Walker went so far as to offer a passage of Paradise Lost rearranged so that the lines correspond to a rudimentary semantic; and, curiously, this rendering makes Milton look like a practitioner of modern vers libre. Bradford finds an instructive link between modernism and these eighteenth-century agonies over blank verse, one that indicates the extent to which poetry overcame its notational deference to prosody, becoming attentive instead to its potential as visual signifier.
The loss of rhyme was one stage in the institution of visual form as a component of the double pattern, and. In order for the glance to sweep across the total shape of the poem on the page, the impulse to read needs to be thwarted. If my words sparkle with colors, then they create the illusion of light. This illusion of light is also cognition. No one persuades anyone. No one can prove anything to anyone. Every argument is a battle of words, is magic. When I speak I do so only for the purpose of casting a spell.
Michaux ascribes the dissymmetry of observations and concepts to the texture of the drug. Spying on the hemp. With the hemp, spying on the mind. It marks the spot.
The vault of noises lifts. As sensation succumbs to pulsation, lines of text are succeeded by lines as such, lines without words. Together they induce an echo effect of thought upon neotenous thought, expanding in the agonized sensorium like a dripping faucet. The drugged mind descends like Orpheus into Hades, and what comes back is always different—the skein of difference as such. The word had plunged. Was it always a thought? At times rather a mental phrase, mute, signaled, unpronounced, as African tomtoms transmit messages without words.
Michaux, on the other hand, uses his series of lines to score the incipient pattern of creative conjecture, as if to suggest that a poem begins in the mind as a series of geometric lines subsequently fleshed out, in composition, as words. So the line marks a threshold of tensions between text and image, specifying the site of a semantic promiscuity, a site in which cognition is revealed to be a duplicitous reservoir, and seeing is always seeing double.
Eliot depicts himself Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate With shabby equipment always deteriorating, In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion.
Mobilizing a semantic equivocation within language, such words are cousins of the slippage examined above between the line of poetry and the visual line.
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In either case—the word with a double meaning, or the verse line and its lineated effacement—they partake of a flicker or pulsation when the reader flips back and forth between the alternatives. To do so is to apprehend the structural integrity of a material constellation; and this is what artist and poet Otto Nebel addressed in his audacious poem Unfeig.
He organized a book length sound poem, Unfeig, as a fugue in runes the runes being nine letters of the alphabet, basic building blocks of a combinatorial art preternaturally indifferent to grammar and semantics. Figure 1. Courtesy: Otto Nebel-Stiftung, Bern.
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As Oskar Pastior notes in a recent reissue of the text, Unfeig is basically a lipogram 70 , and in fact Nebel regarded Unfeig as preparatory to the twelve rune work Das Rad der Titanen The Wheel of the Titans. Unfeig balances geometric precision with the spirit of the murmur. This moment inaugurates a supreme iconographic endowment, the birth of the image. The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough. Poems But look at the same poem punctuated by blanks in the arrangement specified by Pound for its publication in Poetry, in The apparition of these faces in the crowd Petals on a wet, black bough.
The poem is an image before it is read, before its semantic image is processed. The slippage or deviance inaugurated by Rimbaud—in which Here I am necessarily configures I as other—adds a crucial modernist twist, prying open a surreptitious synaesthesia.
The artistic challenge is, how to accomplish the opposite of accomplishment?
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How to disclose and revoke at once? How displace intention by serendipity? How does one become precisely lucky? In order to come into being—to accomplish itself as a genre unique to itself—a work requires unworking. This thought or urge, this urgency or creative emergency, became widespread by the twentieth century. His Rayographs exposed objects in space and sometimes in motion to photosensitive paper; the spectral images seem released from gravity as well as density. In fact, all that subsists in Rayographic space is pure subject matter, and the subject is light.
That is to say, the projection of the image abandons the object from which it derives, while the Rayograph dissipates the image itself. Art is inducement to disappearance. What he sought to preserve in his studies and inventions was unqualified inspiration, not the production of objects hence his impact on Surrealism.
The photographic work in which he most closely realized this aspiration, and the one with the greatest bearing on poetry, is Space Writing Self Portrait in which the photographer, through a sustained open shutter, erases himself from his own photograph: carefully positioned in a frame mounted on a chessboard, he has busily filled the space instead with luminous traces from a small flashlight.
This is writing, but the text is as unrepeatable and unrecoverable as the image of the artist himself. Poetry in the universal, progressive sense is the part that swaps places with the whole. Its theory is inextricable from the work itself. In Space Writing, appearance bids farewell. But you can never get hold of it and put it to Figure 1. Whatever is another name for the murmur. In various ways, the challenge of such writing extended to all the arts in the twentieth century. As modernism gained traction, beginning to seem more like a creative tendency than a series of intemperate outbursts, the representational stress borne by inherited literary and pictorial genres became acute; and writers and artists sought ways to draw a blank, as it were, in order to imagine themselves anew in light of modernity.
If their blanks are now full for us, dense with the history of spectacular retractions, their blankness extends an incentive to forget the modernism we think we know, and roll the dice of unworking. But are we capable of so much amputation? To follow a pattern is, in effect, to become consumed in the process as, in Islam, abstract patterns are the visible means by which the prohibition of images is carried out. The poetics of unworking are attempts to get access to the fertilizing agency of the murmur, the plan or pattern exceeding personal volition, while somehow retaining a measure of identity in the process.
The following episodes are documents of the murmur becoming explicit. Edison soon switched to wax as the medium for his recording cylinders, and in his agent Colonel Gouraud prevailed upon certain public figures in England to deposit their voices for posterity in the new medium, Browning and Tennyson among them. These recordings mark a little noted watershed in the history of poetry. It sounds as if the poet laureate—like the aged Ulysses he had prophesied in his own youthful poem, setting out on new adventures in his twilight years—were clinging by sheer oral tenacity to the magic of the voice machine.
The ferocity audible in the recording looms out of the past as a corporeal angst, a profoundly somatic intuition that a limit was at hand, a frontier crossed. Though little noted, that border is as obvious as the Great Wall of China. On one side of this unalterable partition we have Yeats, Eliot, Pound, H. The voice of the poet was to be a cornerstone in the triple alliance of phonography, neurology, and spiritualism.
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Partway into his recitation Browning stops apologetically, unable to remember his own lines. The uncanny alliance registered by the survival of the voice endows memory with a funereal commemoration that even Plato had not suspected when he denounced writing as a blight on memory. If writing impairs even as it benefits, orality too has its liability, acceding to the sheer flow of words as they occur, swept along by a pace that may or may not coincide with understanding.
His preferred device was the vowel drone.
Mournfully, then, up and down the stone staircases, there would flow two hollow sounds. It went on and on, suggesting the muffled baying of a large hound that is permanently dissatisfied with the world. Ong puts it Another endowment, and an implicit subtext of English verse tradition—at least since the imperial cadences of Paradise Lost—was Virgilian Latin; and Latin, as a dying language in the late nineteenth century, was a medium of narcosis as Leopold Bloom notices in the Lotos Eaters chapter of Ulysses, peeking into a Catholic church.
The ensemble of sound elements tenuously clings to the semantic dimension in poems of the Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, inviting a hypothetical if unlikely alliance with the sound poems pioneered by the Dadaists. In the recitation of poetry, the liturgical style stresses often unwittingly an alliance between the high sublime and the sound poem, disclosing both as exercises in orality as incomprehension. This latter position is bequeathed to any latecomer in a tradition, effectively consigning the whole contingent of poets and readers alike to the insecurity and bewilderment of belatedness, a dilemma given simply with the defamiliarizing anaesthetic of old cadences persisting in the present.
It is a memorable demonstration of the collapse of air out of a pair of human lungs, dazzlingly coordinated to lavish its physical decrescendo on the satirical target: Mr. If nasal stress marks this passage in recording as satirical, the liturgical ebb and flow of a voice devotionally consorting with its phonological base rings through loud and clear. Certain words are sufficiently elongated that they might well be assigned notes on a musical staff, as demonstrated by Joshua Steele in Prosodia Rationalis Music, in other words, is held in strict abeyance to the sonority of the voice, while the voice emphatically retains its conversational register.
Pound achieves a paradoxical delivery in which the listener seems privy to gossip while attending Evensong. This triple alliance of Tennyson-YeatsPound would be unthinkable were it not for the existence of recordings by all three that delineate a manner of recitation that seems to have ended with Pound. The sound dimension released in, and inhabited by poetry need not aspire solely to the condition of music. Might it be that this indeterminacy marks the conjunction—like a sidereal eclipse—of sound and sense, of the sensed and the senseless?
Technological supremacy is secured by this bewitchment of the sub-human. Is the development of sound in late-nineteenthand early-twentieth-century poetry related to mimetic superfluity? Making the Ear an Eye Does the familiar reference to the music of poetry work only as analogy? This sonnet shd. The journals tell another story. Flashes lacing two clouds above or the cloud and the earth started upon the eyes in live veins of rincing or riddling liquid white, inched and jagged as if it were the shivering of a bright riband string which had once been kept bound round a blade and danced back into its pleatings.
Several strong thrills of light followed the flash but a grey smother of darkness blotted the eyes if they had seen the fork, also dull furry thickened scapes of it were left in them. Journals — This extraordinary evocation offers a minute registration of the tactile quality of the muggy day and the visual excitement of its lightning conclusion; but notice how little attention Hopkins pays to sound.
This passage is symptomatic of his journals in general, which might just as well have been penned by a deaf man. Under the curl shone a bright juice of beautiful green.
This indifference to sound seems strange in a poet whose work is commonly accorded a supreme place among English ravishers of the ear. There are numerous instances in his poetry in which the stress indicators fall at unlikely places, where stresses bunch up inside a line sprung rhythm being a method for indicating contractions and expansions internal to the metrical measure, as if all metrics were part of an exfoliating continuum like fractals.