Night Moves: Poetry at Present

foamNight Moves: Poetry at Present

Prismatic slicks, bleached coral, phosphorescent foam, labyrinthine deltas, aimless peregrination—what do this have to do with poetry? Poetry wastes time . . . . goodnight! But we should resist the usual judgments about “wasting time” (obviously). Might there be more or less extravagant ways of wasting time? And what’s wrong with wasting time? Like sloth, might it lead someplace new? And what is time anyway—that it can be wasted, that it discharges itself along labyrinthine tracks?

Who knows but an adequate “way” of wasting time might immerse us in a disorienting but metamorphosing element. That is, it might trace a labyrinth—one entrapping not “you” but a “larval subject” deposited (or is it secreted?) by the deviant acts tracing the labyrinth. Like coral or larvae, labyrinths are knit of wasted time and diffused force. No truly metamorphic trajectory could fail to forge a labyrinthine delta!

We’ll stalk these figures: waste, time, labyrinth, noise—hoping that they’ll draw us into poetry at present, perhaps even the “material conditions” at present. We’ll neither disclose a map nor taxonomize a field—only articulate a niche that could draw from various energetic webs. We’ll alight on currents, siphon energy, filter-feed, accrete coralline structures, pose problems, evade solutions, “consent not to be a single being.”

More concretely, poetry might be a means of diffusing (errantly) the force of language. But wait: is this not somewhat “anthropocentric,” rather “cloistered,” potentially even “theistic”—are we not outsourcing all agency to this mysterious being, “Language”? But language is not “merely ideal”: it may be “closer to me than I am to myself,” even if “‘I’ is an other.”

Diffusing linguistic force might disclose the image of a concrete politics—one suggesting novel modes of collectivizing, “of being numerous,” “of being dispersed.” If we wish to inquire into nature, life, present conditions, the concrete experience of time—and not their abstract images—we must come to terms with how language anticipates these inquiries, informs already the “objects” of inquiry, and constrains quite severely whatever arises from inquiry.

We’ll try, if not to answer, then to pose adequately these questions: What is this “force” of language? How does it determine thought, inform perception, constrain praxis? Are there strategies for “detourning” this determining force? Should we diffuse this force along errant paths? How to evaluate our efforts at diffusion, if every attempt to evaluate it is itself couched necessarily in language? How to grasp one’s portion of time, so that it may be wasted? Time is not yours to spend responsibly—it can be only squandered extravagantly. Who knows but these labyrinthine liquidations, these wildly ramified “delays in glass,” might open onto new life and new collectivities? Is not poetry always on the point of deliquescing—fostering phase-transitions in both reader and writer?


Facilitator: John Paetsch received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Georgia. His dissertation—The Texture of Foliated Time—explores why Gilles Deleuze, Henri Bergson, and G.W. Leibniz all entwine “continuity” with “heterogeneity”—whether considering how a life dissipates time or a body diffuses force. Sad to say, it spares neither philosophy nor aesthetics nor physics nor mathematics—blame his confidante, O.B. Bassler! A portion of it will appear soon in Deleuze and Guattari Studies. He is presently translating the rudely neglected essays of the philosopher-mathematician Gilles Châtelet for Urbanomic. He has published anomalous poetry with Gauss PDF (text here, review here) and Make Now Books. He has a Master’s of Liberal Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, a minor in mathematics, and a tendency to disregard the distinctions between genres. He teaches at Temple University.

Time: Four Tuesdays, from 6-8:30pm: October 23, 30; November 6, 13.
Place: CultureWorks
Cost: $80. Scholarship discounts available (email: with your request).

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