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1) Consider this thought experiment: You are a Poet, and although you cannot imagine it, you are always in a diorama. The diorama is inside a museum. The museum is located in a city. The city is in a 21st century country. The diorama changes according to the scheduling of exhibits: Savannah plains, Arctic ice, Rainforest verdure, Academic conference... Unaware of your placement, (for your reality has always been *here*) the limits of your Poetic world are obviously the limits of your diorama. Assuming this scenario, what is the spatial relationship of cutting-edge Theories of Space to your spatial predicament? Now close your eyes. Explain. Remote. 2) Please think of professional wrestling: Are the sounds the wrestlers make (the grunts and yells and body-against-canvass sounds) to the hoaxed fight as theory is to poetry? If so, is architectural theory, when quoted by poets, a kind of theatrical scream of pain? If not, why not? Think hard. Depends on the poet, but usually yes. We have a vocabulary for describing the structure of a poem, any poem. The borrowing of vocabularies to replace existing ones to no purpose is simply exoticism. 3) Let's assume that Western accentual-syllabic prosodies are a kind of white stucco wall: a paradigm of a will to order, a thin layer of periodically bumped plaster that hides the real materiality of the wall so as to produce a simulacrum of ideality and cleanliness uncontaminated by the foul fullness of history. The conceit drawn here is full of holes. Deconstruct it. OK here’s the information. White stucco walls are accentual-syllabic prosodies (both?). They are also paradigms of the 'will to order' that hides the ‘real’ materiality of the wall (otherwise known as plasterboard or siding). Ermm. Stucco walls “produce a simulacrum of ideality and cleanliness uncontaminated by the foul fullness of history”. Stucco never had it so good.. and it sounds like it could belong to either of the two main American political parties, when in fact both parties have made sure to impress a bloody history on stucco. Now those Anglo-Saxons did a lot of things, but building stucco walls was not one of them (or was it?). And in fact, if my copy of The Ruin is to be trusted, the Anglo’s weren’t averse to exposing “the materiality” of walls either. {more later}


4) The architects who talk about chaos, absence, fragmentation, and indeterminacy usually work hard to assure that you know that a design is theirs by using signature shapes and colors. Arguments about the impossibility of 'the total image' are employed in fact to produce precisely such an image-- a signed image that fosters brand loyalty. Clearly, the dream of the total work of art did not fade in modernism's wake. On the contrary, all of the issues raised by architects and theorists of recent generations that seem, at first, to signal the end of the idea of the total work of art turn out to be, on closer look, red herrings that thinly disguise the traditional totalizing ambitions of the architect. Relate this quote (5 extra points if you can identify its source) to Michael Palmer, Susan Howe, Jorie Graham, and J.H. Prynne. After doing so, briefly discuss the meaning of the Signature and its role as limen within Poetry's institutional architecture. I will go further than identify Mr. Wigley as the source for the quotation, I will link readers to the article: click here. The totalizing ambitions of the architect are characteristic of the explosive and implosive school, though perhaps more ‘total’ in the explosive school because of their worldly scheme of things… I fail on the next part of the quiz because I have only ever read Prynne of the poets listed, and was rather underwhelmed – and now can’t remember a thing about him. Nevertheless, it should be said that of course, the dream of a total work of art hasn’t faded, but one rarely finds the dream in the type of poetry espoused by the above poets. A total work of art, to my understanding, would be multi-disciplinary and the arts’ structure would operate at a ‘local’ and ‘global’ level. The message of some writing certainly inspires, incites, or changes the ways in which readers view or interact in the ‘world’. However, this is not a avant-garde idea! A total work of art in poetry leaves the page, denies reading, moves, as I feel like I keep saying, into the realm of perception itself. Poetry is at an advantage to other arts, including architecture, because it has always been so close to NOT communicating a concept. If the question is inviting me to comment on the cult of certain personalities, I’d ask who? I have but a handful of poet’s signatures, and even the cover on Allen Ginsberg’s Collected Works – the inside sleeve of which contains his signatory flowers etc – is beginning to crumble.


3) Is the Anglo-American Modernist long poem explosive or implosive in its architectures? Or is its largesse, rather, impelled by a dialectical tension between these two poles? If the latter, what does it mean that such a synthesis has resulted in the canonical ossification of the genre? And is this ossification analogous to the sacralization of those classical ruins to which millions of tourists every year make pilgrimage? Use The Cantos, The Wasteland, Patterson, Briggflatts, Cornish Heroic Song for Valda Trevlen, and The Anathemata as examples in your answer. This is a very complicated question, so don't leap to the obvious (i.e. Of course the Modernist long poem is 'explosive'!). You should think so hard that your very head catches fire. Impelled to the difficult answer that the long poem is a combination of the explosive and implosive (these terms understood in the context of the questions, not my own view of architectural writing), I’m wont to decide where to take this. The first point must be to call the possible logical fallacy of the dialectic. If the aforementioned tension is dialectical, then we should assume that the synthesis has not yet occurred. As I understand it, there is no initial tension in the synthesis until the next antithesis has arisen. I’m amused by the suggestion that a synthesis would imply ossification, however, as this is a classic critique of Hegelian and Marxist dialectics – i.e. that the State in Hegel and the communist utopia in Marx mark an end in the dialectic process, which is, of course, illogical (why should the process end?). Is it being suggested that the Anglo-American Modernist long poem is the end of some sort of dialectical process? If so, we might ask how this relates to “sacralization”. Still, the “thing” about the Modernist long poems is that when reading them, one does feel like a tourist. Wasn’t it Zukofski who made the analogy between the Cantos and rough mountain terrain (or was that what Pound told Zukofski, I forget)? One can’t help being awed by the analogies in the Pisan Cantos between Taishan and the mountains in view of the DTC camp, for example. But the shifting images and associations, lets call them part of the internal space, in MAA long poems often sit uneasily with the overall sprawl or reach of the structure as a whole. In other words, while we might follow one image to another there is a point at which the links break apart and we have no obvious recourse to a larger design.. but what this has to do with architecture, I don’t know.


Attempt 2: Are the secret desires for fame and/or notoriety of innovative writers, actually driving them to propose crazy theories about hybrid art work, especially poetry? Reflection: Surely not! All the innovative writers I know are upright honest people (and love to be called innovative) {make note of sarcasm}. Could this possibly be the implication of this elusive question? Response: There is no b/w answer to this question. I suspect something of the sort with Karen McCormack, whose intermittent findings in the field of architectural poetics are, or seem to be, absent from her actual writing – which I would unfairly classify, if pushed, in the post-language school. Although I’ve heard that she made a (successful?) recommendation to MG about adding a ‘missing’ section to The Mechanism of Meaning, I’m yet to see where she sees architecture working in her poetry. Perhaps because it is my view that “poetry” – the stuff made of lines and verses and a (closed/open) meaning - cannot be architectural in any meaningful sense, I can’t see the direction of her architectural poetics. Madeline Gins, however, has already produced architectural writing in Hellen Keller/or Arakawaand has inserted what I would call architectural writing/poetry (no scare quotes) in Architectural Body. In fact, she’s the most explicitly architectural writer I know of. Lamont Young is also a very architectural poet (sic). 2) As partly evidenced by the November, 2000 Language/Poetry/Performance Conference in New Dehli, contemporary innovative poets have become influenced by recent architectural theory's critique of Total Design, a concept that has two meanings: a) the implosive, in which design takes over all interior space (Sullivan, Wright, Taut, the Vienna Secession, etc.) and b) the explosive, where architecture is destined and authorized to move outward beyond discrete structure to encompass all scales (the Harvard School of Design via Gropius, the English Designs and Industries Association, etc.). The former resists (in petit-bourgeois/aristocratic fashion) industrialization and mass culture; the latter (in futuristic/avant fashion) seeks to become its very spirit. The former is most famously embodied by the Weimar School of the Arts and Crafts, under the leadership of van der Velde; the latter by the Bauhaus, under the inspiration of Gropius. Now, one could see the implosive school as analogous with the circumscribed ontology of mainstream, workshop verse, including recent conservative expressions of formalism: the Architect-Poet is the Hero of Interior Design. But one can also see, as Mark Wigley, head of Princeton's School of Architecture points out, that the explosive school is founded on an ...explosion of the designer. Not only are objects designed, mass-produced, and disseminated; the designer himself or herself is designed as a product, to be manufactured and distributed. The Bauhaus produced designers and exported them around the world. The vast glass walls of the Dessau building which, in Gropius's words 'dematerialize' the line between inside and outside, suggest this immanent launching outward of both students and their designs. Even the teaching within the studio was a product. Gropius said that he only felt free to resign in 1928 because the success of the Bauhaus was finally established through the appointments of its graduates to teaching posts in foreign countries and through the adoption of its curriculum internationally. Write an answer of at least 300 words drawing parallels between the Bauhaus as described by Wigley and Language poetry, with particular attention to the latter's accelerating absorption by the academic institution. Be rigorous in your answer and avoid servile timidity. My answer won’t be 300 words, and is undeniably glib. (North) Americans fuss over language poetry. Lang Po and Bauhaus are fundamentally different in that the former is primarily a national and parochial movement, whereas the latter is international, though I’m not convinced it was necessarily explosive. Certainly, Lang Po is much more interesting than most workshop poetry. Nevertheless, these two forms of writing have more in common than they would perhaps like to admit. Both still subscribe to a fairly ‘representational’ view of poetry. Both are convinced of the absolute power of language. The absorption of Lang Po has more to do with the changing face of academia than it does with any sort of Lang Po supplication.