Eye, Ear, Nose…

I want to know about the nose and its utility in poetry. One question is, Among organs, does the nose know (intuit??) more about verse and lyric than the eye, the throat, or even the ear? The nose, for example, makes a lot of mid-alphabet letters pronounceable -- such as N or M (see below). And if the nose makes something pronounceable, it's hummable, too, and that could just be the sloping tip, for the nose, to its lyric purpose. Hard to know what the heart, the soul, the tush may be 'saying' without sizing up other body functions, and today I would include humming from the nose.

Anyway, for starters, who among fabulists has a nose for poetry? do you think?

So long as we are thinking about body parts, seems timely to hear from Brenda Iijima. Her following essay gets us back to the vitality of ear issues: sight between the ears, the ear drum's complicity within echolalia, holding one's breath from the ears down, and so forth. It's impromptu, she says, and ready now for us to review.

For Jack, Nada and Ron

See with ears.

But here, (for now) hearing with eyes: approach an (any) angular K, its two musket-like extensions coming together at an axis, (seemingly contorting the shape of an X) with legs equally shaped, grounding these rifles aimed skyward to hear potential gun fire, or a lull in the armistice, arms at rest, the prolongment of cacophonous echoes from K.

M’s shape suggests melifousness and plentiful mountainous curves associated with ample landscape not worn down in time, retaining peaks and valleys. M’s sound does not end once set forth in time or as we find M in space, on a page, in a landscape, as a landscape. Here, physicality is angled up and down; the key to Italian Renaissance landscape composition, a zigzag construction to lead the eye in, or some would have, back in, others, through. M on its side is that road. How M hums is how the eye follows M from a base, up to its first peak, down to the crevice of valley, up again to a height and down to another stabilizing base. Metronome effect. No other way to spell METRONOME. M suits its predicament. Otherwise O would roll on into infinity. Language as we see it, is a formality, standing in for nature. And it has so become an aspect of nature. It is natural to see sounds. And to notice with eyes, the structures that make the sounds, that become agreeable or disagreeable to us when we hear them and think in what we hear, heard.

Individual letters couple up at their birth, divide or conjoin and so are born again. Sculpture that echoes. Indeed, sound bounces off of form. Form solidifies in an around where there is a multiplicity of sound. Language made from original bodily gesture. A comma or a language action on the part of reticulation. Enjambment can come at a time to mute the sound: diriment, derailment; can come at a time to open and carry the sound around, extend: the edge of a page is no wall from which the universe slips off of or on to. It is not the beginning or end, there, the edge of the page. Each shape enters into the network of shapes and as this occurs, sound occurs. Sounds forward, as well, refluent—especially evident in poems washed down a page as calligraphies of gesture. Or in the stacking of terse sounding words as in a poem by Celan. Or Ungarette. Membranes made to tear again in saying. Less expenditure. Mentioning. More expenditure. The scale. Syllables stacked (balanced) in line, their spinal accumulation. Reverberation—funneling sound through nerve routes. Meaning is absorbed in the sound it makes and then is mirrored outward in light. Speed of light/speed of sound. And then there was jazz. Or Georges Lemâitre, Edwin Hubble, Lao Tze, Madame Curie, Jackson Pollock or forests where trees sway in the wind. Remember? Our views of the universe change/changes how we perceive, how we receive perceptions. A dissonance in this relationship, so warping occurs, somewhere beyond the poem’s transmission. Follow the trajectory. This is Celan’s transmutation:

Aus Verlornem Gegossene du,

die Lid-
falte entlang
mit der eignen
Lidfalte dir nah sein,

die Spur und die Spur
mit Grauem bestreun,
endlich, tödlich.

(from Force of Light, by Paul Celan)

In this case I won’t endeavor to type out the English equivalent as translated in this volume, by Katharine Washburn and Margaret Guillemin. Without any understanding of German, the residual meaning comes across in the sounding out of each word and phrase in Celan’s original, so plangent. I would strengthen this statement by adding that I think German is one of the most onomatopoetic of languages. And here, I only hope to focus on the sounds generated by the first two words in this poem.

‘Aus’ is the English equivalent of ‘From’, so we have already encountered an impossible cultural divide! The German sense conveyed by ‘Aus’: sweeping and a loose expansive outward gesture, open-ended, two vowel sweeteners combined with a sumptuous ‘s’ to spread it wide and far. ‘Aus’ is gauzy and translucent. ‘From’ is the source--local and intimate, given to knowing and familiarity. ‘From’ sounds spongy and soft. When Celan flips ‘A’ upside down in the following word ‘Velornem’, it is as violent shaking action. The word ‘Velornem’ spoken, sounds like tumbling on a concrete sidewalk. The translation obliterates this sense. In German, so far, the poem says: “From lost”. In German ‘Velornem’ is emptying out, losing in front of our eyes. A vessel is seeping its essence, or as previously mentioned, something is unraveling by tumbling and so is stripping its (direct or indirect) object down. In English, ‘Lost’ sounds already and totally lost. It is a resolute term without any of the happening before our eyes sensation.

Words train our ideas, as words are the trains spanning the landscape, the landscape in its dearth/depth, not yet divulged. A rugged plain. Plain. When words are long words, one end of a word can find itself in a tunnel, obscured, occluded. Catalytic energy brought about by a noetic progression. The meaning sits patiently for its permission to move. It is in movement that meaning acquires its actuality. In this case, our eyes have to explore the topographical features of each letter, each phrase, or, however you want to break it up and see it, because the eye can only take so much in at one time. Unless you are a shaman. Hermaphroditic, a word; ends break off only for the torso to regenerate. Words to look through in their sounds like LOOK; two hoops to slip through. Through these lenses there is the endless wheel and a multiplicity to see. The pole in SLIP as in L couldn’t stabilize in time for P is already down, dangling its stem, below a surface, stuck for that matter. Matter compounded. And the intense alliteration found in the French:

Le Tombeau de Charles Baudelaire

“The buried temple divulges through the sepulchral
Mouth of a sewer drooling mud and rubies
Abominably some Anubis idol
Its whole muzzle aflame like a wild bark”

(from Mallarmé, by Wallace Fowlie)

Coupling of beauty and horror

Swedenborg’s system of correspondences

“First quatrain.--The temple, symbol of consecration, the place where time and eternity join, where man and the absolute discover their relationship, is revealed by a sewer mouth. Out from this aperture pour mud and rubies. The image of the hidden temple reveals the idol Anubis, god of death, composed of a man’s body and a jackal’s head. With smoke pouring out from its nostrils, as if it barked, an object to be worshipped.”
(from Mallarmé, by Wallace Fowlie)

Immediate viciousness. Chasm

The hear—ing in the head and the hearing up from the page--always the simultaneous double track; inference and suggestion and then the bold graphic display. Sometimes there is the mirage. Like Tibetan throat singing, two or three aspects are registered at once. Maybe meaning, sound and image. Suddenly language is the apex and maintains utmost attraction. The reader is beyond reader. Or, what about flashbacks from arcane re-occurrences in the meaning found now in this instance, on the page, said in space. One comes across (as in a desert) any word and its etymology presents a visceral jungle, this tangles up the attention, rhythms therefore are altered, a new tune develops because of this. Sounds of all of the adjacent associations flood the brain in the chamber where sound is received as thought. Perfectly pitched noetic happening, clanging in the brain. This happens (for me) even more pronouncedly in German because German seems to be poised as an EPIC language. Here is the word DASEIN. The DASEIN is everything for a long time when I read the word DASEIN. So, when I see the word DASEIN I see everything, simultaneously, so I can’t say what this DASEIN is, in terms of a description. Description is inadequate. Only the sound of itself and the that which I hear, because I see it in a word that can express what it is. Its description uses up all of the material. Plus, whatever plunges in, now and then. Here I think of John Cage. Some might want to counter, saying that a word that sounds like DASEIN sounds, sounds this way (has this impact) because it was fostered along as an epic term as epic, philosophic terminology. Thanks to the likes of Heidegger, Durkheim and Husserl. Our attitude toward a word or sound is what is tired and restless, not the word or sound itself. COW is a very interestingly sounding word (from one end of the alphabet to other). There is a rainbow arch effect I experience when I say in my mind, the word COW. What do others think, about the word COW, is it an interestingly sounding word? Plus, environmental factors: here I think of heat and how it intensifies sound. The loudest sounds of traffic happen in the summer. Suddenly I think of Agamben’s essay called THE DREAM OF LANGUAGE. I am remembering the piece about the love story of Polifilo and Polia found in the HYPNEROTOMACHIA POLIPHILI.

“HYPNEROTOMACHIA’S language cannot coherently be defined either as a mother tongue or as a grammatical language, either as a living language or as a dead language. It is, instead, all of these at once.”

Estrangement resulted from this unusual use of the Italian language. Reading this text became a sort of bilingual experience. Each morsel of language, charged with otherness, hovering between vernacular and dream language. Tugging toward entirely new or displaced sound.

The sentiment itself has sound, a sound or a tone. With someone I discussed this on the telephone one day, about a week ago. Ago.

Metamorphosis: soldering/form dyads with other nouns: Celan: catalepsies

Echolalic halt Compounding Clamorous with meaning

Polyphony Filaments of meaning Which brachiate from poem to poem --Celan

Clusters Homophones

An adjacent consideration in seeing the letter K:

Celan’s shells are often their Hebrew equivalent, the kelippot, which are shells, husks, or shards of evil, which, in Kabbalistic mythology dominate those captured lights from a flawed Genesis awaiting restoration. Those captured lights, according to Gershom Scholem, provide the life-force from the entire world of corrupt things. They lend a contraction of their name, Lichtzwang, Light-Force, (from the introduction, Paul Celan, Last Poems, translated by Katharine Washburn and Margret Guillemin)

Babble and silence.
Prolix can obliterate its own sense. Orotund, sound swollen.
Bombastic gymnastics badly overwhelms the load or overload. Gosh! See Oppen for the opposite, also Creeley, Corman, H.D, Emily Dickinson, or lately, Hoa Nyguen, Pat Reed, Bob Arnold, Kim Lyons, Rae Armantrout, Gustaf Sobin, Jen Bervin, Alan Davies… (partial incongruous list, others other)

The humanistic voice that is Bill Corbett’s.

Next; American flag poems, for Nada? To salvage our flag: poems containing 50 crisp, succinct, radiating, one syllable words and thirteen long lines, as stripes. Something of this sort seems pertinent.

“Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’
hierarchies? (first line of THE FIRST ELEGY, by Rainer Maria Rilke)

“A night is born,
Full of spurious holes,
Of muted sounds
Like corks of nets
Dropped in the water.”
(from Fifth Song, by Giuseppe Ungaretti)

“The shaman sits down on the mare’s hide and dreams, facing south. All hold their breath.

Suddenly a succession of shrill cries, piercing as the screech of steel, sounds from no one knows where’ then all is silent again. Another cry; and now from above, now from below, now before, now behind the shaman rise mysterious sounds: nervous, terrifying yawns, hysterical hiccups; it is as if one heard the plaintive cry of the lapwing mingled with the crowing of a falcon and interrupted by the whistling of the woodcock; it is the shaman making these sounds by changing the tone of his voice.”

(from Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy by Mircea Eliade)

-- Brenda Iijima


More on tend.field.

I literally first came in touch with tend.field when Peter Ganick handed over pounds of his manuscript in a cardboard box in fall, 2001. The box contained hundreds of sheets of paper, each page filled with text -- no line breaks, no paragraphs, very narrow margins at the top, bottom, left and right. Peter wanted tend.field published in an upcoming series of books I was editing, but I knew even before I read the first sheets his text was too big. The other books ranged from 80 to 120 pages. Had we formatted Peter's manuscript like the others, tend.field would have been more than 500 pages.

tend.field is gripped by an osmotic metaphysics that at many points warps into voice-overs of nonstandard or even superordinate clarity. The osmosis and warping become apparent in one's confronting the heft of Peter's project. But as his publisher, how could I help Peter share his work with a wider readership? For a few seconds I imagined reproducing the text as-is -- maybe reprint the pages and box them as a very limited edition. This struck us both as precious and uninviting. Next came the CD option, which we decided to explore with regard to engineering, costs, etc. After I talked with a few digital folks, it became obvious that even on a CD the text was going to be hard to manage. The simple but static solution was to offer the text in pdf format, which allows pc users to read the text on-screen as well as to reprint it.

By spring 2002 I decided to issue a series of CDs. With Peter's manuscript as a catalyst, I had now collected works in mixed media -- film, video, audio files, text, etc. -- from poets Wanda Phipps and Edwin Torres. The design problem, if you will, was that Peter's pdf text seemed like a slender offering in comparison with the media-drenched materials from Wanda and Edwin. Comparisons aside, I felt we had not yet found the right format to convey the enormity of Peter's accomplishment. When I sat down with the engineer creating the master for Peter's CD, I asked him to experiment with the text by putting it in a self-scrolling file as well as the more conventional pdf format. The results of the experiment were startling to the engineer and me, and once Peter saw what was happening to his text, he was just as surprised. As you began to read the words, the text moved as if it had willed it and, by extension, willed you to follow. The text was alive.

In May 2002 Peter, Edwin and Wanda 'performed' their works from their respective CDs to a crowd of fans at the Bowery Poetry Club. All three readers were wildly cheered, but I need to say that Peter's performance was the most exceptional because it was so unexpected. While he read most soberly from tend.field, the text was rakishly scrolling (almost galloping along!) behind him, blown up as a projection from the computer CD. Peter read only a fragment of his closely-argued treatise -- tend.field is subtitled "a philosophy" -- still a much larger fragment was in evidence while he stood reading, cluing us in on the scope of his work, even as the text evaporated at the top of the background screen. The effect of the scroll was (and is) liberating, making more of the text more available, more immediate, and the reading of the text more involved and involving. Ron Silliman sees this effect in an even broader context. From his blog:

Ganick is in fact arguing here for a new way of reading, one that can be understood as glimpsing (or perhaps "registering") data as it flashes past. In practice, this means that no longer how many times you run the program, tend.field will never yield the same poem twice. […] Ganick's innovation is to identify just how far beyond pure Burma Shave poetics we have actually advanced & to develop a text -- and the means for presenting it -- that turns this "alienation from nature" in on itself until, in fact, it truly becomes a new nature.

Peter Ganick wrote me this morning with further thoughts on the writing of tend.field and the experience of reading it so I'll close with his words:

tend.field was written in a different mode from any of the other longpoems i've written. some are written relatively slowly, allowing the thought process to intervene prominently. a recent text, which elastic, is an example of this, where writing is slowed down consciously to allow for the deliberate framing of words. in tend.field, a sort of serendipity was incurred -- no need to edit, no need to alter the course of reactions within reactions-to. a quagmire of textual acts without self-direction, while the self becomes lucid at more moments than in any of the poems i've written except Remove A Concept, which sustains in its ninety-six sections a special light.

so, we have ten fingers, a laptop computer with keyboard, a screen, and a mind-combination. the scenery for action is set. a word is placed where it can be viewed. three or eight letters, it doesnt matter. then, one allows for forward momentum -- the indescribable activity of turning contemplation into material words. words are after all material entities. a sort of bring-down from the consciousness that delivers them to the page. a sort of bringing to birth of a live, yet stone-cold, materiality that cannot grow or be mimicked. of necessity, the poet and reader must make a contract -- "we will honor each other's intelligence and spirit for as long as either party discover that the honor is due or not." a contract is necessary because snap judgements, or career moves, or desires to project an egoic-oddity, can cause an obscuring of the light, a material light, that informs each word written anywhere, by any poet.

where tend.field flows through this possibility, once called a necessity, once because the last two sentences of the prior paragraph are a dream, an ideal, that wilderness beings devolve from. one hones one's skills in a vacuum., or in a plastic conflation that merriment or melancholy cannot find. the poem becomes the reader. the poet is already somewhere else.



Ron Silliman's recent discussion
of the CD tend.field, released in spring 2002, prompted me to call Peter Ganick, the CD author, to talk about his thoughts on the act of writing the CD text in 2001, and Silliman's reaction to the text now. Later on Peter might have more to say in direct response to Silliman's generous reading, but Peter suggested I post here a few notes he compiled while writing and just after writing the text in 2001.

THOUGHTS ON ‘tend. field.’…


what is ‘tend. field.’? it is a document made of sentences, being in itself a crowd of its own becoming. its intention is a sort of infinitude. infinity in a projection. a crowd in a process becoming its own projection.

the projection has a center, which is hiding. the center is very small, and makes all the words. some sing, some are doleful; others seek new syntaxes. syntax is at the core of ‘tend. field.’, but it is not everything. the semantic value, or meaning, is, of course, a part of the paradoxical syntactic structures offered, but as action, it is more than itself.

action plays a large part in the poem. there. i call it a ‘poem.’ perhaps it’s prose, too. per-haps it’s a test of endurance. perhaps it’s a form of enslavement. action has its ending in time and space as does ‘tend. field.’ some unknowable imperative crosses a road without looking and reaches the other side before the clouds activate.

as action, the poem is eternal. all action, as eternal, becomes its own space of becoming. in that which we sink, or rise, the essential is nature becoming itself, or rising into a new nature somewhere, somehow, other than itself. it has been said, and it will be said again, ‘we are other.’ that is a freedom, inasmuch as contemplation candles a projection into a space and time frozen by syntax.

a collection of syntax can be open or closed. or, it can open and close at moments differ-ent from the sameness of the action of opening or closing. it’s all a continuous action of consciousness becoming aware of its own traps and freedoms. so, a poem is a structure of elemental resilience, manufactured of its own signature, opaque or transparent – at any rate, more there than here. that is its projection.

tend. field. and jazz… in its relationship to jazz, one predicts a chorus after chorus of im-provisatory activity. instead, the poem is seen as one long chorus on a floating chord, as in the music of Ornette Coleman.

the question “is it a solo or a group improvisation?” occurs as in line to be asked. in a certain way, that does not pertain. it is improvisation, certainly written by one person, but the person writing the poem is multiple. the ‘changes’ or the chords are not a drone, nor a repeating sixteen bar code. instead the poem is a freely adapted resonance to one’s mind-at-the-moment, and in that manner, it becomes a risk from compositional standards.

while being similar to itself all over, the difference as seen is in its tripled combinations of words – on the level of word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase, and sentence-by-sentence. each level of abstraction adds another pattern of control to be considered.


tend. field. is a migration over time. a time where plastic meaning becomes its own vari-ance, especially as folded in on itself.

one notices the events themselves are inner. they do not occur in space, nor in pictorial reality. thereby the steady-state image of the text as on the page. no one notices more than the author the omission of outer events. this is purposive. it allows events to be-come-inner, therefore its strength.

as written, tend. field. is a mirage of occurrences – namings and propulsions that are made of the releases of energy from time over its own fluctuations. as straight line, it does not work from accepting roles nature places over itself. therefore, it begins where it ends, and has no definitive space for which one can begin accounting the tissue of its singularity.

some spaces within the text come forward. therefore, time is specialized out of within – erased as the tone of time’s extraction values itself in mirage of belief. not more than the exegesis.


is tend. field. 1] a poem, 2] a philosophy, 3] an art object? can it be any combination of the prior three possibilities?

if it is ‘poem’, it is prose poem by definition of its form. it is however, not as a paragraph. it is a “text-block”. it contains words which are linked by relationships. such relationships are characterized in ways that could cause it to be perceived as a ‘philosophical text-block’. why philosophical? not because of the word-choice, but because it seeks to delve into a relationship between language and reality through the construction of another reality. it is felt that if another-reality is, or can be, actually created, then by its relatedness to a present-reality, the difference will be seen. or as Derrida would say: a difference would be seen. this philosophical relationship is enough to assume the subversive nature of tend. field.

does tend. field. attempt to ‘change’ reality or otherwise substitute itself for such? No. it rather seeks to illustrate where an opening into conceptual nature can be inserted. there-fore, it is not a revolutionary poem.

tend. field. as ‘art object’… in recent readings in the Conceptual Art movement of the 1960’s, the possibility that tend. field.’s nature-as-named could be extended in a more final manner to the state of ‘art object’, has occurred to the author. the term, ‘work of art’, is not used as it is felt that work is assumed in any true art form. the term, ‘art object’, is used in a sense where the words on the page (as one might think by the use of the term ‘object’) are not the materiality of the words. nor the associations to so-called outside reality. can it be said that the words are the relationships between themselves – a network of energies, a network that increases the flow of temporary lightness and darkness in relationship to a page, as a traditional art work, for example, a painting, might have different value-ranges or warm-cool relationships. does this mean that it is totally without discursive meaning? does this mean that it is totally the visual experience of the text-block itself? most likely, a double use of the word ‘illustration’ is operative here ‡ illustration-as-picture and illustration-as-demonstration-of-relationship. in these senses, illustration becomes a double unity, a two-in-one, as is postulated in some of the work of the French philosopher, Luce Irigaray – in that type of meaning that.

so, it is possible that tend. field. is all three forms: ‘poem’, ‘philosophy’, and ‘art object’, in some restricted senses of each term.


as of today, tend. field. exists in three forms. first, the two part MSWord2000 document stored on floppy diskettes. second, a ‘complete’ version on Iomega Zip disk consisting of the entire poem in one file. third, a ‘complete’ version on one floppy diskette saved in text-only format to allow the entire document to reside on one floppy diskette. the com-plete versions are not final, but all of what has been written to now. these three formats were created on 07.15-16.01.

last night, the possibility of a title change occurred to me. the new title would be either field of intention, field(s), or intended field(s). these possibilities will be considered in the future. the original title, months ago, was now and then.

-- Peter Ganick


you funny.

but whatchoo talkin bout?

-- Nada Gordon


Ear Schmeer.

Poets reradiate the consensus. Each lyricist is a she, toll-collecting for the calmative afterlife.

Mina, Peter, R., James (Jimmy), Brandon, Lisa, Lee Ann, W.

Enter text and/or HTML in the form field above, and a transponder is attached to your front "windshield." Next, compile a list that is not a list, and set respirator to monocoque. A green "thanks" light flashes, calculated to your account.

Mina Loy uncovered information on the blog-to-come, this one modified by her life in which we step into a Danubian quarry. As visitors exit they may be forgiven for wondering where their smiles went, all tear-headed with the splanchnic. Though though. The hollow of the throat whips gardenias up into pleasure, says Ganick, Peter. Similarly, R. Silliman's apparatus measures what schizogenous chemical over the ears and face? Maybe James Schuyler showed less care to trace the line of business across found time and space, for jokes. Indeces might matter, then. Yet enchafed energy lasts longer. One day we'll have to call up Brandon Downing and ask him why, and where or when Lisa Jarnot skips around, posting, a lot. Lee Ann Brown merges even more, showing how a poet works out his (sic) woman in public. Yet, again, "I wish I were not" provokes me, Ms. W.