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Ron Silliman's Tjanting cont...

Lines insert false time (Ibid. 86)

Are we to take this seriously?  Is there a true time of writing and a false time? 

Linguists and certain philosophers of language like Austin and Habermas would lead us to believe that there is a basic level of accepted communication, and agreed upon, non-distorted, good enough environment of intention and reception through which we talk to each other in basic, consensual ways.  One might take blogs as a kind of evidence for this.  If this is true then there is an agreed upon true time of language which is serial, developmental, syllogistic, perhaps progressive.  I say something you say something back and lo! we are human and talking the talk of that. 

Yet Silliman is also aware, as a poet and political activist, that the ideal time of language is at least part constructed.  Language poetry would not exist without the Rorty-like assumption that all language is contingent and so any concept of an ideal speech community unfolding their ideas and hop…

Lineation: Ron Silliman's Tjanting cont...

The line only exists in relation to the before and after (Silliman, Tjanting 93)


Again with these quotes. Noticed in my previous post I never got round to dealing with the above in any detail, in fact in not detail at all. Let's take them seriously and somewhat systematically, even though they are not systematic statements of an argument. Still, we are just finding our feet here, or our nounphase's to be more accurate.

The line only exists in relation to the before and after.

The number three is essential to language. The phrase, line or sentence, depending and which of these units you are dealing with at any one time, and you can be dealing with all three in the poem which makes it so rich, all depend on context for meaning to be broached. This is something we all learned from deSaussure even if his theory of the sign turns out to be a lovely fiction but not much more.

The phrase does not mean in an autonomous fashion because its referential field is contingent not nec…

Lineation: Silliman's New Sentence Two

The line only exists in relation to the before and after (Silliman, Tjanting 93)

Lines insert false time (Ibid. 86)

This is another sentence. Space is the same in all directions (Ibid. 82)

Margin types its own form. Each sentence is a test (Ibid. 82)

Earlier sentences, our old friend. (Ibid. 82)

The space was the last letter of the alphabet to be invented (Ibid. 90-1)


Again with these quotes. Noticed in my previous post I never got round to dealing with the above in any detail, in fact in not detail at all. Let's take them seriously and somewhat systematically, even though they are not systematic statements of an argument. Still, we are just finding our feet here, or our nounphase's to be more accurate.

The line only exists in relation to the before and after.
-The number three is essential to language. The phrase, line or sentence, depending and which of these units you are dealing with at any one time, and you can be dealing with all three in the poem which makes it so…

Lineation: Silliman’s New Sentence part one

The line only exists in relation to the before and after (Silliman, Tjanting 93)

Lines insert false time (Ibid. 86)

This is another sentence. Space is the same in all directions (Ibid. 82)

Margin types its own form. Each sentence is a test (Ibid. 82)

Earlier sentences, our old friend. (Ibid. 82)

The space was the last letter of the alphabet to be invented (Ibid. 90-1)


This flurry of comments on the nature of the relationship between line and space comes from Ron Sillimans long prose poem Tjanting (1981, re-issued Salt 2002). This work consists of a number of paragraphs each with a strictly limited number of sentences based on the Fibonacci sequence where the next number in a sequence is derived from the sum of the previous two numbers.

The poem is an example of what Silliman calls the new sentence, see his essay of the same name. The aims of the new sentence are a major challenge to the semiotics of lineation as I have been considering them over the last couple of months. The f…

Poetry and cognition

Kent Johnson very kindly directed my attention to a review of by Paul Lake called "Poetry in the Mother Tongue" which may or may not be the title of a book by Jane Gallop. Aprt name as I have had to rush through this rather long piece. It is a really interested if rather fraught essay at www.cprw.com/Lake/tongue.htm which tries to undermine the whole history of poststructural theory in eleven pages. Slightly ambitious though this is it is interesting to see a new front developing between poststructural ideas of signification, and cognitive linguistic ideas of language as an evolutionary remnant of basic survival tactics. Thus the article suggests a link between gesturing, our technology of writing, and the evolutionary development of becoming upright, perhaps to allow mothers to feed their children and communicate gesturally, and obviously then links this to gestation. This is all sourced to work by Philip Lieberman at Brown.

I can only touch on issues here as I am rath…

well we all heard you didn't we?

from the sequence theseecstasies


brown is this season’s black which means for the truly fashion conscious brown is already black thus they can say with impunity that black is

this season’s black which is bytheby how poetry works or at least language but question is there any difference?


I want you my lover’s back please—we go all the way up the poplar smothered lane to the shrub then all the way back

don’t we not? the tautegorical hurt of ecstasy that is what I mean when I burn in my eyeballs seething “ver-ti-ge”

through tawdry gaps in my teeth the brown hurt of a dissimulating spring whilst I embrace squalls take

up droplets fell from the bushes tender green entreaties the same as dogs do I am the first to do so my hair a rose and


I am dealing with it it’s queer aint it you say potato I bow down my jaundiced thoughts and smoke it.

bare which the day it is synonymous to being borne by the winds of france to the singéd herbaceous

to the singed herbaceous and if there is love in the ton…

well I don't remember saying that

from the sequence theseecstasies


this catalogue of smiles will be blown through by russia

from counting how to do it to actually doing it we are to be

bound over to be happy some day the way in which

cheese is happy only some times with the crease of coldness

they have gathered to do this I must in fact stop it

if you see cheese then buy it for me and love me

also revel in your teeth some way the day in which

chairs are a threat to the lumber of bears all

of which adds up to something moving like a finger in your mouth


oh but you did

from the sequence theseecstasies



winter by the time you read this I will be

writing “this” left over in the spare laburnum the

strain for gold exhausts the day by four four o’clock

drifting my companions are drifting by me the rush coloured

clouds show up what was in any case never inevitable because

we all hold onto it in common if you want me to

my feelings run up to yours like a barely labrador a

quick sieve through all this so called “chaff” turned up some “nuggets”

but also the sensing of a direction into which I soon will be gone.


I never said that

from the sequence theseecstasies

and that was how it was and at this point because of this against my better judgement that they forced me into citizenry

don’t ask me why I prefer to say the trees are in those threes than talk of dinner parties though you are beautiful and

well it’s obvious isn’t it? I guess it was the wire things failed to gel but we have been provided with anniversaries

which make us the streets are full for sitting and people for once are writing what they feel in formal structures:

I love my mum my sisters are divining the way were all built up out of the same past the past is simple like leaves

which of what is falling down will you catch on your tongue?

you have all eaten what you have bitten if that’s what you do.

all will be included this is the service we provided which is also as inclusive
there are tears in you tears small wonder. in the womb holes of creditable mandolins...


you’re not funny you know

from the sequence theseecstasies



those were there very words up-ended in a greenly ambitious sea I realise that one cannot “have” “one’s” “phallus” and eat it though—and this is the point one might not want to or might not know one wants to and who’s here to tell you so

no blemish and no rub just “there’s green” or “their red” never they’re blue/yellow/persimmon but endlessly endlessly and so on the totems are dancing into upward graced suspension into which and power drifts by just out of reach but kept well in hand curiously

or one may eat other things or not eat and really mean that flesh unfettered by skin which gives when prodded with the perspex but without the blunt rod not spring-back automatically going spink-spink in blue static so we are “boids” after all

and one day we just got tired I imagine of the massive fern fronds for life the big bugs which motor between them all got up by the perennial threat of ochre and olive spotted predation and walked right back into …

give it a rest

from the sequence theseecstasies



according to that logic what you take to be true is and must be but what I take to be true isn’t is that what you’re getting at she was the type of person who always had to be right and sometimes even was which irks me

has begun to develop an aural relationship with the new as yet untested blue technology we kissed beneath the pattering of the whirr and made love behind the eerie unnatural light of the screen

if your brain were an egg even a hot-arsed ostrich broody beyond belief could not hatch a thought from it you still believe detergent comes as freely from your mother as spiders from eggs once did in your hedge

it is cold here on the moral high-ground and the wind buffets feints and bluffs all I can see for miles around is perspective but I can’t get an angle on it if only infinite aspectual regression was also an interface

thoughts like a cardboard box with the flaps and top cut off what if it were to rainbow it would be the insects I would pity t…