Wednesday, August 11, 2004

From listening, it seems to me that every writer of poems begins as an experimentalist—they see a poem and say ‘wow, I didn’t know you could do that!” And give it a try, just sort of see where it leads to think words that way. Eventually people (everyone, probably, for periods at least) forget the process, and focus on the results. That doesn't seem to lead to such growth, when your intention leaves the art for what the art can leave.

From its scientific meaning, one who experiments is trying by intuition the actual world in order to get their description of its reality more complete. Because scientists (at least the real ones) remember that theories don’t describe reality exactly, they are approximations—Newton’s f=ma is not as accurate as einstein’s e=mc^2 (which itself for famous reasons involving gravity is not the final word on the subject), but it’s a lot tidier and, in the to-scale frame-of-reference of our day-to-day life, is a faultless representation of cause-and-effect—at least, the ideal scientist, they understand it’s a game. Think Einstein, Da Vinci, Jimmy Neutron.

So an experimentalist's job is, by definition, both never complete and potentially successful. This is true for theoretical scientists (i.e. Einstein etc.) but also for the Edisons, because the world offers potential form-without-end for an experimentally-minded curiosity.

Poets aren’t scientists, of course, but a) ours is at least partially the labor of western dualism still, especially as Americans we are bound to carry materialism to extremes and b) our subject is in part reality, but not objective reality.

I suppose this is another obvious point. I like obvious points, sometimes working backwards from the beginning can get to something new ('original'). Einstein, famously, barely graduated college. He got a barely-passing grade on his final physics exam, I think he turned in most of it blank because he was just thinking about the terms of the question instead of using them to get the answer. That's the story I was told. I would like to be more like that, that simple.

Not that they are simple, but just cursory readings of a few blogs today impressed me, specifically John Latta's and Jordan Davis's. Good thinking is so good when it takes the terms of an attention and lays out some of its wideness, not just its direction.

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