Friday, March 12, 2010

Forces at Work: The Poetry of Ammons and Frost

In the discussion/lecture of last night (3/10/10), and in the intermix of my own instruction regarding Transcendentalism (Thoreau, Whitman, Emerson, etc.), I could not help but consider the poetry of AR Ammons (particularly the poem Identity) and Robert Frost’s poem Design.

Ammons’ poetry concerned itself with finding and exploring forces at work in nature. Concerned heavily with these forces, and similar to the Transcendentalists a century before, much of his work drew parallels between what we see in nature and the conceptual struggles of man. Similar too was a concentration on contextualization, which, so far at least, seems prevalent in our readings of Deleuze – the interrelations of opposites, the relationships between the object and its ability to produce a new becoming. The Uexküll readings on ethology further the importance of connections between milieus as areas of importance and worthy of study.

Considering Deleuze’s idea “There is no longer a form, but only relations of velocity between infinitesimal particles of an unformed material. There is no longer a subject, but only individuating affective states of an anonymous force” (128) then the ideas of interactive force must come into play in the construction of anything. This consideration of force I believe is rather inherent in Ammons’ work. The aforementioned "Identity" tackles this idea in its analysis of a simple spider web. Ammons states that “possibility is high along the peripheries of / spider /webs: / you can go all / around the fringing attachments // and find / disorder ripe, / entropy rich, high levels of random, / numerous occasions of accident.”

Similar too, is Ammons’ observation that order / diminishes toward the / periphery / allowing at / the points of contact / entropy equal to entropy.” Is this the milieu-shaping self-reflection/self-consciousness we discussed re: Uexkull, Spinoza and Deleuze last night?

Some conflicts in this application do exist – the idea that the web itself is a “form” that is unique to the genus of spider, but the concentration of the poem is on the ability of the spider to fit within a greater schema that steps outside its own perception – its web is there only to serve its purpose yet other purposes are inherent within a greater world view. Maybe through this interpretation of identity as milieu, the spider’s identity serves as a particular force acting within the non-static worlds in which it must be spun.

This is similar to Robert Frost’s poem "Design", where he posits that the event of a spider eating a moth on a “white heal-all” proves that there are design elements that are beyond our understanding at work in nature. This might be some of the earlier thought that helped set the stage for a truly modern understanding of science – a world evolving outside the simplistic understanding, i.e. our human milieu.

--mike vw

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