Mar 28 2011

Third of Three Proposals: Toward Reconciling a Poetics of Ignorance with a Frankenstein-like Poetics

Continued from:

First of Three Proposals: Toward a Poetics of Ignorance

Second of Three Proposals: Toward a Frankenstein-like Poetics

1.0 The advent of the Internet is itself a kind of Frankenstein—it tore the curtain to the temple of knowledge. The web is the New Tower of Babel, and in effect, the ultimate (the final and most foreboding) Frankenstein for literature and language.

1.1 This ultimate Frankenstein ended the monopoly of access and acquisitions of information formerly dominated by such archons (archangels) as government, bureaucracy, academe, mass media. Now that the literary Holy of Holies is transparent––light shines in and out of its temple and altar.[1]

2.0 Because the writer cannot convey pure doubt, he must instead convey pure ignorance (a kind of “unknown unknown”) about certain book-parts.

2.1 A book made of other books implies that the writer possessed some amount of prior innate knowledge (gnosis) of those book-parts which constitute the final book as a whole.

2.2 A writer does (must) doubt the book-parts before him are yet alive and have yet to exist as a whole––hence the writer has no doubt that he is the one obligated to vitalize the book-parts sitting before him into a whole “new book.” Hence the writer has no doubt that he must quicken, reanimate these book-parts.

2.3 Were our three proposals already accepted and implemented, David Foster Wallace would’ve written a 300-page novel with 900 pages of notes (accessible only electronically), instead of the vise versa found in his Infinite Jest (1997).


[1] Is it so crazy to imagine we as a civilization are slowly progressing toward a what Emerson plotted out for the individual in his famous passage at ¶ 4 in Nature (1836)?

There I feel that nothing can befall me in life,––no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground,––my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,––all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

Mar 25 2011

Second of Three Proposals: Toward a Frankenstein-like Poetics

Continued from First of Three Proposals: Toward a Poetics of Ignorance

See also Third of Three Proposals: Toward Reconciling a Poetics of Ignorance with a Frankenstein-like Poetics

1.0 All books of power are made from prior books of power. A few of these books are elaborate tapestries, however, most are patchwork quilts. All books are literally scrapbooks: books made from the scraps of other books.[1]

1.1 These scraps, or parts of prior books, are also the prior parts of dead peoples’ thoughts, ideas, and memories—so these book-parts are no different than the lifeless limbs of dead men and women.

1.2 A writer reassembles, reanimates the dead parts of people to make a book, therefore: any book of power is a “Frankenstein” monster, a kind of zombie text.

2.0 The doubts expressed by a writer stimulate, reanimate the parts, and quicken the book to breathe before the reader.[2]

3.0 A library is a cemetery[3]––the writer is a ghoul, a grave robber, hence the truism: “All writers steal.”

[1] Heed the words of Harold Bloom:

“Each poem is an evasion not only of another poem, but also of itself, which is to say that every poem is a misinterpretation of what it might have been.” (Anxiety of Influence. 1975. Oxford UP. p. 120.)

Bloom bestows a schematic, but Robert Graves gives writers a method:

The method may be called “analeptic mimesis”: one slowly copies out the poem by hand, as if it were a first draft of one’s own. When the pen checks at a word or a phrase, one becomes intuitively aware of laziness, doubt, stupidity, or some compromise with moral principle.

(Oxford Lectures on Poetry. 1962. Cassell. p. 4.)

 [2] As De Quincy puts it:

Now, if it be asked what is meant by communicating power, I, in my turn, would ask by what name a man would designate the case in which I should be made to feel vividly, and with a vital consciousness, emotions which ordinary life rarely or never supplies occasions for exciting, and which had previously lain unwakened, and hardly within the dawn of consciousness— as myriads of modes of feeling are at this moment in every human mind for want of a poet to organize them. I say, when these inert and sleeping forms are organized, when these possibilities are actualized, is this conscious and living possession of mine power, or what is it?

 [3] See Jonathan Swift, Battle of the Books (1704), Samuel Johnson Rambler 02 (1750).