Post by Greg Colburn on Jan 12, 2023 18:30:21 GMT -5
One lesson I take from this poem is to pay attention.
She composed this poem from scraps.
Not every line is a gem, but isn't that true for every poem?
But as you about your day -- full of ambient noises (i.e. scraps) -- the radio, tv, overheard conversations, the internet, books, newspapers, interruptions, animals -- there are poems waiting in all that babble.
I expect not. So called Artificial Intelligence in reproducing text is merely machine learning from a wide variety of pre-existing texts or what Retallack calls 'formulaic suites of words'. So AI is incapable of 'radically reformulating' which is a core function within poethics. Once language within a conversation becomes locked into acceptable forms of words, imagination ceases to function.
To your question, adef, "...does it make sense to try to close-read a work that claims to be a random assemblage of bits and pieces of others’ works? How so?", I would answer that it's sensible indeed to close-read a work of this nature, of this form. I say this because I believe that as readers we are encouraged and free to approach a poem, and indeed we always approach poems, with our own experiences, our own understandings, and our (best of all) own lenses that we are both used to and that we might not be as used to. We speak our truths as readers about the poems we are reading as much as we know the poets are speaking their truths. It is fascinating and fun. I'm curious what others think about close-reading the assemblage poem.
Marciacamino, I think close reading the assemblage poem is truly enriching. Every person comes up with a different perspective, every person sheds light on something that we have not noticed. And I agree with you that we speak our truths about the poem. I find that after an office-hour with one of the TAs, or a webcast or a zoom session I go back to enjoy the poem better and I find new ideas coming to me. There is something electric in reading a poem with a group.
I love "curiosity, puzzling, conjecture." With allowance for ambiguity, unresolved questions, openness to what has not yet been thought or seen--designed puzzles (such as poems) generally have a solution/solutions. Or they take you some way, pose some question, set a landscape in which the unresolved finds itself, or from which the multifaceted possibility departs.
I, too, have turned the radio dial. "Information overload," as Prithvijeet wrote. But then recombine these "chance" bits of language. Arrange them. Choose just how much of each to include. Seek connection among them. Choose how much non-connection to let stand. The artist, as collage maker, is at work.
JR has found, foregrounded, a landscape that includes but is not just radio static. The title points to that landscape negatively. Assembled and massaged from the endings and beginnings of projects of written thought, these launchings and landings, point to a vast enterprise of language that is "not a cage," not confining, not limiting. Whatever connections we find among the scraps and within the order of the collage, whatever striking representatives we find of what we do with language, each line, in its incompleteness, invites another launching or suggests another place to land.
She ends, in two languages, with a paradoxical statement:
Ya se dijeron las cosas mas oscuras
The most obscure things have already been said
She has presented us with things already said, and in their truncation they are indeed obscure. Will we treat them as sparks to the saying of new things which may bring either more light or more darkness, or the play of both?
As to AI, would it take us some way down a chosen (or realized) road to leave us in a place where we smell fire, ask God to say his prayers, wake up deep in the fruit?
It's like the cut-up poems of the dadaists (and many subsequent poets). Certainly some decision was involved in the sequence of the lines. But the lines themselves come from chance and together make wonderful surprising juxtapositions. There are too many lines that are so perfect, too many to cite. I love that she said she made it to assauge her guilt for not reading the books. It doesn't mean they weren't worth reading - how many great books are bought and never read?
AIs may one day make interesting poetry, they're already doing all kinds of things. Nonetheless, I wouldn't trust them. I don't think I would be interested in reading their poetry, there are already so many human poets to read from so many centuries and different countries.
The 'random' element of the poem interests me because I'm not quite sure how it can be classed as aleatory poetry given that initially she used books she hadn't read. That is already a choice, a narrowing of the field and given humanity I am guessing she made further selections as she went along. At first I thought it doesn't matter but actually it really does because it is the basic premise we are all thinking about. I read the poem a few times but it wasn't until I listened that it became something engaging. The cadence and rhythm showed an intent that I could feel but not quite grasp hold of, (not a very satisfactory comment I know) however I could appreciate the piece on a sound level. I felt a tone of sadness - she read it like she felt she'd missed out on the promise of beginnings and the satisfaction of completion. Which leaves me wondering what she was hoping to achieve in this poem, was it just the sounds of the words, the butting of ideas, the confusion, her, our, my confusion, because the individual lines are not her own, she has chosen them for a reason but in a way hasn't run with their potential so, there is a purpose to her construction but my meager brain doesn't know what it is!
I love the concept mentioned in the live event about breaking out of the cage of poetic form. JR certainly does that with this poem. And regarding the issue of randomness, I'd say that it's random to a point. The fact that JR chose these particular books to discard was not a random act of unkindness but a reflection of her own likes/dislikes.
Cynthia, in the hotel cafe, scribbles down a quick note, an actress, foot note 1957. Veronica writes 'the end', the curtain falls, and the production is done. North Dakota, Portugal, Moorhead, Minnesota, then tomorrow America. She gently presses her thumb against each finger as she ticks off places that that she had been invited on for her close interview.
The last line of the poem, 'The most obscure things had already been said', states a breaking apart, one that might not be all that missed, that, in a way, is already being thought about in a nostalgic way, as the one day I use to be in a traveling coup. Somewhat of a lonely piece, she has been following an acting coup that, he has realized after twenty-five long years, the moving Russian, Hungarian tale of 1927 has grown stale.
'Then her moved on and I went close behind', her work was about the composer, himself, and the avant-garde movement, that she felt, in part, he had fore-fronted. On a deeper level, the theme of her work wanted to express, If musician's could adapt to new methods of composing that allow for a more insightful depth to their music, then perhaps writer's could adapt these same methods to their writing, their poetry.
Wow, soni: "I'm cool with Retallack's process, but a bit uncomfortable with A.I.? Why ? Should I be? What are the ethics? Are there lines being crossed? I think I'd feel differently close reading an A.I. poem, duped or cheated, almost.
Will we ever see A.I. poems in ModPo?"
I love this. I feel the same way. And I have the same questions. No answers at this point, though. (still fighting medicine head from a cold. will check back tomorrow). Say more about how JR's process reminds you of AI. The randomness and the editing/revising of randomness?
I just felt that a logical extension of procedural poetry would lead us in the direction of A.I. So Joan had an algorithm, first and last lines of each book, to make a poem....it's both planned (first and last lines) and random (no idea what words are going to come up) at same time, if that makes sense!
With A.I., there could very well be that SAME algorithm, first and last lines of whatever books you choose to input, and boom---there's a poem. That's where I made the connection to Joan's process. I wasn't able to get through the ModPo chapter on aleatory poetry, so maybe I am missing something...but I am just wondering what the future holds, I guess.
And really, does it matter if it is computer generated, as paulk said so beautifully (I can't remember the exact words), if it the poem is beautiful and rich?
Not sure how I feel in the end! Just random musings. But I am hoping you feel better today!!!!!
Joan Retallack mentions that out of a long list that she compiled from discarded books she further culled the list to form this poem. The poet's intentional selection of certain lines reduces the randomness of the process. You can sense her presence in the beauty of the lines in this poem. I keep reading and rereading it. I discovered that there are three sets of fourteen lines each. Also, I discovered that I had the freedom of reading the lines any way I wanted. 'to make live and conscious history in common and wake you' reminds me of my friend's daughter telling me what impelled her to join the Black Lives Matter protest after the George Floyd incident. The two lines 'Did you get the money we sent? I smell fire' sounds like everyday, commonplace, domestic utterances. It is like entering a large space scattered with clues and playful non-clues and you get to enter it and decide where you want to go. But a very superior mind has placed all the clues there and we learn about the process and we keep coming back to learn more.
Some very interesting lines. I see how this poem is based on chance operation, but is it not also conceptual? I have read all the comments, listened to the poem talk, watched the videos and have read Erika Kaufman's piece on this poem in The Difference is Spreading. I still feel like (as with all my comments) I don't have anything very intelligable to say. The juxtaposition of the lines in this poem make it very interesting. Some of the lines are in and of themselves poetic such as:"Not a building, this earth, not a cage" or "We named you I thought the earth" or "You were begotten in a vague war" and of course Dante's line "Then he went on and I moved close behind." And some of the lines contain a complete thought: "to make live and conscious history in common,'"Did you get the money we sent?", "God, say your prayers," "Tomorrow she would be in America." And the enjambments are fascinating. The idea that taking these lines out of context gives a new and fresh understanding of the words and opens "spaces in the imagination where persons can reach beyond where they are" (from a quote in Erika's essay). I think all poetry does that. The negative of "Not a Cage" also reflects the negative of the lines in the sense that they are from books which she has not read, and is discarding. The fact that they are beginning and ending lines does not necessarily give them sense and or sequence, and highlights the fact that the content between them is missing. So she is not completely discarding the books but recycling them into art. I read an article this morning about cubism and more specifically about collage and it reminded me a little of this poem. the artists (Picasso, Braque, Gris) were, the au says, "reinventing how a picture worked."He asks "what are the boudaries of art?" and says "the picture operates according to its own architecture, and junks the conventions..." I think this question and thoughts may apply to JR. The author of this article also says the cubists broke "the fetters of perception entirely." Is JR trying to break the fetters of the orderly grammatical narrative? I think this might be said of most of the modernists and post modernists. He put it so well. I would have to say that while I am not moved by her work, in taking this course I have become more appreciative of it.
Post by stacyantoniadis on Jan 13, 2023 17:07:47 GMT -5
When I randomly select words from my basket of magnetic words, and arrange them on my refrigerator door (my private poetry slam), is that like A.I. poetry? Should my friends be uncomfortable when they read it? Just thinkin' out loud...
Post by Ray Schrempf on Jan 13, 2023 17:48:28 GMT -5
I sometimes play around with the idea of there being a natural selection of words that works in the same way that natural selection works in evolution. In any kind of creation really. I’m interested to see something like that working in this poem. The discards of nature are re-purposed into something new. What survives has been deemed to be useful. Or what has been deemed to be useful will survive. It’s partly random and partly selective. Joan now doesn’t need to feel guilty about discarding these books. And god doesn’t need to feel guilty about death and extinction. I like: God, say your prayers.
One of things I like about this poem is knowing that it was edited for length and order. The ordering, meaning-making mind, the "yearning mind," cannot quite be written out of the story. I also enjoyed encountering the non sequiturs (such as "It wasn't until the waitress brought her Benedictine and she / Villandry, "Les Douves" par Azay le Rideau") as well as the surprising coherencies (such as "We named you I thought the earth / is possible I could not tell"). It's interesting that Soni drew in the question of AI. What are the differences between aleatory and AI? An AI poem would have to be prompted in some way I think. At least that's how it works with the image-generating AI that's currently causing such controversy in the art world. So there would be human intervention at the level of the software itself, and in the prompt. I think I'd want to know whether something was written by an AI. Though that might simply be a reflection of our impulse to look for biography. But in the end, it's all language. Is it important who wrote it if we can find meaning in it? Perhaps not, but I know that I am always looking for the context in order to better understand the poem. Something generated by AI would not be motivated by any intention exceot that of the programmers. It might show us how easily we can be manipulated by language. But the choice of reading or not, engaging or not, would still be ours.