OfItMaybe wrote a dense little gloss, meditation, some thoughts, in reaction to my post about [gap] and the New sentence. His mention of ‘the blank page as variously intimidating or inviting, breathing room’ reminds me of Yra van Dijk‘s book (a published version of her Doctorate dissertation) Emptiness, emptiness that breathes: the typographical white in modern poetry (my translation, sadly the book, as far as I am aware is not available in English).


In her study Van Dijk – after analyses of four poets – distinguishes ten different functions of the use of white in poetry. I’m not going to recount them here (because I don’t remember them, and don’t have the book), but from what I gather now, her emphasis is more on the Void ‘behind’ language as some kind of emptiness as absence (as opposed to an infiinite generative potential of language). I once ordered the darn book and then sent it back. Oh well.

Also curious is that for Van Dijk a defining trait of poetry is apparently the more prominent role of white on the page (than in prose). Obviously this is true 90, 95 percent of the time. But euh, what about prose poetry, concrete poetry, sound poetry? I got that statement from her University website, I don’t buy that Van Dijk would be happy with such a facile delineation of her subject matter. Would like to have the book in hand and see for myself.

And what about Christian Bök’s Xenotext experiment, in which he plans to inject (or already has?) an alphabet into the genome of a bacterium? How will science and technology change how we think about poetry? Firstly, they lead to a hybridization of disciplines (poetry + art, architecture, music, and now even biology/gen-technology). Secondly, they complicate the question of what constitutes a language-act. I wonder what will become of poetry if/when(?) the Singularity ever happens.

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