participate:
>> ** IMPORTANT - Don't mail your card until NOV. 26th **
>> In the message section, write this simple message: NOT BANNON!
>> Throw a post card Avalanche party. Make postcards.
>> Address it as follows:
>> Donald Trump
>> c/o The Trump Organization
>> 725 Fifth Avenue
>> New York, NY 10022
>> Affix a stamp - you can use a 35 cent postcard stamp, or a normal letter stamp.
>> Take a picture of your postcard that you can share on social media using the hashtag #stopbannon
>> Drop it in the mail! We are aiming to get these mailed between Saturday, Nov 26th and Monday, Nov. 28th to create a concentrated avalanche of postcards.”
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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