before i lock the door at night

i do not miss it. i do not miss my mother’s milk. i do not miss the childhood i imagined i would have. perhaps childhood is not disappointing because we never really had much time to imagine it before it happens, we only have barely enough time to imagine it while it happens - and we moonlight as adults - in our spare moments and with our spare change (sparely changing) we vivify out future - we paint it on the small window just behind our forehead (during dinner while everyone else is talking and nobody realizes you are alone) there you sit and imagine the dinners you will make and have on your own - and one day you are making and having dinner on your own and you remember your now nostalgice future and you weep into the spaghetti sauce as it sends its aroma into your eyes. why are you leaning over the sauce like this. the way you stir the sauce changes, the way you would normally set down the spoon, the way you put away the leftovers, the way you brush your teeth, you end up sitting on the toilet a little longer before bed, you linger between the first and the second sock coming off and in bed your eyes are open instead of closed and you’re wondering when you started closing the window at night - who taught you to lock the doors at night or did you just come to that conclusion on your own and why is that a conclusion at all. what else am i missing.

teatime before bed

is this really the life that i am after. am i really in the life i want. i want. i want - there are several men at my door they have been taking turns knocking but i feel guilty. i feel ashamed that i have been caught enjoying my day. i am sure they are here to ask me what i have done with my time, what i have done with myself. they are now peering in through the windows. i know them. we grew up together. they once laughed at how i had dressed at school. now they are in the house. i am hiding in plain sight but they are still looking for me. they have searched the piano bench and couch but i am likely to be in my house. i am likely to see them when they see me. i don’t think they will see me with my back turned to them. i want them to love me. i want them to find me like they used to find me - with smiles on, and now i understand what heaven is, why people dream of it, why they hope for it after they die. now they are feeling my body. but i don’t think they have found me yet. i don’t think they understand that i am really just coming to understand myself, like when i look in the mirror and i say - god, god do you hear me, can’t you see that i am in need here - and god says to me - of course i was never here, i was just here for you to think about but i am not the hugging kind of guy. you understand don’t you - and i do understand. i understand exactly what god has said to me as the men who are looking for me, as the men who have come to find me beging to speak to me, begin to have a conversation with me as they still try to find me. but i know they haven’t found me yet. they are still trying sohard to find me in the conversation they are having with me about how we imagine we have parents who are proud of us, who like us and like what we have chosen to do with out lives, how we pretend to have parents like this because it gives us someone to please, someone to show our accomplishments to, and we all laugh that we have some, have graduated from imagining friends to imagining parents, and one man says he loves his imaginary parents, but he really misses his real ones who died in a fire several years ago, and how he loves how he can control the faces of his parents now, how he can say they are in heaven now, and they come to his baseball games and look down on him and they are so proud of him - and we all nod our heads and agree - yes - this is very poignant love - isn’t it wonderful and i wave goodbye to the men and they thank me for inviting them over and as i close the door, in the brief moment before the door clicks shut, i imagine they have not found me like this.

a city literally made of books:

the roads are paved in books, and when it rains the city swells. the kitchen table is ripe with novels, and a man at one moment pulls at the spines that line his freezer, peeling back a frozen page to read "she was always in love. she knew her death was near, but she did not care..." and the man kept peeling back his freezer as it thawed and then gave way to a hole and he finished the novel and went shopping. but his cart was also peeling and he pulled a page off that said "no one should die like this marshall. you know it. i know it. even the goddamned squirrels won't touch his body, won't look him in the dead face. if the continents ..." and he kept reading, stopped somewhere in the bread aisle, leaned his head on a loaf like a pillow and was at rest on the nine-grain wheat. and just above him was a man on the roof repairing a leak, he was cutting back the pages, he had carried his packet of shingles and for the second time in his life he stopped to read one when it fell into place so perfectly, when the word mother gleamed at him he pulled it out of the hole he was patching and read of the mother of mirrors, the woman who gave birth to you seeing yourself, that person who reflects the world when she sits by the river of images. she is walking on the water heavy with the first mirror inside her. the water is glass and the rocks are the backing, and she is gazing at the vulva, she can feel the water shudder, she does not know if it is a boy or a girl. she does not know that it is a mirror. and the repairman pulls back to look at the sky, to realize the stars are just coming out and his sight is failing him, that the sun is below the horizon, that on cold mornings he falls back asleep after waking up, the call back behind the mirror too strong to push against, that to be smothered beneath the eyelids is what reminds him most of being born.

i have etched the windows

with my name

throughout the city

where i will be found

in the shades of reflection

comfort and salvation

we have none

but a small sunset

smaller than we've known

on winter days

stuck deep in a bedroom

with a small window

frosted with dirt

in the side of a skyscraper

cooking the last of the eggs

and toast with cold coffee

the apostle paul

fever ferver burning bright

how i wash my face

at night with the way the weather blows

out the window blinks the rose

the rose the rose

will ever rise forever to its own demise

abd rise and rise  

and then will swell  

in the hips and withered face

its blush its rush

back to the ground is never quite the human sound

the ground the sound

it quietly makes

is not the same it quietly takes.  

five-day weather forecast


the signs of fair weather


in the beginning, the dawn will be fair 

skinned, the sun will break but not be 

broken, this sunday will be naked but not disrobed.


expect the rest 

of the morning to be a garden 

in a forest, a campsite found

flirting with seventy degrees.


rest assured 

aristo will walk with adam, 

have conversations on love,

ask if his name will be lumped into another,

someday, as a bluebird in a blue sky.


adam will listen and daydream of a solid city

somewhere in ceos’s sea. together

like children cooped by winter 

out in the sun, at the coast of a calm forest,

they will nap like babies.


simonides will wake them, 

ask for a small cup of water. together 

the wombs of their thoughts will grow,

take in the sky as their skulls' edges dissolve.







the signs of wind


your monday will likely, probably include

the wind wayfaring through 

a crowd of crops, hugging its way

to die without elegy in a barned corner.

the winds likely dense with birds 

circling the mid-morning. as you enjoy a jog, 


you look into a valley of farms, full 

of brown and green gusted fields.

maybe a windshield busted by the breeze

limps out of a car, the jetstream windchilling the frame.


you may also notice the wolf

of troas, lyco, breathing, resting

a galed gaze upon


your neighbor noah, squeezed between the flooded 

stream, dismantling the beaver dam, maybe 

remembering his grandmother’s mother’s forty days 

and nights of wind: god commanding her 

to build a massive kite of birds, the mammals make

up the backbone beam, a ribboned sapling tail. 

when the wind stopped, the earth was flat,

a smooth dusty ball, dandelions, silt. 


you may, as you and the day continue 

to push, ask for a cloak, ask 

the wind to blow the same way twice,

but you know now it never will, and it chills 

you. how it chills you. now 

it chills you.    







the signs of rain


our tuesday may long for a body, 

have skin-loose clouds, porous bones, 

blood in its birth, and may impend 

heavy rain clouds that shrink 

above their wet falling babies.


a garden gnome sits in lampsacus’s suburbs,

while women would gather the ghosts 

of the drizzling rain, bathe them 

in slivers of oil, teach them some ways 

of truth, show them the night, hold them 

close, say "this is now yours, the future 

that for so long was so far from you is now 

yours to have." we may expect the river 

amidst the neighborhood to flood.


strato might look from stratus to stratum, 

walk the gutter, follow the shower, lean 

into neighbor abraham's lawn to argue clouds 

have more children than the ocean, 

then continue on, trying 

to look past the rain falling in his eyes. 

"everything is rain, though less than half of it rains.”


abraham may turn inside to attend his womb- 

heavy wife, may linger at the torrented window 

covered in rain, reflecting. he may cover himself, 

turn his back to the sound. "the rain is the least of these, my worries.” 


it may downpour, a nimbostratus may grow 

down, pinecones close, haloed crickets slow 

down. the naked sky, clothes down to the ankle, 

no longer will stare lazuli deep into our eyes. 







the signs of storms


is wednesday a good afternoon for a family drive 

downtown? are clouds shaping up to be a war in a womb? 

it looks like this could expand. why don't we love 

earth, i mean leave, during storms? everything speaks.

the traffific earth is humming with clouds

thrown against the mountains.


your minivan family is amidst the metropolitan mountains, 

driving beneath the storm. mine is fine. are they 

listening to the mounting of the sky: 

the cuneiform gashes carred into the road, the lowland 

stoplights, the highland violet and perse, fixed winter 

and summer pastures switched with pavement. 

cities, like storms, flux. the shepherds of dogs make noises.


can they see theophrastus 

makeshifting his sidewalk tent in the storm,

yakking to isaac, the way he thinks god

says “warm storm” and “pitch black,” writing 

thunder and lightning down in the book of signs.


as your family drives by, would they hear 

isaac say “I surrender this city now unto its storm.” 

here notice a bit of a spin in the clouds. “come 

to the border of this country so we can revolt 

and be allied with death.”


i am, despite the storm, in the studio 

saying “we will break those clouds apart 

if they don’t do it first. the drifting satellite 

escaped the womb, is still orbiting us. 

I would rather sail in the dark than run into it. 







the signs of chaos


in the last day, there’s no way to know 

if somebody’s thursday will include terrors 

and great signs from heaven. if things go this way, 

it will be foggy. somebody won’t see anything but himself.


if not, somebody could see aristotle wrestling 

an angel on the streets of new york. this fight, 

i mean, this fog, is too far from us to be certain. as someone 

walks closer, he will be able to tell us more. 


jacob climbs on down his ladder. he thought it was spring. 

is it winter, or a riot gathered. jacob grabs aristotle,

his heel. the riot is volleying words, swarming 

around, a tornado. aristotle’s eye is bruised. 

the skyscrapers are peeling back 

to show more of the sky. the warm 

and the cold mixing. twelve men 

pull jacob out of the fray, like a stag. 


the crowd is torn by jacob’s laughter.

there’s lightning in the alleys of the sky,

like chalk drawn down against a street. dust erupts.

the fog is breathing jacob in and out.


in the glass, the sky is slack and flue, boughing,

breaking. the fog is black. it is his own

hunger hung out to dry before dying.

everything is a rough draft until you die.

you don't get to put the final nail in your coffin, death does.

you leave the world your scraps, i just hope that you have made them look pretty on your plate, arranged them into a face, so when they clear your place, they will stop and think a bit before they scrape what you've left into the garbage. 

how can i be more like a tree

for the nests of birds


i have heard them sing,

but i am not still

enough to hear them


land near their babies

and whisper.

creative writing theory



ars poetica



Poetry Theory Book:

possible title: reader's block


arts that buttress poetry:


painting (as a representational art)

music (as an expressive art)

theatre (as a performative art)

rhetoric (as a logical art)


poetry and music


i don’t think many if any

would argue that music is semantic

or to put it a bit more simply

that music is necessarily logical


I don’t think music relies on logic as an organizing principle

it would seem that music is mostly

if not wholly

about feeling about the ways in which we think

or how we think


there isn’t really an organizing principle of 

syllogisms in music


and I think this is the aspect of poetry that many seek to create with non-semantic pieces of poetry

it appears to me that the poem is partially organized on non-semantics, which is also a form of non-logic to it.


this is why someone can appear to follow the subject that is at hand in a conversation

and yet, not really contribute in any sort of real way

or to be more clear in any logical way


this person is relying on the non-semantic organizing principles of language

which makes a sort of sense

if not a logical sense

there is still a sense to it

much in the same way that music has a sense to it


there is nothing logical about one note following the other note

there may be some sort of rules to music

such a time signatures or keys 


but there is no logical argumentation going on in a high note following a low note 

any music that is without language

and therefore without semantics

is also without semantics

and being without semantics

it is without logic


this is not to say that music cannot 

in some way make an argument

there is definitely a persuasive element to music

but it is not a logical argument if anything

it is an emotional argument


perhaps even at least an abstract argument


all musical instruments are perhaps best interpreted and understood by us


as an abstraction or reduction of human speech

a form of vowel-ish or consonant yelling

a type of humming

an expression without words

the groans adults make when making love

the hums a child makes when playing

the moans of a mother in labor

they are not meant to be anything but pure expression

which in reality

is what the abstract *expressionists* sought after.


all of this was to say that poetry is something that partially seeks after pure expression through language

that despite the language necessarily asking for semantic meaning

because it is language

the poem despite this seeks after creating

in addition to its semantic meaning

or in contrast to it

or despite it

also seeks to implement the non-semantic qualities that language necessarily carries


such is the kind of non-semantic level of meaning many tech companies try to accomplish with their bots

why computed voices sound so robotic is because the bot lacks expressive qualities

such expressive qualities is what sets the human apart from the bot


both the human and the bot can perform tasks

both can speak

both can create

both can do many different tasks

but the bot lacks expression

when the bit laughs

when the bit becomes angry

when the bit feels


then new questions will arise

but for now

but for now

but for now


text, language written 

no language printed on a page

is easy to disengage with


the video the screen

these have a quality of internal light

of literal light

tailored to the eyes


and because text is easy to engage with

it makes it easy for the moments of insight to be felt. 


consider writing a state of the art

of poetry. where is poetry now. 

don't worry about where it was

or where it is going. just focus

on the state of the art now. 




I know what is coming

if it is large enough


poems have a horizon

I know what is at the end of the page if it is large enough


I can make things loom

if they are large 


you can feel the book ending

feel the pages slipping through your hands

feel the right stack up

on the left. 




silicone software is easy to update.


organic software takes time. 


getting the new software to work with human minds is difficult. 

humans have to adjust organically. 


you have to think of humans as part of the software and hardware, as extensions of it. otherwise you are just creating a computer and not an experience. 


there's no distinction between human and nature. 

our very breath ties us to the environment. we cannot help it. technology on the other hand isn't tied to nature. a satellite can hurtle through space. it does not need the environment. technology is a whole system, a whole class of things we've created that does not require nature. environmental energy is our way of connecting the two: windmills, solar panels, etc. they provide he energy to the technology that does not depend on nature in the same way we do. 


the artificial vs natural tradition needs to be replaced displaced 

this is the new thinking you need to make

as a poet this is your responsibility. 


also the desire of christianity for doomsday, the welcoming of the world ending is a problem. christian sometimes get glee from it, because it precedes the return of their god, and i find his problematic. 




my writing process: read something. misunderstand it into something better, write down the misunderstanding. 




creativity is revision. shakespeare revised what cam before him. you can start fresh and revise from broken earth or you can revise the flower grown by the masters who came before you. almost always the best creative solutions are a combination of both. 



the poet that wants to praise those who will genetically modify the heart to bloom like a flower after death



if walking around thinking all day gives me one good idea, or one good poem, then none of those steps are wasted. 


it takes a whole afternoon of aimless wandering to find one good idea. 



I'm alright with the use of Victorian forms of poetry in modern times as long as the poets are address modern feudalism. 


seems to me that poetry

is just a matter of connecting the kosuths

of image, idea, and object. 


is that what the three things are?


idea, image, and reference. 


taking an idea and dressing it in image is not how you hide the idea or cloak it. 

it's an enhancement

it's bringing it more beauty. 

sure the naked is beautiful

but so is the clothed


try to write poems that dress and undress



many poems stand alone


let the thing stand alone 


right now the impulse in poetry is to let the image stand without editorializing 

without making meaning of it. 


leaving the image in a natural state. 



also, this morning i was reading a poem and i felt like a poem was the process of leaping out a window, leaping with all the ideals, ideas, images and everything on the tip of the tongue, and then speaking all those, only to realize, just before you hit the ground, that you wished you could put the screen back on the window, there’s the screen falling with you and you wished that you hadn’t flown into it so hard, that you hadn’t damaged it, that the screen was so beautiful as it was, but you were so eager for the crowing of a bird, for the feeling of flight with your tongue lagging out of the side of you mouth that you hadn’t considered something that you had left open at the beginning. writing a poem should often be the process of walking out the door and forgetting to shut the screen door. 


the unknown is the perfect place to put an aphorism. there's no way to verify or de-verify. the closest we can get to the unknown is with our feelings and faith, with our hopes and beliefs, no closer no further away. 


we can't get our beliefs away from the unknown. much like we can't get our children away from childhood. 


we can't move our feelings away from the unknown. 


we can't get our faith not antifaith away from the unknown. 



eliot's age of icons is long over because business took possession of all mythological names. 


perhaps we steal it back. give zues back to the poor. give archimedes back to the people. give Einstein back. 


they commodity these images, and 


our responsibility as poets is to make icons too dangerous to commodify.





there are line breaks that cause disruption in flow of reading a poem. 

there are other ways to cause eddys and white water in poems, disruptions to silent flow, white noise, the pleasant babble of a stream, and that's through grammatical disruptions. for example, I can write "the opal of a thigh you smut the lie on." there is a grammatical disruption here. 

one needs to develop the ability to disrupt the grammatical flow of something. one must learn grammatical rules and then unlearn them. 


I don’t think poetry is meant to save lives, in fact, I think it quite impossible for a poem to save a life. poetry doesn’t even endanger lives, how could it save a life. I mean what kind of poem would endanger a life. If a poem could endanger a life, then surely a poem could save one. right?



the man who mows the lawn

the weedwhackerer

spending their days making this world beautiful

as I walk by reading a book


shouldn't I be working hard in the same way

there's no sense in letting the grasses of language grow long. or rather

what is the logic behind cutting the lawn of language. 




this is one purpose of poetry, to ask us to consider the things beyond the rational:

Faith addressed the issues beyond rationality. 


Faith and imagination are linked. 


are there things that are outside of our rationality?

take the spherical nature of the world, at one point this was beyond our rational. 

one day, because we are the same race as God, we will be able to rationally understand everything. I think there is nothing that holds us back from this. it's just a matter of construction. 


derrida's deconstruction was necessary to set the bone and to point out that the bone continually replaces/displaces itself by regeneration, but I don't think that it needs to be a continual thing. 


what is the deconstruction of God, does God practice deconstruction by continually replacing himself with a Christ? 



another purpose of poetry is to remind us the ubiquity of interpretation:

all data is only accessible through interpretation

and interpretation is inherently problematic, complicated and ...


science requires interpretation


science relies on hermeneutics. 


without the study of hermeneutics, science could run rampant and do as it pleases. hermeneutics is a study that keeps science in check. 



I just want to write for maybe six minutes, well it says three and then what happens at the end of the three minutes, do I get to keep the writing, well, I sure hope so, otherwise this will just be a waste of time, but is it really a waste of time to embody your thoughts, I mean think about how you have thoughts, and they never see the light of day and then you just let them out to crawl around on the page, I wish I could give my language a living body and not just have my language take up the space of the page as some dead artifact. I mean language as soon as it is written down it's dead, and then as soon as it's written down it's dead and also it's dead even when you don't write it down, I mean thoughts are a slippery thing, you can have them alive in your brain or you can have them dead on the page and if they are alive in your brain then they are only alive to you and what is the use of something that is only alive to you, I mean really what is the use of something that is dead to everyone, I can either be dead to everyone or just be alive to myself, this is the argument of language. 








poetry is the expansion of micro-thoughts

that's why it has to do concise 


in a moment had a micro-thought and I knew I needed a whole poem to expand it. 



Spoiler Alert and Poetry: The Continual Freshness of Poetry


I just want to point out that you will hardly ever hear anyone give a spoiler alert before discussing a book of poetry. There is nothing to spoil. There is no plot twist, but there is an aesthetic twist, given to us by the volta.

But why is it that poetry can’t be spoiled? Benjamin Blackhurst says that he writes poetry because he is attempting to create an experience to invoke a state of mind. A state of mind can’t be spoiled, only experienced. 



any kind of non-prose is poetry (in the same way that non-fiction is a sort of genre of negation (as in, it is not fiction)


that’s the so what of it. it’s the accessible, it’s the “can poetry matter” response, and my response to that is “which poetry” because poetry doesn’t belong to just one tradition. There is no commercial poetry, and for traditional and academic poetry to slam Slam Poetry and say that it is “not poetry” is to be exclusive. I think that if we pay attention to these nuances of language, and if we allow them to be in the tradition of poetry, then we can accept that there are more kinds of poetry than just one: there is (insert list from back of pages here). We have to allow for these other kinds of poetry, and we have to allow them to be called poetry, because if we don’t, and if all we consider poetry to be is the esoteric/academic poetry, then we fail to recognize a whole tradition of poetry. I’ve got this New Yorker article that talks about “The Writer as Meme-maker” and it’s said that poetry has left the building, poetry has left the academy, poetry is no longer in “poetry.” I think this might be taking it too far, but the spirit of poetry is definitely in memes and in youtube and in other places. Now, I get that if you open the gates too wide, the the genre begins to break down. This is not what I am saying, I am not arguing for a “everything is poetry” or “anything is poetry.” A picture of a woman smiling is not poetry (it may be poetic, it may have certain things happening) but poetry is experimentation with language. any kind of non-prose is poetry (in the same way that non-fiction is a sort of genre of negation (as in, it is not fiction) (but these genre destinctions are hard to defend and don’t always hold up, but at the very least, and for the most part poetry is non-prose (prose poetry being that bastard form that disrupts completely this theory of poetry (but I think it’s fair to say that prose poetry is still non-prose because it avoids prosaic language. it might take on the guise of prose, but in it’s heart it is not prose, so, I think that my argument on poetry being non-prose still holds). 

and if we start with the definition that poetry is non-prose, then we can include any kind of language that is any sort of context, whether it appears in a painting, whether it appears in a meme, no matter the context. By allowing for this kind of definition of poetry, we can allow for the accessible and the commercial kind of poetry to exist. And why does commercial poetry matter, because when you have commercial poetry, then you have more than one context speaking towards the successes of poetry. no longer is it only the academics who have control over the meaning and value of poetry. and that’s the other things. when you ask for the value of poetry it is often attributed as being 14-20 dollars for a collection, which usually has at least 40 poems, meaning that a poem is worth (20/40) equals fifty cents. For example, Louise Gluck’s collection “The Wild Iris” sells for $14.99 according to the back jacket (this is a hard set price by the publisher), there are 53 poems in the collection, that means that according to market value louise gluck’s poems are each worth less than 28 cents. That means that poets are working in quarters, dimes and nickels. But I think that it’s important to bring the business conversation into poetry, and it’s beginning to happen with the proliferation of journals and poetry publishers. But the problem is that many of these poetry publishers are not able fund themselves and often have to rely on donations or declare themselves as non-profit entities or variations thereof.   



how not to write a poem


it’s not a poem if it’s only memorized

it’s not a poem if it moves

it’s not a poem when it’s art

it’s not a poem when it’s not published

it’s not a poem if it doesn’t follow the tradition

it’s not a poem unless it calls itself a poem

it’s not a poem unless it claims to be a poem

it’s not a poem unless other people call it a poem

it’s not a poem unless it’s a “good” poem

it’s not a poem if it’s a hallmark card

it’s not a poem unless it’s accepted as a poem


is a robot human . not unless it’s accepted as one. 

what is a poem exactly



Revision Techniques:


(Put these in alphabetical order)


  • (From notebook)
  • And 
  • Narrative
  • Volta, turn
  • Philosophy, or some insight
  • A good poem is two poems
  • Concision, getting rid of excess words
  • Argument
  • Line breaks
  • Stanzas
  • Form
    • list
    • sonnet
  • Sound, sonic pleasure
  • Rhythm
  • Rhyme
  • One surprise per line
  • concreteness
  • metaphor
  • pattern
  • repetition
  • iteration 
  • diction
  • genre
  • pattern
  • image / imagery
  • Logic / fact checking
  • momentum
  • internal break / end line break /cesura
  • tone
  • shape (form)
  • enjambment
  • prose (fluid water) poetry (rigidity)
  • metonym
  • metaphor




words will always exist as one of three things: an object, a thought or a performance. 


on the page the words are an object, something to see and hold, something that is designed. I do not understand why poets relinquish the objectivity of their poems to their publishers. I understand that they are concerned primarily with the "language" of the poem, but they do not fully embrace the entirety of language. language is an object as much as it is a thought and a performance. we can look at the massive amount of objects, libraries, etc. which point toward the objectivity of language. Nephi even risked his life going back for language as an object (not the thoughts, and not as a performance (although there may be some performance happening in the act, it is not wholly a performance of language)). to ignore the objectivity of language is to allow the language to be taken control of by someone else, to relegate part of the experience and meaning of language to someone else. 

but I understand that language as an object is often inaccessible as a poet. I have no control over the objectivity of language on Twitter or on Facebook. and at times the objectivity is determined by social norms (take the contemporary MFA workshop, which does not often allow for experimentation beyond the wordprocessor page of keyboard typed language). But pointing out that language is left to the control of other should be concerning, especially when those others are large algorithmic corporations who over time will continue to move away from public interest (the fact that they have gone public and have share holders has completely changed the focus of these companies from public service to private shareholders, no matter how dubious their "advertisements" try to say otherwise (and these advertisements are increasingly becoming less about the product and more about the ideology behind the corporations, but I digress). A control over the objectivity of language is important to any kind of poetry. (and I might point out that when I speak of the objectivity of language this includes the digital objectivity as well, but more on that to come). 

one major reason the objectivity of language is important is ...




a poem about the hypocrisy of AWP


a poem singing the praises of poets not myself


the only way to crucify yourself with poetry is to stop writing poetry. sincere suicide. it means not writing "poetry" and instead writing poetry. 


how can language be an argument without arguing. du champ. 


ecology of elsewhere. 


you don't crucify yourself. 


how can I be a more ethical being. 


Eco - house


much of the me in me doesn't share "my" Dna. 




is language inherently hypocritical?


can I even possibly be sincere with language? actions speak louder than words. 


poetry is perjury. (kylan)


this may be why you are skeptical of "the new sincere." sincerity can't happen in language. actions speak louder than words. blah blah blah. what does it mean to say "I'm sorry." don't hugs and kisses work much better. 


publishing is hypocritical. I want to write poems and give them to the poor. I don't want to write "poetry" for the white masses (cancer). 



sometimes I sit still (silence)

just long enough for language to unsettle me. 


and then I write. 


I find it easiest to write poetry when I feel reverence or wild(er)ness. 







find a critical text on the poetic line (look in the back of 'the art of the poetic line' book at the bibliography to find one)

Write three poems that take the theory of the line into consideration.

Write three pieces of criticism (look for things that spark your critical interest in the reading you do. Compile a list of resources here in your notes)




  • Variety and Repetition
    • Longenbach page 6
  • Not Enjambed nor Full-stopped, but Something in between
    • Longenbach page 13
  • Long vs. Short lines 
    • Longenbach page 30
  • The uses of indentation
    • (I have no sources for this topic, but it's something that I want to explore)
  • What is today's decadence
    • Longenbach page 45
  • Calculated vs. Organic line breaks
    • Longenbach page 61
    • Longenbach page 66
  • Arbitrary line breaks vs. Necessary Line breaks
    • Longenbach page 61


Critical Paper #1 (Calculated vs. Organic line breaks)(or in other words Mimesis)

- Longenbach page 61

- Longenbach page 66

- Susan Stewart page 61 (becoming "a heifer, a dog, etc." they are no longer individual, but rather are unspecific. Maybe the conflict between organic and calculated is being specific and unspecific. Is the poet trying to be specific without specifying? Trying to pinpoint without a pin?)

- Susan Stewart page 62 ( top of the page #6. Perhaps the attempt to move from organic and calculated is a question of consciousness and unconsciousness. Longenbach mentions this previously by stating that the poet's line break is trying to be conscious and unconscious. Every poet will admit that there is a certain amount 

I think the idea that I like the best is the conflict between a poets desire to sound natural, organic and uncalculated, while trying to also artificially calculate the organism of a poem. How can I do both? Why am I trying to do both? Why do I want to mimic nature? Can I mimic nature? Isn't this a kind of "noble savage" type thing: an attempt to get back into the garden of eden: an attempt to become one with nature: an attempt to experience what the daffodil experiences while still maintaining my human cognizance. I think that is what we are trying to do, get in the head of that wild thing called nature, wherever it's head is. The problem then becomes that as soon as I touch nature it is no longer natural, it is disturbed by mankind, it is adulterated. Man has a red paint on his hands and he can never touch nature without tainting it. I think that this is what Thoreau was doing. He was attempting to get back to nature, to get as close to nature as he could without tainting it. 

(? First reading) page 21

Mimesis is the imitation of nature in art. The question becomes this: are we imitating the artifice or the organic development of nature. Are we imitating the process of creation or the result of time. I guess I want to ask: what are we imitating, when we refer to mimesis?


Critical Paper #2 (Juxtaposition)

The magic of a piece comes not out of it in and of itself, but it comes in relationship to another piece or part of the poem. 

Longenbach on page 11 says that "an enjambment does not necessarily speed up the line or contribute to a sense of frantic movement in thought," but that instead it is "the moving from one kind of relationship between syntax and line to another relationship" that creates this effect.

Longenbach also mentions that "We need at least two lines to begin to hear how the line is functioning." (page 28)

"Longenbach also states that "enjambment is not in itself valuable: like everything else in a poem, its power depends on its relationship to other formal aspects of the poem." (page 37)

If there is no juxtaposition then the poem is inert. There must be a movement to create motion and there must be a change and since words are static there must be a way to create a dynamic effect. This comes not in the words but in the motion and relationship between the words. in this sense the poem is an ecosystem. 

Really what I am getting at with this paper is to try and explain that when analyzing a poem, one needs to look at elements in juxtaposition. This consideration will help the reader and writer of poetry understand the poem better. 

What I am really trying to say is that the poem is not a static machine, but rather is a dynamic ecosystem that is implemented and implicated by the reader, who comes to the text with their own set of organisms. What I mean to say is that there is no poem without a context that it is being placed in. So in one sense the poem is a line itself in the context of its reading and writing, just as each line within the poem is part of the greater context that makes up the poem as a whole. What I mean to say is that the poem is a system within a system and each system must be broken into its parts to be understood.

What this paper really gets down to is the juxtaposition of systems. What happens when I place a car next to the water cycle? What about placing the chicken system next to a street system. Not only will the chicken have a different meaning and context etc, but it will also effect not only the roads, but the cars on the roads and the drivers in the cars and the minds of the drivers, who will get home and say "i hit a chicken on my way home from the bookstore. The juxtaposition of systems causes a vast network of meanings. 

I guess I would have to establish that the system is the same as a pattern and that patterns that are established and then twisted or subverted or changed out of course unexpectedly is where a story happens. Think about chickens in the wild just doing their thing. Think about all the stories that begin like this, and then you throw a wrench in the system and see what happens. Poets are people who build things and are constantly throwing wrenches in their machines.

Another point that I want to make in this regard of juxtaposition of systems is that a line or a word will function differently depending on the environment that one places it in ( I need to find an example of this, perhaps find the same word, but show how it changes depending on its surroundings. ) When a deer is in the savannah it will be a different deer than it would be in a more temperate zone such as Washington. There is a change in the system depending on its surroundings which proves that no system is individual, there is no system that is singular, a system cannot help but be apart of its surroundings. The surroundings determine the system, in which case the organism is defined just as much by its surroundings as it is defined by its being and make-up. 


? (Kim's question):

So what is the compensatory gesture when you get rid of the frame. How do you know it is a painting when you get rid of the frame. 

I think that there are cultural expectations

Poetry is about setting up expectations and then 

I tell you that a poem is made up of lines

It is poetic at times and that's when I wake up and you remember the dream when you wake up.


Critical Paper #3

Art is a waking dream

prose makes me subconscious

poetry has a presencing function. 

There are poetic moments in prose and that is a presencing moment. When I am made present, I remember the dreams that I had. Poetry is a fast back and forth between this conscious and subconscious, whereas prose functions in longer stretches of movement back and forth between consciousness and subconsciousness. It is the faster oscillation between these two that makes something a poem. While a piece of prose will in fact move slower between these two. There is a slower oscillation of prose. I am thinking of the difference of oscillation between radio waves and light waves. Radio waves are wide like prose and light waves are slimmer and quicker oscillations like poetry. 

There are obstruction moves, like enjambment, that keep the reader present and prevents the reader from slipping into that dream-like quality.

Poetry may structure plots and stories, but you are never allowed to forget that you are reading a poem. 


Function creates expectations. When I look at a basketball hoop, I expect certain things based on its function.


What constitutes integrity and completeness in a line? (What constitutes completeness in a piston)

look at:

William Carlos Williams




Jan. 28 Reading:


I really appreciate the sentence that points out in "Writing Degree Zero" that says "classical language is always reducible to a persuasive continuum." Words in an early stage were up to debate. I think of many of the words that we have today appearing on the internet. These words are on a persuasive comment. What does the word mean? What is my opinion on the word? How will I define it? How will I persuade others to agree with me? But by the time modernism happened, our words had "geology;" they had weight and history behind them that trapped them down to mean a certain thing. There was no persuasion, the definition had already crystalized. 


Because poetry "imitates writing," It depends on the spatial clues just as much as the sonic clues for meaning and communication. 


Note on page 91 is best idea for poem.

It's a shift in perspective. going out one valence level. Making words bigger, words that are the size of sentences. and sentences the sizes of paragraphs, and paragraphs the sizes of books. and on out. 


Theory on the Line:


I'm finding that people don't talk about the line, but rather the decision to make the line. Plenty of times there are articles about enjambment and end-stopped lines, but there is very little on the actual lines itself. people don't talk about the line. The line is just the natural occurance that happens when you consider all the other things: enjambment, endstopped lines, rhythm, meter, etc. You can't really play with those things unless you have line breaks. I wonder if we couldn't ogranize poems like we do music, in stanzas or something. 


Golston, Michael. "Weathered Measures and Measured Weathers: W. C. Williams and the Allegorical Ends of Rhythm." Textual Practice 18.2 (2004): 251-64.


Perloff, Marjorie. "'To Give a Design': Williams and the Visualization Of Poetry." In Williams Carlos William: Man and Poet. Ed. Carroll F. Terrell. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 1983.159-86.

Williams, William Carlos. "The Basis of Poetic Form." Ed. Richard Deming. the Poker 3 (Fall 2003): 22-29.


What do we mean to talk about when we talk about poetic form? Is it merely the way the poem looks? The silhouette of the poem? 


Kylan's reading:


Maria Damon

"the division of awareness and unconsciousness, which makes life bearable for most people"

"However, unlike Baudelaire and his fellow poets, whom Benjamin describes as fighting for their lives in the act of writing –dueling, stabbing, jabbing the page with the pen in a demented complement (with an e not an i) t the way in which an overstimulated, automatized businessman parries his way through a crowd"

"One can find there some wonderful aphorisms that are congenial to the Language enterprise, such as “only the more feeble and distracted take an inimitable pleasure in closure, feeling that their lives have thereby given back to them.” "

"a study of spatialized subjectivity and the distribution of agentic energies across a myriad of urban, industrial, pastoral (the “industrial park” phenomenon), and/or interiorized city-scapes or, in anthropologist Arjun Apparudai’s term, ideoscapes. "


Steve Benson

"A theory would explain how things, why things are necessary,

why is it best to understand or do something in a certain way,

or why do things work out in a certain way?"

"Let’s say you wear a hearing aid, that’s a prosthesis.

To hear yourself think, you need to hear the world

stimulating and responding. The world is thinking through the sirens and bus engines,

through the heavy breathing and the cough in the back of the room.

I hear myself think through these earphones—it’s a prosthesis.

I realize what I thought before. Such writing acts as a prosthesis

to the body and an extension of the fingers, of the hearing, of the skin surface,

the membrane, the boundary of our human metabolism that

not just holds it all in but allows for a porosity. More on that later."


Bruce Andrews

"One of many relevant parallels, from modernist visual art, would be abstraction. Language Writing has always been a more abstract & non-representational writing. Not ‘documentary,’ not ‘naturalistic’. It refused to be sublimated to the task of ‘packaging’ & ‘picturing’ an outside world."

"Because the Reader always has a body — (& the chance for bodily experience)." Perhaps text is reliable in that it only effects humanity directly. Statue and art can effect more than humanity, but text can only effect man. 

"the Readerly Body"

"Second, to explore how poetic texts operate, we can ask what threatens an expansive freedom for the Reader."


Leslie Scalapino

"A description of that writing of mine is only possible in hindsight, though when writing it I had a sense (a ‘feeling’) of what I’ll here describe. As writing, one can’t conceive of a future without changing the past and present. Corporal body and the future are separated, detached, though the body must be there for there to be an individual’s future (maybe there can’t be sense of body without sense of future?). The body must happen simultaneous in order to invent the future.


"Yet one’s corporal body has to be there as memory to imitate sensory links as future, which are then not being linked, to have the sense of that ghost-apprehension.


"In “that they were at the beach—aeolotropic series,” the episodic stream was associational, especially memories of racism that was at the basis of or ‘causing’ altercations in my junior high school and high school. At the time of these events I had the sense that we, the girls in the poem-segments (it was public, Berkeley High School, but the gym class had only girls) who collided or beat each other, sometimes a group on one, were not producing the events (which I felt as ‘context,’ chain of events, all events being interdependent) in which we were acting. Though we were in the midst of it, and all were suffering, it had been formed by others (the adults) before us in time. This is why we were as negative space of writing [not] as [in] paradise [by there being a sense of it], we were innocent at once pre-social construction, not forming our then present context or actions; so there is an opening for the future though (and because) the present has been formed by others (at the same time we’re not doing it). That is: Inversely, since we are only ‘there’ (present), we are not socially constructed. By being so (constructed). I had the sense then and later that the kids there (in Berkeley) were forming a new way of being (they/we were doing so) that exists now (after, in the effect of the civil rights movement). I’d have to grasp it was ‘we’ forming (not just a ‘they,’ outside) in order to change (the writing’s relation of, as) the actual relation of past/present to future. "


"Erasure of self as basis of poetics—and the poetics of applying this erasure to others—resembles American fundamentalist moralist negative condemnation of phenomenal being regarded as if outside oneself." The tension between the erasure of erotic experience in writing and the presenting function of poetry. "


"Before this, science declared that we are physical machines that have somehow learned to think/Now it transpires that we are thoughts that have learned to create a physical machine.”"


"Communal: Poets were urged to drop the use of line breaks, for example, to adopt paratactic syntax in paragraphs. Line breaks apparently denoted subjective sounds? Thus, Ted Pearson described to me in the early ‘80s giving a reading of poetry with line breaks, during which reading Barrett Watten scribbled by hand, keeping pace with Pearson’s voice; at the end presenting Pearson with a rewritten poem devoid of line breaks, to show these weren’t necessary. The first time I used paragraphs rather than line breaks was “Considering how exaggerated music is” in 1982, a sequence in which I was not aware of using a ‘required’ syntax (because it was what the writing needed to be in that instance, as other poets also were seeing in their various works), that poem being ‘on’ social subjective-objective alteration of being."



"Modernisms’ anti-metaphysical turn from the question from what a poem “is” to what it “does” (“What does a comma do?” asked Stein) led to Stein’s apt definition of the postmodernist project (“the hope that the painting will move, that it will live outside its frame”)."


"according to Stein: but prose can: “Prose is the balance the emotional balance that makes the reality of paragraphs and the unemotional balance that makes the reality of sentences and having realized completely realized that sentences are not emotional while paragraphs are, prose can be the essential balance that is made inside something that combines the sentence and the paragraph.” "


"an outgrowth of conceptual poetry, in which the poet attempts to make not metaphors but algorithms, and turn poetry into a machine."


"Breath, following the tempo of the body’s rhythms, takes us back to the poem’s core unit of sense and meaning-making: the line. Proceeding through the syntactic, metrical, and temporal gates that keep poetry’s “otherworldliness” (the indisputable fact of its materiality) intact, we arrive at what Barthes calls the “pulsional incident” itself: “the patina of consonants, the voluptuousness of vowels, a whole carnal sterephony: the articulation of the body, of the tongue.”"



Prosodic device (rhythm and sound in poetry)

Trying to prove that rhythm isn't syllabic. 

Shift from quantitative to accentuated feet. 

Bottom of note 9 is important. The foot has to do with space. 

Sentence before last paragraph on page 137

Top of 138 makes a good point. How can we claim this word or that syllable are stressed. Aren't there time that YOU stress certain WORDS when you find it NeCessary? And this is without regard to what is falsely called natural stresses in the word. I don't think those stresses are actually inherent in the word, but rather they are part of the intention or the speaker. 

Williams breaks the line at intonational boundaries. (This is the thesis of the paper). 

Top of 140 - the title sets the tone for the tune in a poem. 




452 - Literary Theory


Homework (LT)


This Week:

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliographic Essay

  • Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno from The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception

  • Louis Althusser from Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses
  • Fredric Jameson “Cognative Mapping”



  • Karl Marx all selections in Richter
  • Erich Auerbach “Odysseus’s Scar”
  • Walter Benjamin The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
  • Habib pp.26-31
  • Cleanth Brooks all selections
  • F. R. Leavis from “The Great Tradition”
  • Wimsatt and Beardsly The Intentional Fallacy
  • Habib pp.99-112
  • Paul de Man Semiology and Rhetoric
  • Michel Foucault “What is an Author”
  • Jacques Derrida all selections
  • Elaine Scarry On Vivacity (you read half already)
  • Martin Heidegger “Holderlin and the Essence of Poetry”
  • Jean Paul Sartre Why Write?
  • Edmund Husserl “Pure Phenomenology, its Method and its Field of Investigation
  • Mikhail Bakhtin both selections from Discourse in the Novel page 578
  • Roman Jakobson from Linguistics and Poetics
  • Ferdinand de Saussure both selections



  • Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht “A Farewell to Interpretation
  • Take Midterm
  • Catch up on Eventuallys for Midterm
  • Wolfgang Iser “The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach” (1002-14)
  • Habib pp. 55-65
  • Habib pp. 17-26
  • Roland Barthes The Death of the Author
  • Claude Levi-Strauss The Structural Study of Myth
  • Leon Trotsky“The Formalist School of Poetry and Marxism”
  • I. A. Richards from Principles of Literary Criticism
  • Victor Shklovsky “Art as Technique”
  • skim Valdimir Propp’s “Fairy Tale Transformations” (what you are looking for is how the 31 functions expresses a critical point of origin that resonates with a science of literariness)
  • Boris Eichenbaum (




Yes, I should have some notes here, but I have been putting them in my paper journal. But I think next class I will put the notes here. I am beginning to understand what is at stake. I think the first step for me is to understand the terms and also what is at stake, what is the main thrust of the argument, to understand the rhetorical situations, to understand the exigencies that motivate scholars to write on such topics and why. it leads the thoughts of men in certain directions, causes them or discourages them to create certain works of art, etc. overall, the theory impacts culture, and culture impacts humanity. 


September 15


Authoritative Discourse

Rhetorical Discourse




Symbolists explain language as something that signifies or points to a multiplicity of meanings. 


A misguided idea of what language is will lead to a misguided understanding of what art is. 


Art is not about perception (symbolists); art is about impression (formalists). 


The economy of creative effort: making something that requires little work and massive payoff. This is a bicycle: little input, massive output. Economy works for practical means, but is the bicycle necessarily beautiful? Economy is practical but not necessarily beautiful. Economy and art have hardly even been invested in one another. 


it’s not about low-effort. it’s about reducing the work to an extent that the . . . transferal of the work into a reward. Does the work translate successfully to a reward? Good economy is to make sure that all effort goes into the reward and that nothing is lost in translation. 


Poetry is about reducing the amount of work lost in the effort of understanding. The effort is important, but it is important to delay the reward to the effort to release in a moment of total impression. It is important to be economical, in that no work is lost from the reward.


But what are rewards in literature: triumph, salvation, 


The poetic language depends on the prose, in that poetry is meant to defamiliarize the familiar, while the familiar is the prose language. 


September 21:


Dialogism: one’s understanding of the world is between their own language and the language of others. one’s understanding of language is in the space between one’s own words and the words of others.


Formalists: what is an aesthetic object:

Schlovsky- function, form, genre.


Poetry Monological? Novel Dialogical.


Function: poetic language vs. practical language. Function questions the roles that language plays and the study of function tries to place language or divide language in how language is used. The way we know we are in the presence of artistic language is by differentiating the poetic and practical language. 


Synchronic is descriptive of a one age, descriptive of a system. Diachronic is interested in evolution of a genre.


Poetic is strictly referential, either referential to itself or to things outside itself.


Poetic points to the fact that it uses language to point out facts.





emotion points to the addressor, to the speaker. when there is emotion it points to who is speaking. 


October 12


de Man:


Aporia of meaning.


positivism vs. relativism


isn’t birth a social experience. can one besides being born from a test-tube (but even then you couldn’t be made sans-social experience). 


can the insane look at a sane person and know upon that experience that they are insane. 


the insane all got together and said, woah, look at all those sane people over there. 


can you choose insanity.


de Man:


Rhetoric is about “how language works” : how does a sentence persuade you? How does language cause this or that? How does language sound like, be like, work like, etc. How does language lift? How does language work? How does language make motion? etc. 


Rhetoric can lead you in one direction, while grammar can lead you in another. The rhetorical impact of sarcasm can point in one direction while the grammar of the sentence (the syntax of the sentence) can point you in another: “What’s the difference?”


Rhetoric is aporia. And all literature is rhetoric.


Literature is the absence of clear directives on how to read.


aporia is a lack of signs, a lack of direction, therefore an impassable, directionless thing. 


aporia of language is the inability to be able to accurately point. I can’t point with all certainty using language.


grammatization of rhetoric: factors of literal and figurative meaning.


rhetorization of grammar: factors of metaphor and metonymy.


cannot grab the meaning from the inside or outside.


we cannot know for certain what something means, but we can infer or assume the meaning and many of the times we do get it right. 


I’m going to enjoy that I am always on a trapdoor.









centers and displacement

preserving play






Revise what you write

Spend 2-3 hours

no more than 750 questions 

There are three questions

Answer the questions (don’t wander off)

Thesis statement that summarizes your argument

Evidence to support claims

Use Primary Sources

Don’t quote Habib

Use technical terms correctly (i.e. Structure, Pharmacon, etc.) 

List the number of words you use for each question in the head of the question




Theory is a descriptive project. Criticism a a evaluative process.




Formalism (What is literature?):


Trotsky (The Formalist School of Poetry and Marxism): Refutation/Antithesis to Formalism (MARGINALIZING)

“Having counted the adjectives, and weighed the lines, and measured the rhythms, a Formalist either stops silent with the expression of a man who does not know what to do with himself, or throws out an unexpected generalization which contains five per cent of Formalism and ninety-five per cent of the most uncritical intuition.” (1011)


"Here we no longer have a glove of history turned inside out, but the skin torn from the separate fingers, dried out to a degree of complete abstraction, and this hand of history turns out to be the product of the 'inter-aciton' of the thumb, the index, the middle finger, and all the other 'factors'. The aesthetic 'factor' is the little finger, the smallest, but no the least beloved." (1016)


“The formalist school seems to try to be objective. It is disgusted, and not without reason, with the literary and critical arbitrariness which operates only with tastes and moods. It seeks precise criteria for classification and valuation. But owing to its narrow outlook and superficial methods, it is constantly falling into superstitions, such as graphology and phrenology.” (1010)


Eichenbaum (The Theory of the ‘Formal Method): History/Evolution of Formalism (CENTERING)

“In rejecting these other approaches, the Formalists actually rejected and still reject no the methods, but rather the irresponsible mixing of various disciplines and their problems.” (107)


“Hence our Formalist movement was characterized by a new passion for scientific positivism—a rejection of philosophical assumptions, of psychological and aesthetic interpretations, etc. Art, considered apart from philosophical aesthetics and ideological theories, dictated its own positions on things.” (106)


See Summary (138-39)


Richards (The Two Uses of Language, and Poetry and Belief): Difference between Poetic and Practical Language. Sets up beauty = truth = goodness. (MARGINALIZING)

“There are two totally distinct uses of language.” (764)


“The distinction which needs to be kept clear does not set up fictions in opposition to verifiable truths in the scientific sense. A state- ment may be used for the sake of the reference, true o r false, which it causes. This is the sciel1fijic use of language. But it may also be used for the sake of tbe effects in emotion and attitude produced by the reference it occasions. This is the emotive use of language.” (766)


“For scientific language a difference in the references is itself failure: the end has not been attained. But for emotive language the widest differences in reference are of no importance if the further effects in attitude and emotion are of the required kind.” (767)


Shklovsky (775) (Art as Technique): This is what poetic language is / what literariness is: defamiliarization (not meaning but it’s an experience) (CONSTRUCTING)

“And so life is reckoned as nothing. Habitualization devours works, clothes, furniture, one's wife, and the fear of war. "If the whole complex lives of many people go on unconsciously, then such lives are as if they had never been." And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects "unfamiliar," to make fonus difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important.” (778)


Propp (Fairy Tale Transformations): Application of Formalism (APPLYING)

(See Taxonomy)


Bakhtin 575(The Topic of the Speaking Person and Heteroglossia): Points out there is a speaking person, a novel has multiple speaking persons, which makes it heteroglossia. Dialogism is what happens between the tongues/speakers: accessing meaning through the dialog, through the sentences. (goes back to Shklovsky and challenges the classification of tropes and instead classifies literariness as the thing that happens between the tongues, the dialogism vs. the non-dialogism). (Bridge figure to get to Barthes) (MARGINALIZING)

“The relationship of the author to a language conceived as the common view is not static - it is always found in a state of movement and oscillation that is more or less alive (this sometimes is a rhythmic oscillation): the author exaggerates, now strongly, now weakly, one or another aspect of the "common language," sometimes abruptly exposing its inadequacy to its object and sometimes, on the contrary, becoming one with it, maintaining an almost imperceptible distance, sometimes even directly forcing it to reverberate with his own "truth," which occurs when the author completely merges his own voice with the common view.” (588)


“In the comic novel, the incorporation of heteroglossia and its stylistic utilization is characterized by two distinctive features:

(I) Incorporated into the novel are a multiplicity of "language" and verbal-ideological belief systems . . . (2) The incorporated languages and socio- ideological belief systems, while of course utilized to refract the author's intentions, are unmasked and destroyed as something false, hypocritical, greedy, limited, narrowly rationalistic, inadequate to reality.” (593-94)



Jakobson 852 (Linguistics and Poetics): collapses the line between poetic and practical language and then reconstructs it differently with the six things: phatic, poetic, etc. (goes back to Richards and challenges the separation), starts to lead into structuralism. Schema. Puts in synchronic and diachronic, which is about genealogy. He breaks down the idea that an aesthetic objects exists in only one timeline, expands by pointing out synchronic and diachronic (which is a deconstruction of formalism before him) (Bridge figure to get to Barthes) The Communication Channel. (DECONSTRUCTING)


“A thoroughly comprehensive historical poetics or history of language is a superstructure to be built on a series of successive synchronic descriptions.” (854)


“In particular, what is the indispensable feature inherent in any piece of poetry? To answer this question we must recall the two basic modes of arrangement used in verbal behavior, selection and combination.”



Structuralism (What is literature?):


Saussure 841 (Nature of the Linguistic Sign): Semiology/Semiotics, Lang and Parole (goes back to eichenbaum?) (The world is a set of relations). Not just about communication channel. signified and signifier. Arbitrary set of relations. Parole and Lang. Lang is the language and Parole is the utterance. Textuality. Association. Structure, Sign, and Play.(CENTERING)


“But this rather naive approach can bring us near the truth by showing us that the linguistic unit is a double entity, one formed by the associating of two terms.” (842)


“1) The signs used in writing are arbitrary; there is no connection, for example, between the letter t and the sound that it designates.

2) The value of letters is purely negative and differential. The same person can write t, for instance, in different ways:

The only requirement is that the sign for t not be confused in his script with the signs used for /, d, etc.

3) Values in writing function only through reciprocal opposition within a fixed system that consists of a set number of letters. This third characteristic, though not identical to the second, is closely related to it, for both depend on the first. Since the graphic sign is arbitrary, its form matters little or rather matters only within the limita- tions imposed by the system.

4) The means by which the sign is produced is completely unimportant, for it does not affect the system (this also follows from characteristic I). Whether I make the letters in white or black, raised or engraved, with pen or chisel- all this is of no importance with respect to their signification.” (848)

“But of the two characteristics of the associative series - indeterminate order and indefinite number - only the first can always be verified; the second may fail to meet the test.” (851).


Roland Barthes 868 (The Death of the Author): There’s no authority behind the text. The authorial figure is dead and what remains is the text, thus textuality. (Bridge from Structuralism to Deconstruction with Derrida etc.) (MARGINALIZING)


"Once the author is removed, the claim to decipher a text becomes quite futile. To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing." (877)


"The Author is thought to nourish the book, which is to say that he exists before it, thinks, suffers, lives for it, is in the same relation of antecedence to his work as a father to his child. In complete contrast, the modern scriptor is born simultaneously with the text, is in no way equipped with a being preceding or exceeding the writing, is not the subject with the book as predicate; there is no other time than that of the enunciation and every text is eternally written here and now.” (876)


Claude Levi-Strauss 859 (The Structural Study of Myth): he applies the structuralist theory on myth. (he is similar to Propp who applied formalism). Synchony and Diachrony. (as an example of structuralism that deconstructs itself (APPLYING)

“If our hypotheses are accepted, the answer is obvious: The function of repetition is to render the structure of the myth apparent. For we have seen that the synchronic-diachronic structure of the myth permits us to organize it into diachronic sequences (the rows in our tables) which should be read synchronically (the columns). Thus, a myth exhibits a "slated" structure, which comes to the surface, so to speak, through the process of repetition.”


Phenomenology (How do we experience Literature?):


Edmund Husserl (Pure Phenomenology, its Method and its Field of Investigation): Phenomenology is a response to structuralism (the loss of the transcendental signified. Branches off of Saussure, who broke down the transcendental signified). BRACKET, bracket everything that is not normal, everything that is not transcendental. object truth and cognition. Defines phenomenon/a. (CENTERING)


“Immanent experience consists in the mere viewing that takes place in reflection by which consciousness and that of which there is consciousness are grasped.” (13)


“Within the widest concept of object, and specifically within the concept of individual object, Objects and phenomena stand in contrast with each other. Objects, all natural Objects, for example, are objects foreign to consciousness. Consciousness does, indeed, objectivate them and posit them as actual.”(13)


“The first and most primitive concept of the phenomenon referred to the limited sphere of those sensuously given realities through which Nature is evinced in perceiving.” (12)


Heidegger 611 (Holderlin and the Essence of Poetry): Hut, “I am”, dangerous because you can lose the “I am”, Worlding,  Dasein, Sein, Possession (as a tool) (as a body) (as something that possesses you). Standing Reserve (Techne reduces things to standing reserve). Poeisis opens things up to more meaning. (MARGINALIZING)


“1. Writing poetry: "That most innocent of all occupations." (ill, 377.)

2. "Therefore has language, most dangerous of possessions, been given to man ... so that he may affirm what he is...." (IV, 246.)

3. "Much has man learnt. Many of the heavenly ones has he named, Since we have been a conversation And have been able to hear from one another." (IV, 343.)

4. "But that which remains, is established by the poets." (IV, 63·)

5. "Full of merit, and yet poetically, dwells Man on this earth." (VI, 25.)”


"Language is not a mere tool, one of the many which man possesses; on the contrary, it is only language that affords the very possibility of standing in the openness of the existent. Only where there is language, is there world." (616)


“Poetry is the establishing of being by means of the word.” (618)


Jean Paul Sartre 659 (Why Write?): further defines what Husserl puts forth. Sartre defines literary phenomenon specifically (rather than just phenomenon generally). Phenomenon occurs between reader and writer (for Iser it’s between the reader and the text). Dialectic structure between reader and writer. (CONSTRUCTING)


“Thus, from the very beginning, the meaning is no longer contained in the words, since it is he, on the contrary, who allows the signification of each of them to be understood; and the literary object, though realized through language, is never given ill language.” (664)


Iser 1001 (The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach): The capacity to expand one’s horizon. Non-totalizing. Gestalt, the world of the text, the text’s world. Illusion of consistency, as you read you develop an illusion. You are constantly reformulating your illusion as a reader. Synthesis of Heidegger and Sartre. (CONSTRUCTING)

“The "picturing" that is done by our imagination is only one of the activities through which we form the "gestalt" of a literary text.” (1007)


With a literary text such comprehension is inseparable from the reader's expectations, and where we have expectations, there too we have one of the most potent weapons in the writer's armory - illusion. (1008).


“Without the formation of illusions, the unfamiliar world of the text would remain unfamiliar; through the illusions, the experience offered by the text becomes accessible to us, for it is only the illusion, on its different levels of consistency, that makes the experience "readable." If we cannot find (or impose) this consistency, sooner or later we will put the text down. The process is virtually hermeneutic.” (1008)


“In the oscillation between consistency and "alien associations," between involvement in and observation of the illusion, the reader is bound to conduct his own balancing operation, and it is this that forms the esthetic experience offered by the literary text.” (1009)


Scarry 1057 (On Vivacity): Dreaming under authorial intent. Escape with restraint. Delayed perception. (APPLYING)



Poststructuralism (How things mean?):


de Man 882 (Semiology and Rhetoric): Aporia (cannot resolve meaning) The Grammatization of Rhetoric and the Rhetorization of Grammar. (CENTERING) Mutually exclusive. Keats: Rhetorization of Grammar. Proust Grammatization of Rhetoric.

“Semiology, as opposed to semantics, is the science or study of signs as signifiers; it does not ask what words mean but how they mean.” (884)


“What’s the difference? (Archie Bunker)”


“How can we know the dancer from the dance?” (887)


“It is not that sign and referent are so exquisitely fitted to each other that all difference between them is at times blotted out; but, rather, since the two essentially different elements, sign and meaning, are so intricately intertwined in the imagined "presence" which the poem addresses, how can we possibly make the distinctions that would shelter us from the error of identifying what cannot be identified? ” (887-88)


"Literature as well as criticism-- the difference between them being delusive -- is condemned (or privileged) to be forever the most rigorous and, consequently, the most unreliable language in terms of which man names and modifies himself." (893) This relates to Heidegger


“Any question about the rhetorical mode of a literary text is always a rhetorical question that does not even know whether it is really question- ing. The resulting pathos is an anxiety (or bliss, depending on one's momentary mood or individ- ual temperament) of ignorance, not an anxiety of reference.” (893)


Foucault 904 (What is an Author?): Paradigms are structures. The Tyranny of the structure.  The author does the structuring. Panopticon. The author makes all the difference (poststructuralism, no set meaning, so many opportunities for meaning). (CONSTRUCTING)

“The Author is a certain functional principle by which, in our culture, one limits, excludes and chooses: …The author is therefore the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning.” (913)


“[I]t is not enough to declare that we should do without the writer (the author) and study the work itself. The word work and the unity that it designates are probably as problematic as the status of the author's individuality.” 


Derrida 914 (Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences, ): End of structuralism, differance, pharmakon, structure, centers and displacement, preserving play, center vs. margins. nothing is outside the text, because it is all text. (DECONSTRUCTING)


“If, by hypothesis, we maintain the strict opposition between speech and language, then differ- ance will be not only the play of differences within the language but the relation of speech to language, the detour by which I must also pass in order to speak, the silent token I must give, which holds just as well for linguistics in the strict sense as it does for general semiology; it dictates all the relations between usage and the formal schema, between the message and the particular code, etc.” (941)



“How do we conceive of the outside of a text? How, for example, do we conceive of what stands opposed to the text of Western metaphysics? To be sure, the "trace that quickly disappears into the histoq of Being, . . . as Western metaphysics," escapes all the determinations, all the names it might receive in the metaphysical text. The trace is sheltered and thus dissimulated in these names; it does not appear in the text as the trace "itself." But this is because the trace itself could never itself appear as such. Heidegger also says that dif- ference can never appear as such: "Lichtung des Unterschiedes kann deshalb auch nicht bedeuten, dass der Unterschied als der Unterschied erscheint.,,4o There is no essence of differance; not only can it not allow itself to be taken up into the as sllch of its name or its appearing, but it threatens the authority of the as such in general, the thing's presence in its essence. That there is no essence of differance at this point also implies that there is neither Being nor truth to the play of writing, insofar as it involves differance.” (948) 


For my part, although these two interpretations must acknowledge and accentuate their difference and define their irreducibility, I do not believe that today there is any question of choosing - in the first place because here we are in a region (let's say, provisionally, a region of historicity) where

the category of choice seems particularly trivial; and in the second, because we must first try to conceive of the common ground, and the eli/- fiirance of this irreducible difference.” (926)


“The absence of the tran- scendental signified extends the domain and the interplay of signification ad infinitum.” (916)




New Criticism: Is it good at fulfilling its intent. Is the text an appropriate vessel for its meaning. 


bibliographic essay. 


don't argue, layout the topoi of the contemporary scene. describe he discourse. 





capital is the owning if the means of production (shovel). capital makes commodities (vegetables). 


hermeneutics is suspicion: exposing the consciousness of society. 




aestheticization of politics (fascist) vs. the poloiticization of art (communism). 


develop a theory of art that can't support the fascists. 



prefers a hard-copy 

turn in before 7 pm Monday.


bibliographic essay has to be a hard copy due on Tuesday before break before 7 pm.

don’t overthink the bibliographic essay. map out the terrain. what the critical field looks like (first section). then a section on the history who the people are where it started, what the roots are, etc. third section is the shared assumptions of the theory and then a fourth section of the conflicts and then a fifth section with a conclusion. each section should have summary and quotes (not all summary, not all quotes). need to have topic sentences and transition sentences “in the history of … some of the key figures are …” etc. this is an informational essay. don’t worry about analysis. your topic is post-hermeneutics. the idea is to give a good field of a question or a good field of a topic. use the people that we read and use secondary sources as well. 




we haven’t reached a time where we don’t need theory for art. where art needs to be theorized about and explained. 


gets nervous about coupling of systems. 


skeptical of an explanation of what the system means or a theory of the system. 


they can be functional but not meaningful. 

humans are a node in the network.


the problems that post-hermeneutics addresses is the binarism of subject / object and sign / signified


object oriented ontology. 


humans are not on top, we are a node. certain systems that have nothing to do with human consciousness. 


there is a difference between non-hermeneutic and post-hermeneutic. 


away from a depth model (meaning) and towards a descriptive model. describe language as a system. 


autopoetic vs. humanpoetic- the oil rig as something produced out of the need for warmth (not the human need, but the system need). 


theory is synonymous with theory for gumbrecht. theory is an attempt to give meaning to a system. 


human has taken the center too long and foreclosed on too many explorations. 


what is the relationship between sontag (erotics of literature) godamer (horizons come in conflict thus understanding happens, sociological confrontation of horizons) and gumbrecht (materialities of communications) ? (this is the question on the exam). 




brookes levis and beardesly 


new critics

marxists - believe in theory and depth. that there’s something behind this. 

three different takes on interpretation (hermenuetics) (one that bids it farewell, one that culminates it, and one venerate and disparage. 



Final Paper: 

Tone needs to be professional / towards a group of people invested in the field (not toward your peers). 

Make sure and proofread. Final Paper due December 18. 8-10 pages. Context. Thesis. Defense of Thesis. Legitimate conclusions. Don’t be general. Don’t argue with a person, argue with an idea. Gumbrecht is your primary source. Others are your secondary sources.



Final Assignment:

Between 3-5 pages engage the class with the aims of a BYU education. The writing shouldn’t be onerous or be researched (but do draw on the people from this class). Write about how the class fulfills the aims of a BYU education. what do they mean by character? Include the four points in your introduction. Do a self-reflection or introspection on how the abstract ideas we covered in the class connect to the very concrete statement of the aims. This is more of a personal narrative-tone style. coherent. complex. claims. you can address one or all of the claims. Due the last day of class. Due in class. 








poems i wrote while waiting to make portraits on center street

kindness hasn't known
the sun. or it it the sun
that hasn't known kindness.

what is kindness to the sun
what is kindness to the rise of it.

i've known kindness
but i am not the sun

i can say the sun
has been kind to me
but can i to it


can i to it
can i become i-




when time roams past

itself into a swirl


i am left reeling

in three fish

on one line. when

when becomes when


i start to realize the sun

is counting nothing

while i count on it.


when i first became

aware of death

i started to count


mathematics were

the first language

of death

and immortality


these words will be

my last.




as the night announces itself

with strength.


i became tempted to sleep

into it, rest into it

the reverse birth.




sleep is an infancy

i am able to recover





the thing about wombing:

i didn't know the outdoors

until i left —

never going back.




i'm falling with the moon


i've read the snow and

it's not going to stay for long


my mouth is never going back



once, and only once

, i apologized for the wind:

forgive me for its strength.




it concerns me to think

a small

number of plants

grow indoors.




why did the sky tell me, say,

your mother is never coming

back, never coming back

to enshroud you.


back, never coming back

to contain you.


back, never coming back

to grow you.




my father woke me

up early one morning


"son, at an nondescript moment

in your life, your body

will stop growing."


i blinked to wake up

but when i was so young

i found it difficult.




you cannot get








is comforting.





humans are such

a specific size


we will never

be planets.




enjoying the evening

a shoe on the windowsill

above me




the polish of the sky

when the night moon shows

me the mist i had

only felt til' now




may the lord

claim his own things

so i understand

his name




i am not



just fading

she said in her sleep.

goodnight, my love.




if i must die

and i must

let it be by the wind

in your hair

let it be me


give me the wind 

in your hair




hunger has driven me

to ugly things




i confess hunger

i confess a desire to live

at least like the birds

          a branch

          a bit of bread

          a song in my heart, and ample space to sound it

that is my confession




under certain circumstances

i have killed

under certain circumstances

i have not been sorry for this

i have claimed it

and then when i went

home i asked no one

for forgiveness. under

certain circumstances

i have killed myself

before i did, i hoped

it would be an apology

"i'm sorry for living.

i promise to never come back."




amongst all the oysters

one asked

is it vain

if we all want it together

for ourselves




the bicycle will never wake-up.

it will never see

itself in the mirror and wash its face

nor will it sigh in the morning,

wish for something more

mow or own a lawn.

we have not known

bicycles to care

about the color of the sky

to rub its adam's apple

worry about dying, pray.



the accountant

i wanted to die. i wanted to badly to commit suicide. or maybe give it to myself. we say ‘commit’ as if it were a crime, as if it were some act of violence. but the word actually comes down to mean joining something (or two things) together (but what is the difference between joining one thing and two things together (i suppose the only difference is assumption). at any rate, i had decided that a life was meant to be ended as much as it is meant to be started, and I knew that suicide was my only option in the face of the abyss of traffic and buildings and options and food and love and the time that my mother was crying on the carpet, the time that I saw my uncle throw my sisters head into a pile of books that I often read before bedtime, the time that my favorite writing teacher developed brain cancer, the first time I saw blood come out of my body, well, I knew that suicide was the only option and so I threw my whole body into it. I wanted it to be the longest suicide ever committed, I knew of the noble ones, the most beautiful ones, but the long suicide, I wanted to believe that a true suicide (and what can I say about truth except that it got a head start on me from the womb, and it runs twice as fast as i can, and how was I ever to catch up with something that had a head start from the womb and runs twice as fast), well, I knew that the true suicide was one that took committing it with full committment, and what better way to prove committment than that prolong it, long and slow, and so, despite all the inclinations otherwise, despite all my personal preferences and desires, I set those aside and I determined to committ suicide by working as an accountant for the rest of my life. and to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong or boring or unfulfilling in being an accountant, I only have found it to be my own personal hell, and what better way to committ suicide than to torture one’s self over the process of a lifetime. I wanted to be the cow, I wanted to graze the grass, I wanted to be the one in which there was no life, I wanted to prove the utter animalistic element of human life, I wanted to supress every opportunity desire tried to take. I wanted to live without living, I wanted to die without dying, I wanted it all, and I wanted nothing, but I knew that I wanted both life and death, and what better way to live death than to die each day slowly. what better way to live death. what better way than to live death.

the geodesy (perhaps a slight reference to the odyssey (which is considered one of the most epic poems (this is the thing that I want to outdo, this is the thing that I want to oustrip. this is the thing that I want to say is the new odyssey.

i am still thinking about this planet thing. how to make a planet-ish poem. i suppose that there are ways in which i can take the roundness of the planet, well, I suppose that I can ennumerate the qualities of a planet and then think of the ways in which these relate and work with language in particular. one thing that I think a planet has in particular is roundness. I supose I was thinknig of the preocesses of the planet and how it revolves and rotates and what not. and I believe that language has process as well. i did in a previous writing project feel that I had identified that the project would be ontological in nature, rather than epistemological. the poem of the planet already exists as the planet. i suppose that the internet is the poem that has a comphrehensive epistemological basis, but as for the onotology of the planet, well, I don’t want it to be something of a planet. I want someone to read it and say, ‘wow, this is planetary’ this is celestial, a sphere, a thing hung in the heavens. i suppose that scale is one thing at play here, but scale can’t be the only thing at play. I mean I would like to think that whitman wrote a continent. if leaves of grass isn’t a continent then i don’t know what is. so the task at hand is still to think of the qualities of the planet and then find a form for it. i guess I want to find a form for it. what shape will it take. and I wonder about doing it in a way in which it can be related in a book, but the planet is not, well, i suppose that I could maybe write in terms of lattitude and longitude.



intersection of my bildungsroman -111.694647


and what about the cherry-less blossoms -111.694770





(40.298507, -111.668588)

    the catheter beneath the lawn was left there by someone

    this i am certain of, or at least forgotten

    by someone. 



I mean do I really want the planet of poems to be a series of locations described. and how do I look at these locations and describe them. how could I ever write a planet. i supposed that a coordinate system was a way to do this, but there seems to be problems with this. there’s really no way to make this work in this way specifically. i mean, it is there, but there must be a way in which to make it work and interwork. and move and intermove. there must be a way for the planet to crawl inside itself. there must be a way and perhaps I am thinking about this in the wrong way. iiiiiiiiiii maybe I am trying to create a planet i mean you have williams who wrote a city. but i just have to think about the planet in it’s right correlative. 

what is then the correlative, i mean, is there any real pleasure is the layering of metaphors in such a way that there was a way in which the arrival of one metaphor leads to the discovery and opening up of another metaphor. this is one way in which to think about it. 

the cell, the human cell, perhaps we can talk about genetic makeup. and then I am thinking about the ways in which god ate of this earth and it changed him on the cellular level and I wonder if this is not the act that I am trying for.

new frictions

i wonder about the frictions that we create: environmental awareness, autonomous travel, "the economy", and a variety of things. not that these things are a poor use of time, it's just that they are not really a part of the animalistic human, there is no grass grazing about it, no twittering in a tree, no suspension in the river water just outside the shade in the sunlight.

these are things that are a bit more self created. at least with what consciousness we have we feel it necessary to table our consciousness at times. self- reflection is good. but it seems that these moment are larger self-reflections. stage societal reflections.

the internet offers a pooling of thinking power. the limits of knowledge making was limited by the constraints of literature. now, with the internet, there are opportunities to compound thinking power. comment threads, reviews, reddit and subreddits, wikis, etc. the phenomenon of compounded thinking power moving at the literal speed of light is unprecedented.

we may not have figured out how to physically travel at the speed of light, but we have figured out how to metaphysically travel at the speed of light. or more clearly, our language can travel at the speed of light. i suppose our images can as well. sound can travel at the speed of light.

i hope i am clear on this: the internet is made with fiber optics, which is basically a tube to facilitate light, making our data transfers actually taking place at the speed of light.

with the removal of communicative frictions, there are new frictions created, and i wonder what is waiting on the other end of the resolution of those frictions. 

i suppose it is tempting to believe that there is a resolution at one point. "the world will end with fire, wipe out the entire human race, and that will be the end." but this is not a satisfying conclusion, nor even a conclusion. how can we say that the end of the human race will be the end. it may be "an" end, one ending for one kind, but it is not the end. what lies beyond the end of the human race. i assume (because i am not a solipsist) that there will still remain a universe after the end of the human race.  

i don't want to have a humanistic point of view on this. i want to suggest that there will. it be an end, even after the human race ends. there will still remain a universe, even if uninhabited by consciousness.  

i suppose we could devolve into a discussion of what use a universe is without consciousness, but i don't want to assume that consciousness is required for a universe to exist. again, this feels very humanistic. 

but what exactly is a universe without consciousness.  

and perhaps we live within the infinite, which means that already, in this space, in a single dimension, there is already every possible kind of consciousness at play.  

the universe existed before me, and it will continue to exist after me.