The word is like the land. No one can own the land. The word and its attendent consciousness, is also a birthright of nature. from The Permaculture of Babel
During the archaic there were no physical and mental restraints, no institutional boundaries around logos and all the slight expressions of the subtle universe. The poet came before Babel, before the enslaught of the printed word; The oracular nature of poet-craft demanded a continuous generation of the visionary state about the unknowable future. A spontaneous mental image bank preceding the actual. The post-industrial world is surely somewhere on a circular timeline preceding Babel, though maybe not the first Babel. The printed word is even more restrained, more limited, more than ever reduced to a hollow simulation of its original power as the language of humans. With that as an operational given, a primary agenda among language revolutionaries is to assure that the hierarchy of the printed page becomes obsolete. Its age old blueprint of reading lines of type across the page has resulted in a collective aphasia toward thinking and communicating in any mode other than linear rational. And its very form assumes that all who participate in the text likewise adopt the same world view.
The poem is never finished. Because it is unfinished it is complete in its effective fragmentation of the reader's ability tounderstand. This confusion leads the reader to substitute bits of his/her own experience for the gaps in the writer's writing. In a western society which hasn't time to sit still, where reading books is a nostalgic fantasy, the short poem is particularly adapted to breaking the meta-languagistic message barrier. it is this form of a condensed reduced info packet which can be found everywhere: on billboards and magazine ads, tv and radio spots, graffiti and postering, on buses and in the mail. The same consciousness has hybridized the way we think and how we talk.
Except poetry and fiction have been replaced by the text and the practice of any art has enlarged to intimacy with all arts, with an investigation into the culture beneath the culture. Because information and ideas are bombarding our sphere so rapidly the procedure of invention and experimention is simultaneous with instant printing, rapid communication and the chameleon quality of the artist. More appropriate terms for the new art may be velocity, impact, shifting, compounding, etc., rather than this is a good poem, that's a bad painting. Perhaps utility and pleasure are closer specifics. The sensations received and their usefulness completely bypass the critical faculty until they become more than an unconsciousness reaction.
There are many ways to approach such a dominant paradigm. The easiest for cultural aesthetes such as ourselves is to look to other media and understand the experimentation they have gone through. Painting would be an obvious example. A tremendous amount of experimentation with painting has reached even grade school level. The same could not be said for poetry. How many grade school kids have made a visual poem, tried their hand at sound poetry, participated in performance poetry? All of these things have been around as long as abstract painting, surrealism, etc. From the standpoint of information, there is no reason to maintain formal separation between different media. In the dreamtime of synaesthesia, a world rife with critical dyslexia, an equilibrium of signal / noise are the map of a world vastly different than the aesthetic fortress constructed by 20th century academia. A hyperkultural environment is not described by virtuosity and hierarchy. In an info intensive world, such specialization is clearly not culturally sustainable. Imagination and activity are organized by their appearance and their velicity, by the way that they resonate within the event of media. One no longer resorts to identifying themselves as a poet or as a painter since the processes of creation endlessly resort to available resources.
It is important to not misunderstand this invocation. BEFORE POETRY, BEINGS DREAMING is neither a negation of the past nor a condemnation of the academy, but a slight opening in the shift towards the new millenium of possibilities. Apart from the obsessive western aesthetic, an imposing vocabulary of cultural mutation exists, so many choices that many are paralyzed by the volume of options. One inspired and intuitive response is to place these activities into a context different from the accepted routine. When I first began publishing poetry and fiction while in high school, I assumed that the only context for my activities would be to continue through college and eventually teach and publish in a college setting. That lasted for only a short while before I uplinked with a few of the various networks that sprang up in the late 70s mail art, cassette networking, visual-verbal lit, computers and performance touring. The networks offer instant access to a world-wide liberated zone--provided one learns the requisite navigational skills needed to pilot one's way toward cultural autonomy. Yet the gradual decentralization of artistic authority, even the rehabilitation of judgement and taste remains confined to the counter-cultural arena.
So, can the text as we know it present us with anything new? The barriers are time and space, two potently charged conditions of our experience. Within that continuum, 20th century genius has pretty much exhausted and played through the encyclopedia of permutations. Recent computer technology promises a virtual world of hypertext. Instant links with all nodes of information. In the cybertronic dreamtime, space and time are a conceptualized performance. Theoretically, a hypernaut could model any number of dimensions and even create alternative impressions of time. Narrative becomes a footnote to a more contemporary mode of information management. This is the evolutionary crack in 2000 AD that we must walk through.