5 Lines of Enquiry

5 Lines of Enquiry

In response to Jason Nelson ’s questions in his recent Netpoetic post and Joe Tabbi thread references, etc. I created the short 5 lines of inquiry ( Available as text near the bottom of this page too) & (Vonnegut-like) promptly awarded myself a C++ for my subsequent flash File implementation; ( please do check the flash file out first! as the writing below is a sort of key, or elaboration about its themes, but read on.. once you have played the flash file that is :-)

As writer, Right now I'm in the middle of a work in progress, which while digital in nature, conception and execution – enjoys selected aesthetic roots in a twelfth century poetic / spiritual tradition – born materially digital from old analog seeds of spiritually, I feel I will enjoy making it. I believe I can only speak with true authority or implicit knowledge from personal points of experience in my own creative practice and in making other ‘work’. I occasionally attempt to fit such experiences to accepted terminologies, maybe similar in conception to grafting Joe’s Latour-like factual gatherings. It is (im)proving to be complex and challenging, yet my primary reward is personal immersion, Csíkszentmihály’s flow, Rumi’s
drunkenness, Buddhist Samadhi, a creative mindfulness, my interior joy, maybe my own ‘stain on the silence’ – ok reality and honesty check: that work might also form part of my PhD if it doesn’t fall on its arse in the meantime.

As artist, I’m somehow expected to reduce a lifetime of hungry curiosity and joyful experimentation, to a series of electronic glyphs, shapes, images, flickers that simply convey (un)certain selected elements of my journey – elements which I intermittently decide or deem to publically share – ironically such sharing has an intrinsic isolating power. For me a genuine power of ‘imaginative making’, the personal power of invention exceeds monetary reward, peer approval, originality, my own designations, others' opinions, a satisfaction that does not require external endorsement nor even acknowledgment, that power sets me free and sets me apart, feeding an independent rebellious spirit maybe immortalized in Mel Brook's line: We don't need no stinkin' badges. In truth, I enjoy laughing a lot at myself and my would-be artistic pretentiousness.

As (aged yet) novel academic, formulating, (mis)understanding or conjecturing about some of my own academic ideas under threat of uber-contextualization within current speculative realism - amid a stewy dewy abyss of philosophical p(l)ot boiling, just general parts of a broader mechanistic requirement for me to formally familiarize myself with traditions maybe as old as any profession. A central tradition I recognize as firmly, specifically sited within ‘the academy’. The practicalities of life in the academy, irrespective of scholarly disciplines, interdisciplinary, trans-disciplinary or slippery dish ability, concern professions of potentiality and the potential of professionalism, each promise threatens to ground and contextualize, challenge and frame all personal practice in an inherent externally reflective manner(s). Stuff gets stamped, put on shelves, into boxes or onto web pages. The academy is a wonderful shop window of formal learning and teaching, albeit one, in my own view, that is unwillingly or unknowingly having its glass replaced as I write.

As barman, (since I own and maintain this joint in which my own self examined life lies exposed – to echo the infamously talented and sadly forgottenJimmy Mackin's so popular am I , they may well be staying away in their thousands) I make no apologies for the current holes and gaps in my broad understanding, specifically in (dis)regard of any of the other three fields above I previously mentioned. As any artist/writer/academic mix, my first duty is to understand Mick's....

I view my basic function as keeping the flow going for whoever happens to turn up here. I’m currently enjoying Mark McGurls’ ‘The program era’ an insightful examination of the rise of creative writing programs in post war America, one of his central questions seems to swim below the surface in several of the responses to Joe Tabbi’s initial post: In the academy, is creative work, even electronic literature, made in a manner that is conducive to critique – (sub)consciously externally reflective rather than artistically introspective ? Like others I often see the dancer and the dance artificially separated by an explicit choreographically academic or competitive intention. Why then should the result be that I or they can be made to feel out of step ?

So shall we dance or tag semantically ? when we use the word tag in that fixed context of the semantic web ? Shouldn't we set aside literary concerns and first acknowledge that the initial or dominant motivation was to render information machine readable ? To mechanize the word. Thus as two parts-creative, one part autodidact and one part geek; (five parts asshole said someone at the back)I wonder why is the humanities wing of the academy even attempting to address or elbow into, what originated as a mathematical, statistical or computational concern ? What parts am I really missing here. Unless of course we have all become prepared to mathematically morph, transpose and embrace the dissolution of some of these self dug subject moats. Its not like there is an absence or lack of contention within internal intersections of our own emerging field. I personally perceive a lack, something which Jason Nelson brings to the net poetic party, the potentially alien idea of lightening up, smiling and enjoying this whole ephemeral experience. Rock on Jason....

Of course I end up with more questions. Is it me or does everything seem..... ..... to be pointing to Digital Humanities and e-lit developing the potential for another ludology and narratology handbags at thirty paces meteorological teacups, is anyone else really listening except us, stylistically internal micro-quibbles, if anyone is responsible, who exactly is invading who's space? Does the term ‘institutional inheritance’ require its own isolated ‘in-depth’ academic study ? Where exists the Irish translation for Ouroboros? As the text encoding initiative strives to survive the potential future onslaught of commercial proprietary systems, do two seemingly oblivious academic neighbors actually share the same ideological boundaries ? Would a George Orwell of today say all writing is political if his faculty were sponsored by an International commercial cloud computing company ?
Receipt in what sense ?

Some shameful and utterly impenetrable self indulgent stripes of tripe (like maybe my own parodies) have actually been written as part justification or examination of similar, supposedly academic questions concerning e- literature, in essence a variety of elite textual introspection, elevating itself as it consciously seeks to preclude general readerships – linguistically constipated construction, lines just venetian blinds obscuring some of the hollow creative interiors within the academy.Many of the responses to Joe's Post (my own too) court the verges of such synecdochal snobbery as to make any unsuspecting C.S. websurfer stumbling in, interrupting, just a tad C sick. Yes I plead guilty to running with the pack in moments of weakness, staying in the queue after Groucho has gone, Is my thirst for knowledge, quest for external validation, academic acceptance, receipt, sufficient to propel me in only that direction, I am a middle-aged adult, father to three strong sons, attending a relatively conservative learning institution, am I really prepared to go back to badges, seeking stamps again ? Not likely !

Is that symptomatic attraction by a clinical authority affecting an expanding and increasingly unruly field ? Straighten the drill, the ground, the dirt, wiped off feet at entry, not soiled but boiled, sanitized and reflected in some sort of set of crisp clean replies, do such passive exchanges really evoke evaluative acts of critical judgment, rhetorical, forensic or genetic or heaven forbid active criticisms ? Such sequences might become suggestive of stalking and staking rather than tagging and talking, other forums are fulcrums invited opposites, alternatives, for better or worse that whole thread was in danger of becoming a single harmonized hymn sheet. I provided a sheet music reference but no one picked up that ball (-:

Has digital technologies encouraged humanities as a whole to become homogenized, a warbling momentum of misdirected motivations, whose insincerely unacknowledged periphery motivation is the securing of further recognition, a (pride of) well paid place within the academy, an actual or electronic residue of proof – an exemplary inherited and institutionalized flaw, the need for intellectual production and accompanying appreciation – rubber stamp me and the contents and products of my brain please, a simple way to prove that I am by virtue of my knowledge and my ability to pattern match it, somehow more valid than before such stamped validation, post human, post machine, first past the post, correct to the letter, jean de la fontaine fables by remote phone(y) – each to his own but leave mine alone – stop the rhyming already it might support a sub-theory of the rhizome but most of all it plain sucks in supposed prose – it’s a creative conceit – like much of critical theory’s cramped complimentary electronic fluff that seems to get stamped as original thinking. You were drinking in, the quality bars obviously.

My own humble creative ideas, interpretations, play, provide the potential for both deep readings and shallow understanding – I am confident about only my lack of confidence in consistent confidence as a requirement for artistic integrity - how many artists / writers confess to their own occasional crapiness. Use the cd to burn my poetics of Arthur Plotnik, the resultant white smoke elects Archbishop Alan Sondheim as my new leader of the church of anarchic ambiguous analysis. (forget all dogma consider only the alphabetic indexing potential) Vaguely and indefinitely may Alan reign, for only from a complex chaos will anything meaningful, sincerely original, truthful, genuinely innovative, emerge, present, become, entirely irrespective and disrespectful of any amount of theoretical training and framing. Apart from cash and killing time, academia’s current value to the artist lies in its informational or referential properties only, preventing non replication – since contemporary combinational culture recruits replicates and remixes, even that danger is subsiding and that weakness of independence, extra mural as it may be, becomes a strength – confidence replaced by faith.

Theorizing and ‘Here’s what I think’ is all very well, appropriately accurate, if all I want to do is tell you what I think about theorizing. Spectacularly useless when it’s a mere aggregation of someone else’s already aggregated thought. Sadly, say as I say, not as I do, or do as I say that I do – which strikes me as almost psudo-pedagogy, a Flann o Brien like bicycle mechanic who constantly talks about wheels but never actually builds one and never ever shows anyone else how it might conceivably be done, let alone be done better than before. It’s easy to talk the talk, even if we stumble when we walk, I am wrong again, but that’s ok, I can afford to be wrong, for now I have left the commercial sphere to become a student, to discover in academia, pockets of various types, not that very different from ego infested business pockets, I’m still learning…and I will never complete that learning until I am as I said, dead as… Paddy K.

Like Joe, I too am troubled, I am troubled by the potential overt seriousness, the pretentiously exclusive high mindedness that seems to be encouraged to infect areas and controls on the evolving field of digital literature, net poetics, elit, or whatever spurious tag is eventually peer ping-ponged to death among an hermetic self stamping elite in an artificially inflated post posting process.

BTW Here’s those five lines of inquiry….

  • A barman asks three drunks to leave, or get thrown out.
  • A writer, an artist, and an academic.
  • “Such is art” roars the writer as he flies out the door
    through the air.
  • “Such is life” exclaims the artist as he smashes through the
    window.
  • “Such Raw Data” opines the academic as he waits for his
    receipt.

I advocate understanding, I support all those brave enough to stick their heads above the parapet and be counted creatively (even if they themselves [chose to] remain unrecognized or unrewarded with societal stamps). I encourage everyone with a brain and a computer to become involved in digital literature and net poetry creation – I think it would be unborlieveablely cool to see the field mature to a point where it could also accommodate accessible comedy genre– a true gamut of Digital Literature – foolish conjecture under current exclusive conditions. As if the existing participation requirements weren’t exacting or exclusive enough, erecting further intellectual fences will, in terms of my simple understanding, stem any tide of mass participation in its current form.

Apologies for ringing a few reality or alarm bells and bringing us all back to where non-academic people live, but the idea that a practice will be developed by isolated academics and theorists rallying and channeling creative forces in any specific direction is simply stone age thinking, ok some students might submit, some conform, but no matter what sets of criteria, rules, boundaries or boxes that get developed, IMHO any writer wishing to become an artist, seeking to be a true artist, then his or her primary responsibility will be to themselves and their own vision, where possible completely ignoring all imposed external ideas or expectations. Do truly madly deeply intelligent people really believe its possible to coral this area of HCI, that the compulsory use of an exclusive academic vocabulary is the only valid approach, to the cultivation rather than protection of this field. Such condescension defies definition, the 19th century mill owner mentality that somehow, someone, some set of individuals or some group knows best, when it comes to the development of digital literature or digital poetics, that's the idea that's most troubling.

As Stevie wonder would never have sang (to the air of lately:-):
Philately… I’ve become an academic campanologist.