Writing “Unpoetry“

It’s simple. It’s succinct. It’s honest. It’s random. It’s crazy. It’s different. It’s me. I’ve written and still do write straight ahead poetry, but I’m not that interested in writing it that often. I want to create a new form. Something to make people think. Something interesting. Something that comes out of nowhere and knocks people off their little step stool. I think sensical poetry has an important place and time, but that’s just not what I usually like to write. I think in poetry, it’s not advertising, so the writer doesn’t have to appeal or go to the reader. The reader stretches their self to appreciate what the poet is trying to do or communicate. And the communication may not be direct. It may be artistic, it may be creative. It may be only understood as a whole, not meant to be dissected line by line and picked apart. Then again, there is always room for analysis, but that’s just not the goal of the poetry. Rather, it is to just enjoy reading it, just for pleasure. That’s what I try to do.

Bible Stories, True or False?

Bible stories are an enigma. Some of them are so intimate, private and personal. Some of them are so extraordinary, hard to believe, supernatural. So many are so alien to life as we know it. And who could have originally accounted for each story? When John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb upon a visit from Jesus’ mother Mary, who recorded that story to be passed on for centuries? When Moses encountered the burning bush, when the Hebrews followed a pillar of fire and smoke, when a touch of Jesus’ robe healed a bleeding woman, who wrote down these things? Who told the story to others? So private, so personal. So hard to believe that they came to be part of a book that we read. I don’t think Jesus told these stories. Was it a disciple? An apostle? Who passed it on? Did leaders in the first churches started by Paul tell these stories in church? Before there was a written record from the Catholic Church? So many questions, so many unanswered doubts. The Bible stories are so foreign to life as we know it today. How could they have really happened? Isn’t it more likely that they were made up to enhance the power of the church over its followers? And the synagogue over its faithful people? Other religions have stories that we assume are just literature made up by followers of a religion to give power to their leaders. Why don’t Christians believe the same thing about their own religious books? Is it too terrifying to consider that these stories could be false, made up, simply literature to build up a myth?

Banned Books

Banned books are silly. Why try to control people’s access to knowledge? Let them read what they want to read, especially if teachers approve it, and even more so if it’s considered a classic. Banning books is futile anyway, as it just makes people curious about them and want to read them even more. And usually the reasoning for banned books is based on incomplete knowledge of the book or misinformation about the book from people who haven’t read the book or people who don’t understand what they’ve read.

The Uncertainty of Truth and a Leap of Faith

Knowing the truth is possible but being certain of the truth is not possible. Certainty is a luxury of the ignorant. There is an argument that can be made against the existence or presence or activity or feeling of about anything. Claiming certainty is possible only for those who ignore some or all of the facts. What is truth? Well, that depends on who you are, where you come from, how you were raised, etc. there is not one truth that is superior to all other truths. That’s ridiculous. The only thing certain about truth is that truth is not certain. It must be accepted by a leap of faith.

Meaning in Relationships, not Objects

There is no meaning in the word unless it is an extension of a personal relationship and it is about the relationship, not about objects or things. Words about things are empty, and carry little meaning. There is little meaning in the management of objects around us. Moving them, cleaning them, buying them, selling them—it is all empty and meaningless. The meaning comes when we give them away to another person as an extension of caring or love, not as a transaction, or a evening up of favors, but with no expectation for reimbursement, payment or reciprocal kindness. Only as a gift does it gain meaning, and this only because it is an extension of a relationship. The same goes with management of objects. If the movement, cleaning, buying or selling or giving of objects is an extension of a relationship, with no expectation for reciprocity, it gains meaning for the relationship. None else.

Objects Have No Meaning

There is really no meaning in a word. The meaning is in the thing and the word is not the thing. And even things don’t really have meaning. It’s our relationship to the things. Actually meaning cannot be found in relationships to things either, but in personal relationships only. There is only emptiness in things and in relationships to things. It is a bottomless pit of regret and abandonment that never ceases to disappoint. Things disappoint every time.

Aunt Jemima Controversy Explained

The new name for Aunt Jemima is Pearl Milling Company. They are starting to switch everything over now, but the old label is still on some products for sale. The picture of the black woman character will be retired.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aunt_Jemima?wprov=sfti1

The brand basically exploited the blackface Mammy character of the motherly house slave that was popular in vaudeville. Not the best symbol. Have you ever read the autobiography of Malcolm X? Or seen the Spike Lee movie starring Denzel Washington? It’s really about a subconscious denigration of black women linked to their social position in slavery and later as housekeepers. White people used their power to institutionalize their social, economic and sexual position in society at the loss of black women. It may not offend most people because it’s so ingrained in our culture for black people, and especially black women, to be uneducated servants. It is a long history and there are still parts of the underbelly of our society in which it still rings true.

The history serves as an excuse and strength of argument and social attraction of black social and political groups like the Nation of Islam, which was in its heyday in the 1960s under Malcolm X. You should see the movie. It’s very entertaining, not to mention educating. The book is great too, written with Alex Haley, who wrote Roots. The controversy is not about who buys the product. It’s about the fact that a certain part of the population has been exploited and abused and a negative stereotype was used at their expense. It’s just wrong to use a name and likeness of a figure like “Aunt Jemima” to make money. It’s a part of the past that is shameful to all races and should be discouraged and put away to only learn from.

Paratactic Verse and the Poem as Object

Here is an excerpt from Disjunctive Poetics, by Peter Quartermain:

“…Williams and Zukofsky both write paratactic verse — in their syntax there is no subordination, there is rather a stringing out of beads on a string, as Aristotle complained, where everything is of equal importance…

“…the poem is an object…in her 1909 essay on Picasso, Gertrude Stein distinguished between things, things seen, and things known, a distinction that reminds us of the ineluctable and intransigent quality of things: unknown, probably unknowable. The poem as a thing is resistant, and must baffle us, leave us shall we say at a loss?”

Life is Relative

And it’s not just an alienation from language, or communication. It’s rejection of the individual, lack of acceptance, judgment. Words are empty when trying to express the grief and sorrow that results from this situation, a hopeless condition.

Lack of connection. No community. No friends. No religion. No god. Just a meaningless existence with no purpose, no focus, no hope. Everything social is either scripted or random. There is nothing real out there, or in here.

And there is only the chance to connect based on a common existence or perceived state of loneliness, ennui, loss of meaning, relativity. Everything depends on everything else. Nothing is certain. Life is one absurd action, thought or event after another.

“Disjunctive Poetics“ and Objectivist Poetry

Another update with current reflections on unpoetry from 2022. This results from research into “Disjunctive Poetics: From Gertrude Stein and Louis Zukofsky to Susan Howe” by Peter Quartermain, and several works on the objectivist poets.

This meditation concerns itself with “language as object.” Alienation from the English language, or, in my opinion, any language at all, creates a certain relationship between the poet and the words in his or her poetry. Syntax can become difficult, and meaning, impossible.

Words are used like pigments in an abstract expressionist or cubist painting, in which a bunch of objects are juxtaposed together in a seemingly random (though sometimes, but sometimes not, with carefully chosen placement) and detached manner. Whether it is a flick of the brush, a dumping of a can of paint, or just a very barbaric collection of images that shocks or confuses.

This is unpoetry, folks! It’s the same thing, just done with language. Word as object, in a collage, or maybe a series of nonsensical statements. Absurdity abounds. An alienation from reality that results in an alienation from society, and an alienation in a failed attempt, over and over again, to communicate.

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