In winter the black trees shiver. chiaroscuro, white and black of snow. winter snowfield's blinding sheet glares with brittle light black glares against the shattered rainbow of the snow black trees cut out against the blinding white of snowfield shiver, trees against sundazzle, sharp as shattered glass - my eyelashes, my tears. In winter the black trees shiver. trees gleam; the blinding rainbow glares with edges of light. snowfield dazzles me sharp as tears. gleam at the edge of black trees cut out of light and snowfield, chiaroscuro. black glares against the shattered rainbow of the snow edges sharp as rainbow, brittle as light. blinding me, the sun the shiver of sun on snow dances in my eyes.
Each underlined word was chosen at a question-mark prompt and marks a stanza. The variants are heteronymic in that they both describe the same compact illumination, black trees on blinding snow seen through tears. Each stanza is an angle of view, each choice the reader makes is an edit. Interacting with Colloquy in Kerman's style is cutting poems down from raw footage, Moviola work, similar to traditional film montage in the way it's circumscribed: the footage for "Chiaroscuro" will not include snippets from "The Windhover." Kerman's radical notion is to deny the final cut. Each reading shakes around trees, snow, and tears, repetitions slowing the moment until it opens for us to fall into; when we reread and begin to accumulate variants, all the same poem and all different, the time in the poem seems to stop, its measure changing from duration to depth. It stops having a beginning or any end; the bottom of the screen breaks our fall but choosing to reread we fall through it and further in.
Making sets of stanzas that lock up seamlessly, like Legos, in any combination is a lofty rigor. "In principle [this from the manual], every word must call up a stanza, so there is an incentive to limit the set of words; an optimum length appears to be between 48 and 100 words." Although in Colloquy the reader is responsible for building the poem, the results can still sound computer-written, with the sprung and loopy feeling of paragraphs from Racter or other programs that, like Colloquy, generate writings from limited preloaded vocabularies. What could we make with Colloquy if we set aside its inventors' particular esthetic of restrictions? If choosing a word brought up a stanza that didn't contain that word and had no apparent resonance from it? If choosing another word brought up one of the 80 Flowers or a clip from the Times of India or a prose description of a tricolor Rothko (choose a color at the prompt for three different next stops)? What if we--a group of collaborators--patiently entered a 2000-word vocabulary, linked each word to two or three stanzas, and maintained the 17-line default length for each variant? Colloquy's potential is very large.
a found verse with no more fugitive side path through the song membrane than the burying zeal for toning up the stagger that reads star distortion as some kind of radiancestacked 4 deep in card-within-a-card spaces, presenting as overwriting, disembedded by slowly sliding the HyperCard finger beneath them to pop up the individual phrases; so we have to read the single phrase above as the second from the left per the cursor, part of the carpet made overwriting it with three other phrases:
such callow eyes infinitesimally disfigured for knowing how the stoop caller got his laughing manikin disease from the amputation of a dangerously visible grief [1st from left] the great informing peril glide to the mind feast holds its resonance intensity to absolute rehearsal one initiation short of driving a single eclipse lens through the slotted pastime at the point reserved for proving the calling flame walks joyfully to its crime [3rd from left] every last eruption of the wrung exchange classically warping the borrowed frail groan skeleton to how the song names its bent gravel life claims a false flashy station armature for the ringing mad sign language of drowning out the head tossing useful parts of childishness [4th from left]Rosenberg calls the resulting palimpsests "word clusters," and says they are "meant to be read as the juxtaposition of all of [their] phrases." Each word cluster is also a part of a grammatical diagram, linked with other clusters (including nested clusters-within clusters) by connecting bars locked together with symbols that stand as analog verbs and adjectives (not words that are those parts of speech but those kinds of parts of speech): graphic sentences (see illustration).
Intergrams' romance is with an ideal syntax, a kind of mathematical grammar, language understood at grammar's base of swappable terms in the equations of sentences. The gnomic verses won't yield without a reading of their cluster, and the clusters can only be read in a reading of the linked complex of clusters. In terms of the regulations governing a sentence in this essay, Intergrams is unknowable. It is a mystery, in the sense of a religious mystery; like illustrations of the Trinity in catechisms, Intergrams' diagrams are visualizations of unrepresentable things. The triune Godhead and the meaning of a word are both matters of belief; Intergrams is read by believing in it, in having faith that the words frail groan skeleton in one phrase define, and are defined by, the words predator totem emptied constellation a linking bar, a verb symbol, another bar, two cards, a verb symbol, another bar, and three phrases away. Taken as mystery, believed in, Intergrams opens out under the reader in a vertiginous efflorescence. It speaks in new tongues, each word--here is the computer's spark--in motion, physically and metaphysically.
Bernstein, Charles. "Blood on the Cutting Room Floor." In: Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1986. 351-362.
Chiles, Robert, and Judith Kerman. "Colloquy, the Interactive Poem Authoring System." Draft software manual, 1991.
Kerman, Judith. "An Introduction to Interactive Poetry and Colloquy: the Interactive Poem Authoring System." Prospectus for software, 1989.
Rosenberg, Jim. Intergrams. HyperCard stack, 1988 [Introduction]
Rosenberg, Jim. "Openings: the Connection Direct." Unpublished essay, 1991.
For Colloquy information write: Judith Kerman PO Box 5473 Saginaw MI 48603-0473 For Intergrams information write: Jim Rosenberg RD #1 Box 236 Grindstone PA 15442