from The Philosophy of Decomposition / Re-composition as Explanation: A Poe and Stein Mash-up
In time, whatever is acted brings a prolonged difference into the present, a critical duration, as what is seen depends upon both the doing and the thing done. I mean a mode — not to enveil the past with rote composition — but a procedure capable of inducing another life from certain death.
Ceteris paribus, I prefer very much to present myself out of character — that is to say, it can often be best to part with originality, to dispense with poetical invention, and to select a peculiar variation of different words used by others. In this way, outlawed from my very own thoughts and conceptions, I can carefully effect an incidental though equally necessary species of “myself.”
I said it before and I shall say it again: the impulse to be the sole and only owner must be superseded by the pleasure of custody. That means making lines impelled by the supreme seeming of suggestiveness — and keeping stanzas groping again and again around the far limits of serenity.
The creator is entering.
And so it is time for the autorial author to show the original (but false) author the door.
Or was it I who knocked in the first place?
Everybody out —
I have prepared myself for two sittings: one for volume, the other for contrast.
I called it the pleasure of merely observing. I call it the embodying act.
How interesting to say in the very beginning, “Nothing to be done.”
take one —
the artist is recalling a mathematical constant, he is repeating it in his mind again and again to assure himself that mankind did not fail in their elevation of reason, that war is no longer needed, that there still must be time for this world to change
his art is denied by the majority of acceptors
it is his superstition that even beautiful words tend to nothing
take two —
the artist is now considered a prophet by his contemporaries, critical acceptance comes when it is known that his intention is to make a long, universal poem from a prose description of all of his works
with a stern and lordly mien, he speaks to them all
he says, “the poem is not, in fact, a thing or an object but a single especial relation I made just for you”
Whatever the topics, it is still clear that form connectedly formulates in that the attainable
poem — half in and half out of the present moment (which, in effect, makes it two-thirds modern) — should direct a longer lesson at one hundred and one points of despair. And so the mode of least loss is understood as intuition, or as a whole deprived entirely of unity, or as a series of steps similar to the nonchalance — which is really interesting if you consider it — of a cause both following and preceding the effect. I simply mean a different accordance had intensely arrived but could not be referred to by any ordinary examination; why nobody knew is another thing altogether.
Poem of Composition
composition as combination
as doing time
as forced romanticism
composition as ill condition
composition as a continuous and exciting present to myself
composition as the repeating climax of progress
composition as what is seen by another at a different time — although the efforts of one’s contemporaries are
composition as repugnance to its own completion
as necessity and attempted event
composition as men speak of it for their lives accept it
composition as a means to a legitimate beginning
composition as alluding to varieties of superstition
as a line lifted
as frequent repetition
as letting one and one make two and then three and three make a thousand
composition as looking about
as advanced peculiarity
as seeing and making and doing absolutely the best with what there is
as recognition of a different arrangement, of what follows the lists
as singularly inevitable
composition as the evident culmination of as if
as the long and short of it — and something more
as always and at any time rendering other compositions, even those of friends
composition as the tone of intention, no, a tone poem to intuition, that is, the tone of all tones,
the sole tone producible from every one of the rejections, wonderfully composing
itself around the continuous points of the soul
composition as art which repels the art of the majority
as expected despair
as indulgence in doubt
composition as a living thing composed of a dead thing
composition as any intrinsic mode of being
as how it definitely happens
composition as a door of easy admission that says again and again, “do not enter”
[Note: These sections come from a larger book-length work called The Philosophy of Decomposition / Re-composition as Explanation, which is a mash-up/cut-up/collage of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Philosophy of Composition” and Gertrude Stein’s “Composition as Explanation.” All words from the text are derived from only those two essays.]