Music For A Manual Kind
There is an axis of flow on which the arrow pulls and lets go,
an axis in the evolution of tools and song, hunting and war;
an axis between sinew pulled back, and guitar string plucked;
a shank hollowed and fluted, echoing out from the cave.
Buskers and gatherers of musical mulch prowling the gulch.
The brothels and taverns of booze and cards just below
the church buildings up on the hill, blasting organ pipes,
ringing bells, correlating voices to an almighty predator.
230 pulls of the bow and arrow’s piano bellowing
through the mesquite bosque once foresting this valley,
your body could wash out the other end of the cave,
blood vessels thinking and pulsating in kind:
A recording studio, but back then, an opium den
perched above the gulch, a tactical lookout.
They eat their own becomes they record their own,
the shaman warrior, the filmmaker’s cut and splice:
They gather together like stitches in leather.
No longer day dreaming of brotherhood in battle,
the ensembled instinct purging war’s overture,
all hands on a deck perfectly pitched:
From the decadent raunch a new form is launched.
New kinds of strangers; an alien aesthetics.
The footwork, the body paint, the poetry in arms
stretching anomaly with a canvas set starboard
in cosmic navigation to a cymbal’s vibration:
The drummer boy has lost it to an improvised solo,
and the bugle boy has picked up a saxophone.
I’ll be in the backroom writing poetry.
By Ken Boe
(with T. S. Henry Webb.)
Chicago/Bisbee musician, composer, and producer T. S. Henry Webb threw me 20 bucks and the instructions to think of and use a couple exciting words about his music in a poem. The above poem is what resulted.
I hope you will read what I have to say about the poem, which is to write about human imagination, because I think I can show you how this amazing thing we call poetry, yet dreaded by many, can actually upgrade your brain to a higher level of performance in what we call reality.
There are linguistic inter-worlds and domains of disparate meanings in a poem which do not follow a linear path in the same way a story does. The contemporary poem is a landscape of experimental thought patterns and polysemy which require us to double back, walk slowly, and look in all directions. The poem is like a room in the forest, that place we build the campfire and spend some time circling around in, not just bushwhacking ahead, daydreaming, and staring at our feet so as not to trip.
We need to look around, and practice our peripheral vision. This way, when we do wander back out on the trail of reality, we will not just stare at our feet, we will not just let reality give way to our day dream, or ideology. We will see the trail up ahead, memorizing where our feet are to land like second nature, so that we may enjoy our hike seeing the horizon, noticing details and signs in the terrain, and even recognizing danger. This must be how hunters and gatherers hiked, and it’s a good analogy for walking through life more mindfully, and aware. The poem is that campfire ring where we may practice for this.
(See close up of paintings below)
In this blog, or email series, I’ll be exploring thoughts in this way, and through poetry, a map for appreciating the arts more determinedly. I believe this is the path for us to take as a civilization, through the arts and the philosophy thereof, to reach a higher consciousness, and to have greater success at life in all areas. I’ll be sending this out to subscribers with the minimal pledge as my patron, and with all greater pledges. My Arts and Poetry Manifest, a play on words, will be where I manifest my greatest advances in these thoughts and creations, a life time of working up to it. It will be like our ship’s manifest to take stock in what is important on our journey. It will become in the end, our manifesto. Yes, please take some ownership in it. Please help yourself by helping me get us there, and pledging a dollar or more a month.
This particular poem is influenced by Bisbee Arizona history, where I live, and which I’ve been lately studying in an interactive manner, such as participating in the recent filming about The Bisbee Deportation, by Robert Greene; a couple guided history rides around town; and a theory I manifested while performing a poetry reading at the Bisbee Deportation Open Stage at the Central School Art Place, organized by Chris Dietz, (a few days before Laurie McKenna’s installation and performance piece downstairs, also concerning the Deportation in 1917.) And many good programs and readings at the Bisbee Library, organized by Alison Williams, including local historians.
My developing theory — the revelation I had on that stage — concerns the evolution of weapons, and their analogical structure in the evolution of implements of art. Which came first? I think I have some ideas about that, though at some point these things have evolved concurrently. So we don’t necessarily see weapons as preceding art, or the other way around. But when it comes to the evolution of the human imagination, I think we should. We need to see implements of art succeeding implements of war in the general conduct, practice, and sophistication of the human imagination.
Human cognition will use the metaphors, the image schemas, the conceptual domains, and linguistic inter-worlds that a culture has to provide to jump the paradigm it is bound by, in order to reach a new invention. This is also to say that the old boss is the new boss, at some level or another. So photography uses the language of “shooting” from the hunting/war/crime and punishment paradigms. A post-photographic invention, however, may use photographic metaphors without the gun schema, though it still may be found in the new metaphor’s etymology somewhere. Scanning, for instance.
It’s my belief that human imagination, or what we call mind, is in a state of fantasy (or phantasy, denoting the unconscious) most of the time. We confuse this with being in a state of what we call reality. It’s not so unthinkable, one is just fun-house mirroring the other while it continuously tries to figure out how to engage the world around us. A little ideology over here, a little fear over there, with a red hot sex-driven cherry on top. Our imaginations mirror reality while changing it, running scenarios through various states of make-believe in order to best predict and react to various outcomes of each and every action we take. It’s called dramatic rehearsal. Then when we do act, it too is facilitated through our imaginations as is the “reality” we enact our actions upon.
You imagine picking up the cup to pick it up. We don’t notice we’re doing it, most of the time, so much of it may be involuntary. It’s most noticeable if we think we’re about to enter into conflict. You start practicing your argument or fighting moves, or visualizing escape routes, as the tension rises. Likewise, if you are preparing to commit a crime, you have undoubtably fantasized the crime up to and just prior to its approach, or variations thereof. But like I hinted at earlier, the human phantasy of reality is much bigger than just practice becoming perfect. It’s cognitively all-encompassing, and the arts, particularly poetry, are “the battleground,” (oh, no, I didn’t!?) the laboratory, for figuring it out.
At some point fantasizing crimes and wars leads to them, even if in a defensive posture. Human beings in a larger universe need to be doing something better with their time. I hate to be a prude, but you need to regulate your fantasies. Both the daydreaming kind, and that which we consider to be our reality. I know that there is an assumption that one’s fantasy life is a safe space. That one private place where you have the right to cross all borders, and that this may even be a healthy “release.” Unfortunately, while most fantasy variations (they are serial) may not be acted upon, they are predictive. They make dramatically rehearsed actions more likely, triggered by both our emotions and our concepts, where they have laid down in. You need to have discipline, and draw the line concerning how you imagine children, for instance, or violent fantasies about others you imagine as your enemies. For this reality of what you consider the enemy is entirely a fantasy from beginning to end, up to and including enemy actions already lived out by either party. You would be better off inviting your enemy to collaborate with you on an art project. All that said, fantasy is a great thing. We just aren’t trained in it as children, or adults, beyond playing cops and robbers as kids, or some visualization techniques. The biggest part of human consciousness is guided by few if any traditions.
Why is poetry such a pain in the ass for some people to read? Because it trains the imagination differently. It breaks the fantasy of reality, which is narrative based. The fantasy of reality always wants a smooth illusion in the form of a linear story. Modern poetry is evolving into a kind of work that can help us reach a higher consciousness where we are mindful that reality, as we can know it, is a fantastical labyrinth. By breaking open the linguistic inter-worlds and other devices of that fantasy world we call reality, we can start to perceive reality at other levels of imagination. Of course, poetry has other functions than just simply this, but we may find they all add to this important value of reality-busting. Even Socrates last living acts were said to be writing poetry.
So what is the status of my theory here? Well, a theory also must be digested and considered in a state of make-believe. In fact, having empathy for a theory you will later disagree with is the best way to absorb it. If you subscribe to what I’m manifesting here, my Arts and Poetry Manifest, we will go over these ideas, this exploration, in both theory and the poem itself, however we can. This will also include my visual artwork. Traditional theoretical artistic structures will not be sufficient. We will be seeking to break new ground, constantly.
As you may have noticed, one of the tiers of pledging I am offering on Patreon is the chance to not just sponsor, but collaborate on, a Ken Boe poem. I started doing this a couple weeks ago, previous to launching the Patreon page, just to test the waters. Facebook friends and others responded to that pitch, and some continue to, who don’t want to give through Patreon. You can go to kenboe.com for that method, just scroll down. (Remember, everywhere you go, keep scrolling down.)
If you want to both collaborate on a poem and make payments toward an artwork, I think you can pledge to more than one tier, or to simplify, pledge more in the form of the difference on either tier, and let me know about it. We’ll count you in and work toward our goal together until which time I’ve created more demand than I can fulfill.
The Use Of Rhyme In Poetry
In “Music For A Manual Kind” I mostly limit rhyme to the single line stanzas preceding each 3 line stanza. Any other rhymes are accidental, but the accidental is significant in poetry, and human cognition. The prosody (the study of form in poetry) I’ve generated for this poem is partly to explore rhyme as a kind of linguistic anomaly because rhyme is so important to music. Beyond that being obvious, this in itself is a bit of a mystery. The working theory is that things like rhyme, alliteration, and meter make the poem or song easier to remember, which was important to pre-literary oral traditions of history. Tribal memory. But that may only be half the picture.
Part of what I’ll be studying in these letters will be any kind of linguistic anomaly, and how and why it might be applied to a thinking person’s poetry. I’m particularly interested in coincidence, and coincidences are not just anomalies, I think they can be found by looking for anomalies, and anomalous activity. Rhyme is a form of co-incidence, with one sound paring up with another seemingly irrelevantly, yet to arrive at a desired meaning. Of course, the act of rhyming may shape that meaning, even spin its directionality, it’s linear construct, and in it’s loosest form be absurdist. Yet, in listening to song, we often have our own personal coincidental meanings, which in the case of rhyme, is having a coincidence with a coincidence.
Reading a poem can break the linear hypnosis of our reality-phantasia when you double-back within it, feeling out the multiple meanings splitting off from metaphors both obvious and hidden in the idiom, and broken-idiom, the poet displays. And so much more for another day.
Other poetic themes and intertextual white papers for future Ken Boe Arts and Poetry Manifestations:
— The Trope Of The Literal.
— Alien Aesthetics.
— The Latest In Cognitive Science Applied To The Arts. (Here you will learn more about my academic influences guiding some of my theory and practice.)
— The Synchronic Vocabulary, Synchronic Priming, and the Peripheral and Unconscious Consumption Of Art.
— A Phenomenology Of Taste.
— Evolution In Art.
— And more on Counter-Realism in both the appreciation and creation of poetry and the other arts, which this text is related to.
Please pledge to patreon.com/kenboe if you haven’t already, it’s the best deal on getting a Ken Boe painting, in monthly payments. One artwork per year. Or collaborate on a poem with me, one every 6 months, at five dollars a month. Be sure to check out the links I’ve posted on the center page to recent events in the arts I’ve been a part of. See my paintings live at 38 Main Street, Bisbee Arizona 85603.