2) If a metaphor is a balcony, is the view it affords measurable in terms of a paraboloidal function (for example: x2/a2+y2/b2 = 2cz [where a, b, and c are constants]), or is that just gibberish? Justify. I’ll always admit my ignorance. 3) What is an Author? Is she an Architect? Think hard. One author most certainly is, Madeline Gins. However, to what extent she is the architect in her partnership with Arakawa, I have no idea. You may have noticed that for most projects they sign their work Arakawa and Gins, but for the recent Architectural Body, the order was switched, Gins & Arakawa. Certainly Madeline plays a significant role in publicizing their work.. To really answer these questions we have to define some set of parameters so you are reading from the same book as me. What is an author? Is she just someone who writes books? In the C20th there was an overwhelmingly strong push for the ‘author’ or ‘artist’ to exclude herself from the actual production of the artwork, my favorite is Duchamp’s Three Standard Stoppages (is Duchamp there?). What these experiments should have taught is us, as Jackson MacLow has said, that it is virtually impossible for an author to remove herself from the production of a text. Kent Johnson, the author of this quiz I’m so slowly answering, has argued persuasively for the public removal of the author through the undermining of the actual identity of the writer (I very much like this idea, but think it an odd practice on a large scale). Moreover, the Yasusada poems (it is beside the point speculating about the extent of Kent’s involvement with the works), in an inverse but similar manner to Duchamp’s Stoppages, demonstrated that a large part of the reception of a work is actually channeled though a social and emotional constructions of the author. In other words, our idea of who the author is (bio, sex, name, etc) feeds into our reading of the author’s work. It would be interesting to play with this idea on an editorial level, for example by misattributing all the works in an issue of a magazine or an anthology. So is the author an architect? We could be cliché here and say that no, the reader is the architect, the author is just a construct etc etc. However, the author, whoever chooses to commit words and ciphers to paper (or digital display), does play a part in architecting (to be Ginsesque). Of course, the author’s identity alone creates a certain space through which we inhabit a work. But also the directions words can take us into architectural environments, or at the very least, color these environments, is also to some extent the doing of the author, who is really more like a helmsperson (a cyberneticist).. 4) Can a security alarm system be built into a poem? Name it. John Cage heard Brancusi in the car alarms of New York. I heard certain poets want copyrights for their poems. Quiz #5 1) Is the cultural space that forms the writing even as the writing (of experimental Authors, that is) attempts to probe its dimensions the space of a certain Flatland? Refer to Bachelard and the Japanese folktale about the mice {sic} and the elephant. Very funny! It’s been a while since I took the elephant to work. He was sadly retired to Ueno zoo, but I have visitation rights on the weekend. To read of the sad demise of the Japanese elephant, and the ensuing experimental writing… 2) Can architectural acoustic theory (reflection, diffusion, refraction, decay of sound, and the artifices of its absorption) serve as an heuristic tool for imaging the institutional interpolations (not obvious ones like the Academy, but those at more inaudible frequencies) inhabiting the cultural structures of avant-garde poetry? If Yes, build a cardboard model of such a tool. If No, try to build one anyway. I’m not sure, but I heard someone stole this from a prominent Language Poet: This is a prototype for a series of architectural sites:


Heroditus: Take Michael Riffaterre's book Semiotics of Poetry, where he argues (as described by the American poet-bridge builder Henry Gould) that the poetic involves a dialectic between mimesis or representation, on the one hand (which creates what Riffaterre calls meaning), and significance, on the other. The architecture game of poetry, then, would seem to involve deciphering a significance that is always deferred by the parabolic indirections of transforming meaningful observation into architectonic structure. Does this suggest that a poem --the kind that is written on a two-dimensional page-- is necessarily and merely a kind of deceptive *faciatta* through whose apertures an interior content is fleetingly and deceptively glimpsed against what is, in the most material sense, a swarming particle space? * Socrates: A very challenging question Heroditus; one which I may be unable to answer. Heroditus: Socrates! We know better. You don’t give up so easily. Socrates: Very well, then. We’ll leave to the side for the moment that I suspect this dialectic of which you speak may undermine my theory of the Forms, and begin with the relatively simple question, are you a poet? Heroditus: As mythologizer of histories, Socrates, yes, yes, I am. Socrates: And are you aware of that which you write? Heroditus: Socrates, we’ve all heard that one before. You can’t sneak out of this one by claiming that poets are unaware of the meaning and significance of what they write. Socrates: Indeed I cannot, and I would not consider dishonoring my good friend in such a way. To answer your question, let’s consider the infamous wax tablet that Ovid used to woo his dear Corrina. Heroditus: ah, “To Venus, from Ovid, for services rendered, one cheap wooden writing-tablet – now beyond price”. We are extremely prescient, Socrates. Socrates: Now, according to your little formulation, the meaning or mimesis stems from the interactions of this couple, does it not? Heroditus: It is beyond my remit to disagree. Still, if we’re talking about the words on the page, yes, there is some relationship. Socrates: Good. And the significance, so-called Heroditus: can be found in the form, an inscription, and locale, Venus’s shrine Socrates: You are much too quick for me. Thus, when the wax fades… Heroditus: The material object, the writing-tablet, returns back to itself and occupies a simple space as an object of devotion. Socrates: I have this effect on people.. * Answer yes or no via a parable in the style of Plato.


1) In poetry, what is an arch? Explain and draw a model. The villain in Paradise Lost (who was the villain again? I haven’t met anyone who liked GOD). 2) Take Le Corbusier's somewhat forgotten Savoie house as analogy: Can the body of a poem be hollowed out in every direction: from above and below, from within and without, so that a cross section at any point will show inner and outer space penetrating each other inextricably? Think hard, keeping in mind that form in poetry has a long and unconscious history as a category apart, despite sporadic seminal announcements to the contrary. If you want a poem to do that, it would seem that Roussell has already achieved it (though we shall have to wait until the next Chicago Review to see for sure). 3) Is it possible, in a move of boldest conceptual elan, to build a poem over a waterfall? Confirm or deny, then, if the former, say what you would title such a poem. (Remembering that Wright's most famous building is a physically flawed structure, and that the roaring of the water forced the inhabitants to abandon the house.) Indeed, we may call such a poem “abandoned house”. I could drone on and on about droning and drowning and droning. Water drops and Loud Symphony 4) Is the incipient turn of new poetries to architectural/spatial theory symptomatic, in any way, of the generalized crisis of the current poetic avant-garde? Insert a compass as metaphor (or metonym, if you desire) in your answer. O.k. this may be brashly arrogant. It’s a charge I’m not immune to.
3) Can concepts of architectural acoustics (reflection, diffusion, diffraction of waves) be applied to poetry? Specifically, is the turn toward spatial rigor in concert hall structures by acoustical architects like Leo Baranek, Harold Marshall, and Michael Barron (the isolation of orthogonal parameters so as to fine tune sound reflection and reverberation via the control of initial time delay gaps) an argument of sorts for further (and urgent) investigations in strict prosodic structure, without which poetry is fated to continue its downward spiral into incomprehensible sonic and semantic muddle-- investigation, that is, not in the banal sense of traditional Western forms, but in the sense of Oulipean mathematical rigor. Whether yes or no, explain. aside: Sorry I’ve been so slow to update the quiz. It’s just been one thing after another! I’m hoping this week’ll be better What we’re being asked here is to do with the planned construction of the poem, the poem made within certain constraints in order to achieve certain (sonic) effects (or affects). I’m not sure to which “muddle” Kent is referring, however. The greatest ‘muddlle’ I have encountered of late is in the poetry of poets like Billy Collins or Dana Gioa who seem hard pressed to write poems with any discernable sense of sound. I’ve read Collins poems that have a syllable count, but that’s no ersatz rhythm. At any rate, my answer to this question is yes, concepts of architectural acoustics can be applied to poetry. One of the most exciting aspects of applying architectural acoustics to poetry with “Oulipean rigor” is that the possibilities seem limitless. I would argue, however, that people like Dick Higgens, Yoko Ono, John Cage, and most of those flux people have already set the architectural acoustic ball rolling (terrible mixed metaphor, I know). Certain instructions in Ono’s Grapefruit, for example, are wonderful examples of a type of architectural poetry. I’ve told Sawako Nakayasu that some of her writing is also oddly architectural/ acoustic (she agrees that it’s musical). Basically, architectural writing is not, as far as I’m concerned, an imitation of architecture or a borrowing from architectural ideas (necessarily). Rather, architectural poetry/writing would approach, in one way or another the perception of architectural space (which space is not architectural?)... I don’t feel I’m doing a good job here of explaining myself. I’m trying to say that architectural poetry is not poetry of communication, but poetry of perception. To quote John Cage on music: music “ was dealing with conceptions and their communication, but the new music being created has nothing to do with the communication of concept, only to do with perception. Thus, the flux writers, with the odd instructions that cast the reader back into her environment has something to teach the architectural poet. 4) Are words in a poem a) rooms b) furniture c) walls d) vestibules e) windows f) corridors I don’t see why not.


Quiz #2 1) Is a dactyl a brick or a gargoyle? Justify. I like this question; very funny! It is essentially written in anapests (anapest being the inverse of a dactyl), which of course adds to the playful tone. Also, there is a very odd mix of ‘materials’, dactyls and gargoyles (?!). A dactyl, as I remember, is more frequently used in Latin versification, though Byron used it effectively; a gargoyle is more of a medieval feature, but again these too have more ancient roots. What can we make of such an admixture? Really, the question appears to be asking whether meter is a building material or a grotesque ornament. So why questions about poetic architecture would be concerned with meter of all things is the greater puzzle. In the discussion over at Kasey’s blog on the Line in Space, there was a sense from certain individuals that meter could be considered the architecture of the poem, as if, indeed, meter were a brick (or probably the structural foundations). In fact, there is no reason why we can’t consider poetry in these terms, but if we do go that route we have to come up with some serious justifications for the transposition. I could discuss the furniture of a poem; however the vocabulary we have on place should suffice. My take is that a dactyl is neither a brick nor a gargoyle – it is a dactyl! On this count, I agree with Christian Bok, recently, and John Cage, historically (see below): if we are trying for an interdisciplinary art, the mere appropriation of specialized vocabularies is wholly inappropriate for the late 20th and now 21st century (I’m coming back to this). 2) What is the relationship of engineering to poetic architecture? Is the architect-poet responsible for designing a structure that can actually be built? If so, why? Questions getting noticeably tougher.. cough. Poetic architecture may have a similar relationship to engineering as poetry has to poetics, viz: engineering tells us in practical terms what can be done (without causing injury and collapse), poetic architecture speculates as to what might be done or even exists on its own as a kind of speculative non-fiction (I do not have a dim view of poetics, incidentally)… My slight problem with the first question is that there is a lot of architecture one could call poetic. Of recent architects, Daniel Liebeskind’s architecture is often a series of phrases and repetitions, echoings and views that I would call poetic, or resembling the structure of a poem (I will resist discussing Arakawa and Gins’ work in this context). Of course, the relationship of engineering to this sort of poetic architecture is not at all like the poetry/poetics relationship above. Engineering certainly dictates what is possible and will partially limit the structure of an architectural formation according to the specificity of the site. Thus the architect cannot even begin designing until she understands the intricacies of the site (from soil content to faults and municipal works). (!!) Look where this question has taken us! We’re back with site specificity. Perhaps there is a lot an engineer can teach a poet about location: not to describe it in technical terms, but how to build on it.. Well, is an architect-poet responsible for designing a structure that can be built? In part, yes, she is. If she did not, we may be tempted to say that she did not understand the site or architecture in the first place… We could go into noetic models of built/not built… This architect poet is also not responsible for designing architecture that can be built if his/her designs are the construction themselves (then the question is are they or are they not built). Poetics (theories of construction) should be viewed as constructions themselves. Tzara’s poetry rarely lived up to the odd acrobatics of his poetics, but perhaps his failing can be viewed as a new(ish) art. One of the great things about people like Kenneth Goldsmith is that his art (like Day, or even his radio show Anal Magic) is the theory, in a way, of a non-event. It’s a kind of poetry without poems.. {next two questions later}