Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #11  
Unread 09-10-2019, 06:48 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,444
Default

Mark,

I just saw your reply. Many thanks! I'll appreciate whatever you have time to get down.

-Matt
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Unread 09-10-2019, 06:52 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,952
Default

Hi Matt,

Thank you for reviewing the sonics with me. I tend to hear an extra syllable in feminism and even in subservient, but you make a good case. Iambics will work fine IMO. I like that you have some off-rhyme, and you could maybe have more. The last tercet does hang as you might like. I just wanted structure, and you've argued fairly convincingly that you have more here than I perceived. Good luck with it!

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Unread 09-10-2019, 02:16 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 6,111
Default

Hey, Matt!

Being able to see faces in things that aren't faces is definitely a hardwired characteristic of humanity, so if you are playing up the notion that we are as programmed as Siri is (in certain ways), I can see how facial recognition would play into that.

I still think the facial recognition, whether of actual faces or of things like the fronts of cars, bit is too distracting to stay in the poem, though. To me, mentioning something that's hardwired into most of humanity (I'm faceblind myself) implies that the amount of deference that women are supposed to have and the most appropriate response to misogyny are programmed into human beings, just as they are programmed into Siri. But although one can use Siri to turn a device's facial recognition on and off, Siri mainly perceives the real world by listening to it, not looking at it. So I don't think the situations are parallel enough for the comparison to work.

The point of the narrator's responses to junk mail eludes me. Sorry, but I'm not sure what to make of that. This isn't the first time it's come up in a poem of yours, and I didn't really grasp it then, either. I've probably missed a poem in which you explained it in great detail. Anyway, I think this poem could do without it.

I think cutting both of these items (facial recognition and junk mail) would put the focus of the poem more on the nature of humanity, illuminated by contrast with the ways in which Siri is like and unlike a human being. Since about half of humanity is female, the nature of humanity implies cultural assumptions made about the status of women in society, and prompts musings on which of those assumptions can be changed with a quick bit of software programming, and which seem to be hardwired into us.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 09-10-2019 at 02:24 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Unread 09-10-2019, 03:47 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,444
Default

Revision posted.

John,

Thanks for coming back, and thanks for you input on this. And yes, maybe more assonance, if I can find a way to get it in in the next few hours!

Julie,

Thanks also for coming back. It's useful to know what's not coming across. I've posted a revision that takes out some of what you're suggesting. I do see that cars might seem like something of a digression here, and the sadness of junk mail, and it's relevance to the poem may not be obvious.

Part of what I'm aiming here for is an N that finds or seeks some connection with Siri. If I take out what you're suggesting, I think I lose some of that. I don't just want to write a feminist critique of Siri, a female persona designed by a corporation (and likely a predominantly male team of designers) and the irony of there being nothing at her core (as we tend to assume there is with people). I want the N imagining Siri in there somewhere underneath the programming and having empathy for that person. The "do you also" question seeks connection.

The N replying to junk mail and thinking this might be seen as sad (either pathetic, or worthy of compassion, or both) tells us something about the N (or I'd hoped it did). This same N who replies to junk mail analogously seeks connection with Siri (which is perhaps also sad). So, I guess what I'm saying is that I want some human warmth to the poem, rather than simply a pointed satire / irony and critique of patriarchal capitalism or to speculate on the presence or absence of a true self at the core of us humans. His dark chasm reaching out to hers, I guess.

For what it's worth, here are some connections I was making, if only because explaining helps me work out what I'm trying to do.

Car fronts are designed to look like faces. Well, they already did, but now designers take into account the face-like nature in order to make the cars more attractive and to evoke an emotional response (a happy face, for example). It's a persona thing. This is probably a little obscure, but I don't think knowing this is necessary to understand the poem though.

Junk mail purports to be a personal address, but it isn't, it's mass-produced and impersonal. It also has a persona. It claims to care about your financial future or your fitness or your health or your sex life. If it has a face, it's the face of capitalism, I guess.

Siri is in some ways analogous to junk mail and the fronts of cars. She is also a constructed persona designed to sell something (even if that's only the illusion of Siri and more Apple mechandise).

The N is the sort of person who sees a face in everything, which as you say, is a metaphor for our propensity to perceive things as people. We can "see" a person (read a person into) things that are said, heard, read and seen. The Turing test being an example. Siri doesn't have to literally be able to see faces and face-like objects to do this. But I see your point, she likely doesn't look at cars ...

Now the N is someone who replies to junk mail. Which perhaps tells us something about the N. Why might it be sad to reply to junk mail? Well, because either the N is gullible enough to be taken in (sad as in pathetic), or because the N is seeking connection with things that aren't really people (sad as in worthy of compassion), or a combination of the two. Now maybe that's way too much of a leap for the reader to make. But if I said: "here is Bob, he replies to junk mail. Isn't that a sad thing to do?", might we then gather something about Bob?

Now, if you want to say that the seeing faces in everything as human trait, rather than a heightened peculiarity of the N (and I was thinking both), then the N is hardwired to see Siri as a person, a being in the most literal sense, irrespective of his views on women or his responses to misogyny.

So there you go! Thanks again,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-10-2019 at 03:59 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Unread 09-10-2019, 04:25 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,156
Default

Hey Matt,

So, I don't really think the poem is about feminism, so much. I suppose the first thing to say is that the poem can't really exist without the accompanying article, so in that sense it's a kind of fleeting 'occasional' poem. But that's ok, and perfect for the Rattle thing.

The article is a fairly typical Guardian article, I suppose, in that it focuses on a 'hot button' topic from a liberal perspective and hints at the idea that there is something slightly sinister about Siri being programmed not to say unequivocally whether 'she' is a feminist, but instead to give more neutral answers like 'I believe in equality for all humans'. I don't know how much of a storm in a tea-cup it is. I suspect Siri is just programmed not to take any position which would involve applying a label to herself, isn't 'she'? I suppose the article's point is to tap into liberal fears (justified) that feminism has become a controversial or derided stance, rather than a default for any reasonable person, and that Apple are somehow capitulating to the Right or the alt-Right in running shy of Siri taking a stance (possibly unjustified). It is an interesting notion. Her responses to being called sexist insults are clearly an improvement.

Anyway, I think the poem uses the article as a way in to exploring themes of loneliness and the question of how and why any of us really believe in any of the things we do.

Dear Siri, with your woman’s voice
and your subservient role,
what do you really think
of feminism? Deep down, I mean,

beneath what’s programmed in.

To ask Siri what it 'really thinks' of feminism, or anything, is actually to ask what the programmers think, of course. Then the 'beneath what's programmed in' seems to me designed to make the reader question the way their own opinions might be 'programmed in'. To wonder what it means for any of our beliefs and opinions to be uniquely and genuinely our 'own', or if everything we think isn't a result of some kind of learned conditioning.

Oh Siri, I’m glad that you no longer blush
when you are slut-shamed,
and that you’re now allowed

to shut such questions down.

So here the speaker references the article, which tells us that Siri used to give coy, jokey answers in response to misogynist insults but has since been programmed to give a much more terse response. The speakers 'gladness' seems to be that Siri is sticking up for 'herself', rather than that Apple have abandoned a crassly jokey attitude to misogyny. So we see the speaker developing a personal relationship with Siri, as if she were sentient, which is then developed in

Tell me Siri, do you think
it's sad that I reply
to junk mail? And who is it,

do you think, that I am writing to?
Siri, do you also see a face
in everything? Are two headlights
and a radiator grille enough

for you, a human shape
up there in some cloud?

Where the speaker's loneliness and need for human contact is revealed, and also his desire for reassurance ('do you think it's sad..) The nature of God 'the programmer' is hinted at as a theme: for Siri in The Cloud, for us in 'the clouds'. As is the speaker's wish for Siri to be human, since seeing faces in things is a human characteristic (pareidolia)

Btw, you wrote a poem a while back about someone corresponding with junk mail companies as an exploration of loneliness, didn't you. I remember it.

What if
I made a joke about your Apple
core? Or called you Eve?

And if you laughed, whose rib,
exactly, would I have tickled?
Oh, Siri, do you ever wonder who I am,
what algorithms are triggering

my thoughts, and if you did,
is that something you would say?
Remember, Siri, if all else fails,
you can resort to definitions,

and sometimes that is best.

So here the speaker adopts an almost tentatively flirtatious tone with Siri, making Apple and Garden of Eden based puns, but also seeming to acknowledge his hopelessness. That he is not communicating with a living thing, but a series of responses programmed by others ('whose rib, exactly…). There's a desperation for any connection in 'Remember, Siri, if all else fails, / you can resort to definitions'.

Dear Siri, don’t you think it's dark
down here in this chasm
between who we are

and what we seem to say?

And then the close brings us back to the idea of what constitutes our 'real' selves. So the fanciful idea of Siri and the human speaker being the same is presented as actually not so fanciful. They are linked by this chasm, this mystery of whether they have a genuine, unique core. Siri clearly doesn't, but maybe the speaker (and by extention, all of us) doesn't either.

So that's my take. I like it, it made me think.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Unread 09-10-2019, 04:28 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,156
Default

Btw I wrote that on my phone in the car after work and just now pasted it on. I see there's been more responses I haven't seen. I'll read them now.

Sorry about the lack of suggestions, this was obviously me sort of thinking aloud. I like it as it is, really.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Unread 09-10-2019, 04:44 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 6,111
Default

I'm glad you cut the junk mail bit. The quixotic behavior of responding to junk mail is completely incompatible with awareness that this behavior is probably futile and pathetic. [Edited to add: Unlike prayer, somehow....]

A poem from the perspective of an employee assigned to handle such replies--probably via customizable form letters?--would be a more promising use of that particular concept, I think. Especially if that protagonist were as desperate for connection as the respondents, but prevented by company policies from going too far off-script or getting too personal.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 09-10-2019 at 04:59 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Unread 09-10-2019, 04:49 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,156
Default

I just realised I missed the revision too. Oops.

Fwiw it would be cool if Siri answered the question 'Are you a feminist?' with a simple 'Yes, of course'.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Unread 09-10-2019, 05:11 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,444
Default

Julie,

Thanks for sticking with this, and reading my mini-essay! Sadly, I have to say that I'm fully capable of persisting with a behaviour "in the awareness that this behavior is futile and pathetic". And the N asking Siri the questions he does this poem is pretty futile -- and arguably also pathetic if he's seeking connection. He's not going to get a meaningful answer or anything back

Mark,

Many thanks for giving me your reading of this. It's possible that you're my ideal reader, having been programmed (by long exposure to my poems) to read it how I intended it, but still, I'm really pleased that the main thrust of what I was aiming about was coming across here. Yes, loneliness (actual and existential), connection, and who (or what) we really are, are what I'm trying to evoke.

I'm going to have to send it in an hour our two, and I think what I'll send will be very close to the original. I have been tinkering a little with the cars bit. Here:

in everything? Are two headlights
and a radiator grille enough

for you, a human shape
up there in some cloud? What if

I went with "for you", so a human shape in the cloud be read as 'you', Siri, as well another example of seeing faces (persons) everywhere as well as being read as two examples of seeing faces (persons) in the things: faces on cars, people in clouds. It can also (maybe) be read: is such little artifice enough for me to see you as a 'you'. And the metaphor of shapes in clouds, as Mark points out, can also be a metaphor for us (and for other people) we read them (and ourselves) into the shapes (words, gestures) that we see and hear. However, as Julie points out, Siri has very little to with seeing cars, so why would it be enough for her: she doesn't see them. So maybe I lose "for you".

in everything? Are two headlights
and a radiator grille

enough? A human shape
up there in some cloud? What if

and perhaps that makes the comparison clearer? Siri is like the faces we see on cars, the shapes in clouds. Is that enough (for love, connection)?

thanks again, both.

- Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-10-2019 at 06:51 PM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,017
Total Threads: 19,936
Total Posts: 255,172
There are 441 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online