Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Write?

"Why not," quips Durs Grunbein, a preeminent post-wall German poet and essayist. What's worse than not writing? The proposition, 'Why Write', subtly imposes a norm now in antiquity: most people don't write. With the proliferation of blogs, thematic territories of ones life may be sketched on the walls of an open house. Daily practice of sending texts on cell phones demands people to employ an economy of language and syntactical rephrasing into compact parts. Twitter recently attempted to claim a right to a "new poetry" developed from the form of the tweet. That simply won't work, and not only because it cannot substantiate that claim as exclusive. Writers are no longer the exception, and strangely, with that, they loose acceptance. I don't mean this in the idea that a populous of aggregated means devalues the form, but that in its overabundance, the prescription for a writer to live apart no longer applies when their value becomes commodity. This contemporary apex of literacy measures not in what one reads, but in what one writes.

“I don’t want to frighten you,” Grunbein sharply remarks, “but have you thought about what happens to people who aren’t artists?” They're vulnerable to forget history, to act as mere witness, not murderer or victim. Everything is tepid. Existence provides more for being than a stenographer's introspection. Instead of being, there's to-be-being. The static will for the mimetic approach to art and poetry cripples the artist into an act of helplessness, of simply existing outside the created world and to comment on it. They are the historians of the present, locked away from their capacity to act without further entangling themselves in a growing past and shrinking future. I want not to hide in storehouse of memory, but in the margins of the unnoticably undressing horizon; so long as I approach it. But there's no walking away from that horizon, now, is there? We are surrounded.

The growing preference of written word over the spoken word in american culture speaks little as to what symbols are being manipulated by that move. Language itself, possess no determinant anima, but acts as an acquired history driftlessly manipulated, graffiti-ed, curated and removed from use. Our interaction with this mute force changes our stratagem in speaking with one another as well as our packaging and editing the information which is allowed for use in hyper-public versus the physically-public interactions. Symbolic orders thrive when most of our interactions (or how we perceive interactions) occur in an abstract symbolic reality apart from physical limits, external cycles (daylight, for instance), and culturally aging norms of engagement. Lower percentages of the elderly's use of new technology provides a short window in which this youthful symbolism thrives, as the next generation of AARP members will have grown up or used technology in social or workforce conditions and will resonate their older technologically regulated forms of engagement. All this to say that there is a difference between the dichotomies of writing and not writing, and critically writing and schriftlos (without writing, without inquiry).

Aristotle's approach in De Anima provides a contrast with Durs Grunbein's essay in the 2010 February issue of Poetry....