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Author Topic: Crimson is Renata  (Read 21276 times)
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Alexandra Benjamin
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« Reply #30 on: May 23, 2006, 02:31:33 PM »

I agree with Bugz.
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... And their combined reward will be no greater and no lesser than what will be won by a piece of dried turd. It's a reward beyond thought."

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papa_geno
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« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2006, 02:39:38 PM »

Quote
Writing = private act.


I can accept this, to an extent, except that language is a tool of COmunication, and as much as one poet might wish it, it comes laden with history. Thus, in even engaging it, one is already engaging community. If that seems to pander too much to others, then why not turn to car mechanics or basket weaving? There's history there, as well, but I'm sure there are media that could be shaped much more readily to the individual's whims. Writing engages language. Language engages community. The math isn't hard. At a fundamental level, in choosing language as one's medium, one has already chosen a social act.

Quote
Publishing = public act

 
Yes, and it's quite different, and it's an art that is probably best understood as being entirely distinct from poetry. But this is not a matter of deciding if you will engage an audience (i.e., community) to engage, but what audience you will choose to engage, and how you will engage it. In choosing language, you've already chosen to engage an audience of some sort. Who is it?

Two is a community. Two selves is a community. Strip it back. You write, you are stuck with the possibility that what you write may mean something to someone else. And that's community.

This strikes me as the most important hurdle anyone wishing to understand themselves as a writer has to surmount.

...though I must admit, it is quickly becoming apparent that this thing, which seems so obvious from my perspective, does not appear to be translating well on these boards. Perhaps I'm in prime position to be a real poet. Who knew?
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Crimson
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« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2006, 02:45:47 PM »

Writing is not a private act.  Thinking is a private act.  Perhaps writing in a private diary you intend to burn is a private act.  But writing with intent to show others, either by broadcasting through publication or distributing home made chapbooks to friends, cannot possibly be described as a private act.  I am using private in the sense you used it: as something between oneself and oneself alone.  Anything that involves others is no longer private in that sense of the word.  Involving others expresses a need.  A need for what?  Socialization, you say.  Ok.  I drew a happy face, here it is  Smiley .  I took a private act between me and myself and made it public, shared it with you.  My need for socialization has been fulfilled.  But my need for glory has not.  Anyone can draw a happy face.  My accomplishment is too common and trite to elicit admiration.  To elicit admiration, I need to draw something more elaborate, something I believe others cannot draw as well as me.  In the world of intellectual accomplishments, my need for socialization will be satisfied with a happy face, but my need for glory will never ever be.
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enata Dumitrascu
Alexandra Benjamin
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« Reply #33 on: May 23, 2006, 03:04:20 PM »

papa wrote:


>>
... that language is a tool of COmunication, and as much as one poet might wish it, it comes laden with history. Thus, in even engaging it, one is already engaging community.
<<


This is a point that in theory, makes sense to me. Language, that act of using it, be that in written or spoken form, is a manifestation of community (in the Latin understanding of this word and its philosophical implications). Consider that anthropologists think of a culture's language as one of the most salient markers for any given nation or unified tribe.
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... And their combined reward will be no greater and no lesser than what will be won by a piece of dried turd. It's a reward beyond thought."

Jack Kerouac, The Scripture Of The Golden Eternity
Matt
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« Reply #34 on: May 23, 2006, 03:06:12 PM »

Quote from: "papa_geno"
Talk all you want to about sincerity or insincerity, insider or outsider, what I continue to fail to understand, and feel quiet despair in, is the fact that there are poets who really cannot understand that language is a fundamentally social act. There is no reason for language if the individual is all that is at stake--thus, there is no reason for an art that uses language as its primary medium. If it is the individual's viewpoint that is at stake, then there is no reason to frame it in words at all. Framing it in words already engages society: it engages the history of each word you choose. Talk yourself out of this if you wish: it's none of my business. But each word you talk yourself out of it with comes weighted with its history.


Geno, I don't understand who you are arguing with over this.  I apologize if moving my posts relating to the relationship of community to writing to the other forum (on that subject) has caused the impression that I disagree with your fundamental claim that writing is a social act.

I certainly do NOT disagree.  I do not know Crimson's specific opinion on this, but I don't recall her specifically disagreeing either.

Quote from: "papa_geno"
I'm surprised that something so simple (and this coming from somebody who is not high on the academic totem pole) should be so difficult to grasp.

Do you honestly believe your individual thoughts come to you in the form of language? Is that language English? Russian? Spanish? Stop and think about it for just a minute.


This is actually a very tricky question and one which I imagine will debated by neuroscientists and linguists for some time to come.  I don't know if there is any definitive thinking about this in the field, but I DO know that I am personally aware of "thinking in language" a great deal of the time . . . or, at least, that is the impression created during "introspection".

Even when I am not fully conscious of "thinking in language", I am hazily conscious of thinking in a kind of pre-language that follows many of the same principles, but is more condensed and symbolic.

Of course, the quintessential state of unconscious thinking in language is dream, which is absolutely language based.

Of course, I'm not talking about thinking in full, grammatically correct English sentences (although I do that at times, as well).

Other unconscious processes within the body also communicate through various means (chemical, electric, etc.), and this could be seen as a language.

I guess I don't follow what you mean.

Quote from: "papa_geno"
And no, valuation of individualism is not genetic. It varies from culture to culture. And yes, science, too, will back this up.


"Valuation of individualism" is not the same thing as introversion/extraversion.  The latter does exhibit a distinct genetic factor, while the former is primarily a matter of constructed ideology or belief.  So, I agree with you, but your statement doesn't really have anything to do with my initial claim.

-Matt
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Alexandra Benjamin
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« Reply #35 on: May 23, 2006, 03:49:19 PM »

Matt wrote:


>>
Of course, I'm not talking about thinking in full, grammatically correct English sentences (although I do that at times, as well).
<<


Ibid.
Id.
Op. cit.
Loc. cit.
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... And their combined reward will be no greater and no lesser than what will be won by a piece of dried turd. It's a reward beyond thought."

Jack Kerouac, The Scripture Of The Golden Eternity
Alexandra Benjamin
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« Reply #36 on: May 23, 2006, 03:55:06 PM »

In sum: passim.
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... And their combined reward will be no greater and no lesser than what will be won by a piece of dried turd. It's a reward beyond thought."

Jack Kerouac, The Scripture Of The Golden Eternity
papa_geno
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« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2006, 11:52:18 PM »

Crimson: one thought, just because it is clear we come from very different spaces on this question: in your description of it, glory seems to be little more than a hyper version of socialization: it's all about the admiration of others. Personally, I couldn't be bothered to shake the dried turd cited in Alexandra's sig at glory: if I wanted that, I would have gone in for politics, or athletics, or joined the armed forces. I had a bellyful of glory by the time I reached majority, and any remnants were pretty much swept away by a shotgun blast in the mid nineties in the Pacific Northwest. The glory machine is deadly. I've always been much more interested in grace. I'm sure you'll find something insincere about that, as well, but incredibly, it doesn't matter all that much to me if you do.

Matt:
Quote
I apologize if moving my posts relating to the relationship of community to writing to the other forum (on that subject) has caused the impression that I disagree with your fundamental claim that writing is a social act.


It's at least as much my fault: I reacted to a range of posts last night, and truth be told, the two threads aren't really all that separate for me--I do tend toward connection, rather than division. However, I feel that in accepting the social act of writing at the base, other things follow. Community is being talked about here (and there) in a lot of senses, but I guess I'm talking about something very fundamental, that is, connection with other humans. You don't get much more connected to being human than believing that language is worth preserving.

Quote
I am personally aware of "thinking in language" a great deal of the time . . . or, at least, that is the impression created during "introspection".


Yes, it's up for debate. Hell, a cohesive self is up for debate. An entirely mechanistic universe is not outside the realm of possibility, and one outcome of such a universe is that the self may be entirely illusory. And of course, scientists aren't the only--or the first--ones to make that observations. Check your Buddha at the door...

But it's clear there's a definition to be made here:

Quote
Other unconscious processes within the body also communicate through various means (chemical, electric, etc.), and this could be seen as a language.

I guess I don't follow what you mean.


What I mean, or what I think I mean, is that although I'm willing to accept nerve impulses as a form of language, that language would be very specifically located. Visuals are also language. Music is a form of language. Sculpture is a form of language. As is architecture. But, if I've done my reading on these boards correctly, there are many who would object to calling the Taj Mahal 'poetry'. I think I adopt a broader definition of poetry than some, but my guess is, if you were somehow to take those nerve impulses and treat them as a medium, to manipulate them to some pre-designed end, it would probably rightly be termed 'art', but many would object to their being called poetry. Instead, in poetry, what you have is an art form in which a shared language is manipulated toward some end. At that point--which occurs before pen even touches paper (or finger touches keyboard, in the contemporary equivalent)--you have already accepted the full history of every word you shape those chemical or electrical processes into. And that language comes with history, thus not just a sense of someone's listening, but of your listening to someone. At a foundational level, this is community. You enter the human community by ever even considering shaping those internal processes into a form that may be shared by others.

Of course, it appears this foundational level isn't what you're after at all, in this discussion spanning two threads, rather, you seem to be concerned with whether feedback, mostly in the form of MFA workshops (which I have never attended a single one...), are at all helpful. I'm going to suggest that this is highly dependent upon the specific poet. Personally, I'd trade my lonely dormitory in for a noisy house full of kids, musicians, physicists, martial arts trainers and what have you, because the latter is an environment in which I can get more work done. The poet in the garret is the language arts' equivalent to the brain in a vat scenario: it sounds good, but it neglects to take into account the contribution the senses make to individual knowledge. I know many people would not be able to work in some of the conditions I have, but I also know what works for me. I can accept that it's quite different for others, but I do not for one minute believe that it is possible, for any poet, to work in the complete absence of any sense of community whatsoever. It comes with the language. It's part of the gig.
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Matt
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« Reply #38 on: May 24, 2006, 10:43:44 AM »

Quote from: "papa_geno"
. . . I reacted to a range of posts last night, and truth be told, the two threads aren't really all that separate for me--I do tend toward connection, rather than division.


Yes, there is a lot of overlap.  Definitely confusing.  And I agree about connection . . . although, as moderator-in-chief, I try to facilitate the organization of the forum so that anyone late to a conversation can still find what interests them.

Although, at this point, due to a current software limitation, I can only transplant my own posts, so these two threads get to run free now.

Quote from: "papa_geno"
However, I feel that in accepting the social act of writing at the base, other things follow. Community is being talked about here (and there) in a lot of senses, but I guess I'm talking about something very fundamental, that is, connection with other humans. You don't get much more connected to being human than believing that language is worth preserving.


I agree.

Quote from: "papa_geno"
And that language comes with history, thus not just a sense of someone's listening, but of your listening to someone. At a foundational level, this is community. You enter the human community by ever even considering shaping those internal processes into a form that may be shared by others.

Of course, it appears this foundational level isn't what you're after at all, in this discussion spanning two threads, rather, you seem to be concerned with whether feedback, mostly in the form of MFA workshops (which I have never attended a single one...), are at all helpful.


Well, I wouldn’t say it isn’t what I’m after.  I’ve very much interested in this foundational level of communication.  But I guess my main point (on whichever thread I made my first statement on the poetry community) is that I think many poets tend to be under-vigilant in differentiating between a community and a club . . . mistakenly calling clubs “communities”.  In my opinion there has been a lot of collateral damage resulting from this error in rhetoric: damage both to “outsider poets” and to the quality of poetry itself.

As for how this relates to MFA programs, I believe that the writing workshop is at the heart of this mistake giving a false and unhealthy impression of the creative experience.  To over-simplify, the workshop downgrades the individual as creator and establishes a propaganda that places the group intelligence above the individual’s intelligence . . . even when the subject is knowing what’s best for the individual.

But this group doesn’t really have the individual’s welfare and betterment in mind.  Rather, the group mind (in this case) is only adhering to a dogma, exhibiting a kind of workshop fundamentalism.  That dogma, as it happens, under analysis shows itself to be a tool of the elite and destructive to any kind of poet who does not wish to become a part of that elite or abide by its doctrines . . . and also to those who are deemed unworthy to belong to the elite (based on club criteria).

Although I believe the workshop is the real breeding ground for this dissemination of propaganda and indoctrination, since it has had such a profound impact on poets in this country, the essence of the model becomes ingrained and carried over to the “poetry communities”.

I have only had (loose) associations with a few poetry communities, but I think many of my experiences were typical.  The bond for these communities is frequently and primarily a matter of shared dogmas.  I saw this happen especially in grad school, but also on this board at times.  Membership to these club-communities depends upon how one was indoctrinated.  In the grad school I attended, the gospel of choice was French poststructuralism (which remains pretty typical in English departments these days).  Members didn’t have to be experts in it, but they had to be enamored of it, or at least entirely non-critical.

Those critical of this school of thought (as I was) were outcast from the club-community, ostracized.  Now, being a moderately sane person, I found myself asking: “But what in the world does French intellectualism really have to do with poetry?”  That is, why should one’s theoretical tastes and background matter to poets talking about poetry and their experiences of creation?  In my opinion, it shouldn’t.

But maybe my perspective is skewed, because I have a blacksheep intellectual background in Jungian analytical psychology (not very welcome in academia) and had grown accustomed to accommodating people with other ideologies (even when not reciprocated).

But I don’t mean to make French intellectualism the only criteria of membership to a poetry community (many poetry communities despise the stuff as much as I do).  Another no-no then is criticizing the workshop system.  Again, this has nothing to do with creation and is, I believe, something definitely worth analyzing . . . and yet, I found myself alienated among academic poets for merely questioning whether it was the best way to teach poetry writing.

And, once again, it would appear that what defines these club-communities is a shared and inviolable dogma, not a sense of cooperation or tolerance for individuals with similar experiences and interests.  The dogma trumps the individual every time.

Fundamentalist dogmas tend to encourage unconsciousness . . . and unconsciousness engenders an us-and-them attitude.  So, most of what these club-communities do is in the service of promoting “us” at the expense of “them” (if you are not with us, you’re against us).

So, I guess I would say that I think the key difference between a community and a club is that a community is made up of diverse individuals whose differences of opinion and individuality are tolerated, whereas a club lacks tolerance for otherness and individualism.

I am a big advocate of community as defined above, but a strong opponent of clubs.  I’ve always seen myself as a pretty good litmus test for differentiating between the two, because very few groups will accept someone like me (who has numerous unusual and contrary/anti-power opinions and stances).  And yet, I know that I am a decent cooperator, and that I a have genuine concern for and interest in others.  That is, my only problematic quality is my individuality or non-believer status.

With this personal “experiment”, I’ve found that I’ve never been able to be a part of a group of poets with the only exception being Foetry (a real, although small, community and not a club).

-Matt
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Ed Dupree
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« Reply #39 on: May 24, 2006, 12:13:01 PM »

Great discussion, here and on the other thread, about a big hydra-headed subject. A couple of quickie observations while I have a minute here:

Our definitions of community seem to vary pretty widely. I want to hold out for capital-c Community as an ideal. For me that would be a smallish group, small enough for everybody to know everybody at least a bit, with an ethic of mutual aid, a practical throwing-in of our lots together, and an expectation of permanence, i.e. of not being scattered by the ill winds of the market. It's a socialist ideal. I'm thinking of Marx's notion that socialism would be a kind of reconstitution of the "primitive" or tribal community, pre- economic class divisions, at a higher level and on a larger scale. This is a taller & more utopian order than papa g.'s community of language-using homo sapiens, or Matt's sense that foetry.com is itself a community. I'm reacting probably against the bogus way the word is thrown around by bureaucrats and public spokepersons of all kinds. My employer tells me we're all one big happy community. I say real community wouldn't be riven by fundamentally opposing interests.
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Matt
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« Reply #40 on: May 24, 2006, 01:37:14 PM »

Quote from: "Ed Dupree"
Our definitions of community seem to vary pretty widely. I want to hold out for capital-c Community as an ideal. For me that would be a smallish group, small enough for everybody to know everybody at least a bit, with an ethic of mutual aid, a practical throwing-in of our lots together, and an expectation of permanence, i.e. of not being scattered by the ill winds of the market. It's a socialist ideal. I'm thinking of Marx's notion that socialism would be a kind of reconstitution of the "primitive" or tribal community, pre- economic class divisions, at a higher level and on a larger scale. This is a taller & more utopian order than papa g.'s community of language-using homo sapiens, or Matt's sense that foetry.com is itself a community. I'm reacting probably against the bogus way the word is thrown around by bureaucrats and public spokepersons of all kinds. My employer tells me we're all one big happy community. I say real community wouldn't be riven by fundamentally opposing interests.


I sympathize with your Big C Community ideal, Ed.  But I wonder whether we (as a species) are capable of actualizing such a thing or only imagining it.  I also, therefore, sympathize with your claim that we lack Community (everywhere, not just in poetry).
I also suspect that capitalism contributes to the fracturing of potential Communities . . . although I think industrialization (de-individualizing labor) and the modern concept of work are slightly more specific manifestations and culprits.  What I mean is I'm uncertain that capital itself precludes Community.  I can at least imagine a situation where capital is tolerated but Community is not dissolved . . . although it would require a great deal of individual consciousness and respect for otherness for this to work.

I know that this kind of consciousness is possible on an individual level, but it remains to be seen if our species is capable of consciousness en mass.  And there is a potential genetic argument for the impossibility of large scale consciousness.  That is, consciousness (by which I basically mean the utter recognition that others are of equal value to oneself and should not be violated) among a small group of individuals is not "adaptive", does not serve to perpetuate the species or even benefit the conscious individuals socially.  

For consciousness to be species-serving (in the genetic sense), it would have to be active (curtailing abusive selfishness) in a much larger portion of the population.  So, if consciousness is a genetic trait, it is unlikely to spread significantly.

The argument then becomes: is consciousness a genetic trait or is it a learned social behavior?  If it IS a learned social behavior, then we all have the potential of learning to become conscious.  I'm using the term "consciousness" here, but I think this paradigm applies equally to Communism (which requires individuals to have a communal instinct or valuation of others in order to really work).

But the problems with consciousness-as-socially-acquired start to multiply as we “zoom in” on the data.  A number of factors undeniably facilitate consciousness.  Intelligence, aggression/passivity, criminality, psychological illness/health, and numerous other potential contributors or detractors to consciousness-acquisition have at least some (and possible a great deal of) genetic indicators.  Further complicating things is the problem that many of these traits ARE (at least in our society) adaptive or functional . . . and are therefore likely to proliferate.

Any quick scan of world politics will demonstrate that one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) factor common to those in power is the DESIRE for power . . . and not “morality” or leadership or concern for the welfare of others.  In our world, the power-seeking are the power-attaining.

So, if this puts us back to where my pessimistic side grudgingly locates us, our greatest hope (genetically) is our well-attested and largely universal trait of reciprocal altruism (trusting the trustworthy and distrusting the untrustworthy).  There is some hope in this, actually, because its “utopian effect” is primarily dependent on the mass ability to accurately make such calculations (of trustworthiness) . . . calculations which are mostly based on access to information (e.g., how much can we trust Bush II to serve our welfare after we know enough of the facts of his history, beliefs, and previous relevant decisions?).

If I’m thinking through this reasonably enough, this would mean that utopian ideals like Community, peace, harmony, cooperation, etc. COULD BE achieved (even in spite of our genetic limitations) with the increased accessibility of valuable information and education.

Of course, the power elites know this better than anyone, which is why information control (also LANGUAGE control) is such a high priority with them.  

An aside: that’s one of the reasons I see poets, even in America, as potentially important . . . poets should be freeing and expanding the language for the Community, enriching it with meaning and usefulness and seeking to combat the forces that try to undermine the functionality and accessibility of language.  The poet should be a warrior fighting against anyone and anything trying to “newspeak” the language . . . which, of course, is a duty our current poets fail at miserably.  They fail so dramatically (often enough) that they can only be deemed complicit in the destruction of the language (which is the most direct way to wage war on consciousness).

As for the small c community of Foetry.com, my criterion for evaluation is largely selfish: they haven’t chucked me out the door yet!.  In fact, well, you could probably insert a Hair Club For Men reference here.

-Matt
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Ed Dupree
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« Reply #41 on: May 24, 2006, 05:15:06 PM »

Quote from: "Matt"
I also suspect that capitalism contributes to the fracturing of potential Communities . . . although I think industrialization (de-individualizing labor) and the modern concept of work are slightly more specific manifestations and culprits.  What I mean is I'm uncertain that capital itself precludes Community.  I can at least imagine a situation where capital is tolerated but Community is not dissolved . . .


I think industrialization and the modern concept of work (as wage labor) are specific products of the rise of capitalism. The new merchant capital of late-medieval & renaissance Europe couldn't have conquered the world without them. Whether they could have happened without it is an unanswerable question. But whether Community could coexist with capital in the future, on the other hands seems to me easily answerable with a "no."  Capital needs labor to exploit; owners dominate non-owners by controlling their livelihoods (not to mention gobbling up rival owners whenever they can), and the comity required for Community goes bye-bye. This was true even in the great American hometown idyll, with its row of friendly shopkeepers on Main Street.


Quote
... consciousness (by which I basically mean the utter recognition that others are of equal value to oneself and should not be violated) among a small group of individuals is not "adaptive", does not serve to perpetuate the species or even benefit the conscious individuals socially.


I can't agree. What you call consciousness here is a lot like what I call solidarity, and that's what enabled small groups of "primitive" humans to survive throughout our prehistory. It's also what built the early labor movement, back in William Morris's day. I think looking at our history "genetically" is a mistake. When we invented culture, we intervened in our own evolution and changed the whole ballgame.  

More to say, later when I have time.

Ed
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Could it be, we are not free? It might be worth looking into."
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