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ON MY POETRY

 

Some thoughts for a series of lectures held at European Graduate School (www.egs.edu) on 6-7 August 2008 as visiting professor in Judith Balso's "Poetry and Philosophy" seminar

 

 

_Lo spostamento degli oggetti: theoretic background

 

Let’s start from the title: Objects Moving. This title has many, maybe infinite meanings

But there’s a main idea inside this title which takes us directly to a poetic and theoretic issue: objects are moved out of their ordinary use, as language, somehow, is moved by poetry out of, let’s say with Paul Valéry, its transitive use.

More specifically, objects (not only concrete objects, but also concepts and events) are moved to their semantic limits and out of their usual symbolic functions. I don’t mean here that I tried to reconstruct a parallel world through poetry (the Italian poet Andrea Zanzotto wrote in one of his essays of poetics collected into the book Prospezioni e consuntivi that poetry never wants to speak about something else than reality, and Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote a very important proposition with, somehow, the same spirit: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”): the real and sometimes also everyday reality are expressed into Lo spostamento degli oggetti, but they’re expressed in a different way.

The title Lo spostamento degli oggetti refers to a, let’s say, theoretical conception, almost in the sense of a theory of language: I think that poetry is a cognitive (I mean “cognitive” as “gnoseological”, with no reference to “cognitive sciences” or similars) and perceptive approach to language that allows us to displace (objects moving) our intention about reality and about language itself. Poetry allows the writer and the reader to create different linguistic and cognitive paradigms about the objectual phenomena we have to deal with, so to give new possible descriptions of what our senses perceive and our language elaborates. As Michel Deguy, whose poetry and theoretical thought deeply influenced me, wrote: “Le poème propose une possibilité. Il étend le possible sur et dans le monde - expansion des choses infinies” (La raison poétique, Paris, Galilée, 2000, p.46).

This view has at least a philosophical and a political consequence:
Philosophically, the problem is: in which way poetry can help us to conceive the relationships between language and reality on the one hand, perception and cognition on the other hand, and, I would like to say, description and interpretation on a third hand ?

And what does it mean, from a political perspective, to open possibilities of linguistic and cognitive paradigms, to give different descriptions of the world we live in?

I would add a third question then: has poetry something to do with logic? Is poetry an alternative form of logic as it is an alternative form of language?

These questions may appear kind of abstract and there’s no unique answer to them, but I think they’re concretely ingrained into the problems that a poet, and maybe an artist in general, has to deal with today.

Through Lo spostamento degli oggetti and also through the project I’m writing at the moment (I will try to speak about it tomorrow) I wanted to face up to these questions not making theory, but making poetry with them, so to give them a certain concreteness, to recognize them as a part of human life in letting them interact with the concreteness of the poetical experience.

Before approaching the book, there’s a very important side of this point of view I would like to underline.

As to move objects doesn’t mean to create a parallel, virtual reality out of the world we live in, to open possibilities of linguistic and cognitive paradigms throughpoetry doesn’t mean at all to give the poem a metaphoric or meta-linguistic power.

The poem, for me (and everything I say comes from my partial and inexperienced point of view), so my poetry (but not only, I guess at the same time) doesn’t create metaphors and metalanguages.

It’s a very complicated topic that has a lot to do not only with metaphor and metalanguage, but also with metaphysics. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy and Paul Valéry’s Cahiers and Variété play here an important role. I quoted Wittgenstein before: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”. It has no sense to “go out” because we don’t have elements to conceive a meta-reality that is truer than the one we live in, as it’s impossible to think of something out of language expression, or behind it, or beyond it, something which is not already itself.

Writing about language and not specifically about poetry, Wittgenstein fights against what he calls logic of the double, that is basically another way to define the metaphysical risk of metalanguages.

There are two Wittgenstein’s quotations dealing with this question that I really like: “One has to talk barefoot, at the sea level” (Vermischte Bemerkungen) and “The proposition presents the situation off its own bat” (“so stellt der Satz den Sachverhalt gleichsam auf eigene Faust dar”, Notebooks 1914-16). I could assume them among the “mottoes” of my work, that deeply influenced the way I concretely conceive my language material when I write.

As I said, this topic is not directly connected to poetry in Wittgenstein’s philosophy, but there are at least three examples of poetry (or poetry theory) that can be seen this way. Let me list them briefly:

Pessoa (Judith Balso). One concerns, according to Judith Balso, the poetics of Alberto Caeiro, one of Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms and, more precisely, the master. As Judith Balso shows, Caeiro tries to bring poetry out of metaphysics in creating a sort of homogeneous semantics where thought and vision, existence and essence coincide. The anti-metaphysical and anti-metalinguistic strategy proposed by Caeiro is a paradigm of the vision that could be expressed as follows: every thing existing can be seen and we can think only what we can see. At page 57 of her book Pessoa: Le passeur métaphysique, Judith B. compares this perspective to Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy as a therapy against metaphysics, so that we could say that Caeiro, somehow, assigns to poetry the same task assigned by Wittgenstein to philosophy of language.

Littéralisme (Gleize, Royet-Journoud, etc.). The second example is about a French poetry theory and practice called littéralisme (literalism). According to the French writer Jean-Marie Gleize, “poetry says what it says in saying it” (“La poésie dit ce qu’elle dit en le disant”, f. ex. in Le théâtre du poème, Paris, Belin, 1995, p. 11; a book about Anne Marie-Albiach, another French poet that can be connected to literalism), which is not that far away from Wittgenstein’s quotation: “The proposition presents the situation off its own bat”. The term littéralisme was probably conceived for the first time by another French poet, Claude Royet-Journoud, the author of a book called, it’s not accidental, Les objets contiennent l’infini (“Objects contain the infinite”). I have to say that I discovered literalism and met Jean-Marie G. and Claude R.-J. the last year, that is after having written Lo spostamento degli oggetti (!), but it took me a short time to feel their way of thinking poetry very close to mine, and I started considering them among my admired masters. By the way, I also discovered some of their influences and started reading the works of the Objectivists, an American poetry movement that you probably know (Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Oppen, etc.).

Poetic interpretations of Wittgenstein’s rule following and language game theories. For example, the French linguist and poet Henri Meschonnic wrote in 1978: “a poem makes the rules of its reading in going on and […] these rules change in going on. Through the notion of game, Wittgenstein expresses a creative relationship among philosophy of language, art and poetry…” (“un poème fait les règles de sa lecture à mesure qu’on avance, et […] elles se modifient à mesure qu’on avance. Par la notion de jeu, Wittgenstein énonce un rapport de créativité entre la philosophie du langage, l’art et la poésie…”). This quotation takes us again to the question of creating with poetry other paradigms, other rules of expression, other strategies, other ways of conceiving language. These rules, these paradigms, these linguistic strategies are totally “built” into the poem’s structures. There’s no meta-language or meta-physic of language telling to poetry what it has to do. Poetry generates its own language, its own rule following while expressing itself. It is also in that sense, perhaps, that we can conceive Jean-Marie Gleize’s proposition: “poetry says what it says in saying it”.

So if poetry language’s rules are generated while making poetry, while writing it, and if (at least my) poetry, as I believe, adheres, let’s say, to its own expression “off its own bat” without giving the possibility of formulating a meta-language beyond or behind it, then (my) poetry doesn’t support hermeneutic processes either: it is impossible to say in another way what my texts say already. There’s no technique of interpretation that may be applied to my texts. The best thing to do, and this is what I’ll try to do with you, is to describe the way they are written and the theoretic, historical, contingent and technical background that made them exist as they are.

My texts, in moving objects, don’t interpret objects, but they try to give at their turn new descriptions of them, they create their own perceptive paradigms while moving them. As there’s no logic of the double into my poetry, because (at least, I hope) what I write aims to adhere on itself (it’s a sort of mathematical limit, because it is impossible to completely adhere; as Jean-Marie Gleize says, there’s always an even small metaphoric double), my texts, as I was saying before, are themselves to be conceived as objects. Poetry language is for me not a link between (between language and reality, between the world and the word), but language and reality at the same time. I refuse the old metaphysic distinction made between these two faces of the same thing, that is, let’s say, the world-language we live in. So my poetry wants to adhere to its language as it wants to adhere to the concrete, objectual reality expressed in it. There’s no ontologic distinction between these two categories, and the problem of reality is no more a question of something being, let’s say with Richard Rorty, “out-there”.

A good visual example of that is given by the work of the Australian sculptor Ron Mueck. His work has been defined “hyperrealistic”, but I would say that it’s not exact. While creating highly realistic sculptures of human beings, Mueck produces at the same time a symbolic activity: the language he uses and the world he represents deeply coincide and become almost the same thing. Like, for example, in the following sculpture, Man in blankets:

Fig. 1: R. Mueck, Man in blankets, 2000/01, Kunstgalerie Düsseldorf

This work is a high expression of what I call a world-language, a context, a paradigm in which reality can’t be disconnected from its symbolic values. The man’s face and body are perfectly detailed in a hyperrealistic way, it is true, but, at the same time, the subject is not realistic: a baby with a beard in foetus-like position inside blankets! Reality is always language, and viceversa.

Life and death, adults’ nostalgia of childhood and children’s desire-fear to become an adult: this work generates a world-language questioning some of the biggest issues of human existence. I am trying to obtain (and attain) something similar with my poetry as well.

There’s a last remark I would like to add before approaching some of my texts, and it is about the way they can be conceived as a part of a poetry movement: avant-gardistic, experimental, classical, lyrical, objectivist, and so on. In France and in the US, probably more than in Italy and Germany (I unfortunately don’t know the situation of poetry in other countries enough), there’s a big distinction poets and critics make between lyrism (i.e. traditional, classical poetry) and experimentalism (i.e., basically, the Avant-garde heritage).

Although my poetry is objectively quite experimental, when I write I aim to match, more or less, these two writing directions. I really do think that the opposition between sentimental-classical poetry and avant-gardistic poetry cannot work anymore. It can be a nice model to describe poetry maybe even until the 80s, but not contemporary poetry.

It’s a little bit like in music composition: after serialism, neo-classicism, micro-tonalism, purely synthetised music, we can use (and have to conceive) multiple techniques and conceptions coming from different traditions.

So if there’s a point where I need to feel what I write in a direct way and open the door to a lyrical passage, then I do it. I don’t have ideological or “ontological”obstacles for such a practice. But I always pay attention not to fall into merely traditional or sentimental aesthetics, which is always a big risk, maybe the biggest risk in our contemporary conservative and reactionary society.

I am almost not able to accept how a lot of poets, also among much older and more expert poets than me, don’t feel the need to create a deeper language, a language that is much more articulated than the simple language of feelings as traditional literature, movies, religion and media want us to believe.

 

_Lo spostamento degli oggetti: reading of some texts, descriptions of the sections

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Here is a “key-poem” of the book, nell’oscurità fuori [outside in the dark]. You’ll find it in the first section:

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[nell’oscurità fuori / outside in the dark

see texts]

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In reading this text as well as several other texts of the first section (stop in the underpass, half asleep), it is possible to translate “spostamento” with the psychoanalytical term “displacement”. In Italian the word “spostamento” is also used for the freudian “displacement” (Verschiebung in German).

Lo spostamento degli oggetti makes a strong use of  psychoanalysis, but in a very particular way: the psychoanalitical terms and techniques become interesting to me if I consider them as language and logic devices. And I mean this in two senses:

I try to conceive my books not as collections of poems but as “units” where a non-linear narrative takes place into poetry and into every poem, where several series of facts are supersposed and, again, described through new linguistic and perceptive paradigms. Those paradigms, let me say, edit or re-edit the event from a pluridimensional perspective. The non-linear logic, timing and structure of a dream are a perfect example for such a practice. The poem we read has its origin in a dream that somebody had and told me. In this text as in many others, I think of dream as a language. The dream is itself a language and it helps me in expressing a language that has a lot to do with the world we live in, because its narrative and its logic are non-linear as human beings, as history, as reality, as information and media are.

The second sense is very close to the first one and finds a concrete application in this poem. According to several psychoanalytic theories, not only the dream is a language, but the unconscious in general is not “a place in our head”, but a language working with “non-linear” logics that are different from “rational” and “Aristotelian” logic through which we express ourselves in waking. According, in particular, to the Chilean psychoanalysis theoretician Ignacio Matte Blanco, there would be another logic, another language, another way of thinking and feeling inside human beings, that Freud called unconscious and he calls symmetrical logic.

Let me explain you this theory for a while and show you how and why I made use of it in this poem.

At the beginning of first section of Objects Moving, you find this quotation from Matte Blanco’s book:

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Possiamo chiamare questo principio “principio di simmetria”.
[…]
Quando si applica il principio di simmetria non può esserci alcuna successione.
[…]
Quando si applica il principio di simmetria la parte (propria) è necessariamente identica al tutto.

I. MATTE BLANCO, L’inconscio come insiemi infiniti

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Translation of these propositions (from the original English edition, The Unconscious As Infinite Sets): “We can call this principle ‘principle of symmetry’”; “When the principle of symmetry is applied there cannot be succession”; “When the principle of symmetry is applied the (proper) part is necessarily identical to the whole”.

According to Matte Blanco, our unconscious works like that (and in other many ways I won’t speak about because it would take too much time).

1st proposition: this principle is called “of symmetry” because in our conscious and “aristotelic” logic of the waking we make distinctions between things and events that are not made by the logic of the unconscious. If we say “A comes after than B”, then “B comes before A”. It’s an a-symmetrical relation. If we say “A is the brother of B”, this is a symmetrical relation, because it’s also true that “B is the brother of A”. According to the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, all relations, also the a-symmetrical ones, are conceived as symmetrical.

The 2nd proposition explains this aspect very well: in the symmetrical logic, if “A comes after than B”, then “B” can also come after “A”, so that time succession, 3D space rules and other similar relations are rendered in a non-linear way. You remember for sure dreams you had in which you couldn’t say if this or that event came after this or that other event, and even when it seems that you can establish a succession in the events of your dreams, that’s because you “reconstruct” them through your conscious a-symmetrical logic. Or dreams in which a person, like in nell’oscurità fuori, was several different beings superposed in the same space, in the same figure. Matte Blanco calls it a “multidimensional space” where these figures are not superposed, but they coexist in more than three dimensions, and we remember them as superposed because our asymmetrical conscious logic doesn’t allow us to think in more than 3D. This has a lot to do with non-linear and multilinear narrative devices I chose to employ in making poetry, and I have to say that Matte Blanco doesn’t use the words “non-linear” or “multilinear”, that I use in order to describe my work (at least, what I try to do with it!). We’ll see this aspect as we go along.

3rd proposition: following the same symmetrical logic, if we say “A is a part of B”, then “B is a part of A”. So, in mathematical language, the element is identical to the set in which it finds itself and to all other elements belonging to the same set. It’s a symbolic need of the unconscious to behave like that. Let’s take a typical example: Oedipus. Oedipus tears out his eyes as a “symbol” of castration. According to the principle of symmetry, in Oedipus’s unconscious “eyes” and “genitals” are two elements of the same set, which may be called “parts of human body”. For Oedipus’s unconscious eyes and genitals are not connected in a symbolic way, but they are exactly the same thing, and we say that it’s a symbolic relation according to the asymmetrical logic. That is also why we often say that when we dream to lose a tooth we represent our fears connected to castration (even if it’s much more complicated than that). It’s more probable to dream castration those ways because it’s less painful and shameful for our unconscious to represent castration like that, since unconscious has anyway to represent it as an emotional need. It’s a very banal and stupid but clear example. You can think of more original and deeper ones!

There’s another principle, very close to this one, saying that in looking deeper and deeper unconscious behaviors we discover that these sets, as Matte Blanco calls them, have the tendency to become wider: very different elements can be put in symbolic relations by our unconscious and that is why it is so difficult to understand our dreams and moreover, for ex., hallucinations, fantasies, etc (and also why all that is much more complicated than Oedipus’s example!). This principle is called by Matte Blanco principle of generalisation. According to the principle of generalisation, deeper and wider sets are potentially infinite (that’s why Matte Blanco’s book has this title) and sets like “parts of human body” or, let’s say, “white shapes” or “metal objects” are included, for example, in a set called “objects” (why do I use this example of set?) up to an unique, all-embracing and completely hypothetical infinite set that Matte Blanco calls “the whole”.

This is a very good way to explain a typical oneiric process, i.e. condensation: as I already told before, if you dream that a person is at the same time, for ex., your father, your best friend, a dog and god, that’s because all these elements coexist in the same, Matte Blanco would say, multidimensional space of an infinite set and you have an emotional need to represent them into the same set, to give them the same function.

This is basically what this poem, nell’oscurità fuori, does: there’s a nocturnal epiphany of a figure (second stanza) which is also a set that contains “everyone’s presence” and therefore it has no eyes and no face. It’s an abstraction of all people taking part to the story of this person who witnesses (or produces?) this epiphany. This abstract figure may also be “filled” by the reader with his/her own faces, his/her own stories, his/her own needs. Something very simple emerges in this text: a fear, a need of the others, a desire to look at the unknown. But something new and unexpected is also there, because these fears, these needs, these desires are perceived and described through other rules, other paradigms, other logics: the ones that poetry, conceived as a cognitive process, allows us to discover.

Matte Blanco’s theory of unconscious logic in this case and Wittgenstein’s theory of language in lots of others cases, as many others theories and practices of language I might talk about during my topic, gave me some instruments in order to conceive my own poetic rules, my own language.

Let’s just have a look at one text of my new project which is very similar to nell’oscurità fuori:

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[ancora discendendo / still descending          

see texts]

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Besides other aspects I will talk about tomorrow, here there are two themes we already spoke about: the “pocket which could contain everybody” is not that different from the figure of the previous text (containing “everyone’s presence”) and the “work of emergence” has to do with this will to face up to memories, needs, fears and desires through a paradigm, a poetic paradigm able to (re)describe them…

Going back to Lo spostamento degli oggetti and according to what I said until now, the text nell’oscurità fuori gives us the possibility to locate four main motives of the book we are now going to explore:
Non-linear logics and narratives;
Abstraction and polysemy;
The question of metaphysics;
Writing “barefoot, at the sea level”.
And a fifth one which can somehow incorporate the previous four: the linguistic search of poetic paradigms of description and perception.

Before looking at other poems, let me stay a little more outside in the dark and show you better how these motives take place into this poem.

I think I talked enough, for now, about non-linear logics in approaching Matte Blanco’s model. Concerning non-linear narratives, I think that it’s better to examine other texts where this motive is more used and clearer.

2) Principles of generalisation and symmetry are a good definition of “abstraction”. The figure containing “everyone’s presence” is an abstraction of several individual figures. And also the fact that the person acting (she) and the person sleeping (he) don’t have a name or a precise function contribute to this abstraction, which can be “filled” by reader’s individual perception of the text. In many of my poems you will find this technique of composition: the beings acting are told at the third person. The lyrical traditional “I” often doesn’t exist, and there are only third persons, beyond feelings, inside acts. This works even better in Italian, because you often don’t have to specify with a noun or a pronoun who or what is making the action, so that in other poems you even don’t know if it’s a man or a woman or something else acting. This technique has been used a lot by an Italian poet which is very important to me, Antonio Porta (1935-1989), and caused by the way many problems in translating the texts into French, English and German.

Another point about abstraction is that I often try to switch inside the same poem between abstract and concrete semantical fields, following this conception (very common, by the way) that words are objects. Abstract words are also concrete objects (“perception shifts and unlocks a figure behind her”: abstraction causes a concrete event), and concrete semantical fields have a conceptual power (“she folds the pajama for the night”). All the words are for me on the same level. That is also why I only use small letters, even for the names of places (like “pompidou” or “tiergarten”, as we will read in another poem).

Let’s say something more about polysemy: in my poetry, polysemy doesn’t have to be conceived as a metaphoric bedding, but as a form of generalisation and abstraction itself. As I told, I think of poetry as a possibility. You remember Michel Deguy’s quotation. My texts are supposed to open infinite meaning possibilities, a generalisation of meanings, following Matte Blanco’s model, a widening of sets until an all-embracing and infinite multidimensional set of meanings. But I think that, differently to some literature theoreticians as f. ex. one of my masters, Francesco Orlando (which I appreciate a lot, by the way), Matte Blanco’s model can’t be applied to describe the “essence” of literature, can’t be used everytime and everywhere in order to represent an alternative but still metaphoric rhetoric system. Matte Blanco’s model is for me a composition device, a cognitive attitude, and a very particular model of polysemy.

In my poetry, if polysemy is infinite and open, an infinite abstract set, a widening of possibility, then it’s not a metaphoric structure. Meta-phor comes from the Greek word meta-phero, meta-phorein, which means to bring something somewhere else, or at the place of something else, making a substitution. Here everything is inside the poetical expression, there’s no phorein. Polysemy, in my conception (and I hope it works!), doesn’t undermine but coincide somehow with the literalness, the literalism of the poem, who still speaks, 4) off its own bat, barefoot, at the sea level. The figure without eyes in this poem is a polysemic figure, but it’s clearly polysemic, it’s not a metaphor of something else, it’s just the infinite possibility of a figure.

As quotation opening the third section, I put the following proposition of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus logico-philosophicus: “Objects contain the possibility of all situations”.

3) Metaphysics. The epiphany of the figure incorporating everybody has something metaphysical. In this sense, it is important to notice that this figure “neither says nor wants a thing”. As I told before speaking about Wittgenstein, I reject the conception of a metaphysical power of language, including poetry, even if I find necessary to consider metaphysics as a poetical problem and sometimes to keep open a “narrow” metaphysical possibility into poetry.

A very well known Wittgenstein’s proposition is: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.” (About the things one cannot talk, one should keep silent). On the other side, also the figure in my poem doesn’t speak and doesn’t have a will.

Metaphysics, if you want to call it like that, can’t be said and it doesn’t speak and doesn’t have a will itself, it’s an abstract being, and, also in this sense, a polysemic possibility.

Matte Blanco, on his side, speaks only a little bit about the hypothetical infinite set “the whole”, but he admits at a certain point that this is his conception of God…

There’s another sentence I find very important about this issue, and it comes from Andrea Zanzotto: “La poesia per me continua ad essere globale, totale, e quindi si può dire metafisica, in quanto urta sempre contro il limite” (Poetry for me is still global, total, and therefore it can be said metaphysical, since it hits always against the limits).

These limits are of course the limits of language. Poetry goes against the limits of language because it changes language rules, it produces its own paradigms going towards the limits of what can be grammatically, emotionally and “gnoseologically” said.

I argue with Zanzotto that the question of the limits and the metaphysical question are deeply connected in poetry. That is probably also why everytime I want to represent in poetry a metaphysical movement of language, I think of something not really definable, speakable, visible coming from outside and being there, as it was this “something” that bumped into the limit somehow before we made it, or maybe something we made bump beyond the limit without knowing we were doing it. So, probably, the word “metaphysics” is not the best one to describe this movement. Again, here, there’s no meta”! In nell’oscurità fuori it’s the shifting of perception which allows the figure to produce itself into our world. In another text, opaque, somebody tells the third person acting in the poem that the obstacle he sees is false, and then something happens beyond the limit. Let’s read it:

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[opaco / opaque

see texts]

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This is the most metaphysical poem of the book, because the “lyrical he” (let’s say from now at the place of the “lyrical I”) makes something that takes him to be blinded before something that is impossible to see and to say. This issue is underlined by the quotation of Tommaso Campanella at the beginning of the first section of my book:

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Indebolite luci e moti e forze

delle cose, che batton la muraglia
del carcer che n’abbaglia,
sentiamo noi, non le possenti e dive;
perché sfarian la nostra fragil maglia.

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I’ll try a translation: “We only feel weakened lights, movements and forces of things, that bump into the wall of the dazzled jail, not the powerful and divine; as they would destroy our fragile mail”.

In another text of the third section, it is the simple action of looking at the branches of a tree that produces an instant of metaphysical feeling going silent together with the objects that had accompanied that feeling right before:

 

[cosí le cose della casa / so things at home

see texts]

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Circumstances of the poem (Paris, Berlin).

Where are the stairs and the landing (Tacheles)

The branches are of Tiergarten.

Importance of the line: “this inexplicable lack of data continues”. It says a lot about the topics we’re discussing together.

The expression “without eyes” was already in nell’oscurità fuori. This is a technique you may find several times in my poetry. I love patterns and iterations: as sculptors like Fontana and Pomodoro or composers as Giya Kancheli and Arvo Pärt, I choose to repeat some expressions or situations that I find significant. There are several identical or slightly altered expressions and parts that are repeated inside Lo spostamento degli oggetti and much more in Ridefinizione (my current project), and even from one book to the other.

This aspect has also to do with another oneirical process I employ sometimes in my poetry, in which there are, for example, two things or two persons that seem to be the same but are also slightly different.

But, more in general, I strongly believe that art has to be made with a few instruments, a few colours that have been chosen in a very accurate way, since they have to deeply adhere to what we are and what we make. I always loved those artists (in every field) for which you can easily say “it’s him”, “it’s her”! When you see a Spatial Concept by Lucio Fontana or a movie by Akira Kurosawa, you’re sure you can’t go wrong in guessing who’s the author.

Two other style patterns of my poetry are: small letters everywhere and everytime (I already spoke about it) and white spaces at the place of punctuation marks.

White has a relation to the metaphysical topic we’re discussing. I have to say that I really don’t like those poets who speak today about the metaphysical silence of the white, or the Origin deleted under the white silence of the page, and so on, as if we couldn’t go beyond Stéphane Mallarmé (a poet that I love, by the way) or Paul Celan (another poet that is very important to me). 

White for me is semantically dense, is a part of the text, a sort of “noise” on which the poem is said. Of course, it can also represent, like in opaco, a break in what can be said, something that can’t be said and therefore goes silent (cosí le cose della casa).

Anyway, it is always used like a rest in music scores: the quantity of white, in my texts, determines the length of the rests between words. I try to pay a lot of attention to this aspect while I read.

I think we can stop here, for now, with the question of metaphysics, and go back to the other three main motives of the book that I mentioned before. As a reminder, they are:
Non-linear logics and narratives;
Abstraction and polysemy;
Writing “barefoot, at the sea level”.

We discussed a lot the question of abstraction and polysemy thanks to nell’oscurità fuori, but we maybe need to say more about the question of non-linear narratives and writing barefoot, at the sea level in reading some other texts.

Let’s start from the first point and take another text as an example. You will also recognize there some language paradigms and techniques I talked about before:

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[gli sorride immobile / she smiles at him motionless

see texts]

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This poem was inspired by several superposed dreams and events.

The second stanza belongs to a different condition, which still has to do with this action of something indeterminate entering from outside.

The first stanza expresses the idea of the impossibility to decide if someone it’s himself or something else.

The third stanza goes on in the narration originated by the first stanza, but all events happen simultaneously in different times and spaces (beginning of the third stanza).

Moreover, the “empty hotel room” belongs to the same set of the “deserted street” (let’s say, with Matte Blanco’s model, the set called “empty places”). “By the cathedral” has a non-linear semantic relation with “by the snow covered slide”, and the “snow covered slide” has a non-linear semantic relation with “on the bed of snow”.

Several events, thoughts, needs, desires melt into a multidimensional and non-linear succession of facts (re)described into the poem. So the non-linear narratives and logics have a deep relation to the production of different rules and paradigms of description of the world-language, because they allow the emergence, into the semantics of the poem, of hidden and deeper aspects of events and feelings (do you remember: “a work of emergence” in the more recent text I read?).

In this case, it’s a history of distance and difficulty in communicating between a man and a woman that is completely redescribed through multidimensional and oneiric narratives, so that the poem goes beyond its own history and becomes a cognitive approach.

Bed of snow: the image comes probably from Paul Celan (even if I didn’t think about his Schneebett when I wrote it) more than Cesare Pavese or other poets who used this expression.

German-speaking poetry has a big influence in what I write. I still remember the astonishment when I discovered, for example, Bertolt Brecht’s Psalmen, Rainer Maria Rilke’s Gong, Hugo von Hofmannsthal early poetry, Ernst Jandl’s sound poetry, and, more recently, Durs Grünbein’s Grauzone morgens or Dieter M. Gräf’s Treibender Kopf.

About Celan in particular, I could list many reasons why his poetry is so important to me. I would like here to recall a technique that I find typical of his work as well as of another poet of his same generation, that I admire: the French poet André Du Bouchet (by the way, Celan and Du Bouchet translated each other reciprocally). It’s about what I call rarefaction. Celan’s and Du Bouchet’s poetry are two masterly examples of sobriety, synthesis and semantic concentration of the poetical expression. Their styles are very different, but, especially, of course, in their best works, you can perceive the weight, the necessity of their words inside the space of the page, the synthesis and deepness of their semantics, the concentration of every single sentence. That is what I call rarefaction and I often try to bring this technique into my poetry. 

Let’s read another poem deeply concerned by the same issue:

.

[siamo tutti nel corridoio / we are all in the corridor

see texts]

 

The corridor is a “pattern” that appears also in the previous text.

The “key-lines” of the event’s non-linear narrative: “the film shot that summer / when we will all be together   at home”.

The past (shot) and the future (when we will be) are moved out of their usual grammatical functions to describe an utopian space of re-union and salvation. This poem (re)describes (I often say like that even if I am not completely glad of this expression, I should find another one but I wasn’t able to do it for now) a collective situation (we is the main pronoun acting) of  loss and rejoining. The reunion can be said, but only in the space of the utopia, which is given by a non-linear time succession.

The space of utopia has here something to do with media, as a sort of parallel and alternative story, a fiction (there’s a tv showing). Media are also the context in which a higher degree of cognition is darkened: “then something    dims the video / at the threshold”.

Again something that has to do with bumping into the limits (metaphysics).

As I was saying at the beginning, (re)describing through poetic paradigms doesn’t mean to avoid the adherence between the poetical and itself. Here we come again to the question of writing barefoot, at the sea level, of writing following the mathematical limit of literalism, in writing texts that present the situation off their own bat.

This approach really became a sort of method into the third section which has not accidentally the same title of the book: lo spostamento degli oggetti.

In the text tre eventi the wish to write in a literal way, to describe the language-reality as it is, is concretely connected to a multidimensional narrative procedure:

 

[tre eventi / three events

see texts]

 

We could say the same for cosí le cose della casa, already quoted before, which is also a text of the third section.

It’s very difficult to comment on the texts of the third section, because in their tendence to be litteral they’re completely evident, I guess. Even when metaphysics as a limit, as an impossibility said into the poem, come back:

 

[in questi spazi minimi / in these minimal spaces

see texts]

 

To conclude, I do think that in Lo spostamento degli oggetti there are no ontological distinctions between language and reality, objects and words, polysemy and litteralness, single event and multiple possibility of the event. Here, somehow, poetry is tautological, because it includes all possibilities, it’s a “p or ~p” proposition, like in these lines of Fernando Pessoa I always loved: “Myth’s the nothingness that’s everything. / The very sun opening the sky / is a silent shining myth./  God’s dead body, / naked and alive”.

I would like to add a last consideration about, almost, the psychological attitude that I assumed in writing this book, and I will do it in reading the English translation I tried to make of the last part of an essay on my work I wrote one year ago for the Anterem website and the review Testo e Senso. Flavio Ermini, the editor-in-chief of Anterem, was the first that proposed to me to think over my poetry and write something about it.

“I think that poetry is a continuous work on the unknown. The poet has to look for a balance point between the control of the language employed and the emergence of obscure parts, that you can’t determine through the creation process adopted (Hofmannsthal was deeply conscious of this aspect…let’s think for example of Ein Brief). This balance point is also a suture point, almost an identity point. So that in the ‘external’ creation process the play among controlled and unknown values begins to structure the text’s signifiers ‘from inside’. Poetry, so to speak, returns and outlines what happened during the moment of writing and reproduces through language the doubt on the state of control of the creative process, facing the emergence of external values that hadn’t been searched. I think it is worth trying not to pretend a complete control of these values and of the poetry work itself. One could say like that: I try to play with uncontrolled values, I evoke them, I integrate them into the creative process and try to find a balance point between what I know of my work (and of myself) and what, on the contrary, avoids control. Maybe also in this sense it has been said that we write in order to learn how to die (Ilse Aichinger). And, I would like to add, one writes poetry in order to learn how to live, because in writing (and living) we integrate our fear, philogenetically as ontogenetically, of all we never knew or don’t remember anymore.”
For every text I already spoke about as well as for the new text I will speak about, I never pretend that the theoretical outline or the technical and linguistic procedures consciously employed fulfil the knowledge of the text. Poetry always says more than what we tell about it.

 

_Sound installations and electronic readings

 

Installations: o.m., sosta#1, sosta#3 (these last two with texts from Lo spostamento degli oggetti)

Lo spostamento degli oggetti and Ridefinizione electronic readings (video of Berlin – Ausland, speak about STEIM, collaboration with Paolo, readings at Printemps des Poètes and Arezzo Poesia, etc.): from installation to electronic reading.

I call my installations and performances reading environments, i.e. spaces where my texts, that have not been originally wrote for such a purpose, can be experienced in dialogue with electronics and sound art.

It’s a sort of responsibility: poetry has to get in communication with digital media.

A politic responsibilty, because it is a direct manner through which poetry can speak out against massive and a-critical uses of digital media.

Sober and technically advanced treatments of the voice (my reading voice is the sole sound material that I use in these contexts) allow to “enhance” some semantical aspects of the poem.

For those who are interested, treatments are mainly: filtering (only a little bit, reverbs and ring modulators as first choices), voice design and morphing, voice multi-channel live surround.

A reading environment is a space where the public can encounter my texts in a way determined by the reading voice and the treatments, as in a normal reading the way the text is perceived and experienced depends only on the way the text is read. So terms like installation or performance are only prearranged concepts that may explain what I do, but they are not really good terms in order to define the way I conceive this aspect of my work.

This means that:
Reading environments are only one possible way of reading my poetry, that can still be read in a “classical” way, without any loss;
According to the attention I pay in order to avoid what Wittgenstein calls the logic of the double, reading environments are not conceived as a double of the text, or a meta-text. They also adhere to the text. Digital treatments applied on spoken voice are seen as part of the poetry reading, they don’t interfere and don’t say more about the text, they just enhance some semantic sides of it and let poetry and voice interact with the computer.

Therefore, I am not that sure anymore that I am going to create new sound installations. I think that the simple reading with digitally processed spoken voice is more coherent with such a theoretical and aesthetical perspective.

The objects inside an installation space may have a big risk: to move the reader/listener away from the poems, which must be kept as the main point of the work. And they also might interfere with the adherence I spoke about. I am still thinking over these problems. Sometimes I think that I should keep the idea of an installative space, but without objects, only a white or perhaps even better black room where poems’ live reading is diffused in multi-channel surround and people are supposed to move without seeing each other, being completely inside, themselves adhering to the sound of the reading voice, to the texts, to the reading environment.

 

_On Ridefinizione

 

Ridefinizione [Redefinition] is the title of my current project. It is conceived, even more than Lo spostamento degli oggetti, as a sort of unique book where several events and themes are weaved together as to form a non-linear plot.

Even if Ridefinizione has a theoretical background that is quite similar to Lo spostamento degli oggetti, other aspects of this background are more enhanced here.

A first, evident difference is the form of the texts: the texts of Ridefinizione are squares. I kept the small letters as well as the white spaces between words.

Sometimes the form of the square “explodes”. They are often situations in which a possibility of salvation is envisaged. We will see it as we go along.

First, let me describe the book with more details.
Until a short time ago, there were four sections, but they became three, because I will scatter the fourth one into the other three. The first section, forme del buio [forms of the dark] consists in a series of events and theoretical remarks functioning as a sort of antecedent fact (the title before was aderente    non lineare [adhering    non linear]).

In the following text, for example, I express one of the main themes of the book: the change of paradigm is often enunciated at the conditional tense, as a possibility, a hypothesis that has to be formulated beside two impediments, two obstacles:
A cognitive obstacle: in this book, language tries often to imagine the real as our senses had a different biological configuration, which is a paradox;
A political obstacle: even when a concretely possible different paradigm is enunciated, it is difficult to carry it into effect because the mediatic and political situation has an interest in maintaining knowledge and action paradigms we have already. So the cognitive problem becomes a political problem.

.

[se non fosse per le cose di una vita / if it wasn’t for those objects in a life

see texts]

.

The first and the last sentence (“if it wasn’t…”) denote the obstacles I spoke about before. The rest of the poem speaks about how to conceive a possible paradigm beyond these obstacles.

Sort of external perspective of this text (and of the whole section): remarks, thoughts before a very particular sort of “fiction” takes place in the book.

After the first section aderente    non lineare there are two longer sections, emette brusii [it buzzes] and lavoro di emersione [work of emergence] (we already read a text of this section, as you remember).

The section emette brusii [it buzzes] is specifically political and a part of its texts, as it’s written in the book itself, are generated by news found on the web about conflicts and violences in Middle East areas, especially Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The reasons why I chose news talking about these areas will be clearer as we go along. I can say for now that four aspects always interested me:
The daily iteration of news concerning the Middle East conflicts;
The historical and political importance of Middle East events today (I believe that poetry still has to talk about main aspects and questions of human life);
The way web information speaks about those conflicts: one can often find descriptions of horrible events that, because of the frenquency in which such events occur (point 1), become shorter and shorter (just the number of deaths, the place of the event, the source of the information);
The way such events appear very “opaque” through media information: even if there are still detailed articles about Middle East conflicts, it seems often that somebody wants to hide a more precise information, or even that the real situation is so complicated that it is impossible to describe it.

It is a question of iteration and non-linearity between events and information: either the event itself isn’t linear, or it is the mediatic information that is not directly connected to the event as it occurred.

Poetry, through iteration techniques and non-linear narratives, can function here as a sort of critical instrument.

In order to produce a critical dialogue between poetry and these issues, I proceeded in the following way: first, I made a database with a series of web news on significant events. Then I copied and pasted some parts of them into my “squares” and wrote my own text somehow “inside” them, splitting articles in several parts and entering my text between these parts. At the end, I erased the news and left my text, recomposing and readjusting it.

In such a procedure, itself non-linear, the event and the way it is told are not there anymore in the text, which is conceived somehow “after” the information, as to testify a deeper layer of its emotional result: a sort of undetermined and forgotten nucleus of pain coming from unknown events occurring “out-there” (the Middle East conflict spaces) that are transposed through media into western bourgeois spaces:

.

[la ventola deriva / the fan drifts  

see texts]   

.

The undetermined element of the “plastic bag” containing a suffering being has, besides its political function, a relation to some themes we met talking about Lo spostamento degli oggetti, and it’s mainly about the “epiphany of the unknown”.

An image that is quite similar to this one, as you might remember, occurs at the end of the third section of Lo spostamento degli oggetti: “the certainty we can’t return / to the place where something was breathing / and bleeding in the grass”.

The theme of the “unknown” and the “undetermined” has, as many other themes inside Ridefinizione, two or more “faces”, sometimes a positive, other times a negative or a neutral face.

In the previous text the unknown hides and shows at the same time something terrible. In the following text belonging to the first section (forms of the dark), for example, the experience of the epiphany of the unknown reminds somehow of the atmosphere we found in opaco, therefore it is completely neutral, though emotionally deep:

.

[siamo entrati nel giardino di notte / we entered the garden at night

see texts]

.

The end of this text, that echoes a line of an unfortunately quite unknown posthumous poem by Paul Celan (als wäre der Weg schon durchmessen), talks about a cognitive examination of the real, and has to do with metaphysics as with the world-language we live in: there’s something we don’t know and we won’t probably never know, but we can try, through poetry, to describe an epiphany of the unknown “as we could” experience it. This is what I would like to call, referring to the conditional mood, a conditional (cognitive) attitude.

This attitude can allow us to imagine through poetry at least how we could cross the cognitive and the political obstacle I was talking about.

The conditional mood opens a space of possibility, but, at the same time, it makes the poem able to say something not belonging, or not belonging anymore, to the space of possibility, because if this “something” could be conceived, then it would be expressed through the indicative mood. Several apparently contradictory aspects coexist here.

What I call conditional attitude must be seen beyond the simply grammatical conditional mood. A conditional attitude consists in saying a possibility that didn’t belong to reality before.

This aspect can be explained very well through cinema.. Two beautiful cinematographic examples of the conditional attitude are:
The end of Spike Lee’s movie The 25th hour, when the father tells the protagonist how his life would be if they didn’t take the road to the prison where the protagonist has to spend 7 years of his life.
David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive: almost all the film is, again, a non-linear storytelling (the narrative structures of Lynch’s movies deeply influenced my work) of how the protagonist would have liked her life to be. In this case, the conditional mood is a negative “device”, because it is the product of the hallucinatory activity of the protagonist.

From a political point of view, this method, which is basically a fiction method, a paradigm of fiction, can allow us to imagine the margins of a story, a story that is a part of our non-linear and itself partial history and is obtained in rendering poetry an “emission device” and a critical procedure, like in this text of the second section, emette brusii [it buzzes]:

.

[la notizia è udita in tutti i luoghi dotati di un dispositivo di diffusione / you can hear the news wherever there is an emission device

see texts]

.

The “dizziness” is the product of the “blinding distance” through which information comes to us. Here we know that there’s an invasion, that someone gets in somewhere with violence, in a place where a television is turned on. Noise covers something violent happening. It’s maybe the noise of the television itself.

But there’s a contradiction: “we forced the door” and “we had the keys”. Where’s the “truth”?

It’s a little bit like, so to make another cinematographic example, in Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa, where the same story is told in four different ways, with a lot of contradictions, and these ways seem all to be “the truth”.

Here poetry is a multidimensional storytelling, a multiple truth rendering the non-linearity of the real and the further layer of non-linearity added by media and information.

The “plastic bag”, one of the many patterns inside this book (I’ll talk about it later), is also abandoned and forgotten, but somewhere else.

In the last text of this second section, the being inside the plastic bag, bleeding and moaning, manages to go out. Here there’s a possibility of salvation, a possibility of (re)describing, of changing the real, and therefore the “square” of the text, a sort of prison or theatre stage or television with words inside, explodes:

 

[sanguinante nel sacchetto / bleeding in the plastic bag 

see texts]                           

.

Here, as in many other texts, the impossibility to establish everywhere the grammar and the syntax of the sentences has a deep relation to this need poetry has for me to render the complexity and non-linearity of the world-language. I use a lot rhetoric figures like anacoluthon and apokoinou (show them inside the text).

The section emette brusii ends with this text, so that it’s impossible to know how this “story” goes on, if there’s somebody in the straw, able to rescue the dying being.

We can now temporarily identify some recurring themes and techniques inside Ridefinizione:
Non-linear narratives and logics, as in Lo spostamento degli oggetti, but with a more radical approach on the whole text; I will call this approach multidimensional narrative editing of the macro-text: several stories and several meaning levels inside the same story are put in dialogue and superposed through the whole book. This aspect will be clearer as we will speak about the third and the fourth sections.
The theme of the undetermined, of what can or can’t be said/known.
The conditional attitude: a possibility of (re)describing the real in order to imagine how it would be modified if it was possible to modify it, if it would be possible to cross the cognitive and the political obstacle.

As we’ll notice even better as we go along, there’s no more distinction between form and content. Formal techniques are also themes, and vice versa. Exactly like in the “square” of text, which is not only a form.

The third section, called lavoro di emersione [work of emergence] enhances and expands these themes in adding other narrative dimensions interacting with the two other sections.

In particular, there’s a third “obstacle” added to the cognitive and political ones. I will call it emotional obstacle.

The emotional obstacle is mainly represented by two themes: childhood and communication between human beings. Ridefinizione crosses several non-linear plots of memories, experiences and feelings that have been normalized (i.e. they lost their centralness as emotions, the became daily non-verbal parts of the self).

The conditional attitude is applied to these themes as well, so that the poem often proceeds with paradigms and logics that open a space of possibility to conceive an event of the past or of the present as it might have happened or should have happened or could happen, in order to call upon “normalized” and repressed memories, experiences and desires to speak. 

This procedure allows sometimes the composition of texts that may appear as a sort of contemporary “elegy”. The conditional mood is used itself as a sort of elegiac technique through which the loss, typical of the elegiac form, reaches our present, and completely disgregates the elegiac form itself:

.

[eri nel sottoscala / you were under the stairs

see texts]

.

“you were” suddenly becomes the present: “i feed you”. Then turns back in the past tense in the middle of the second stanza: “you knew we had to go”. At the end, the conditional mood: “i would have liked to tell you where i was”. The present tense comes back in the whole last stanza.

Basically as in Lo spostamento degli oggetti, a difficulty of communication between a man and a woman is (re)described here in order to make hidden or repressed dimensions appear and emerge: work of emergence. The elegy is not more an elegy, but, again, a cognitive approach.

In another text, the plot technique that I called multidimensional narrative editing of the macro-text becomes itself a theme, in dialogue with the “childhood-theme”, the “unknown-theme” and the conditional attitude:

.

[in quel movimento di correre / in that movement of running

see texts]


Multiple perspectives: running in a body, running up to a body, running up a body. I use parentheses also in other texts in order to give a polysemic approach to the sentence.

Feeling another “body larger than ours” is for me the expression of childhood. Childhood is mentioned, by the way, in the second stanza, as well as the conditional mood: “it would mean”.

The first stanza, as in several other cases inside this book, is interrupted: “perhaps   a story”. The non-linear narrative of the story/ies and what I called in cosí le cose nella casa (in Lo spostamento degli oggetti) the “inexplicable lack of data” cause often the “incompleteness” of the text.

Non-linearity and the lack of data on everything are two fundamental properties of reality as we, the human beings, experience it. My poetry, since I consider it as a part of the real (do you remember: no distinction, no solution of continuity between reality and language, we all live in a world-language) is therefore itself non-linear. I might say, to use another scientific definition, that world and language is a complex system. But I don’t like the term “system”, as you can easily understand. There’s no “system”. I’d rather prefer to call it “model”. We produce models and we are now able to produce complex, multidimensional and non-linear models.

The lack of data is another main cause of the conditional attitude: we don’t have enough information, so that we need to find other paradigms in order to describe the world as we knew more about it. This is basically another way to call what I called before the cognitive obstacle.

The same thing may be said relating to the emotional obstacle, so that the work of emergence consists in going beyond the lack of data generated by the emotional obstacle and tell our story in another way.

But this aspect has also to do with the political issue: politics, more and more, don’t use media in order to inform, to testify the complexity of history (and stories happening inside it), but as a bad conditional attitude, as a bad change of paradigm. It’s very simple, even banal, I would say, and it’s incredible that there are people who don’t realize it: media (several sorts of fictions, motion pictures, news, videogames, etc.) (re)describe how they would like the events to be in order to determine the way people have to think and believe.

Poetry can (and has to, I think) conceive strategies against such a practice. The following text of work of emergence continues somehow the fiction of the text you can hear the news, contained in the previous section, and says something more about the same event:

.

[quando abbiamo forzato la porta / when we forced the door

see texts]

.

Here we discover that there are people in the apartment. We don’t know if they’re scared because the event of violence already happened or is going to happen. Then information stops: lack of data, political obstacle: “we say we forgot what happened”.

There’s of course a “screen” and it’s on the screen that the plot interrupts again. In the whole book, when the last line of a stanza doesn’t “close” the square and is after a white space (so that it’s not the continuation of the sentence from the previous line), it means that the sentence is interrupted, interrupted because it’s impossible to go on.

There’s something we don’t know or we can’t say for a cognitive reason (like Wittgenstein’s Schweigen), for an emotional reason or, like here, because there’s a more powerful instance that prevents the text from going on.

A last particular: the child is (of course) a connecting point between this story coming from the previous section, it buzzes, and the current section, work of emergence (“childhood-theme” and “political-theme” cross each other).

I am speaking about a very complicated situation: as I was already arguing talking about emette brusii, on the one hand there are events which have a first, simple layer of truth that media sometimes try to partially or completely hide (for example, an event of violence can happen or not: here media are non-linear and the event is linear: non-linear on linear, so to say). On the other hand, there’s a non-linear reality in which truth is much more multiple and complex than how media want people to believe (for example, the political and ethical responsibilities connecting September 11th to the war in Iraq: here media reconstruct a normalizing linear fiction on a non-linear succession of events: linear on non-linear).

It’s like media hid the truth when it’s possible to identify it and showed one single truth when there are many complex ones. So, there’s a high probability that media make the wrong thing!

Let me read for you, without any comment, this news I read on www.reuters.it (I will probably put it in my book):

The Minister of the Interior Jawad Al-Bolani said that Iraq Al-Qaeda head Abu Ayyub Al-Masri would have been killed today in a fight against the militants in the northern part of Baghdad. Bolani and the Minister of Defence General Abdel Kader Jassim said that this information has a high reliability. After another question about al-Masri’s death Bolani added: “If he hasn’t been killed today, he will be killed tomorrow”.

I would now like to attract your attention on the use of the pattern technique inside this book. There are many patterns and repetitions and sometimes they even may appear really obsessing .

Patterns and repetitions are, as I already told about Lo spostamento degli oggetti in making some comparisons with visual arts and music, an important part of my work. In Ridefinizione this technique is even more regularly used than in Lo spostamento degli oggetti: it takes part to the multidimensional narrative editing of the macro-text and gives coherence to the whole project.

Let’s take, for example, the “plastic bag” pattern we met in the second section. In the third section, there’s a white, thick and transparent pocket, a sort of living and sometimes artificial membrane (we already found the membrane in another text, by the way, and we already read a text of Ridefinizione making use of this pattern (still descending)).

In the following text of lavoro di emersione we discover a possible content of the pocket (it’s the only case; in lots of cases the pocket is just there and breathes, in other cases it’s a sort of stomach or in general an organ containing something unknown):

.

[forse la sacca bianca e trasparente / perhaps the white and transparent pocket          

see texts]

.

Wax: René Descartes’s Metaphysical Meditations. An instrument, a paradigm in order to approach the real, the world-language we live in.

This text describes a failure: the communication is not possible, somebody is not there and can’t unfortunately discover the breathing pocket, that could maybe tell him/her/them something more about the cognitive and emotional lack of data he/she/they experienced previously.

Here, as in several other texts we won’t read, there’s another pattern we already found in Lo spostamento degli oggetti: how objects appear and “behave” when nobody is at home (cosí le cose nella casa).

In the following other text, describing also, somehow, a failure, the pocket is a sort of possibility of a wider and deeper perception of reality:

.

[viene aperto l’armadio nella penombra / the wardrobe comes open in semi-darkness

see texts]

.

The pocket belongs, if you remember Matte Blanco’s model, to the same set of the suitcase (we might call it “objects containing something”). The hypothesis is that the suitcase contained reality, and that, through the pocket, a wider perception of reality could be obtained if “we” were not “too busy searching”. Even if there’s no conditional mood, it’s clearly still a conditional (cognitive) attitude.

The figure of the Dutch 17th century painter Jan Vermeer is very important here: I always thought that his paintings represent a sort of enhanced and widened reality. The forms and colours in his paintings are so three-dimensional that they might seem multidimensional and might represent a surplus of reality.

Here we see Vermeer into a mugshot, a police photo: when I was in Amsterdam, I saw once an advertising poster of the Rijksmuseum consisting in a self-portrait of another Dutch painter, Rembrandt, with a word below: “gezocht”, which in Dutch means “wanted”. I changed with Vermeer, because Vermeer was much more useful for my purposes. I liked the political approach of this poster: art is socially dangerous. I think good art definitely is!

Another “pattern” we find in this text is the park. We could argue that it can also be the “public garden” of the second section, emette brusii, where the plastic bag with the suffering being inside was mislaid.

The fourth section of the book was called da 1000m [from 1000m]. I spread its texts during these last days into the three other sections (mainly the first one), but I will still talk about them as they were part of a fourth section, since they are conceived and written using a specific technique:

In emette brusii, as you remember, I produced my text between a “foreign text” (the news about the Middle East conflict) that I copied, pasted and finally erased. In da 1000m I copied parts of articles about creatures living in the deep sea that I found on books and in the web (creatures living under 1000 meters, that is why the title was from 1000m: from 1000 meters of depth, not of height), pasted them into “squares” and, at the end, modified them if necessary and above all erased the names of the creature each article was talking about.

The result can be something like that, and it’s not without humour:

 

le sue ventose sono anche lanterne / its suckers are also lanterns

see texts]

 

Or like that:

 

[il lento battito delle membrane increspate / the slow beat of its ruffled membranes

see texts]

 

As you might notice, I found that the peculiarities of these creatures fit very well in what we can now call the membrane – pocket – digestive system pattern we already met several times talking about the other sections, but there are also other reasons why I chose this subject:

As the membrane – pocket – digestive system pattern denotes something unknown emerging besides the three cognitive, political and emotional obstacles, these animals represent for me another paradigm, a different and mostly unknown reality that is still reality, because these creatures exist, even if they seem so unusual to us. But it’s this strangeness (in the sense of the Italian “strano” – “estraneo” – “straniero” or the French “étrange” – “étranger”: strange also in the sense of foreign, alien) that allows the change of the perception paradigm.

Moreover, these animals live in the deep sea, so that it works very well with my conception of emergence and deepness of repressed meanings.

The way I created these texts also has an exact relation to my conception of adherence, of writing barefoot at the sea level (in this case I should say in the deep sea!): the text is perfectly integrated into the real, it says the peculiarities of a part of the real. The text aims to be the animal.

I chose not to write down the names of the deep sea animals because I wanted this issue to become more general, polysemic and better integrated in the context of the book. Moreover, I followed also here the conception of “depersonalization” of the “lyrical I” into an undetermined being acting at the third person. As you might remember, I already spoke about it concerning Lo spostamento degli oggetti.

These aspects take us to the choice of the title of the whole book, Ridefinizione [Redefinition]:
redefinition of the world-language through multidimensional paradigms of (re)description provided by poetry;
redefinition in the sense of telling something (our intimate story, our childhood, or a social, a political story, a story that is history) in another way, i.e. beyond its cognitive, political and emotional obstacles (the conditional attitude I spoke about belongs also to this aspect);
redefinition in the technical sense of “definition”: poetry as a focusing device of the real, as Vermeer’s painting.

I would like to conclude with a consideration about literary genres. Can the “squares” of Ridefinizione be considered poetry?

Of course we know that prose poetry exists at least since the 19th century. But I don’t think Ridefinizione is prose poetry. The book is considered as a whole, there’s a very particular form of narration, there’s a conceptual and theoretical approach, texts aren’t conceived in a rhetoric­-metaphoric way (exactly as in Lo spostamento degli oggetti).

Ridefinizione is not a form of prose either, because the squares have a precise form, they don’t take the whole page up (like “normal” prose does), they have a very precise, though irregular and deconstructed, rhythm or, besides rhythm (another very complicated question) there are anyway small letters and white spaces, two definite experimental poetry devices.

We could give two possible answers, then:

We don’t care. 20th century taught us that literary genres are merely conventional. The Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi already wrote it at the beginning of the 19th century, by the way. We basically just need to know that Ridefinizione is experimental writing with an aesthetical, ethical, emotional and above all gnoseological approach. Exactly as we don’t need to know if my poetry is avant-garde or neo-avant-garde poetry, or lyrical poetry, or philosophical poetry, or modernist, post-modernist, neo-modernist or whatever poetry. I just would like to underline that it’s experimental in a wider sense. That is very important to me. Again, as a cognitive approach.

If we really do want to discuss the genre, then I would simply say that it’s poetry, knowing that I’m using a conventional term. Jean-Marie Gleize uses the neologism “post-poetry” to define the work of several authors as well as for his own writing. Post-poetry [post-poésie] is poetry considered beyond literary genres. I think in general that we always use conventional names in order to define a very particular concentration, synthesis and critical conception of language and world, of the world-language. Poetry can employ narrative paradigms, can be written in squares instead of lines or metric and still be definitely 100% poetry, because the fact that it’s poetry is decided beyond the form, at the deepest semantical, syntactical, conceptual, emotional, cognitive layers of linguistic expression. And it’s not a question of formalism either (formalism is a very obsolete approach of all the questions concerning poetry in a deeper sense).

 

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