From Andrew Joron’s incredible essay “The Emergency,” found in The Cry at Zero (Denver: Counterpath Press, 2007) 7-9:

“[…] Within the complex system of language, a word’s meaning is ‘edged’—and chaotically conditioned—by the meanings of all other words. Communication attempts to crystallize this chaos by establishing fixed relations between the meanings of particular words. But such language-crystals melt and reform constantly in response to their (subjectively mediated) surroundings. (Complex systems are typically open systems to which rigid concepts of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ do not apply. Such openness allows them to extremely sensitive to changes in the environment.) In this process, communication proves susceptible to structural failure. The abyssal turbulence of language as a whole, always brimming beneath the surface of stabilized meaning, can initiate a spontaneous phase transition that accelerates words far beyond equilibrium, toward the condition of poetry.

Poetry is the self-organized criticality of the cry.

(The concept of ‘self-organized criticality’ can be illustrated by pouring a quantity of sand onto a tabletop: the fallen particles will build up into a conical pile. This shape is the product of self-organization, for the pile maintains itself around a critical vertex, a balance-point between order and chaos. Once this critical point is reached, the effect of a single particle’s impact on the pile can no longer be predicted. One particle may cause a chain reaction of cascades upon impact, while another may rest where it falls. Not only have the system’s elements spontaneously organized themselves in response to an influx of energy, but the system as a whole has ‘tuned’ itself toward a state of criticality, where single events have the widest possible range of effects.)

A poem tunes itself toward a state of criticality, a condition of language in which single words have the widest possible range of effects. […]”

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