27 February 2013

Coercing Your Reading

Because I could not stop for death...I explained my poem ("Shall Have Inquisitions").

Or something like that.

So a poem, perhaps, should not need to be explained to survive as a poem worth reading.  That is, it must sprout into the reader's mind and grow there of its own accord and when it is fully clothed in bark and leaves and seeds to flower it will be the reader's poem as much as the writer's.

Our trees may both be oaks but they will likely be disparate species--one Pin, one Red.

The one way in which I have felt the Internet has always missed a massive chance at the deepening of the human mind is the way in which it subverts attention even in the very way it could deepen attention.

Those who have read voraciously, diligently, for decades will always be analogizing engines.  Their brains will create the equivalent of a hypertext reading for every poem, every word of every poem.

The computer may, can, should do something like this.  Instead terms are often linked that have absolutely nothing to do with the content they are linked from.  That is maddening.

But Eliot and Pound provided a gloss on The Wasteland and any number of great university sites offer classic texts that are heavily annotated in a way that you can ignore or make us of.  I love this even if I will quibble with the content of the annotation.

This morning's poem could use a gloss probably...but I hope it doesn't need one.  I placed the excerpt from an essay by Pound to show the origination of the poem and from whence I stole my tropes.

But there is more to it than that.  And at one reader's prompting...some thoughts behind the poem.


The dream:
Desire unfettered and fulfilled,
To realize your singularity,
Coerce the self into
The belief that this is all for you,
Acts vile and sublime
Of endless variety, endlessly satisfying,
Another cereal box prize
Is not so much to beg of

The first stanza is entirely ironic.  After Pound's "hundreds" and the takeaway from Morse Peckham that the Enlightenment was not a "mass" movement but only occurred within very few souls I offer "the dream"--itself a "vile" act.  Wanting all desires fulfilled and being empty of anything but desire.  To be known, to be famous, to be somebody, to be known to be somebody, to be powerful, to be rich...

Cereal Box Banality of Evil. As for "so much" versus "too much"--this is meant to force the question. What am I asking? That I can beg more of Evil? That Evil can offer more? Rather that Evil has so much more to offer? Or that this is just the beginning of the offer?

"inquisitions are pornography (this tit for that tat)"

Inquisitions...the asking and seeking...but mostly a ferreting out of the heretic.

Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642): "Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him."

The glut of pornography is due to the easy detachment from all things in the soul...we pray to a god yet have no soul.  We laud Zero Dark Thirty and our easy, thoughtless killing, and this too is pornography.

Nature "purges" her dead wood to offer life to the "shoots" of saplings.

This is always the reactionary--purge what is unclean, unholy, to leave the "purity" of, normally, racial dominance.

We kill in the name of the highest most exalted beings...

But in the end, as in the beginning, I purge all others so that it is only my dream that survives.

Further, "coerce" in Pound is asserting that "others" coerce us and that is evil.  However, that is the very ground of our living at least it is as a governed populace, at least it is within the context of language--power by law by the word.

Social life is always a kind of coercion isn't it?  But still worse is the self-delusion--that it is ourselves which allow and abet the coercion.


Humanity, the illusion of right action
is found only by intellection--
hardly anywhere outside of apologetics:

The "Humanity" stanza is a kind of answer to the Pinkerian assertion in "Better Angels" that we are "evolving" and "progressing" into less violence--by which I take him to mean that the dominance of a western military culture has made it hard for the peons of the world to raise a violent ruckus and by force we are peaceful.  But I could be wrong about his assertions.


and the human fantasy writhes to
burn the world, to burn
people by magnification:
at least it's (technically) more humane than

That is, people are as irrelevant to the man with the power of science (or illusion of the power of science) as the ants are to the boy who burns ants with the magnifying glass.  "magnification" is our technical "sight" which is not vision but code read by a machine (note my use of hadron collider myths in the subsequent post).


of column inches and statistics
the hoard is un-
that is
you are barbarously stupid

Column inches (the Press and the genitalia) and stats (masculine "isms"--economics and science as specious rationale) always seek to offer obfuscation and/or (and-or) justification for humane acts that are inhumane by any common standard...only as you pull back to the view from space do things look "good."


(more ecologically sound)

...the inebriety
of mechanical efficiency

And it's not more humane than burning at stakes--it is worse...a horror like burning humans alive for heresy has an immediacy to its terror but also an immediacy in our visceral response to its absolute evil.  The ant-human can be dusted off the face of the earth via remote control drone--no muss no fuss.


have you thought rum (and cola) was Providential poison?

Finally, a nod to the recent "rum and whiskey" extirpation of our nations first peoples--Providential poison, a la Ben Franklin.  But also the I stick in cola to show our risible never-grow-up irresponsibility of mixing fire water and sugar (and absolute decadence and stupidity) but also as "COLA" is "cost of living adjustment"--a Providential economics of destruction.


  1. point one: yes, the reader takes on the poem from his/her identity (and filter). but, does that mean we should not understand the point of the poet? Or should our reading of poema be only meant to evoke? an emotion, a feeling, a resonance? a vibrations, as you like to say.

  2. point two: the missed purpose of the internet--that we don't deepen our understanding of the world. Am I correct on that summation? That here, we have the potential to understand ourselves and each other greater because of the powerful tool we so cavalierly use. Humans are (most of us anyway) not deep thinkers. So those who will seek depth seek it by any means, not only electronic. The internet has, in my opinion, made us less connected and segregated our thoughts and scurried us off into "circles" and "follows" and "chat rooms." It has given us the power to be more isolated.

  3. point three: we laud violence, banality, in any form. how are we to change violence if we do not give it a forum (even a commercial one)? (ie: in movies; i think zero dark 30 was powerful, if not also hollywood-born)

  4. point four: the magnifying glass and ants. mark twain wrote a powerful story (title escapes me) exploring an amoral philosophy. closely relates to this idea of yours.

  5. 1) Can't argue really...sure a poem ought be to be treated with respect (if it deserves it) and an author likewise. But why not the other things too? Do we need to limit our responses? Yes, vibrations, but also relationships...we have to negotiate with the poem and with the author. If we read William Morris do we know all he knew in the 40 or so separate arts/crafts he knew? No, but we will benefit by learning his geographical and lexical context and if we do this our reading, our "melding," will be more in tune with the writing. And that is what real empathy is, yes?

    2) Again, I can't argue...I think of it as massive abstraction and a primary cause of a giant amount of ignorance and quickly calcifying error.

    The mind on the internet...

    I argue with the kids--You are made by the Internet. I'm old enough to "USE" the internet.

    And that has made all the difference.

  6. 3) "forum" is a good word here. We don't learn from gladiators that killing is wrong do we?

  7. final point (and i'll end with my name no less): your thoughts on the poem are very detailed for the simplicity i was seeking, which is: what impression do you want the reader to feel in the reading of the poem? I offered a few ideas to clarify it for me. Undoubtedly, someone else would have said something else. Did I enjoy the poem? Yes, and the dialogue it began. Jennifer

  8. I don't think I can answer your last point. I guess I'd only want marginally for the reader to "get" the point, if I tried to make one...and I did, obviously, want to make a point, else I wouldn't have titled it as such.

    Sometimes I want "points" to be made that I don't make and points to "come out of me" that surprise me.

    As there is no "form" to speak of we can't really talk about poetics or metrics...we can talk about the "sound sense" if there is any...and if it underscores the motion, or better, creates any motion in the poem.

    Like I've said many times, I often just write words on lines that only upon reflection "mean" anything to me.

  9. And I'm glad you enjoyed it...but the question the author wants answered is, "did I make any of the points within the poem that I said I wanted to make upon explication?"

    That is, does the poem "work" at all? Is there movement towards the "fuse" of the ending?

    Finally, maybe finally, I want the poem to affect a reader the way the quote from Richelieu affected me...

  10. The answer to your question: Does it work? Overall, it does, and in many turns of phrases, it does. Even if I may not completely understand your (vs. mine) meaning behind "inquisitions are pornography (this tit for that tat)," it gathered steam for me and propelled the poem.

    Still, I would like a different verb than "beg" (first stanza, just me) and a clearer ending (maybe it was the shoots; a gun "shoots" and you have broached violence in a previous stanza; maybe my confusions stems from that association).

    But I'm glad you are writing poems. You seem to have a knack for them, and you often hit the mark. This is your "forum." Or one of a few.

  11. Thank you very much. Sometimes I try to make something. Sometimes it works.

    I'm not against changing "beg"...I'll ponder it.

    As for shoots, I liked that association, that a plant shoots forth (a new life) while man shoots to kill.

    Did you give "Dead Certainty" a glance?