Prosaic and the art of computer poetry
I wrote this article for American Circus. It’s a (very, very) brief survey of computer poetry history and a close explication of Prosaic’s process.
Great article. I wish I had a Twitter feed or Facebook thing so I could advertise it.
imho it’s really important for we programmers to write up what we’re doing every once in a while, especially in a format that can be cited. We poetry programmers do well to learn from each other.
Agreed! had you not reached out to me from here way back in 2009 I would have totally missed the awesome stuff coming from gnoets.
I wonder why this is? It seems like as a discipline/art form we are scattered and rarely unify except under the auspices of the occasioal forward-thinking European art or literature symposium (or wordpress or tumblr blog :) )
For myself, I feel a kind of core fear that computer poetry will not be taken seriously by people “at large.” This prevents me from always advertising it / bringin it up. But the worst reaction I’ve ever gotten was puzzlement; usually people find it very eye-opening and wonderful.
For my part I’ve thought of it as a kind of satire, a predilection you may not find shared among the other gnoets. But to me, and you can see this in a society which is regulated largely by mechanical rules and a logic of language (IE: the law), it was a way of mocking a society which is constantly trapping all possible deviations within the written law or more recently through the psychiatric aparatus. To me this is largely a protest art based on anarchist politics. In both of the Eric’s work you have an anti-logos verve, a meaning which does not resolve itself to one meaning, but which instead sets a feel or gives you a sense of something. There is a logic vs. intuition battle and as it stands, all of us have come out on the anti-logos side of this, which is in keeping with the poetics of the language poets, the dadists, and those who have come under the banner of projective verse. The element of the random becomes a gesture wherein we give up control for a moment, and allow things to unfold in their natural course. It has an anarchist undertone. A top down control mechanism is subverted by more subtle means. In Gnoetry (the program) you have the role of choice being front and center. From what I understand of your program, various decisions are made algorithmically, and I’m not sure where your agency begins as far as intervening goes. I intervene a lot. I use language based on certain texts which creates a reference back, but I also add, subtract, and mix things up. I’m also interested in using memes from songs, things which float about the cultural ether because it gives you a sense of embedded referencing which sort of doubles the meaning by compression.
Perhaps in the future you can talk about the poetic end of your work. Your writings have been very technical, describing the algorithm, but not your motivations for employing the algorithm. That too resonates on the level of meaning. In this day in age, it has to work on every level, and we’re pushing a lot of buttons with people in the poetics community. That bodes ill for the present and good for future. People are wondering why do this, even the language poets have not been fully accepted or dismissed as conceptual (only) which I think is critically dishonest, so we need to explain to folks the politics and relevance of our work to current trends both technologically and socially.
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