Twenty Theses for (Any Future) Process Poetics
In order to celebrate the conclusion of “Prolegomena to (Any Future) Process Poetics,” I’d like to provide a postscript that distills the central concerns of these twelve dense riffs into a series of pointed propositions. The following twenty theses comprise the core of this thinking and will act (I hope) as a lens for future rereading. Thank you, dear readers, for engaging with/in this work.
And before concluding, I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly recognize my coconspirators at Jacket2: thank you Jessica Lowenthal for the invitation, faith, and autonomy to work as I please; and to Kenna O’Rourke for her impeccable editing and endless supply of patience and generosity. Finally, to my friends Divya Victor and Julia Bloch, who I’m assuming are responsible for the invitation. Badass women, the lot, and taken as a constellation, a model for thinking-together-(while-sometimes-necessarily)-apart.
Twenty theses toward (Any Future) Process Poetics
T.1 The poem is ontologically dissevering: necessarily fragmenting and fragmentary.
T.2 Holding concretized, readymade “significance” and “value” in abeyance, the poem functions as a catch, an apparatus used to observe the manifestations and codeterminations of entangling and unfurling world(s).
T.3 So as to render inoperative those ossified subject-configurations most exploitable by market vampirism, the poem tears back the veil of the “real” (where flesh meets fluorescence: body/world) to point to the rachitic frame-structure bolstering becoming.
T.4 However, to genuinely “punch a hole in reality” is to do so from the inside out. One is always already thrown into the world one hopes to effect, so to break the bonds that pin the subject to its element means generating productive distortion, producing a synthetic matrix, umwelt-as-feedback-chamber to counter faux harmony with ameliorative threnody.
T.5 In order to accomplish this task, the poet must not survive the world but wholly and completely reject it — cracking through the shell of concretion to search for the still-living tissue within. As such, rather than reproduce the world, the poet should attempt to fundamentally destroy it.
T.6 It follows, then, that the poem is a tool to adopt a posture of inoperativity, refusing to adopt operational or systemic closure just to attain a level of legibility or digestibility.
T.7 By disrupting fungibility, the poem becomes a commons for readers, a usufruct-in-common to exercise without exhausting its essential, if ultimately invisible, force.
T.8 As such, force is generated in the resonance chamber between two complex operational systems: writer (always already the poem’s first reader) and reader (writer’s coconspirator), “systems” defined by transition, cobecoming in the khôric interval held open by the tension between.
T.9 Oscillating resonance between systems is where true surplus potential lies in wait to “spring forth” (as Holderlin has it). Pulsating potential is generated by surplus energy vibrating between and within their folds, inspiring further, deeper transitions while avoiding the death-knell of reification.
T.10 In order for a “singable remainder” to exist, writer and reader must enter the poem in-occurence, tapping each other’s force in the open of the poem’s immanent outside.
T.11 In-occurence is a “frame,” then, demarcating a mesh of imbricated forces, a network constituting the fabric of the real we will, framing a cross-cut plane of immanence, forces both heteroclite and utterly homogenous interacting in dynamic complexity. Within the limits of this frame, differential processual becomings commingle, creating a dynamic configuration of intensity by which the poem directly addresses the tension produced by forces struggling to articulate themselves.
T.12 It’s not that the poem attempts to neutralize force through this process, but instead, as a force itself, the poem constitutes a “forcefield.”
T.13 That said, the poem’s forcefield produces tension without dialectically synthesizing difference in order to abjure pat representations of the real. The poem’s “power” is its ability to allow these forces to manifest and comingle without wholly neutralizing them.
T.14 Within the forcefield of the poem, reader and writer alternate between disjunctive and conjunctive syntheses to keep the tension taut while amplifying lines of force. Disjunctive syntheses rely on feedback, noise, dissonance, rupture — they produce generative caesurae, drawing attention to the ways potential gets folded into worlding in order to fundamentally foreclose on productive force.
T.15 As a result, the khôric interval, the poem’s grounded-groundlessness, its abgrund, functions as does Walter Benjamin’s lightning strike, “awakening” the reader to a crepuscular liminality.
T.16 As generosity and care, the poem extends itself toward the reader as a cut in the real, and by responding to its call, the reader’s generosity completes the poem’s work, makes the poem fundamentally mean.
T.17 Care and reciprocity transform the subject in the lightning flash of surplus asking her to refract, only to return to herself as witness to the poem’s unilateral grace. Through kharis, the reader participates in the event horizon of excess, using it as a tool to disrupt world(s).
T.18 Consequently, the poem bridges the abyss separating reader from writer without ever putting the two in direct contact. It creates proximity. The “poem,” rather than merely words, is the process of producing proximity through the disruption of inoperative encounter.
T.19 The attempt to bridge this abyss is an act of love. To love in practice is to inaugurate an intercarnational umwelt spanning the abyss between, an event of encounter, of generosity: usufruct rather than possession.
T.20 To risk love is to enter the “pleroma,” the totality of the fullness of shared experience as it presents itself in intimate disjunction, bridging and preserving difference as the distension of multiplicity. Resonating somewhere between gift and event, gift as event, the poem is a cipher of the khôric abyss of in-difference.
Adams, Henry. Novels; Mont Saint Michel; The Education. New York: The Library of America, 1983.
Adnan, Etel. “The Cost of Love We Are Not Willing to Pay.” Documenta (13): The Book of Books. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012.
Adorno, Theodor. Aesthetic Theory. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.
_____. Quasi una fantasia: Essays on Modern Music. New York: Verso, 1992.
Agamben, Giorgio. The Idea of Prose. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995.
_____. The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.
_____. Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.
_____. The Time that Remains: A Commentary on the Letter to the Romans. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.
Attali, Jacques. Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
Badiou, Alain. Conditions. New York: Continuum, 2008.
_____. In Praise of Love. New York: The New Press, 2012.
_____. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003.
_____. “What is it to Live?” in Gilles Châtelet. To Live and Think Like Pigs. Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic, 2014.
Bataille, Georges. The Accursed Share: Volume 1. New York: Zone Books, 1991.
_____. Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.
Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999.
Bourriaud, Nicolas. The Exform. Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2016.
Butler, Judith. “To Sense What Is Living in the Other: Hegel’s Early Love.” Documenta (13): The Book of Books. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012.
Châtelet, Gilles. To Live and Think Like Pigs. Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic, 2014.
Cioran, E. M. “Encounter with the Void.” The Hudson Review 23, no. 1 (Spring 1970).
Colucciello Barber, Daniel. “Commentarial Nothingness.” Glossator Volume 7: "The Mystical Text (Black Clouds Course Through Me Unending … )." Nicola Masciandaro and Eugene Thacker, eds. 2013.
Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.
Duncan, Robert. Bending the Bow. New York: New Directions Books, 1968.
Faber, Roland. “Bodies of the Void: Polyphilia and Theoplicity.” Apophatic Bodies: Negative Theology, Incarnation, and Relationality. Chris Boesel and Catherine Keller, eds. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010.
_____. The Divine Manifold. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2014.
Fenves, Peter. The Messianic Reduction: Walter Benjamin and the Shape of Time. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.
Glissant, Édouard. Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1997.
Grosz, Elizabeth. Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.
_____. The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.
Hamacher, Werner. Pleroma: Reading in Hegel. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.
Heidegger, Martin. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1995.
Hénaff, Marcel. The Price of Truth: Gift, Money, and Philosophy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.
Hölderlin, Frederich. Hölderlin’s Sophocles: Oedipus & Antigone. Northumberland, UK: Bloodaxe Books, 2001.
Homer. The Iliad. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951.
Horvat, Srećko. The Radicality of Love. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2016.
Howe, Susan. Frame Structures: Early Poems, 1974–1979. New York: New Directions, 1996.
Keller, Catherine. Cloud of the Impossible: Negative Theology and Planetary Entanglement. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
Kolozova, Katerina. The Cut of the Real: Subjectivity in Poststructuralist Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe. Poetry as Experience. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.
Levinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 2016.
MacLachlan, Bonnie. The Age of Grace: Charis in Early Greek Poetry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.
Massumi, Brian. The Principle of Unrest: Activist Philosophy in the Expanded Field. London, UK: Open Humanities Press, 2017.
_____. Semblance and Event. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013.
_____. 99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2018.
Moten, Fred. Black and Blur. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.
_____. In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
_____. The Universal Machine. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.
Nancy, Jean-Luc. Being Singular Plural. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.
Negarestani, Reza. “The Corpse Bride: Thinking with Nigredo.” Collapse IV. Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic, 2008.
Pizarnik, Alejandra. “[All night I hear the noise of water sobbing.].” The Galloping Hour: French Poems. Patricio Ferrari and Forrest Gander, trans. New York: New Directions, 2018.
Ribas, João. Splitting, cutting, writing, drawing, eating … Gordon Matta-Clark. Lisbon, Portugal: Culturgest, 2017.
Rimbaud, Arthur. “Delirium.” A Season in Hell. New York: New Directions, 2011.
Sauvagnargues, Anne. Artmachines: Deleuze, Guattari, Simondon. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2016.
_____. Deleuze and Art. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.
Scalapino, Leslie. The Front Matter, Dead Souls. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1996.
_____. How Phenomena Appear to Unfold. Elmwood, CT: Potes and Poets Press, 1989.
_____. Objects in the Terrifying Tense / Longing from Taking Place. New York: Roof Books, 1993.
_____. The Public World / Syntactically Impermanence. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1999.
Spicer, Jack. The Collected Books of Jack Spicer. Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow Press, 1999.
Uexküll, Jakob von. A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
_____. Theoretical Biology. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1926.
Vycinas, Vincent. Earth and Gods. The Hague, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, 1961.
Wall, Thomas Carl. Radical Passivity: Levinas, Blanchot, and Agamben. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1999.
Yountae, An. The Decolonial Abyss: Mysticism and Cosmopolitics from the Ruins. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017.
Ziarek, Krzysztof. The Force of Art. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.
Zukofsky, Louis. “A”. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press, 1993.