New Poetic Form with Python

Mar 14, 2019 00:57 · 422 words · 2 minute read rwet

This form pairs words and prints them out, joined at the hip, in a sort of diagonal crescendo, such that the joinings look less like an arbitrary list and more like something with a telos or a tendency, even if it’s merely that of a moving train, exactly to where one can’t quite say.

I’m motivated by the following lines from Joan Retallack on what she calls the “geometries of attention” in the work of John Cage.

“Duchamp’s working assumption,” she writes, “was that any object can be seen as art. Attention is the necesary and sufficient condition. The only thing that isn’t art is inattention.”

I want the users attention to be shifted from pairing to pairing, feeling nothing (pure nonsense) or something (by chance a delicious pairing of language; impure nonsense) or something for sure (reflects more intently on the either or both of the two words owing to their chance encounter and concatenation).

My current design, which you can find in the link below, is more a product of my current burn-out and near total exhaustion resulting from everything involved in thesis midterms than it is a genuine reflection of what I actually want to and think I can achieve.

After ~36 hours or so, I definitely want to spend some time revisiting this, as this seems like it might be the last assignment of the semester where we will be manipulating text in a more manual fashion, rather than generating it using Markov chains, RNNs, or decoding word vectors, etc.

What I would eventually like to explore in the domain of computational form-making in and with Python is something of a piece with what Beckett talks about with regards to the relation between sheer, raw stuff (what it is that life is made of) and the shaping of this stuff through deliberate and intentional form-making or -giving. In full:

What I am saying does not mean that there will henceforth be no form in art. It only means that there will be new form, and that this form will be of such a type that it admits the chaos and does not try to say that the chaos is really something else. The form and the chaos remain separate. The latter is not reduced to the former. That is why the form itself becomes a preoccupation, because it exists as a problem separate from the material it accommodates. To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.

Link to Jupyter Notebook