Glossator: Practice and Theory of the Commentary: On the Poems of J.H. Prynne

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Thus, with automation, for example, the new patterns of human association tend to eliminate jobs it is true. That is the negative result. Positively, automation creates roles for people, which is to say depth of involvement in their work and human association that our preceding mechanical technology had destroyed. Many people would be disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and to ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out cornflakes or Cadillacs.


The restructuring of human work and association was shaped by the technique of fragmentation that is the essence of machine technology. The essence of automation technology is the opposite. It is integral and decentralist in depth, just as the machine was fragmentary, centralist, and superficial in its patterning of human relationships. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph.

What we are considering here, however, are the psychic and social consequences of the designs or patterns as they amplify or accelerate existing processes. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure.

This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or a northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or content of the railway medium. The airplane, on the other hand, by accelerating the rate of transportation, tends to dissolve the railway form of city, politics, and association, quite independently of what the airplane is used for. This is not just science fiction. Wiener foresaw a risk to non-utilitarian intellectual human values whose purpose could only function and be apprehended abstractly.

The writings of Wiener and McLuhan provide an instructive backdrop and, as discussed below, these blend with the views of other philosophers who have spoken on the theme of modernism and its effects. However, Prynne constructs his theme from highly suggestive language without relying on the explicit glossing of sources references that T.

Eliot and Ezra Pound made one of the hallmarks of modern poetry. While s semiotic choices inject multiple ambiguities into the discourse, the broadly referential aspect of the poetry, by 16 Ibid. Once the lens is removed we acquire a pre-industrialized pastoral perspective. This might be the Hegelian concept of Aufhebung, used here to illustrate the synthetic evolution of the human psyche through technology, but it is the kind of evolution that we generally tend to view positively as progress, irrespective of ethical consequences.

Accordingly, the butterfly and the table is combined in a vision of di-mophic purposely hyphenated into an enjambment marble, itself a duality. There are many associations that 18 Capital Calves. The evolutionary medium of the butterfly is a metaphor for the technological medium through which the human soul evolves. In the final sentence we sit around, exposed to the same sun light, in a mixed state of wonder, puzzlement and shock. The reader is made to feel the different competencies and inadequacies of each form of knowledge. Indeed, at some points we notice a retrogression in the culture of the individual with reference to spirituality, delicacy, and idealism.

This discrepancy results essentially from the growing division of labor.

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For the division of labor demands from the individual an ever more one-sided accomplishment, and the greatest advance in a one-sided pursuit only too frequently means death to the personality of the individual. In any case, he can cope less and less with the overgrowth of objective culture.

Dobran, Ryan

The individual is reduced to a negligible quantity, perhaps less in his consciousness than in his practice and in the totality of his obscure emotional states that are derived from this practice. The individual has become a mere cog in an enormous organization of things and powers which tear from his hands all progress, spirituality, and value in order to transform them from their subjective form into the form of a purely objective life. It needs merely to be pointed out that the metropolis is the genuine arena of this culture which outgrows all personal life.

Here in buildings and educational institutions, in the wonders and comforts of space-conquering technology, in the formations of community life, and in the visible institutions of the state, is offered such an overwhelming fullness of crystallized and impersonalized spirit that the personality, so to speak, cannot maintain itself under its impact.

On the one hand, life is made infinitely easy for the personality in that stimulations, interests, uses of time and consciousness are offered to it from all sides. Essays and articles relating to commentary will also be considered. What is commentary? Although the distinction between commentary and other forms of writing is not an absolute one, the following may serve as guidelines: 1. A commentary focuses on a single object text, image, event, etc. A commentary does not displace but rather shapes itself to and preserves the integrity, structure, and presence of its object.

The relationship of a commentary to its object may be described as both parallel and perpendicular. Commentary is parallel to its object in that it moves with or runs alongside it, following the flow of reading it. Commentary is perpendicular to its object in that it pauses or breaks from reading it in order to comment on it. The combination of these dimensions gives commentary a structure of continuing discontinuity and a durable utility.

M.H. Abrams: The Fourth Dimension of a Poem

I'm happy with that. It concentrates on the heavily disrupted details of the text: Bonney's poetics is one of refusal channelled through processes of resistance and disruption. The voice of resistance is largely implicit but is occasionally direct, intelligible. The intelligibility within the unintelligible allows an ideological or political stance to penetrate the work, giving direction to the indirect political references.

The disruption is manifested on various levels: semantics, linearity, internal echoes and foregrounding, shape and the processing — grinding — of recognized or recognizable language. The shape of the poem fluctuates, at times condensing, at times stretching, with varied use of blank space and repeated dashes to unsettle reading and create openness.

The prologue to 'Filth Screed' reads: "Language is conservative. Its conservatism issues [. The 'entirety of speech' is used, the semantic indeterminacy creating possibilities for phrases from protest voices or heroes to be subject to the same violation as 'conservative' or randomly sourced phrases. Andrea Brady Interview by Andrew Duncan This is a very rewarding interview from The Argotist Online , in which Brady discusses the very information-rich poetry that is a major mode in contenporary innovative British poetry: information has become a new category of the sublime: apprehensible by the imagination but occasionally terrifying in its extent, it veers over the workstation and distracts every waking hour of the day with episodes in a quest narrative.

If poetry is one mode of information management, I could say that in my work, it operates in two ways. First, my poems retrieve historical and linguistic information with specific and programmatic intentions for the present. These "activist poems", like the recently-completed poem Wildfire , seek to stimulate resistance through a re-invigoration of complex historical phenomena; or they synthesis [sic — PP] disparate narratives in an attempt to shade in some aspect of the totality of relations, to replace contemporary events in the systems of power, money and motion which breed them.

These poems are intended to be seductive as well as demystifying. They invite contemplation of complexes of meaning and subversion, and reward that contemplation with the novelty of the phrase. Second, there are poems which place a person, or people in intimate relations, within a cloud of information, in order to transport them secretly and safely to a vantage where they can observe and be observed. Readers of such poems are required to decide what is true, what is useless, and what obscurity means in relation to the drama of closeness which is being enacted. Are there forms of communication which are not driven by the rhythms of information retrieval?

How can my communication of the experience of the particulars of happiness, love, disappointment and so on acquire value for others? Especially now, when there is no reason to believe in humanism, and when the conversion of the self into a node in a network merely pins us fluttering to a bigger wall.

What Veils in Andrew Crozier's "The Veil Poem" Robin Purves in Black Box Manifold Online Poetry Magazine writes a subtle and detailed essay on Crozier's sequence, moving through and beyond a romantic delight in the world: Crozier's poetics, therefore, and, I would argue, "The Veil Poem" itself, can be described as work which eschews the mere and grudging apprehension of things in the world for a vision which aims at a synthesis of active relations, of perceptions and of theories of perception, by adept experimentation with formal properties inherited largely from Objectivism and other kindred poetries.

This synthesis, when successful, seeks to provide readers with the opportunity to engage with ideas and by that provision to reward the trust of those willing to forego the reassuring experience of dealing with the persona of the poet through the largely dispensable screen of his or her words on the page. All the time you're supplying information, the picture gets closer and closer to being finished, and if you want to go on you have to create new information. A basic need is to preserve uncertainty in the text.

Open Access Journals: Glossator: Theory and Practice of Commentary

If the poem is built about an I-figure, and that I-figure is affectively unstable, that builds in uncertainty; a lens fluctuating through the colour cycle. This high level of uncertainty is the engine that drives the poems — the pulse, the drum. Paul A. Green, Lost in the City: Ken Edwards , Nostalgia for Unknown Cities Brother Paul, on his excellent Culture Court website, has a very clear reading and response to Ken Edwards' prose text, Nostalgia for Unknown Cities , which discusses many of the allusive and concatenatory precedures of contemporary writing: Nostalgia, of course, is literally from the Gk a "home-pain" — but where's home?

Maybe it's only on the home-page. And we're the lost ratty pigeons of post-modernism. Or vampires sleeping in doorways. In a lost city of black light. No direction home, boys. For this could be fractal fiction, in which a sentence — take a sentence, any sentence, they're all good — triggers complex patterns of association, whorl-holes of ambiguities in which a narrative perhaps even a narrator might be hiding. Negotiate the narratisations of Ken Edwards, construe the constructions of his consciousness, his cunning kennings. As they used to say in the old variety shows: now yer see 'im, now yer don't.

Seen in a fine art context, constructing and manipulating images, there is nothing inaccessible about this work. Focus moves from the image itself to the details of its perception. Sound and rhythm give shape to an exercise in colour and form. Like the finest painters, Fisher takes us through a different way of seeing the world, the medium of poetry holding sway over time as well as space.

Thomasino From St Thomasino's ezine e. All very clear and enjoyable, eg The Adlestrop Syndrome is an affliction of readers rather than poets.

The Collected Letters of Charles Olson and J. H. Prynne

Here's an example: Joan Bakewell recently chose 'Adlestrop' when asked to nominate 'the best poem by a living [sic] poet'. She commented that it 'is quintessentially English. It catches the peculiar air of an English summer, blowy with seeds and dust. I can't stop at an English station without thinking of it.

It makes me love England the more. And sadly it's what many people do expect from poetry: a measure of reassurance, a ready fix on some normative emotion. But what use is poetry—and what else can be meant by 'emotion'—unless it disturbs? A key question that he returns to is one framed in 'From a Diary of Reading Clark Coolidge': The question with writing is always what's needed to make writing possible.

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There's no doubt whatever about that. As if in answer to this, Halsey's poetry forms at the interfaces wherever people make speech and words: coffee-shops, reading newspapers, barbershops, table-talk, touristic jargon, in conversation in pubs and over cards. A 'media magpie', he has an unnerving habit of snapping up phrases from review copy concerning his writing, seeing ambiguities other than intended therein, stretching these as far they'll go and re-working them into his ongoing projects. On this level, his work is very companionable: this kind of companionability in words can, of course, words, be a type of concealment.

Yet on a public level too, he is companionable, enjoying debate, verbal play and asides.