The poem’s forcefield qua khôra, Plato’s “placeless place,” functions as an interstice — an opening or clearing rather than a “site” — defined by indeterminate plasticity and mobility rather than the rigidity of fixed “ground.” The malleability of the poem’s frame opens to a play of transecting forces — an unsettled interval, an open orchestrating lines of force to produce “tension between the homogeneous world and what finds no place in it.”
The poem’s forcefield qua khôra, Plato’s “placeless place,” functions as an interstice — an opening or clearing rather than a “site” — defined by indeterminate plasticity and mobility rather than the rigidity of fixed “ground.” The malleability of the poem’s frame opens to a play of transecting forces — an unsettled interval, an open orchestrating lines of force to produce “tension between the homogeneous world and what finds no place in it.” This interplay of forces produc
It’s fashionable among politically militant avant-garde poetry communities to insist on the inefficacy of the poem, primarily because poetry, we’re told, is ultimately powerless: it lacks the necessary force to fundamentally alter material conditions on the ground, and as a result, it’s all but impotent in the face of supposedly “real” social forces.
Art comes from the excess, in the world, in objects, in living things, that enables them to be more than they are, to give more than themselves […] Art is the consequence of that excess, that energy of force, that puts life at risk for the sake of intensification. — Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth
The poem constitutes (and is constituted by) potential energy resonating from the practically indiscernible event horizon(s) sundering the autonomous contours of discrete operational systems (subject from object from world). As a result, “the poem” is not just language (or, more radically, not even language), but precisely what is left unsaid in the thing itself (and how this excess disrupts the faux placidity of language through readerly engagement). Surplus meaning infloresces between reader, writer, and world in the relational space constituting the poem’s immanent outside, but it’s the poem itself, its words, that allow us to touch this remainder. As such, the poem is not so much cipher (concealing a singularly esoteric content), but an opening, a cut, as Fred Moten has it (after the work of Saidiya Hartman).
For a long time we have divined both order and disorder in the world and projected these as measure and excess. But every poetics led us to believe something that, of course, is not wrong: that excessiveness of order and a measured disorder exist as well. The only discernible stabilities in Relation have to do with the interdependence of the cycles operative there, how their corresponding patterns of movement are in tune.
A sure way to effectively limit the productive dynamism of potential is to cordon energy off into supposedly discrete, closed systems. Unfortunately, most readers (and some writers) view the poem as such a system. The reification of product ropes up and quantifies potential in the money shot of presence, ultimately limiting the surplus energy on tap: in other words, what you see is what there is. This is true of all finite, discontinuous objectivities, including the anthropomorphic-machine and its production of both pleasures and shame, including the production of ossified subject configurations of all types, the nature of which can only truly be defined after the subject has concretized into its own marketable ingress (that is, once the subject is stilled as superject).
A system is defined by its operational closure. A structure is defined by its functional parameters. A process is in touch with a great outside. It is defined by its openness to that great outside: by how it dips into and captures the tendential potentials stirring there. — Brian Massumi, The Principle of Unrest: Activist Philosophy in the Expanded Field
In order to negotiate the philosophically fraught relationship between body and soul, Cicero drew attention to a lost fragment from Aristotle in which the philosopher uses a singularly vile form of torture practiced by Estruscan pirates as an allegory for embodied life.
This time we shall say: ‘Be the dandy of ambiguities. On pain of losing yourself, love only that which overturns your order.’ As for the pig, he wants to put everything definitively in its place, to reduce it to possible profit; he wants everything to be labelled and consumable. — Alain Badiou, “What is it to Live?”
Prolegomena to (Any Future) Process Poetics