Just what exactly is a radical poetry or a radical poetics?

"...it is crucial to maintain open the radical ambiguity of how cyberspace
will affect our lives: this does not depend on technology as such but on the
mode of its social inscription. Immersion into cyberspace can intensify our
bodily experience (new sensuality, new body with more organs, new sexes...),
but it also opens up the possibility for the one who manipulates the
machinery which runs the cyberspace literally to steal our own (virtual)
body, depriving us of the control over it, so that one no longer relates to
one's body as to "one's own". What one encounters here is the constitutive
ambiguity of the notion of mediatization: originally this notion designated
the gesture by means of which a a subject was stripped of its direct,
immediate right to make decisions; the great master of political
mediatization was Napoleon who left to the conquered monarchs the appearance
of power, while they were effectively no longer in a position to exercise
it. At a more general level, one could say that such a "mediatization" of
the monarch defines the constitutional monarchy: in it, the monarch is
reduced to the point of a purely formal symbolic gesture of "dotting the
i's", of signing and thus conferring the performative force on the edicts
whose content is determined by the elected governing body. And does not,
mutatis mutandis, the same not hold also for today's progressiver
computerization of our everyday lives in the course of which the subject is
also more and more "mediatised", imperceptibly stripped of his power, under
the false guise of its increase? When our body is mediatized (caught in the
network of electronic media), it is simultaneously exposed to the threat of
a radical "proletarization": the subject is potentially reduced to the pure
void, since even my own personal experience can be stolen, manipulated,
regulated by the machinical Other. One can see how the prospect of radical
virtualization bestows on the computer the position which is strictly
homologous to that of Cartesian evil God /genie malin/: since the computer
coordinates the relationship between my mind and (what I experience as) the
movement of my limbs (in the virtual reality), one can easily imagine a
computer which runs amok and starts to act liker an evil God, disturbing the
coordination between my mind and my bodily self-experience - when the signal
of my mind to raise my hand is suspended or even counteracted in (the
virtual) reality, the most fundamental experience of the body as "mine" is
undermined... The commonplace is that, in cyberspace, the ability to
download consciousness into a computer finally frees people from their
bodies - but it also frees the machines from "their" people..."


"The personalized poem, of which there are many examples on the Internet, is
a poem where the user, via mouse clicks or keyboard tappings, enters some
information into a web application, and, PRESTO! The user gets hir very own
poem, a bona fide original.

"Such a preprogrammed personalized poem is the mirror image of Internet
control and domination. The personalized poem application, in whatever form
it is in, is entirely predictable in its output, and those outputs are
completely determined by the actions of one individual: the programmer. The
person behind the black box. Sometimes, frankly, we're too busy looking at
this black box to see the person who runs it or the implications of it. The
programmer is in control of such poetry. The poet/programmer is obscured by
distance and complexity, a modern-day Wizard of Oz of sorts, and the poetry
is deterministic despite the randomness of human input. That programmer has
a remote and invisible authority and control over the creative output, and
that authority and control is completely automated.

"Many believe such a poem as the one I describe is radical because it seems
to reflect the 20th century avant-garde tradition of process as a
fundamental property of art. But again, process, algorithms, and the like
were rather exotic intellectual ideas many years ago. Today algorithms and
processes are as essential to control and surveillance as barbed wire and
cameras, or perhaps even more so. In hindsight this comes as no surprise. We
can completely predict the behavior of any algorithm and because they are so
predictable they can be efficiently utilized for highly complex methods of

"The empty signifier and radical disjunction, in a sense, are fundamental
properties of the Internet. The Internet born from DARPA (Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency), the central research and development arm of the
US Department of Defense. DARPA is perhaps the very core of world military
industrial domination. The very nature of the Internet is rooted in
wide-area distribution effective for constant surveillance and rapid
deployment of divide-and conquer strategies through distributed
communications. The Internet's origins have lead to more commonly understood
features of the Internet landscape: behavior monitoring leading to marketing
strategies such as personalization, wide distribution of content for
constant presence and the possibility of "ensnaring" the audience's
attention (which generates more data for behavior control). All of this
happens on an individual level to divide people into individuals with their
custom web environments and conquer their wallets and their minds one at a
time. The most crucial datum about modeling one individual's behavior is HOW
THEY LINK. That is, how does one choice lead to another for each individual?
How people make connections is perhaps the easiest aspect of a person's
behavior that can be recorded using the Internet....

"Poetry that articulates through gesture, ambiguity, emotive strength (no
logic to an emotion), ambiguous authorship, without nebulous hypertext
structure or use of algorithms, may be radical today. Poetry though can
never become radical if it continues to maintain some sort of faith in any
one answer to the question of self. It is when we answer and insist on our
answers to ideas of the self that we continue to pursue either, in the case
of Language poetry, a rather hasty rejection of self in writing (but perhaps
not in authorship, and that's the difference between the action of writing
and the thing we call a text,) or in the case of more "mainstream" (for lack
of a better word) poetry, the insistence upon selves. The Internet helps
gather power for a controlling minority by exploiting the self-centered
possibilities of humans, and the rejection of that leaves us with answers
that seem to be equally false. Perhaps the only answer to "do selves exist?"
is, "I do not know." As long as we maintain such a position on authorship,
meaning itself is not owned, and the possibilities for poetry are wide open
and fully resistant to centralized mass dominance and control."

from Patrick Herron

No comments: