Bios / The Logosphere / The Finite-Made Evolver Space
Bios — as in biosphere, the universe, the totality of living
things, the breathscape. The evolved: a generational, incremental
one-to-the-next change. Contribution, frequency, probability: slow
morphing of the gravity of the rules of survival. Diversity: the
multiplicity of beings in the same space by happenstance. Not designed,
but not undesigned: feedback. The happenstance has a reaction,
self-reaction, selves reacting. It is folded in its own echoes.
Digital: the realm inside a membrane of fixed possibilities. Fixed as
in the fixed number of possible bits (two) or letters of the alphabet.
Or words, more or less — less because this too can evolve, does
evolve. The words are there before we get there, though we can cement
pieces at hand together, neologos. But we don’t invent all the
words, or even most of the words. At best we make a few. Mostly we
choose. Selection from the fixed prior set. Finite. The dictionary fits
on a CD-ROM with room to spare. The dictionary, even by the standards
of the size of the operating system on a computer, is a tiny amount of
A subset. A selection of that infinitude of possible human experiences.
From only one, or maybe a handful, of all the languages of the earth.
Logosphere but specific sphere.
A minds-inflated small-point universe. A set. A small set by the
standards of databases, but large for the mind: one can’t hold
the whole language in mind at once. Robert Duncan told us — over
and over — about keeping the numbers small. He insisted he could
not count beyond five. Of course he was speaking about prosody, about
how many choices he could keep in his mind at once. Small sets. Tiny
Logosphere the model. What if we make the word set as small as
possible. Not the whole dictionary but a few hundred words. Words
sliced from phrases raised as domestic animals and then offered up as
metabolism material, cut up, as food. Logosphere as biosphere: the
energy to be word-eaten, processed, an evolutionary catalysis space. A
word mass set out as the energy source for the next generation of
phrase making: prompt-sheets. A glance source. And the process cycles:
a next generation of phrases written from the prompt sheets, and then
cut up, permuted, eaten, metabolized: composition by evolution.
Metabolism: as in chemistry: to liberate energy you break the bonds. Cut the phrases up to get reactivity.
Composition in advance just to make raw material: precomposition. To
make the phrase-bonds just so they can be broken. Free association is
OK as metabolism meat: When associating from A to B, keep A, keep
B, don’t keep the link from A to B.
On paper it is hard to see how this is achieved. You write A, you write
B, they are there together on the paper. If you write them on the
screen, they are there together also, but you can break the link: cut
the phrase between A and B, scramble it by random permutation. A and B
are flung apart by the laws of chance. The bond is not valuable, but
the journey got you A and got you B. They settle into place, where they
may or may not get eaten. And then, dance-wise, settle into a new place
each time the permutation is rerun.
So the cycle: start with phrases, written by hand, the old way. They
don’t need to have meaning they only need to have energy. Cut
them up. (They are made to be cut up.) Cut them in fact exactly where
they mean, leaving the boundary raw, the energy pulsing out. Now take
the fragments and permute them, by chance. Pour the result into a
single pages-long solid paragraph: the word set. The prompt-sheet for
the next phase in the cycle. A source. Possibly a strict source
for all the words of the next phase, but not necessarily strict. You
don’t insist that every word for the next phase come from the
set, but striving for that is an amazement: so often something at hand
is right there in the available prompt-sheet, a combination that works
exactly in the right slot.
Extraction from a miniature totality. A multitude of topics but then
cut and scrambled, thus embodying the model space, an ocean, a full
range for years of work at a time. A subset language but is it so sub-:
a model. An experiment. A place where the energy mingles are staged. A catalysis scaffold.
The poem starts not from an empty page, but from a full one: the prompt
sheet, the source rattle, the extraction space. Its own small universe.
Not read, literally, but eye-dance-scanned at random, seeking the
leap-out. Words that are there in advance of making the poem as an
evolved / evolver space, a logosphere, a word space formed partly by
chance and partly by building.
So where, exactly, is the digital world so different from the physical
world at this business of making logospheres? We can make a logosphere
physically. With no computer at all. Words as real physical objects,
each on its own space (an idea I stole quite blatantly many years ago
from the painter Mary Jean Kenton.) Objecthood is not an issue: you
hold the words in your fingers. Stick them to the walls, the floor, lay
them loose, let them loose in the world. Let them float on water.
Connect them up with drafting tape. Or as Catherine Marshall did, put
them on the spheres of molecular models: word molecules. Shade them.
Hide them in piles. The page becomes any possible physical space.
As physical objects the words have weight, have friction, reproducing
the word means manufacture: it costs. The space even with no words: it
costs. The cost occurs again for each space of words. Cost dedicated to
that specificity of word. Cost not for tools or equipment but for bare
raw materials of the word space.
Friction, the resistance, the difficulty of motion. In the digital
world we can reproduce the words, the word space, with no friction:
there is no manufacture. Propagation of the word is free, the reader
can do this.
But we pay: the viewport is tiny. Poets can’t afford a monitor
the size of a wall. Thus the paradox: our virtual page is theoretically
unbounded yet often physically smaller than the real page. So there is
this motion problem: motion of the viewport through the text. A retina that is way too obtrusive.
Non-specificity: the word-set, the reservoir is not specific but was made from what once was
specific. Specificities accumulated, generality by having lots of them,
and then the specificity is intentionally broken up, the pieces
scattered, mingled. A kind of specificity in the word-gene not the word
experience: specificity is in where the word was, not where the word is. But the word space cut for the scrambling is not cut at every word boundary. There are shards of the specificity left.
Inclusion: logosphere as a miniature universe needs to include as much
as possible. But Shannon tells us: the information measure is based on
how much is excluded: if
everything is there nothing means. The Shannon Measure of information
is based on the probability of the codon occurring in the code: if
it’s always going to be there there are zero bits. Thus Shannon
measures by exclusion:
information measured by how much is not there. A high number of bits
comes from a low probability. A paradox: one wants to maximize the
number and kinds of energy transaction that can happen: to include them. But Shannon tells us that for information we have to exclude.
The specificity, the Shannon exclusion, is time shifted. It happens in
the future, in the mind of the reader. It happens in the past: the word
materials evolved from pieces that had some specificity but the pieces
were then metabolized: getting at the logos as a precompositional
evolution movement. Logos as an event horizon with a past as evolution
meat and a future as the reader’s energy transaction but
absolutely no present. There is no present. There is only a moving
blade between that specificity of the past when logos was encased in a
rigid body and that specificity of the future where the energy
transaction happens. The present is a phase-change boundary.
Word-energies flip. Logos not as the code but as the channel. This is how we evade the Shannon Paradox. The text is not the code, it is the channel. We turn Shannon inside out.
There is no mapping between precompositional time and compositional
time: The chance of a mapping is destroyed, cut up and permuted out of
existence. We are familiar with earlier forms of poetics which are real time
poetics — e.g. projective verse time sequences acting as the
image of the poet’s breath-time at the moment of composition. Or
Allen Ginsberg’s Improvised Poetics:
the poem composed live into a tape recorder as an improvisational act,
the whole act of composition being a real-time phenomenon. But why
should the poet’s time matter? Why not the reader’s time?
Logosphere as process: the evolver space. The codes create channels
which create codes which create channels: a self-sustaining energy
matrix. Wittgenstein taught us about language games, but every word is
a game, word is nothing but game. It flips, like the duck-rabbit.
Channel / code / channel / code: there is no real identity as channel
or code, it is both, it is the oscillation. It is the whole uncollapsed
possibility space, as in quantum mechanics. The word as cloud of
The logosphere is a biosphere: logos / bios: they are all the same. The word as a being. It behaves. Its fate is to be eaten.