Poetry News

Channeling 'Lingual Energy from a Trans-Personal Level' with Will Alexander

By Harriet Staff

Will 3

Entropy's Sofi Thanhauser communes with poet and overall brilliant thinker Will Alexander about his collection of essays Singing in Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose Texts, Interviews and a Lecture, 1991-2007 (and more) in her interview "Hearing a Second Bell in a Mirror."

ST: Singing in Magnetic Hoofbeat: Essays, Prose Texts, Interviews and a Lecture, 1991-2007 presents many different voices. For example, it contains the voice you use in interviews, the voice used to give a lecture, and it presents the voice you use in you essays over the span of over a decade. Do you think there is an argument, or affect, or an overall impression that emerges from the combination of these different ways of speaking? Did you think of this as part of the intended effect of this volume?

WA: There was never any pre-intention in the book’s enunciation. The voice condensed as would a forest or a coral reef, naturally, without cognitive interference, by means of inner evolution via duration. Each essay arose in me like a photograph that suddenly presented itself and called out to be taken. It is interesting that immediately prior to commencing upon Magnetic Hoofbeat I tentatively considered taking up photography but I have such an aversion to funneling creativity through a technical appendage (however adroit it may be), so I decided that my photographic urge could be powerfully penned in essay form all the while working in the spirit of Cartier-Bresson’s dictum, that the picture takes you, it is not you who take the picture. Thus, I began to commence the book at irregular intervals as subjects of interest spontaneously evinced themselves.

Thanhauser and Alexander turn to thinking about contemporary poetry's relationship to science, Mars exploration, the search for other planetary worlds, and, apropos the language of science, the way "one feels the verbal beauty of its alien character unimpeded by pedestrian limitation." More:

ST: One of the things Daumal and you obviously share is an interest in science. He claimed science for Pataphysics: you absorb and revisit science and scientific vocabulary and make it sing in new ways. I personally see the marriage of science and poetry as a natural one. (Earlier this fall, when scientists coined the term “Recurring Slope Lineae” to speak about formations on Mars, I began referring to them in my head as “the poets over at NASA.”) Can you speak to the relationship between your poetics and contemporary science?

WA: It seems in the main that contemporary science has achieved a maturity that contemporary poetry has failed to achieve. When the poetic instrument is reduced to interpersonal squabbles or to defense and fortification of the geo-psychic province it has obscured itself in a maze of imploded parlor mechanics. Blindness in service of a momentary reputation emitting language expounded via secular myopia. I recently had a wonderful experience of reading an Egyptian utterance over 3000 years old and its language was torrential with vivification. It was not language beholden to a style, a school, a personality, or an elitist verbal cult. The latter is not unlike language lifted from a phone book, or a court case, at best, it’s stillborn, and to maintain this state by cognitive argument maintains psychic contamination. When “Recurring Slope Lineae” is invoked one feels the verbal beauty of its alien character unimpeded by pedestrian limitation. But what is revealing is that the phenomena has been wonderfully noted but the waters’ origin remains shrouded in mystery. In passing I need to make note about the water I scripted flowing on Mars, in the first few years of the century prior to the enunciation of “Recurring Slope Lineae.” Instead of stating the water as phenomena it was verbally endowed with consciousness. The poem is entitled Water On New Mars and it concerns itself with the waters’, as a spontaneous occurrence, not unlike the million year rainfall that empowered the initial oceans. [...]

This is certainly a must-read-in-full. Head to Entropy for your dose of astonishment! Also presented on Entropy, an excerpt from Alexander's On Dar El-Hikma.

Originally Published: January 12th, 2016