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  #21  
Unread 09-06-2019, 04:11 AM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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James and Nemo, thanks for the further comments and discussion. James, I certainly wasn't offended by your criticisms, and at least from my end there's no feeling that you were being unnecessarily aggressive or picky or whatever. Nemo, I see your point about "any", and I'll keep mulling over that spot.
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  #22  
Unread 09-06-2019, 05:34 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Aaron,

I didn't see a problem with the definite article before 'glimpses'. That said, I do like that your revision to 'any' raises the possibility that the N may have had no glimpses, which is nicely modest and definitely a move away from the definite. I guess extrapolating from that you could go more strongly in that direction with something like this:

for all my sitting, glimpses that it may
have caught of Nothing, doing what it will.

I guess another (rather functional) option for losing the definite article that makes it clear glimpse have occurred would be, "despite glimpses"

for all my sitting, despite glimpses it
has caught of Nothing, doing what it will.

If you're trying to lose the definite from the poem, though, I'd say that's another reason not to capitalise 'Nothing', which does seem to make it very definite.

I guess 'Nothing' is still bugging me here. There's nothing there, only there isn't nothing there, there's something call 'Nothing'. (Shopkeeper, "We've nothing in stock"; customer, "Great, I'll take six, please"). Lower case 'nothing doing what it will' gives you nice word play, which for me becomes less effective with the upper-case 'nothing': once nothing has become something, the fact that it can do things is much less of a surprise or paradox, which is what the word-play seems to hang on. Lower-case 'nothing' gives us actions but no actor. Upper case 'Nothing' seems to give us another actor. Rather than seeing through the illusion of a separate self, the N seems to have seen another self or higher power. Rather than no-thing, there's a thing. I guess maybe the point could be that 'Nothing' denotes 'everything', the interconnected universe (the flip-side of emptiness). And very possibly I'm being stubbornly closed to other readings Anyway, I'd be interested to know why you prefer it or what, for you, it does for the poem, what you want it to communicate.

-Matt
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  #23  
Unread 09-06-2019, 06:10 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Matt, I really appreciate the time you're taking with this poem. Thank you for that.

Regarding "nothing" vs. "Nothing", your pushback is actually making me more convinced of my choice, for a few reasons:

1. You've pointed out the possibility of an ironic reading of the poem. I think capitalizing "Nothing", making it a name, helps bring out that reading, precisely because of the reification it implies.

2. To an extent, I think the reification is impossible to avoid. The idea of nothing "doing what it will" already makes "nothing" into an active subject. I see why you read it as actions with no actor, but that's not how I read it. I think the choice is between a mass noun and a proper name. Either way, n/Nothing is being treated as (as it were) something.

3. Your point about definiteness is a good one, but I like the contrast between the material objects being indefinite and then this strange "Nothing" being the most definite thing in the poem.

4. Getting into the philosophical weeds, the logician/philosopher Graham Priest has some very interesting arguments about the possibility of understanding Nothing as a contradictory object. (See his book One, which you might enjoy.)

I hope that gives you some insight, even if you still disagree. And if you have more pushback I'm happy to hear it.

I'm also glad you picked up on what I was going for with "any". The implied grammar is "for all my sitting, [for] any glimpses", and I do feel the force of Nemo's point that this is perhaps too suppressed. So I am still thinking about how to keep the question about whether there have been any such glimpses open while clarifying things. Don't see a good solution yet.
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  #24  
Unread 09-07-2019, 11:08 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
This is my grain of salt:
Your diction continues to solidify/improve and it is what now keeps your poetry from sometimes slipping into navel-gazing, IMHO. This one accomplishes that much, if not a bit more -- if materializing/imagining ennui (as Andrew F. observed) counts.

I have an uncle who is a retired ninety-two year old philosopher/professor. He is an absolute pleasure to talk with for hours. He ruminates and ponders out loud and adeptly steps from one steam to the next without slipping. And he is patient with me and my naiveté about deep philosophical thoughts. He has lived long enough to know that good philosophical thought always includes a quest for new thoughts and that those thoughts can come from anywhere -- even from someone like me who stumbles along asking questions, being philosophical in crude but vital way.
My point is that, unlike my uncle's philosophical thoughts that, though lofty, can be understood by me, the esotericism of your poems often times leaves me in the dark, and doesn't give me a sense of fullness that maybe others can enjoy more readily. Something like that. I like this poem, but the average audience will pass this one by, thinking it's not for them -- but here's the thing: it could be made more assessable to them if you can continue to evolve your craft and give your poems more of an aura of revelation. I don't know that I'm making much sense, but I feel that is the direction you could go...
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-07-2019 at 03:22 PM.
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  #25  
Unread 09-08-2019, 07:06 AM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Jim, thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate the concern regarding the accessibility of my poems. I am still trying to figure out who my ideal reader is, whether it is the average Alex or some more particular sort of person. I do lean toward writing for the latter (though more and more I make at least overtures to the former). But the latter is harder to find...

This can slide down now; I've gotten much good advice and I'm about to post a new poem.
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