1) "a" / "the"

In Broken English, Heather McHugh argues that “articles operate as time signs: they cast their light ahead.” But the light each casts differs, and they illuminate either the promise of the particular/the singular, or a wavering/as in a serial. Poems benefit from this difference, in the way that algorithms occur when output in given to a system of disruptions, a curving toward or away from what has become variable. The X settles before an X unsettles. Encoding involves the deliberate torsion of such elements as article and syntax, as in “the microtonal shifting of vowels” and “syntactic rotation of the same words shifting to different parts of speech,” which Charles Bernstein suggests animates Zukofksy's “A”. The body is a noun, a surplus, a word for flight.

2) + / -

The principles of association and dislocation – on and off, stress and unstress, long and short – form the basis of most literary metrical systems. As Loss Glazier suggests in Digital Poetics, the “weaving of disparate elements into a larger ‘whole' is prosody” and language can generate meaning if given not only to conclusion with its emphasis on linear trajectory, but also to occlusion, the errant wavering of the eye, so that “peripheral vision may again resume activity.” This is not to say that there is necessarily a ghost in the machine of language, but that the animating principles of the eye/“I” can be perhaps further extended into previously undisclosed directions and terrains through algorithmic processes. The body is a verb whose refrain encircles an egg and its nest.


In the Monas Hieroglyphica, John Dee, the Renaissance mathematician and advisor to Queen Elizabeth, argues that most political as well as natural phenomena can be explained in terms of specific encoding. Specifically, he uses the straight line and the circle in his analyses, “so that the first and most simple example and representation of all things may be demonstrated, whether such things be either non-existent or merely hidden under Nature's veils.” But the various points along a line, of course, are seldom seen as straight: “the homogeneous parts are dislocated, and this a man learns by experiment, for it is along the straight lines that they return naturally and effectively to these same places.” However, the place of origin is likewise seldom known and one must learn to misplace, to remember the numerous errors. What, for instance, is the water of the white of egg, what is the oil of the yoke of egg, and what do we mean by recalcitrant egg-shells? By the third day, soldiers will circle the edge of what was once the kingdom. In the center, the virgins will remove the curtains from their room. In their chemical weddings, the windows and mirrors will be arranged so that that room consists of nothing but sun in all four quarters.


In “Notes toward a Postmodern Baroque,” Joshua Corey describes the “modern tendency to break down experience into fragments,” which is the basis, as he suggests, for “a radical materialism that paradoxically creates a new aperture for subjective, even spiritual, experience.” The Postmodern Baroque dissolves the groundwork between artwork/spectator and process/product in a radical encoding of experience. The word pulls us into its fold. As the poet Charles Tomlinson notes in “The Poem as Initiation,” rituals, another form of encoding, are an impulse toward the socius. In Hopi initiation ceremonies, for instance, symbolically masked figures previously thought to be hostile spirits are revealed as kindred. Encoding the sacred with the profane, as in ritual, can open possibilities for a spiritual and erotic weaving of the body with its fragmented word. In this manner, the poetics of code prompts a distinction between techne and poesias in its interweaving of binary elements. Encoding does not offer a multiplicity of selves in a utopian or post-humanist re-making of the body, but perhaps offers a multiplicity of modes, uses, or processes through which the body extends, or is reconceptualized, as in language.


Karl Kempton has argued that ancient rock art is not only the first instance of visual poetry, but one of the first instances of spiritual expression. Recently discovered examples Chumash rock art may have been created as long as 47,000 years ago. These artifacts functioned as food preparation stations, as well as depositories for such culturally relevant information as calendars for the winter and summer solstice, agricultural maps, spiritual cosmology, plus physical gestures that are now difficult to recover or decipher. As McHugh suggests, the “fragment is a form we approach in aftermath.” It passes from “the” to “a” to “as is,” and slowly in time, without a necessary completion. But it is a carrying across that situates as it restiches itself anew. The poem is likewise a vessel whose fragments we can approach as code, a pressure between cultures, even if partial, a tortoise shell on which its map of the world is errantly drawn.


If 2x2=4 is true; if the proposition changes when spoken; if we speak before the king of artificial quaternaries ; if we speak before the king of continuous multiplications; if the king was in the throne room but not in a room; if we are certain he was in the room; if his sentence is arranged in fours; if the origin of the sentence is never kept at hand; if our hands are not bound behind our backs; if our gestures conceal our cruelest intentions; if a fugitive ecapes through a hole in the wall; if the sun is not a hole in the vault of heaven; if the vault of heaven is not the one dark spot.

7) X

The natural process in Coleridge's “Frost at Midnight” can be described as an algorithm whose “intersperséd vacancies” operate as a binary of attraction and repulsion, the strange and the familiar, what is at hand and at heart. In all parts of the kingdom, this residue is called "stranger" and it points to arrival. There is always the word for this. There is always the place of birth. But beyond the poem's “secret ministry,” the soot flutters from a gate, leaveing its afterimage on a window / on an entangled bank, clothed with many kinds, our ghostlier inheritance, an errant material slipping out the back.