|The Blog Bog Issue #6|
Fiction Page 1
Reviews Page 1
Essays Page 1
Good News From Australia
This is about Jon Swords-Holdsworth's blog, one I recommend it to everyone who is a writer of any kind. Swords-Holdsworth is an Australian science fiction writer, techie, and obviously some kid of polymath with a thousand interests. One of them is how to make a delivery system for creative activity applicable for poetry, writing or any kind of art in the 21st century. His larger intent is to create a new design for all human action that honors the harvests of creative diversity in a way our traditional centralized radial systems do not or cannot. It might be more accurate to say that Swords-Holdwsorth restores the radial actions of any thought in which the creator is the heliocentric source of the innovation or novelty. Swords-Holdsworth, apparently teaching at the University of North Umbria in Australia he has a technical vocabulary in his blog that might seem strange and daunting to anyone not used to such arcane lingo. It's worth a tussle with his singular argot. Swords-Holdsworth can be googled at his web site easily enough. He can be contacted and written to with no sweat. Whether or not a potential set of writers, readers and patrons in America still largely lurking in a past now l haply imaginary and of no use to them might think to do looking for remedies for their dilemmas in reaching an audience is another matter. It's a general rule in history that provincials far way with little worry about close control from an imperial hub can achieve more in the way of creative thought and action than many people in the capitals of an empire. It helped creative Hellenes to be remote from Egypt, Copernicus to reside in Poland. This was true later of Rome, London and the United States. In America the visionary innovators have included Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Elam Musk. It might be as much true with Australia.
One should mention that the best Gutenberg collection of books and articles by far including a great trove of American and English pulp fiction on the internet comes not from America but from Gutenberg Australia. Evidently that country already has a common freedom irrespective of polymaths like Swords-Holdsworth that may have in fact in a general way inspired him to wonder what as yet known and untried systems could nurtured people whose friends and enemies might be more wild animals and bad weather than human marauders and conquerors.
As Swords-Holdsworth states his aim is to lose the creative power of diverse prole through the invention of lateral non-radial social systems that could provide them with more freedom to invent and communicate than they have had currently or formerly. He has as perhaps we know all too well inherited a set of very centralized mechanics in the West in areas from culture to science in which various autocratic orthodoxies seemingly inevitably attempt to hamper the cognitive power of everybody else.
Swords-Holdsworth imagines a system of delivery of literature in which individual patrons pay the author directly for his labors. He states that in practice his system already has given the means of some creative people to be who they are. His social templates bypass any nothing we find ordinary of a centralized system of publishers, yapping dog critical enclaves, any structure whatsoever of offering writing that has a radius from a hub. If we are at all versed in 19th century Anarchist thinking such as Jefferson, Kropotkin and Bakunin we might links Swords-Holdsworth to ways of thinking in which our political and social structures imitate Nature, not make a war against it.
Many of the people in the poetry world perhaps haven't thought about the Jurassic means of delivery they survey for offering their wares, a subject that Swords-Holdsworth addresses very well. Poetry is probably rooted in antediluvian performance, theatre, an audience; it has been since the murky origins of our species. It is a tradition among us that is the logical harvest of animals with a notable genius for communication. It has a public.
Poetry isn’t about contests, agents, support groups, musings of children, confessions or some murky kind of therapy. It certainly doesn’t come in the United States from a group of ariistos we call society who are definers of taste, intelligence and honesty. Perhaps we could ask Paris Hilton what she thinks of the Arts. We don't.
It's a way of catalyzing varied communications that can be anything from information to carnal passion, science and metaphysics. It has been available since the invention of writing in private experience very directly if one read hieroglyphs or clay Babylonian tablets. Cultures that realized the value of this manner of communication have for better or worse have dominated the world for the past few thousand years with unvisitable or almost universal literacy.
Yet the sharing of communication predates any writing in our history, / perhaps even the habit of people meeting in clearings, in taverns, in all sorts of public assemblies to hear poetry or history aeons before anybody ever devised a system to write anything down at all. Much of the ballad and lyrical craft of the 18th century in the West was based on what the vast populace at the bottom shared in a group or read privately. In America we have had poets who have resonated with the Bible or McPherson's Sorrows of Ossian because these books of marginal peoples were the focus of private meditations among common folk at least somewhat literate. Verses were offered in taverns or other public performances. they ranged from the sacred to the ribald.
Our current American culture was based in part on the premise that a populace who could read and write could also make free and mature decisions about their lives that were rooted at least in part on the enrichment of their cognition from the dead or diverse people far away. However, one wants to look at it, poetry and any writing at all, even of train schedules, is central to our ability to survive and thrive, not the flotsam of some marginal, perverse or luxurious activity.
Who controls when they can do it at all this neutral communication instrument biologically set in us may think it can in a totalitarian manner define an artificial, simple or sugared reality that replaces our observation of Nature with universal literacy; yet often a loose political structure that may come from geography, torpor or inertia, not laws, guides the direction of the same populace is to enrich each other with their diverse writing and thought.
Since we all live in a perceptual time bubble that is mortal enough but sometimes has an annoyingly long life, few or none of us may remember a day when it was easy or even deemed valuable by the legitimate institutions among us to be able to read and write independently and well. As Jefferson says that is the biological need of all of us. We are as wedded to freedom as beavers are to building dams. Poetry and literature like Creation itself may be a neutrality, able to make some people stupid, others murderous fanaticism of some kind; at best it is an instrument of freedom, not a brute tool of any orthodoxy.
When I was in college in the 50s, I heard many poets from Robert Bly to Donald Hall rail against the oppressive character of the centralized means of disseminating poetry, a Leviathan that claimed it was merely elevating people to blessed and aery literacy from a scurvy world of survivalist drudgery. Our own country was not real to these provincial mandarins. They were more interested in the post-medieval musings of clerics in England than anybody barefoot witling in the United States. In the 50s there were no mainstream soft cover poetry books. If one wrote anything realistic at all ne was derided or patronized as middlebrow. The abstract had a fetching Pythagorean comeliness that enthralled such folk. What was highbrow? Senor, don’t ask.
In my life I’ve met one poet, Marguerite Young, who had her book of verse published hard cover. Although we had no lack of charismatic poets whose personal magic might have been profitable for the publishers they didn't want that kind of tainted money. American publishing shares with innumerable suicides and the Soviet Union the baleful distinction of going kerplunk into oblivion without an enemy.
Actually things were not quite as bad in those sleepy days as Bly and Hall said. Certain maverick publishers like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Barney Rossett, James Laughlin and Hugh Hefner were out to put dissenting poetry and prose available to their readers. Not surprisingly in this moderately fascist military world they had an appreciative and large audience. I read most of the living poets of that decade valued because of the indvidual efforts of these champions of independent thought as if I were perusing satanism and porno. In the early 60s Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg not only were wedding poetry with rock music but opened a store on the Lower East Side selling the supposedly sleazy books they valued...
In the late 60s many poets like Alan Katzman bought their own printing equipment and founded an independent press for poetry from scratch. In the early 70 Bob Hershon, Frank Murphy, Don Lev, Bob Holman and other assorted souls of that nature were out to promote poetry books by printing them, poetry readngs by giving out the Poetry Calendar. One could also get into the Village Voice’s Cheap Thrills.
I think sometimes since I was close to Alan Katxman what he would have done with our current technology. The means were set up by techieis in the 80s and afterares, peope no les dieiciated to remaking the world to be more nurutring to free spirits. Yet even now I constantly meet people in the poetry world that have no idea that thee technology for reaching their public exists.
The early computers like the early cars were not stable and seemed to crash more than gas eating cars on the roads. Around 2000 or so Dragon Systems offered a very accurate repogram for dictating a poem or a book into a computer instantly. Around this time I also saw a German made machine for making a book out of a digital text file in about a minute in a half. It was the basis of on-demand books that could be turned out for a dollar and a half. As Swords-Holdsworth points out there are two e-book formulas that can be a poem, story or book which can be read on one's computer or Kindle. They are usually available to be translated with this alchemy with a touch of a button on most word processors.
Of course the times have changed in a half century. From Ferlinghetti through Alan Katzman one could count on a literate public who liked to read, saw the value in some public assembly and had vocabularies worthy of an adult. .they also had causes that were popular like a disdain for colonial wars and sexual austerity.
As I write this in the near winter of 2018 one can easily put a digitized poem, story or novel into Word Press and have the internet pick it up globally as an item perhaps somebody in Patagonia one might pay attention to. Whether or not there is a public for any poetry or anything else is the sticking point of such an enterprise. In Swords-Holdsworth’s design of how poetry could get to a reader it doesn’t matter whether it is nobody or one labially talking dog. The lines of communication are private. Some of the implications of Swords-Holdsworth's' thought are that the future of offering any writing, information or even a death threat could be done utterly without any physical center of the activity.
Swords-Holdsworth's blog , visual art and interviews are very generous with how he produced his own books. They are worth a read even if one is a Luddite on an asteroid. .His mind bleary has been working critically on the analysis of many kinds of systems from budget of the UK to geographical features in Australia. What if Swords-Holdsworth were to apply his daunting analytical powers to politics or morals? As it is he has a nimble mind that looks for systems or possible systems in places most thinkers haven't explored much since the early 19th century.
In the 20th centry our poltical thinking often offers a chocie of autocracies. It's nice that Swords-Holdsworth never takes up the issue of a public in volume for good and bad reasons. Ultimately all expereince is privaite. It only seems repetitive and banal enough to offer expressions of it mathematically. There is no common expression in the sense that all the cells of the body are leagued to have some communal consciousness. Our public is always one step or less from being six billion hermits.
On the dark side one might ask how many people really want a public. To meet one's public is often to feel one has been writing for the wrong species or for nobody.