Introduction: ceci n'est pas un texte

Introduction: ceci n'est pas un texte

2007-10-15

Lori Emerson introduces a gathering of nineteen electro-poetic essays. This gathering brings together both
critics and creators of electronic poetry; as is usually the case in ebr, the ‘electronic’ does not exclude, but helps us to reconfigure and revalue poetic works in print as well as define what works in digital
environments.

This gathering of nineteen electro-poetic essays brings together both critics and creators of electronic poetry, some of whom established themselves at the very start and many more who are recent entrants in the field of electronic literature. As is usually the case in ebr, the ‘electronic’ does not exclude, but helps us to reconfigure and revalue poetic works in print as well as define what works in digital environments.

Digital literature consequently has a role to play as a form of media-art that makes us aware of what is happening to text as a material and concept, to reading and writing, and to the material basis of text in the ongoing process of digitization, networking, and mediation, and how these material and formal changes correspond to social and cultural changes.

we must learn somehow to split the difference between idealist and empiricist orientations and grapple with the strange materiality of ideas, with literary texts as materializations of ideas, and with reading as the uptake and embodiment of ideas.

So go ahead and extend the limits of what is acknowledged as literature or rework assumptions about what counts as literature or poetry.

Creeley’s vocabulary includes precisely those words and locutions others would avoid as “unpoetic”: in this case, “insisted upon,” “something,” “getting out,” “tiredness” “wet.”

Rethink, rework what it now ought to mean to engage with humanities research.

She begins to wonder if it’s the way the so-called “humanities”…represent themselves that is the problem, and that if all the humanities do is “ ‘expose’ students to the ‘ethical, aesthetic, and intellectual dimensions of the human experience,” then, of course, such exposure might be “nice enough - but also perfectly dispensable when leadership and expertise are at stake.”

With definitive work by emerging major authors (such as Mike Barrett, Adelaide Morris, and Walter Benn Michaels) this electropoetics release proceeds from the premise that literary studies must come to terms with the fact that it is no longer business as usual -

No matter how you look at it, speed is a morally coded concept. With its etymological roots tied at the groin to success, to think speed is to invoke a java applet alternating flashing SPEED / All Others Pay Cash.

that writing in the information/digital age both upsets humanist assumptions and makes clear the ways in which the information/digital age upsets many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, human and machine, subject and object and so on.

Kac’s work is not about biotech, but instead about a kind of “biopoetics” in which language, form, and life intersect. But even this term biopoetics is unnecessary. Kac’s works are about poetics, pure and simple - or the point at which the very notion of poetics implies a congruence of some sort between language and life.

However, these essays also remind us that from the days of the historic avant garde and throughout the twentieth century the emphasis on dispersal, processuality, the material word, is nothing new.

In fact, through Marko Niemi’s work, “Stud Poetry,” I was able to engage in a seemingly endless poetic game of cards with Rimbaud, Valéry, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and other French poets. After getting the feel of this game, or any, one can engage in infinite play with (exploration/investigation/experimentation) and interpretation of language. At one point I had a showdown with Valéry, with randomly appearing words as currency; somehow I managed to win but then lost the next game almost immediately.

What is new? On the one hand, our sense of the how and why of a text/author which has in turn turn re-enlivened our sense of the literary lineages of the twentieth century and their intersections with art, science and technology. And on the other hand, “what’s new” is the nature of the process and the medium in which this process takes place, which in turn redefines the terms reader, writer, and text to rematerialize both bookbound and digital poetry. New, and yet not new. In a sense, we’re only now beginning to particularize what McLuhan told Playboy Magazine in 1969: “…all media, from the phonetic alphabet to the computer, are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and tranform his environment.”