Listen Now: A Response to Sea and Spar Between House of Leaves of Grass, Remix.

Posted on May 19, 2013

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Our assignment was to simultaneously grok House of Leaves, Leaves of Grass, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, eLiterature, and hermeneutics. Onward.

House of Leaves of Grass is an interactive union of the book House of Leaves and the Walt Whitman collection Leaves of Grass. The Sea and Spar Between is the original example of this kind of  poetry generator. It combined the book Moby Dick and the poems of Emily Dickinson. Through code and algorithms, a nearly infinite number of stanzas are generated. Likewise, the number of arrangements of these stanzas. The user interface dictates the seemingly random outcome of words. This mimics the outcome of reading either work, then comparing what individual readers take away from the reading. Results may vary!

I decided to scroll around the two poetry generators to come up with two six-stanza poems at random.

Here is the House of Leaves of Grass poem:

No death no soul no lie no house
Rise—artless – and touch
I am the ancient (and savage) labyrinth
But bloodless is the house.

Turbulent fleshy sensual
Immortal! Nature!
Turbulent fleshy sensual
This is not for nothing.

I am the American (and fucking) labyrinth
This is not for America.
Unscrew the locks from the doors
Move – artless – and sleep.

No death no soul no mind no death
Move – artless – and sleep
I am the American (and mad) labyrinth
So starless is the ash.

No death no earth no earth no time
Rise – bloodless – and sleep.
I am the beautiful (and mad) labyrinth
But limitless is the monster.

No death no earth no soul no sea
Rise – bloodless – and rise
I am the bad (and familiar) door
But limitless is the echo.

Here is the Sea and Spar Between poem:

Listen now
Fruitless rise and turn
Listen now
Nailed to the pole.

Spool on
Frameless bask and bask
Spool on
Nailed to the coffin.

One ear one hill one tree one place
Paradise! Ever!
Fix upon the curlpink course
But keyless is the sea

Swerve me?
But deathless is the sea
One ear one hill one wind one year
Footless dance and chime

Fix upon the germhusk course
Nailed to the groove
Listen now
Paradise! Enough!

Reel on
Then taleless is the sea
One ear one house one art one grass
Floorless turn and sleep

Here they are blended line by line:

Listen now
No death no soul no lie no house
Fruitless rise and turn
Rise—artless – and touch
Listen now
I am the ancient (and savage) labyrinth
Nailed to the pole.
But bloodless is the house.

Spool on
Turbulent fleshy sensual
Frameless bask and bask
Immortal! Nature!
Spool on
Turbulent fleshy sensual
Nailed to the coffin.
This is not for nothing.

One ear one hill one tree one place
I am the American (and fucking) labyrinth
Paradise! Ever!
This is not for America.
Fix upon the curlpink course
Unscrew the locks from the doors
But keyless is the sea
Move – artless – and sleep.

Swerve me?
No death no soul no mind no death
But deathless is the sea
Move – artless – and sleep
One ear one hill one wind one year
I am the American (and mad) labyrinth
Footless dance and chime
So starless is the ash.

Fix upon the germhusk course
No death no earth no earth no time
Nailed to the groove
Rise – bloodless – and sleep.
Listen now
I am the beautiful (and mad) labyrinth
Paradise! Enough!
But limitless is the monster.
Reel on
No death no earth no soul no sea
Then taleless is the sea
Rise – bloodless – and rise
One ear one house one art one grass
I am the bad (and familiar) door
Floorless turn and sleep
But limitless is the echo.

I then played with the line breaks, formatting, and punctuation, but did not omit any words or change their order.

 Here is the final product:

Click—–> ListenNow

This project asked us to hold a mirror up to the infinite canvas. Here is the reflection I saw: What I did with this project is infuse my humanity into it. Without me, this poem in its current form would not exist. I broke the lines to my liking, I repunctuated it and molded it into another form. I guided, coaxed it. Did it exist independently of me? yes. But without me, it would still just be goo. I brought the fire, catalyzing all that follows in its wake. 🙂

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