Saturday, November 09, 2013

ModPo 2013 #59 Language as Relationship: On Cage Writing Through Howl

An excerpt "Cage Writing Through Howl" from UPenn ModPo

This was my first encounter with mesostics. Very ingenious! I liked the video discussion about this poem. At first, I didn't get the distinction between nonsense and the resulting aleatory text. Isn't "chance" the same as "anything goes?" But then when the discussion shifted towards "deterministic" I started to see the distinction. Determinism deals with antecedents or what came before. "Anything goes" implies total chaos and disorder. I saw that Cage's method was not to strip meaning from "Howl" but to see language anew and, not just that, but to create a participatory meaning.

And it really is participatory. Immediately after reading the text, visiting the mesostics-creator program, and watching the first two videos, I started making my first experiments in mesostics. I was fascinated by the results. "Accidental" meanings were not really accidental. They were determined by a combination of factors: my participation (the oracle spine text, the reading of the text), the method left by Cage, the computer program, and the source text. What a rich activity!

This method helps me "dwell in possibility." Possibility is about openness, discovery, multiple paths. It is a circuit and not a straight line. While language has its uses in the direct, the single-minded, the prosaic...language is also alive, a constantly shifting organism, a playful engagement of meaning. Cage's method rejects individual genius in favor of engagement and participation...ultimately calling attention to language as relationship.

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