Talk on Oulipo Movement with Mr. Paul Fournel, Winner of the Prix Goncourt, Paris
Your impressions about François Le Lionnais.
Firstly, let me to ask you do you prefer poems of publication?
I write a lot but I don’t publish a lot. I’m working to finish many of the fragments I have, as my conception of what a poem should be is changing, and changing in such a way that it is accommodating the fragmentary and elusive more. I’ve only published a hundred or so poems, but I think my rate of publication is going to rise over the coming years.
How do you define language?
I think language is consciousness itself, not merely its medium but its essence. But these are dark, mysterious waters.
Give us some artistic explanation of poetry, in a few sentences.
Poetry is language organized by rhythmic energy in which the ratio of implicit meaning to explicit meaning is very high, tending in the most sublime cases toward infinity. To give a counterexample, journalism, which can also be great art, has an explicit-to-implicit-meaning ratio that is close to 1 to 1.
What about joining contemporary to tradition?
I’m someone who reads across languages and deep into the history of English poetry. Poets all the way back to Chaucer don’t feel archaic to me, but contemporary. They feel, in fact, in some cases, more contemporary than living poets, because of course their poetry is living, and is very vital. So I guess I would agree with T. S. Eliot that part of the job of the artist is to join and develop a tradition. But you could also say that part of the job of an organism is to have a genetic code. An organism IS in some sense its genetic code, and an artist IS in some sense his or her or their (for artists who don’t identify themselves by gender polarities) tradition.
What places are lyrical in Brooklyn?
Along the water’s edge up and down the harbor is always lyrical. Some of the warehouse neighborhoods, in Bushwick and around the Gowanus Canal have a real beauty to them. But I enjoy those places as a person, not as a poet, necessarily. As a poet, recollection in tranquillity is the source of lyricism for me.
As to classic poets and poems, give us favorites.
The list is long, but Song of Myself is probably my favorite work of literature. I always read Wallace Stevens, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Yeats, Blake. I’m reading The Triumph of Life a lot these days. I’m reading Lorca and Jimenez in Spanish. I’m reading and translating the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib.
You are quite philosophical in your attitudes?
Philosophy was my subject in college, but it created an attitude rather than a subject matter in my writing. I think of philosophy as a highly technical discipline, like mathematics. I don’t think I philosophize in my poems at all. Rather I tell stories that occur on a metaphysical plane, if that isn’t claiming too much for myself.
Poetry must be made by all and not by one?
Yes. Poetry is the articulation of the collective, the universal, consciousness, as embodied in language, examining the minute particulars of experience.
Imagination in the writing process?
The imagination is central. Everything proceeds from it. The illusion of confession is just that, an illusion. However realistic a poem may seem, if it a real poem it springs from the imaginary, not the real. As Muhammad Ali said, without an imagination you cannot fly.
What about your other books?
As I said I’ve written a lot, even though I’ve published only sparely and sporadically, so each of my books is a kind of selected poems, though each has aesthetic unity. “Wild Kingdom” is a book the background of which is nature primarily and, secondarily, the exile from nature into a cityscape riven by racial differentiation. It has a strong political quality to it. “The Long Meadow” is in its largest conception–though of course I didn’t write it with this consciously in mind; it just came out–about the relationship between myth and meaning. That is a rubric only, but one that comprehends most of the poems in the book. And in using the word myth, I’m including its earliest denotation: in ancient Greek the word “mythos” simply means plot, as in a story. Both those books are story-driven books.
How do you see speech?
I don’t think speech, language, can escape meaning. I don’t think it can be reduced to it’s inner structural relationships, as some language poets try do, independent of what words represent. I’m a representational poet, and a realist.
Is speech like society?
Well, I would say that language is collective, it is the form and the substance of the collective consciousness, so language probably IS society is some sense. Language, to mangle Wittgenstein a little, is a game we can only play with others–even when we think we are talking to ourselves we are playing it with others.
Note. Interview made from February to June 2016.
I like to emphasize the tree poetries The Holy Worm of Praise (2002); Living in the Past (2004); Failure (2007); and The God of Loneliness: Selected and New Poems (2010). Before you write also. Is it to you any recognizable difference?
I’m making a distinction here between being a nobody and a failure, not a failure and success. I’m saying, somewhat ironically, that nobodies are forgettable but people remember failures. Since my father was a failure and I’m memorializing him in this poem and others in this forget I clearly find him memorable.
Can you describe the relationship between fame and poetry. Fame tries to destroy the beauty of poetry? How do you defend?
If you mean do I think fame affects my poetry (I can’t speak for others), then yes. It gave me a little more time and resources with which to write. It doesn’t in any way affect my writing process nor does it change how I see myself.
In your words, what is substantial problem of contemporary poetry? And society? Does poetry correspondent to reality?
I write, as you know, about real people and situations, about politics and nature, so reality is important to me. Good poetry mirrors the world, the real world. The beauty as well as the ugliness.
Now to re-erect Failure. How much time did you take to write this book of poetry?
In some sense I was writing Failure, both the poem and the book, most of my life. It took me a long time to understand how my father’s failures weren’t my own. That fact that in doing so I wrote my most successful book is of course ironic. It also took me a very long time to develop the craft necessary to express with any subtlety and persuasion the delicacy of these feelings. If there’s any truth in what I wrote, it’s for the reader to interpret that.
Did you write, simultaneously and other poems?
I often write many poems at one time, because I find discovering the meaning of one informs my understanding of the others. I was also looking at 9/11 and its affect on New Yorkers, the relationship between humans and dogs (animals) and how difficult and beautiful life in the contemporary city can be.
Absurdity in poetic sense. Otioseness of absurdity in new century. How to sing after after absurdity?
I embrace Camus’s idea of absurdity. The difference between what exists (reality) and the necessity of our having to skewer our vision of it in order to survive can produce absurd as well as tragic circumstances. I want to write my story in a way that others could identify with; to make my intellectual and emotional discovers interesting and moving to others too, knowing the very attempt is on some basic level absurd. Beckett’s hobo’s attempting poetry amid such intense self-obfuscation. The humor in such struggles may be the final answer to a question no one has asked of us. If what we write has any lasting value it may be in the absurdity of such a vulnerable and human endeavor.
American poetry, or Anglo-American, is the great mix, or compression, of influences. Migrations, Afro flow, Hindu, Jewish, then all those other influences. How do you understand impact of Jewish poetry to modern American verse?
There is most certainly an Hebraic influence on modern English poetry. The Five Books of Moses, or Torah, as well as the New Testament, enriched Anglo-Saxon literature, as well as all the Romance languages, in style as well as subject matter and story-telling techniques. Modern Hebrew poets, like Yehuda Amichai, work directly out of this tradition though are also influenced by American and European poetry.
Jewish lingual discourse has a fine sense for poetry. It is a language of ancient utterance. Whether you agree with me, that it is language with perfect structure?
But something special happened to American poetry in the19th century when Walt Whitman broke with more traditional English poetics and fashioned an American poetic style as innovative and imaginative as the new nation itself. He created a persona narrator whose ambition it was to embrace all the ideals and spirit of rebellion and revolutionary zeal of its history, while creating a language free of old world formalists constraints. His new music was influenced by the Hebraic bible in its use of incantation and rhythmic repetition, and his stories were also both biblical and innovative in nature.
His language combined raw ambition and traditional influences into a propulsive and incantatory style whose sounds were different from anything written before. One could claim all of modern American poetry comes from him and Emily Dickinson who in her quieter way engendered a similar influence.
Will you explain how, in your view, Jewish migration shaped great mainstream culture?
Contemporary American poetry is also highly influenced by jazz improvisation and blues and the rich cultures of so many layers of immigrants who have forged a musicality all their own. I became a poet in San Francisco in the 1960s when the Beats and Allen Ginsberg were creating their own cultural and linguistic innovations, which were blending into the rich intonations of Neruda, Vallejo, Pound, Machado, into the Japanese and ancient Chinese-influenced American imagistic styles of Robert Bly and James Wright. It was a great free-spirited time for poetry, a meet-ground for world poetry rekindled and inspired by a new generation of innovators and rebels. The Vietnam war and resistant movements against it provided a context in which popular musicians like Bob Dylan and Robert Lowell found common ground with Ginsberg and Whitman. I am without a doubt a product of that period of American poetry, as are so many of my colleagues.
How would you describe condition of Contemporary American poetry? Its diversity and trends?
There is a more traditional and academically conservative trend recently, but much of modern American poetry is still inspired by the politics of the moment, wherever that moment may be found and inclines to takes us.
Interview by Lepota Cosmo, February 2016
Superspeech is metalingual phenomenon. Its metalinguistic nature produces useful lingual values. Whereas its rhetorical and psychological label clearly indicate the intentional or unintentional discapabilities. Superspeech is comprehensive chatter, long, excessive and exaggerated speech, with involuntary forms and unique postive side-effects of language (Newmeyer, 1996; Segalowitz 2001). In concept of lingual vocation, superspeech is intentional rhetoric capability, superb lingual practice unique ability to use words, phrases, or a speech in such a way to prevail an opponent speaker. Subject is a speaker, accomplice, or interlocutor with formal or informal priority in the group. The speaker who talks a lot, is using the same devices as the orator with limited period of time (Utsumi, 2006). Directional rhetorics is trying to establish itself as the valuable discourse. Therefore, time is intensive metalinguistics with the applied style of profitable devices (Klujeff, 2005). Speaker will not talk all the time, but will have magnetic and comprehensive speech, will use right words, be opened, speaking what others would speak but speaking for itself. Superspeaker talks all the time, intuitively captures the reality, speaks before something is created, further he creates by speech. Elements of this can be read in the vernacular and rhetorical devices:
(1) “of course i will not tell that [then telling it!” obivous hypercolloqium;
(2) “surely you know that”, “i know what you’re gonna say”, “we certainly want to”, the imposition of intent;
(3) interruption of speech of interlocutor, jumping in someone’s speech, almastinephrax, stinephrax,
(4) taking the words out of someone’s mouth, speaking of what the interlocutor wanted to say, device verba ex ore, pestering by expression, pyrhazoephraxis,
(5) thinking aloud, decide aloud, apophasíseidynata,
(6) interference of speak by speaking, paremvolia, uelut loqui,
(7) articulating science or mood, figure of diathesis,
(8) or the word that floats in the air, on which everyone is thinking, is about to be imposed, a word which came about during the dialogue, fteroúgisma, verbum volitans,
(9) talk of thoughts instead of talk of words, in the promotion and prevention of speech, indirect device, does not speak directly by words, do not articulate the intention, disputatio cognitationum, syzitisitonskepseon,
(10) deliberate speech, speech which is not the purpose of the speech, delibrate talk, and talk in order to talk, deliberata sermonis,
(11) protheseos (ek protheseos thóryvo), override the voice, apophasis,
(12) wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it, or denying that it should be brought up, anapodonton,
(13) it is a figure of speech or discourse that is an incomplete sentence, parrhesia,
(14) speak in such a way that others wish to speak, not to oppose than to join the conversation, epithymonexphrasos, exhortation, exoptamus.
Superspeech as wordiness, long-windedness, grandiloquence, garrulousness, chattiness, glibness, is formal expression of talkativeness, purposeful and stylish speech within limited budget of time and colloquial words. Speech is imposed but with intent purpose and metalingistical discourse (Gumbert, 1993). Positioned within linear budget and its transcending function. Its rational limitations are rather projected to transcendental style of rhetorics, or funds of noncolloquial word and expressions, as forms and devices. Ranks of words, and basic modalities of lingual logic are exposed to lingual metalogic. Metaspeech is formulated in flosculas as a whole, that are playful with modes of formal logic. Its ability to change modes, shows that it is not something within mode, but rather transcendent to it, as creation to the object, or insight to the phenomenon. Further words are active realities, they correspondent to realities, all words are ontologies, phaenomenon in productione, things that produce things. So all subjects are political onthologies, onthologies that are not normative, but producible, capable of creating realities, that are not only new words but also colloquiums. Treating subjects and object as words in logic, and corresponding words to the realities, would neglect possibility of metalinguistics, that the the things (in this case the object) is not formal ontology, in its projection to the words and linear logic, but original ontology with transcendental function.
Wordiness of superspeech is proven by phrases in given modalities, devices that stand always contrary to the expected creating positive lingual effect by producing different modalities of reception or articulating modalities of speech, to inflexion or motivation. That is position of superspeech, its possibility to be expressed in rhetorical devices, in articulation that changes reality, that is in original language of literal creativity.
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By innovative speech, colloquium however resembles original language. But how much could we create in process of speaking? It seems that speech has its intuitive limits. Although speech is literary activity, making and moving rules of writing and thinking. Original language would imply that speaker should say nothing more than what hearer wants to hear but would be even more pleased to hear and that no one could repeat what once was said. It means that language stands in creation as dynamics and that no category is liable only to figure of speech. Speech creates always something new to the ordinary language, and linguistics standing to metalinguistics is borrowing science, science as language of formal signs thinking of forms as the relations. In linguistics once there were metaforms, forms transcendent to forms as an original language; flows and forms as metalinguistic solutions. Once the speech is perceived, it will remain as metaform, if taken as an object, or an element, or is assigned, will be language of linguistics. Difrence is changed and has new quality. Its advanced logics takes in favour of situation creating perpetual structure, structure that is close to language structure. The rules of transcendental logic are the same as the rules of logic. This projection is not to be applied in case of the metalinguistics. Metalanguage does not have any tangible lines in between, language to metalanguage. Categories for itself are not projections, metalinguistics are beyond domain of colloquial speech or level of letters. Original speech uses rhetorics in monologue for satire in dialogue. It is in relation to the subject, and not to the object. In debate/prominent speech, superspeech is very useful rhetorics. Particularly in debate, protagonists tend to see subject as object, creating underlanguage, and reducing even ordinary rhetorics. This happens desirable in rhetorics when the speaker becomes a listener. Super speech can reduce power of speech, or improve, depending of participant speakers. Superspeech is in relation to object and uses monologue as in prominent speech, or is in relation to subject and uses dialogue as in debate. It will use sarcasm or satire on listener or itself, not to third person weather is intended speech. It is dialogue between subject and object, as in perfect speech, object is always listener and words are interchange. Because of importance of speech, speaker doesn’t think on anybody else but on second part and is creative in the meaning of true metalinguistics. It seems that only live impression can have property of perfect language. If it widen listener’s perspective or speak in terms of lingual logic. Speech is intended to listener, not to third person. Just as someone should listen what speaker said from the listener, which should not be prominent speech. Our own creative speech could not be made from words of others. Humour and sarcasm are made of metalinguistics. We should use superspeech, when speaking in forms and again it would be metalogic. Our creative speech is made of words that we create. Reader does not speak, reading is not creative language, in true reading we are perceiving, and if perceiving we do not speak. We are not oriented toward third person, because the object of our speech is the second participant, that once was speaker and now speaks language inferior to the language of the listener. This listener can interchange in perfect language, making the speech of dialogue, which was the basis of perfect language, with no difference between listener and speaker. Instead of two objects in superspeech, we have two subjects. Humour holds the knowledge of forms. Play with meaning if not humour will become sarcasm, metalanguage that is intended toward others, on behalf of others, unique humour of rhetorics, humour which tries to capture attention. Humour that has power, or force listener, is distinctive sarcasm, if sarcasm could be distinctive, as higher degree of humour, intended metaspeech (Simpson, 2003). Metaspeech do not speak but interact, do not speak to silence but to hearing, and etc. Speaks, than hears, speaks, than hears heard, speaks to heard. If having no benign reception, humour of rhetorics will produce sarcasm. Humour is the most benign reception of rhetorics. Super speaker will always speak, no matter what but will speak to situation. Humorist are in fond of hyperspeech, but only rhetorics uses sarcasm. Sarcasm gives insight in metaspeech. Although sarcasm is a conservative device. Difference is positive, not negative, there is difference between subjects, not their ability. My perfect language means that I can express modialities as well as simple forms, but my ability is political not instrumental, words are not instruments, not a priori, there are forms of perfect speech. Linguistics are hollow in outform, linguistics is not the form but the process, speech in creativity, and its creativity, its metaspeech of modalities is creative to its instrument, it does not change only the language, and values of language, it changes also the subjects.. We can change by creating, because of the ontology of the language. Formal or logical change of modalities that are ranks, is structural, therefore not formal, but inner politics. Political ontology says that words have political values, that means that they change reality of their perception, not as the form but as the quality because it is process between the subjects, that is creativity not the objects. Low language do not change world. Colloquium is not changeable, it is not political. Politics are ontological, within modality of one subject, within modality of words (Devitt, 2006, Antony, 2008). Speech is only part of metaspeech, therefore it is ontological in its value. Superspeech can create and by creating it resembles original language, further, political speech provides insight in, how could we speak without listening poetry, can clamor prevail poetry, can only poetry surpass poetry, speaker uses however simple words.
Why do humour has such power with words? Does humour has its power as metalingitics or is it because of its play with words. Humour is form of language, rather than play with language (Raskin 1985). Outermost level of humor is in dealing with words. The value of the internal structure of humour, the real power of humour, power of words, is in its metalogic, logic toward ranks of words, the established order of words in the modality. To be clear, the modality that is understood as logic of colloquium, in current ranks of words, within its unanticipated language. Logic itself could play with ranks, but, as such, it is part of the metalogic. Innermost level of humour is therefore nothing other than language, an original perfect language (Paulos, 2013). Positioned within metalogic, with use of right words. Should we say, humour is extension and sarcasm is expression. Extensive use of figures of speech distinguishes humour as metalanguage (Fahnestock, 2005). Humour is political and, therefore, original language that creates by speaking, uses by producing, it is the highest style, by speaking unassumed, uses the words used all the time. It changes ranks of words, words that create the words, words that correspondent to words, as in metalanguage, and its creativity is original although it uses the same words, because of political value of words that are structured in ranks. Thus linguistics has political value due to its creativity, ability of words to change and create meaning. Political value of language is in its logic, or precisely in the structural linguistics. Every creativity of language is political in its label. Political here has its linguistic interpretation. Capability of creating reality that is expressed. Capability of creating reality by words that are structural within political ontology and its semantics (Simons 1985). Power of words lies withing their use, and consequently within their value. Political subject has ability to change the reality by speaking, so the words are by itself realities that exists in relation to the subject and reality. Words are always politically original, words are therefore, in true language always realities, realities of multiplied speakers. Should words be sometimes realities and reality sometimes changeable? Answer of rhetorics is yes, in endeavor. We live in poetic society. Everything is possible when playing words. Subject exists in metaspeech, speech that is well pronounced to the perceptive literature. In the terms of metalanguage there are no differences between creativity of speaker and creativity of receptor, creativity is equal therefore perceptive. Difference lies in terms of metalogic, necessary to distinguish quality of speaker to listener, speaker to speaker, as we do in logic. In original language there is no difference, without creativity, perception would not be creative, without creativity of perception creativity would not be perceived as creative, product of words would be disposable. There is reciprocity, within passive speaker lies creativity that is equal to the perceived creativity. And correspondence, within active speaker are realities. Sign correspondent to metasign, metasigns correspondent to reality. Should we speculate on superspeech, we will find that superspeech is a part of metaspeech, output of metalogic, with desire to speak always and to speak in all modes. Speak always and speak everything, speak when speaking is pointless, speak for the speaking sake. Someone would speak something, everyone will speak everything. Superspeaker will talk for the society, because in metaspeech there is no difference between the unit and the whole, because there is no difference between twos, the expression of one subject is expression of the other, the expression of the subject is perfect and delegated to the whole. In fact, no one can speak originally, original language would imply total expression, that is expression of everything for the first time. Thus, creator, or as we named it speaker, seeks out innovation moving towards perfect language.