Concrete Poetry and Gibberish

March 3, 2010 at 11:35 am (Digital Lit)

The premise of this video is that it sounds like spoken English to Italians (In the same way that the noises that Mario makes sound like Italian to English speakers). While this isn’t necessarily a form of concrete poetry, this use and exploitation of language seems to be somewhat related to Futurist and Dada sound poetry.

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This video plays with gibberish and nonsense in the same way that some of the other examples that we’ve looked at so far. It also seems to be somewhat related to concrete poetry as well. This is an English translation of the video:

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Although the subtitles are sometimes a little off for what I hear in the video, the way we go about creating meaning from this nonesense seems to resemble, for me the way that we create meaning from concrete and nonsense poems. Even when there is no meaning, or the meaning is perhaps not clear to us (concrete poems which use languages we don’t speak, for instance), human beings are programmed to try to create pattern and create meaning. In the same way that we create meaning out of this video, we see and recognize patterns in concrete poetry. An example of this is Haroldo de Campos’ untitled poem from 1958: http://www.ubu.com/historical/decampos_h/decampos_h1.html. I’m not sure of the meanings of the Portugese words here, but I cannot help but equating them with their English cognates, whether those cognates are true or false. Thus, in looking at the particular example of concrete poetry I have constructed in my head a reading that is about the transparency of form and the transparency of meaning on concrete poetry, without knowing if this meaning has any relationship to the actually meaning of the poem, the actual words on the page, and the actual intent of the author. Although as a historian, this posistion is frusterating to mean, because I want to know what it means and have it be historically situated and backed up with evidence, as a literary critic whose views have been shaped by modernism and postmodernism, this reading seems as valid to me as any other. So I’m left in limbo.

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