Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry (1958)

Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry (1958)
Augusto de Campos, Decio Pignatari, Haroldo de Campos: Brazil

From Concrete Poetry: A World View, 1968, ed Mary Ellen Solt

RELATED RESOURCES:
Haroldo de Campos in UbuWeb Historical
Augusto de Campos in UbuWeb Historical
Decio Pignatari in UbuWeb Historical
“Concrete Poetry: A World View : Brazil” in UbuWeb Papers
“The Imperative of Invention…” Charles A. Perrone
“Interview with Augusto de Campos” Roland Greene
“The Concrete Historical” Roland Greene
Sérgio Bessa “Architecture Versus Sound in Concrete Poetry”
“Speaking About Genre: the Case of Concrete Poetry” Victoria Pineda
“From (Command) Line to (Iconic) Constellation”, Kenneth Goldsmith

Concrete Poetry: product of a critical evolution of forms. Assuming that the historical cycle of verse (as formal-rhythmical unit) is closed, concrete poetry begins by being aware of graphic space as structural agent. Qualified space: space-time structure instead of mere linear-temporistical development. Hence the importance of ideogram concept, either in its general sense of spatial or visual syntax, or in its special sense (Fenollosa/ Pound) of method of composition based on direct-analogical, not logical-discursive juxtaposition of elements. “ll faut que notre intelligence s’habitue à comprendre synthético-idéographiquement au lieu de analytico -discursivement” (Apollinaire). Elsenstein: ideogram and montage.

Forerunners: Mallarmé (Un coup de dés, 1897): the first qualitative jump: “subdivisions prismatiques de l’idée”; space (“blancs”) and typographical devices as substantive elements of composition. Pound (The Cantos); ideogramic method.
Joyce (Ulysses and Finnegans Wake): word-ideogram; organic interpenetration of time and space. Cummings: atomization of words, physiognomical typography; expressionistic emphasis on space. Apollinaire (Calligrammes): the vision, rather than the praxis. Futurism, Dadaism: contributions to the life of the problem. In Brazil: Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954): “in pills, minutes of poetry. João Cabral de Melo Neto (born 1920—The Engineer and The Psychology of Composition plus Anti-Ode): direct speech, economy and functional architecture of verse.

Concrete Poetry: tension of things-words in space-time. Dynamic structure: multiplicity of concomitant movements. So in music-by, definition, a time art-space intervenes (Webern and his followers: Boulez and Stockhausen; concrete and electronic music); in visual arts-spatial, by definition-time intervenes (Mondrian and his Boogie-Woogie series; Max Bill; Albers and perceptive ambivalence; concrete art in general).

Ideogram: appeal to nonverbal communication. Concrete poem communicates its own structure: structure-content. Concrete poem is an object in and by itself, not an interpreter of exterior objects and/ or more or less subjective feelings. Its material word (sound, visual form, semantical charge). Its problem: a problem of functions-relations of this material.

Factors of proximity and similitude, gestalt psychology. Rhythm: relational force. Concrete poem, by using the phonetical system (digits) and analogical syntax, creates a specific linguistical area-“verbivocovisual” -which shares the advantages of nonverbal communication, without giving up word’s virtualities. With the concrete poem occurs the phenomenon of metacommunication: coincidence and simultaneity of verbal and nonverbal communication; only-it must be noted-it deals with a communication of forms, of a structure-content, not with the usual message communication.

Concrete Poetry aims at the least common multiple of language. Hence its tendency to nounising and verbification. “The concrete wherewithal of speech” (Sapir). Hence its affinities with the so-called isolating languages (Chinese): “The less outward grammar the Chinese language possesses, the more inner grammar inherent in it” (Humboldt via Cassirer). Chinese offers an example of pure relational syntax, based exclusively on word order (see Fenollosa, Sapir and Cassirer).

The conflict form-subject looking for identification, we call isomorphism. Parallel to form-subject isomorphism, there is a space-time isomorphisin, which creates movement. In a first moment of concrete poetry pragmatics, isomorphism tends to physiognomy, that is a movement imitating natural appearance (motion); organic form and phenomenology of composition prevail. In a more advanced stage, isomorphism tends to resolve itself into pure structural movement (movement properly said); at this phase, geometric form and mathematics of composition (sensible rationalism) prevail.

Renouncing the struggle for “absolute,” Concrete Poetry remains in the magnetic field of perennial relativeness. Chronomicro-metering of hazard. Control. Cybernetics. The poem as a mechanism regulating itself: feed-back. Faster communication (problems of functionality and structure implied) endows the poem with a positive value and guides its own making.

Concrete Poetry: total responsibility before language. Thorough realism. Against a poetry of expression, subjective and hedonistic. To create precise problems and to solve them in terms of sensible language. A general art of the word. The poem-product: useful object.


Note: Original printed without capitals. The “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry” presents a synthesis of the theoretical writings of the Noigandres group from 1950-58. The critical writings and manifestos of Augusto de Campos, Décio Pignatari and Haroldo de Campos have been collected in a volume: Teoria da Poesia Concreta, Textos Críticos e Manifestos 1950-1960, Sao Paulo, Ediçãoes Invenção, 1965.
Translated by the authors.

1958
(From Noigandres 4)

http://www.ubu.com/papers/noigandres01.html

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