Saturday, November 09, 2013

ModPo 2013 #61 Initiative and Imagination Required: On Mac Low's Stein 100: A Feather Likeness of the Justice Chair"

Sorry, couldn't help it. There is a feather likeness in this chair.

The link to Jackson Mac Low's poem, "Stein 100: A Feather Likeness of The Justice Chair" is here.

This was another happy (as in happenstance) coincidence! Reading about Mac Low's highly structured process was very interesting. It's amazing how a program like Diastex5 and some "unintentional" tweaking of Mac Low and the source text by Stein could produce lines like:

Summer light bears a likeness to justice.
Then the light is supposing attention.
That section has a resemblance to light.
Is it a likeness of the justice chair?

I mean, that's just brilliant! And that comment by Mac Low in the video discussion. "Did I?" he asks. It's actually the right question because ultimately what he's saying is the poem is not really his: it's his and Stein's and Diastex5's and yours (meaning the reader's).

What was the experience like: not reading for meaning? Sound is beautiful as it is...but one can't escape from meaning. It is the character of language. So, I agree that while the results are unintentional they are imbued with meaning. However, the meaning is not arrived at pre-packaged. It requires initiative and imagination from the reader.

The line that joins a feather to likeness to justice to chair is not a straight line. This new string coming from the strange original string of Stein shifts our focus. It is an immersion in language, calling for associations that can only stem from the imagination. Creativity, here, is not the author's creativity anymore but the shared creativity of source text, manipulator of text and reader of text. There is no story to be told except the story that emerges from all sides.

Here's to the shining quality of you and I detained on this page! 

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