RE: O King of Concrete

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O King of Concrete

in videopoem •  2 months ago


And where is your noble sin-toil now,

The power of a question.

"Noble sin-toil" ... good phrase. I'm frequently intrigued by the 'religiously philosophical' allusions in your poetry. That phrase, in a line phrased as a question, strongly impacted me.

A cemetery ... is this the fate of the Garden of Eden ... the origin of 'toil for sin' in exchange for reclaiming Man's nobility?

Poetry "from inside the grave," literally, is not a genre to which I naturally gravitate but the poem does trigger reflection. And this poem demonstrates d-pend's famous/infamous creativity in perspective-taking and metaphor-making.

And now ... the real rambling begins (I'm in fine form today so get comfortable):

Respecting your inquiry about video composition, here's some thoughts (not advice, just things to ponder):

  • In any piece of Art, there is a Figure and a Ground ... hence, the "Figure/Ground Relationship." In the "O King of Concrete" video poem, what is the Figure that you, as the artist, want people to 'foreground.' Is it a city street, busy and bustling with the trivialities of life as your recite a poem about the static musings of the deceased ... in the background? Or, is it the opposite?

  • Clearly, you can see that I immediately zeroed in on one line. Does the visual portrayal force-magnify that essence ... or diminish it by way of distraction?

  • The distinction is important. The Figure is where 'meaning' resides. The 'Ground' provides context.

  • There's substantial Artistic discretion, and consequence, caught up is these questions. You and I have different styles ... you tend to let people find there own meaning while I stick the meaning in their guts like a bayonet. Each has it's own merits/demerits but one of the dangers of your style is that, given that the linguistic-based meaning is often so subtle anyway, visual distraction (especially movement) risks obliterating it completely. Our brains are extremely limited in the amount of stimuli that they can process at any one time.

  • Consider, as an experiment: Setting up a camera in a cemetery, focusing it on the passing traffic in the background (visible through the iron fence) ... but with an out-of-focus tombstone (in the foreground) in the left 1/3 of the screen. Now ... overlay the poem over that visual ... all the while trying not to get arrested for 'Disturbing The Dead.'

  • All you would be doing is changing the Figure/Ground Relationship but I'd bet that that would have a dramatic impact on the way people processed the poem.

Respecting the overlaid words in "Memorial Memoried:"

  • No. No. No.

  • You've written a beautiful sonnet. It has an impeccable structural composition: Meter, rhythm and rhyme scheme. The poem IS THE FIGURE. It needs to be foregrounded.

  • And yet, you've done everything artistically possible to background it as if it were elevator music.

  • Fade in one Whole Stanza at a time (so that people can really take note of the rhyme scheme ... pattern ... dopamine). Use an easy-to-read font with a gravitas befitting the gravitas of both the subject matter ... and the literary skill that it took to write such a poem. Don't employ crazy-assed colors or video-editing techniques.

  • Under the video, provide the static text of the entire poem. No adornment, just the words. The thing with a finely crafted verse poem is that is delivers such a neurological walloping, that it almost necessitates going back and reading it a second or third time to fully appreciate what just hit you. There are just so many 'levels of analysis' and so many cogs turning the teeth of another ... but you, as the poet, want your audience to notice them all.

  • To make the point about Figure-Ground context: Shakespeare's, 'To Be or Not to Be," deals with, arguably, life's most existential question (one currently being experienced by all Steemians). Emotionally, it is poignant. It cannot be recited by someone dressed as a clown. The 'setting' of the recital (context) is extremely important. Nothing must distract from the Figure ... the 'idea, ideal or insight' which Shakespeare seeks to articulate. One does not get to use 'fun-fonts' to depict the words. The Ground is the gravy and the Figure is the meat ... but they must be conceptually consistent.

  • Experimentation in Art has a place. But, keep in mind that 99.99% of it fails. Things become Classics ... for a reason. Some long-dead army of poets 'experimented' with thousands of forms and techniques and eliminated all but a few ... which, for neurological reasons they did not understand, yielded particularly potent effects in their audiences. Things are not accidentally, or incidenatly, beautiful ... 'beauty' has DNA ... a genetic composition. The same can be said for 'meaningfulness.'

  • The analogy I use for the Free Will vs Determinism debate, which I strongly believe applies to all Art ... is Chess. A chess board has a fixed number of squares and pieces. And, there are strict rules that govern the movement that each piece may make. Within those constraints ... there are an infinite number of games of chess that may be played (a lot of them would be pretty boring to get the count up to infinity, but you get the point).

  • Art is the same way. The are F&%!ing Rules (I get tired of ranting about this) ... because the brains of those interpreting it ... operate according to Rules. The post-modern argument that, "Art is anything an Artist says is Art, and an Artist is anyone who says they are," is baloney. It's like arguing that anything you ingest is food. Try eating grass for three weeks to test the hypothesis. Grass works for cows ... because the Rules of their digestive systems are different than the Rules for ours. So, they eat the grass and we eat them. And those are the Rules of Life, because they are the Rules that create it, and sustain it ... an infinite regression of creating Order out of Chaos. Creating Art that contradicts this Reality does nothing to change the realness of the situation.

  • The funadmental element of Art is not warbling of words, pigments of paint nor meanderings of musical melodies. The fundamental element of Art ... is Truths, and, more importantly, how those Truths interact one with another.

  • Some Truths are profound while some are pretty mundane. But they all come together to create a tapestry we call Reality ... and our various interpretations of it. As poets, you and I weave different patterns and our readers contemplate our creations ... wondering which one, if either, or perhaps both, are correct. And, it is those ponderings that, on occasion, triggers transcendence, a state when the figurative exceeds the literal and we glimpse, if only for a moment, something bigger than ourselves.


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Awesome feedback! Thank you thank you thank you! I'll leave a full response soon :-)


Happy Valentines Day @quill,

I read through your comment and like what you say about Figure/Ground and foreground/background. It is clear when I use paint software I have to choose a foreground and background color. While I am using the foreground color the background color is locked until I switch it. Still as any work in progress I find something new along the way that may become the foreground. The hard part is to decide what to keep and what to throw away.

I agree about experimentation. In the 1990s I did post graduate work and 99.9999999998% of my experiments failed. I threw away so many tissue culture dishes because they were infected. Finally when I did get results none were useful for the target area of study. I could only discover what didn't work. That's the 00.0000000002% I consider a success. When it comes to DNA there are an unlimited number of possibilities and more discovery occurs as more combinations are applied. When I think of true classics they were radical for their time and unacceptable by the F&%!ing Rules. Today they have become the rule.

Yes, their art contains fundamental elements of truth and that's why they were willing to risk being misunderstood, even prison or death. Their books stand today. Their poems are remembered. Their paintings and crafts stand in our mind not because of the craftsmanship so much as what that craft represents.


I wonder what makes a picture art or words art? Would you give this picture a Pulitzer Prize? Something stirred John Filo to leave the safe photography lab room in Kent State and walk out side. When a shot was fired at him he didn't run back but said, "This is why I'm here."

When he looks back on that picture his words today are "Oh my God!"