Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meditation and Poetics - 23

["I Saw The Fgure 5 in Gold" - Charles Demuth, 1928 (after the poem by William Carlos Williams) - oil, graphite, ink and gold leaf on paperboard, 35 1/2 x 30 ins - included in the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York]  

Imagism. So. In pursuit of similar focus and concentration and presence and prescience and perception and awareness that we've been discussing the last three months here, there was a similar breakthrough of awareness around the turn of the century, connected with the minds of the Dadaists and the Futurists, early spiritual poetic schools, pre-World War I, the Futurists and the Dadaists during World War I. Dada-ists. 

(Ezra) Pound and Wyndham Lewis, another writer, and various friends in London before World War I, got  together hearing the winds of the Futurist Manifestos. (The) Russia (poets, Vladimir) Mayakovsky and (Serge) Esenin were involved in (the) Futurist poetry movement (created by the Italian poet, Filippo Marinetti. There were tendencies in Germany. Wyndham Lewis in London.

It was a perception of a modern mechanical electronic space-age apocalypse, somewhat as we have now - the twentieth-century and so they saw themselves as Futurists, for the first time having to admit machinery into poetry. So the music began to include machinery (like Edgar Varese begun putting sirens and foghorns in his music). Concrete music began arriving in people's ears - concrete poetry as well, (that is to say, pure sound, poetry as pure sound, as letters)  - "priimiitittiii tisch/tesch/ priimiitittiii tesch/ tusch/ priimiititiii tischa/tescho/priimiitittiii tescho/tuschi/ priimiitittiii/ priimiitittiii/ priimiitittiii too/ priimiitittiii taa/ priimiitittiii too/priimiitittiii/taa/ priimiitittiii toota…" - being (Kurt) Schwitters, a little after World War I probably. "Priimiitittiii"a Dada work, sound poetry, letterism (having some relation to mantra, actually. Tristan Tzara, who was involved in Dadaism, referred in his Dada Manifestos to Buddhist mantra). Antonin Artaud, in the (19)20's, who was one of the Surrealist heroes wrote a notorious Letter to the Dalai Lama (and another one to the Pope) demanding they do their duty immediately to the twentieth-century and save the world, (actually, Artaud, calling the Pope a dog, and asking for the Dalai Lama to come out and teach (as he's doing now, so to speak, symbolically, here [Naropa]) 

So there was a break-up of mind. (Cubism - as you know of - people seeing things six different ways at once), a break-up into a relative mind, subjective mind being discovered. (The) realization that objectivity was subjective anyway, since, as (Albert) Einstein said, the measuring instrument determines the shape of the universe. Your eyeball determines that everything is watery circles., mandalas. With the discovery of that kind of relativity as a twentieth-century measuring point, or as realizing there is no objective external world (and) there is only our eyeballs (and) our senses which shape the world, and with theories of indeterminancy that later developed that if you stop a wave to observe it, it isn't a wave anymore. So, finally, when you get down to the bottom, everything is indeterminate. You can't fix it. Or observation impedes function, in that sense, no objectivity - everything becomes subjective again.

But if you observe subjective facts, like we're observing our minds, the thoughts in our head are as objective as the furniture outside. Those are parts. In other words, our thoughts are objects. Subject is object. Self is object. Self itself is object. Subjectivity is objectivity because that's all you know, and if that's all you know, then it's objective. What else do you want? If you can't know more than what you know then what else can (you know)? You can't know any more than what you know, so what you know is what you know and that's totally objective. And anybody who pretends to be objective is pretending to be objective.

I think that point is basically clear - that all we know is subjective. All we know is what we know and that's subjective. You might be able to check it out externally and get some kind of correlation with the external world but it's still pretty much a rule-of-thumb process. Nobody really knows anything but what they know directly and what you know directly is the only thing you can really know, what you can taste, smell, touch, what you know with your senses.

In a certain sense, the only thing that we really know is our own home territory and our own family and our own selves and our own noses and everything else is television and newspaper abstraction or bookish abstraction, generalization. The only thing we can know is like a farmer - what's close to the nose - and know it in the sense that you know - it looks like rain, or, (if you) put a seed in the ground, it'll grow up - or (it) won't. So with that, you can know your own thoughts, but, thereby, if you know them like objects and are not lost in them..

[Audio for the above may be heard here, beginning at approximately ten minutes in and concluding at approximately eighteen-and-a-quarter minutes in] 


  1. Dumb question here. Is poet Diane Wakoski considered Imagist?

    1. Terminology - "Deep Image" (sic) in American poetics (see here -,was a later and minor definition proposed towards a small group of American poets (Wakoski among them), but the early twentieth-century poetic revolution of "Imagism" (, Pound, Amy Lowell, etc, was a far more profound, far-reaching, and entirely different, thing .