“…by writing we lose control…”
Consider this provocative statement from a recent post over at Montevidayo entitled “The Inhuman Art of Dying vs. Poetry’s Grief Police” by Lucas de Lima, “…by writing, we lose control of our narratives, and inevitably end up thwarting not just our intentions for a poem, but also the way we conceive of ourselves and our bodies as bounded, autonomous entities shaped through free will.”
…by writing, we lose control…
Like Brownian Motion: the presumably random drift of particles, which is, of course, among the simplest of the probabilistic processes, and thus serves as a limit of both simpler and more complicated stochastic processes, writing being one we might never have thought to correlate.
Which is to say, what may begin determined becomes random. A transformation. Or, perhaps, determination and control are always an illusion anyway…?
I am currently intoxicated by the potion of Catherine Clément’s Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture, a mixture of poetry and philosophy, demons, spices, young girls, and roasted lamb’s head. “Screams, tears, tremors, uncontrolled excretion, foaming at the mouth: with epilepsy, syncope joins in” (9). What is syncope? “…a word designating an eclipse, interval, absence, followed by a new departure…” Clément describes it as the whirl of a whirling dervish, the falling part of falling in love, the water droplets dripping from the twisting of wet hair, the absence of the self, a cerebral eclipse, an apparent death, a fainting fit, it is Bataille’s “night” which Sartre so vehemently attacked, “it pivots from the clinic to the art of dance, tilts toward poetry, finally ends up in music.”
For Kant music was “an intestinal agitation.” Clément critiques him for this prejudice. “Kant does not like [music]…because it approaches the ignoble; it is because it agitates, it is because it goes into raptures and provokes. Uncontrollable. Now, that is itself the unthinkable” (47).
The worst we can do is lose control. Without control, we are no different from the animals. Without control, we are no different from the monsters. We must believe in control. We must subscribe to control. We must worship control and demand control and fear and hate all that is out of control.
When John Cage says, “I have nothing to say and I am saying it,” he is purposefully mistaken and profoundly aware of the impossibility of his statement’s validity, because we can never say nothing. To try and say nothing is to say so many things. His statement draws our attention to our futile attempts to control that which cannot be controlled. In the opening of his book Silence: Lectures and Writings, he describes his experience of going into a deprivation chamber and hearing two sounds: a high-pitched sound and a low-pitched sound. The engineer working with Cage informed him that the high-pitched sound was his nervous system, and the low-pitched sound was his circulatory system. In this process Cage discovered the inescapability of sound. Never can we experience silence, so long as we are alive. We cannot create silence. Sound is out of our control. It happens without our consent or our intention.
So, it is no wonder why we are so easily mistaken when we believe we are in control of our writing. How desperately we grasp at mastery. How fearful we are of losing control, of being misinterpreted. A sneeze, a yawn, a laugh, a hiccup. Sleepwalking and snoring. All are moments of losing control that we accept or at least acknowledge.
But…somehow writing is different? Writing is not hysteria? Writing is not uncontrolled? Writing is not syncope? Egg on the face of those who believe in authorial intention. Or, no? Yes. A beautiful argument for the inability of a reader to deduce the author’s intention. Authors cannot intend. They may presume an intention, but as de Lima says, “…by writing, we lose control…”
“Do not forget,” Ludwig Wittgenstein observed, and Marjorie Perloff reminds us, “that a poem, even though it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language-game of giving information.”
–from COLDEST by Bruce Andrews
Language reminds us of our boundaries, not our borders. We are porous. The open poem. Each choice becomes another choice. Each movement meets a movement and creates a movement, becomes a movement. Brownian motion.
“A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.”
–“Ars Poetica” by Archibald MacLeish
The form of a poem at odds with chaos:
The form of a poem at odds with cosmos:
The form of erasure, from Martijn Hendricks’s project “Give Us Our Daily Terror”:
Or this, from Jonathan Culler‘s essay “Toward a theory of Non-Genre Literature,” “The essence of literature is not representation, not communicative transparency, but opacity, a resistance to recuperation which exercises sensibility and intelligence.”
The essence of literature is not representation.
The essence of literature is not representatio
The essence of literature is not repres
The essence of literature is no
We must ask ourselves to consider what differences exist between the function of
“Lucy Church was never there naturally naturally she was never there,” said Gertrude Stein.
How could she be? Under what conditions?
“If language isn’t the most important thing for you when you author, then why not take up dance, painting, journalism, the piano?
That’s not a rhetorical question,” says Lance Olsen on page 156 of his recently published book Architectures of Possibility: After Innovative Writing.
language is dance and dance is language.
So, too, is painting.
The language of air and color.
The language of land.
Time and temperature.
Wordless as a flight of birds.
Piano, too, is language.
How could it not be language?
If we accept de Lima’s proposition that “to write we lose control,” then what can we say about the act of reading?
Writing as syncope.
Reading as syncope?
Is it fair to say that to read we recognize — or, become aware of — control’s absence? Perhaps the benefit of writing is derived from the sublime experience of losing control — succumbing to the dueling impulses: dread and desire –, while the benefit of reading is derived from the recognition of our ubiquitous daily helplessness, our futility. We are all Gregor Samsa awaking on our backs, our little legs twitching. The tension between divergent sequences (i.e. the unpredictable) and convergent sequences (i.e. the predictable). I am thinking here of the work produced by the British scientist Gregory Bateson. By writing we may consider our construction convergent, but by releasing it into the world it does not obey our command, instead it moves toward the divergent. A reader reads the construction, assuming convergence. At each end, the assumption is convergence. But between these ends a metamorphosis takes place in which the presumed convergence becomes divergent, or better yet: reveals the error of presuming convergence in the first place. The echo of this transformation thus resounds at both ends.
An automatic disconnect.
The impossibility of language abutting the desire for language.
Proof that we want what we cannot have.