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Abstract

Building on her notion of “Limited Fork Theory,” the author considers the implications of recent and forthcoming user-friendly developments in new media delivery systems. In the author’s view, nothing short of poetry’s utter redefinition will be obliged by the next wave of digital environments.

an ode to milk dot fire

This very piece at the moment of its writing has no three-dimensional corollary, and possibly won’t ever have one, assuming digital submission to inhabit various digital environments, both online sites and a range of portable devices. Many of these digital environments still mimic three-dimensional paper hosting of text-based content, with pages that are able to retain the formatting of the text as written: wysiwyg. Page remains functionally the same, in such instances, whether or not the text poem is hosted by a three-dimensional paper page or a digital page. In this unchanged understanding of page, writers of poetry may also be designers, for instance, editors, and typographers, especially when publishing the work online themselves, the work appearing online consistent with the appearance and form that the work acquired in being written. Little adjustment would be required for the writer to accept the visual configuration of the poem that would look similar whether on paper or on a virtual page.

At the moment, most e-readers for digital text do not exploit digital possibilities of sophisticated interaction and reconfiguration, or serious elements of play, emphasizing instead approximation of the experience of reading physical books. The possibilities of the hosting environment and the adaptability of content to the hosting environment are not (yet) being mined well by the general poem-making and poem-experiencing communities, so the experience of digital forms of poetry is not yet as transformative as it will be for the simultaneous hosts of poetic information: the digital location as host, text as host of idea, text as visual and architectural host, mind as host, emotional environment of the reader/user as host, social circumstance hosts, visual hosts, sonic hosts, etc.; hosting systems that collaborate in providing temporary configurations of a poem system. Temporary in long-term and/or short-term understandings. Collaboration of these systems has always been a part of both writing and experiencing poetry; in reading, for instance, the poem is reconfigured according to the reader’s system of interpretation (itself a dynamic [or ongoing, in flux] collaboration of experiences), a system capable of taking the poem (extending it) to locations perhaps unintended and unanticipated by the writer. The reader becomes a co-author of the poem as experienced by the reader (shaped by [in collaboration with] circumstances hosting a particular reading event). Whatever influences the thinking of the reader (and the writer) are also part of the collaborative systems that reconfigure the poem in a particular situation. In digital environments, it has become easier to expose both visually and sonically how experiencing a poem is a dynamic, manipulative, collaborative event—even through a basic comment in a blog post of poem. In digital environments, it has become easier to play with manipulative potentials of information, which includes manipulation of form.

An ability to manipulate digital information is becoming increasingly easy; while in the past, specialized knowledge was required to produce digital kinetic text or to provide interactive or enhanced online reading experiences, there are more and more automated web tools that permit unskilled populations to perform digital tasks with ease, in drag-and-drop manners. While such automated digital tools may not permit creative control of programmed (and programmable) parameters, the outcomes within the programmed parameters are nevertheless dynamic, and make available to these populations, previously unavailable ways of configuring information. This is one of the most important developments in placing digital poetry and other forms of digital expression in a position to transform expectations of expression, perhaps becoming the dominant form (though not the exclusive form, I don’t think, for a number of reasons, including an eventual obsolescence of current digital tool kits, maker choice that still may include analog approaches, which includes the making of the poetry [or any other form] book as a unique aesthetic object).

When it is necessary to rely on technical skills of others, some of the nature of authorship changes. It’s common to find collaborative aesthetic products that are outcomes of obvious configurations of collaboration: poets with visual artists, with audio technicians and/or musicians and/or composers, for instance, and then perhaps also with choreographers and dancers; poets with computer programmers. Again, these are obvious collaborative ventures, associations that many think of as embedded in definitions of poetry; no stretch is required to link poetry with music, as acknowledged by lyrics, those of opera, pop, rap, etc.; indeed, this association is the subject of prosody classes. The poetry reading depends on a need to hear the poem freed, more or less, from its visual girdling (including eye-appeal of form, which could overwhelm other elements of interaction with a poem) and sculptural guides to adapt to (collaborate with) a sonic form and with whatever boundaries are encountered in acoustics. Sonic reconfigurations of text-based poetry are widely accepted, even expected. Normal practice. It must be pointed out that within Limited Fork Theory perspectives, the location of this ode to milk dot fire, there is a fundamental collaborative nature underlying all things [a limited all in its exclusions of anything not yet known, so perhaps, then not an authentic all at all]. So, anything produced is a form of sampling, a remixed configuration, augmented stuff, extensions—ways of growing without having to reinvent from scratch each time a thought hatches. These obvious collaborative scenarios produce work that is, well, obviously collaborative, and perhaps they help to prime thinking for more acceptance of understanding creative outcomes as assemblages of configurations and reconfigurations of information, or, in other words: a form of collaboration. The implications are that creative products belong to a community of creators, a community of participants in the systems giving rise to any component of the creative product, both organic and inorganic participants; no single author is responsible for everything that is part of the product on every scale. Products are systems.

I will return to assemblage later. More than once. Because I am assembling this essay. In interacting with a notion of return, return has marked what I write that is also interacting with what I am thinking: I am thinking about return, so I return immediately; therefore please disregard what I said; I have not left assemblage.

Although these obvious scenarios of collaboration are common, I do not believe that most poetry is currently made through such scenarios. Perhaps it will be (for some duration of time, but not forever, if forever exists). I believe that most poetry is still an outcome of primarily solitary endeavor, written by an individual using (in collaboration with) tools with which that individual is or becomes comfortable, comfort level probably indicative of some degree of expertise, some reinforcement of competency, perhaps established in situations of sharing writing, such as writing workshops. A poet likely tends to rely on tools that have proven successful in writing a poem. And although this individual is collaborating with those tools, this form of collaboration is not (yet) commonly perceived as collaboration. It is in this common scenario of an individual writing poetry that increasing ease of manipulating digital information can have the most impact and the most success in transforming poetic outcomes from individual poets. It can become what is meant by writing, that thing anybody can do, trained or untrained, that students at any level of education are asked to do, a routine way of making (and a saving of wasting paper through unnecessary printing). The rise of user-generated digital content may be understood as an outcome of empowerment of the individual through simplification of digital tools. Digital tools for the engineering dummies that most poets are (although programming, for instance, could become part of more writing programs, at first perhaps just to fulfill foreign language requirements, so that a writer is always choosing/developing form based on demands of evolving content, and not on having to use default methods of poetry production for lack of an ability to use any others). This lack of ability is not necessarily perceived as deficit in the writing program of my institution, and many other institutions.

This is not to imply that this lack prevents writers from meaningfully exploring and arranging digital representations of poetry. A drag-and-drop website can be as visually rich and dynamic as interactive as a website built entirely from the writing of code. This is thoroughly transformative even for what has come to be known as digital and electronic poetry where specified knowledge has allowed some poets to finesse text-based work with compelling behaviors, excluding from this making practice, poets without this knowledge, but the digital tools available now, enable, for those who investigate them, outcomes that are easier to make and that support greater creative possibilities when those digital tools are pushed to their limits, and also when they are used for unintended purposes.

Though a poet, for instance, is a sculptor of words, an architect of textual structures (within parameters of what the word processing application permits or the boundaries of the journal and constrictions of penmanship, etc.), it is an artistic role shaped by the host of the sculpting, each host presenting different rules of habitation (handwriting itself can be such a host). The control a poet might enjoy within word processing (a bit of digital revolution in itself, in a shift from the typewriter to computer-assisted writing) is compromised control in that the writer must find ways to overcome the application’s built-in limits, based on the programmer’s assumptions (perhaps made in consultation with writers or other focus groups) about tools writers need in order to accomplish the programmer’s assumptions (perhaps made in consultation with writers or other focus groups) about goals of writing, and based on the programmer’s programming skill. Of course, the programmer could also be a writer. The application is meant to guide writing to particular kinds of writing outcomes. Most word processing applications offer a range of writing outcomes, but a limited range. So, writers become accustomed to filtering idea through the limiting factors of the tools used to express idea, sometimes even apparently forgetting that limits of tools used in generating expression help determine the possible forms of expression. The writer needs to feel that the tool is being used, not that the tool is using the writer. The subordination of tool to status of device in service to the writer’s intentions for expression (though shaped to some degree, varying according to specifics of the circumstances, by the limits of tool) overcomes, for instance, intimidation a writer might experience if a tool seems too challenging or seems to require specialized training beyond training that amply fulfills requirements for being a writer. Such tools may seem so distanced from necessary training for a writer that these tools are easily excluded from systems of learning required for writers. Skill in use of such tools still tends to occur outside of most systems of learning established for writers. However, digital tools with increasingly friendly user interfaces become easier to integrate into the everyday toolset of a writer, the everyday use of a person who might be anything, including a poet. Use of these digital tools often draws on interfaces already familiar to poets, even if their digital expertise relies primarily on use of word processing, e-mail, smartphones, computer games, digital cameras, eBay, Facebook, and Internet surfing, for instance, perhaps playing with Googlisms, instantly generating, via a familiar Google search, a random list that is like a list poem, usually of questionable conventional literary merit, but parts may resonate with the (trained) poet. And it may just be fun. It’s good to play and make discoveries via little accidents whose occurrence I believe is more likely to increase when the mind has opportunities to stray from sometimes overly disciplined practice, especially if that writer tends to shun straying (perhaps for having been trained to shun it). Increasingly, any poet can make digital poetry and can integrate these digital outcomes into digital environments. Any old blog will do. Googlisms[1] for poetry[2] and for digital[3] are in the endnotes.

I do not believe that this prevailing (at the time of this writing) allegiance to simulating protocols of reading non-digital material (conventional books) in digital environments will last; digital environments are full of irresistible temptations to configure and reconfigure information, to simulate dynamic qualities of thinking that are locked in static iterations, unlocked by the mind of the reader without external virtual equivalent. The external virtual unlocking of dynamic qualities of thinking already embedded in text gives rise to forms conventional books do not reveal physically without more complex material architecture such as folds, pockets, extensions, tears, variations in texture and transparency—creation of additional areas in which to place information and explore relationships between those placements (such as pop-up books). Both spatial and virtual folding offer opportunities for expansion of thinking and development of many forms of outcome from interactions with folding.

Before going any further, I must address my problem with writing this ode to milk dot fire: Trying to confine this consideration to digital poetry as my understanding of the definition excludes forms that are not already able to be generally defined as poetry. I find this problematic because an implied movement of what exists as the materiality of poetry in space is being relocated to digital environments. Mere relocation is not enough to exploit potentials of digital landscapes without also redefining poetry, something that Limited Fork Theory accomplished without my shortsighted intentionality. First of all, Limited Fork Theory originated as Limited Fork Poetics in 2004 as a way to map poetry into digital landscapes as a way to investigate what would happen if poetry were understood to be a complex system. My misguided expectations assumed that indeed, poetry would be a complex system, and that the products of this genre reassignment would also be poetry. I quickly arrived at problems that challenged classification of the outcomes of experiments in studying interactions, scale, flux, in understanding things as systems and events with multiple participants and complex ownership. To force outcomes of these experiments to be poetry, what it was before genre reassignment, denied both the experiments and the outcomes the range implicit in the unclassified parameters of inquiry. This is not to say that poetry cannot accommodate expansion, but it would be an expansion within established definitions; expansion outside poetry would be other forms of expansion. When not looking for insisting on a poem as a result of an experiment, more and more unusual forms and behaviors emerged. I was increasingly interested in the poetry outsiders and in their interest in being outside. I realized that what I was working with was not only a theory of poetry but was also, was primarily something else, something in which Limited Fork Poetics was a subsystem, the larger system being a generalized theory of making and perceiving: Limited Fork Theory.

Without turning this essay into a discussion of Limited Fork Theory, I must comment on some of what happens in digital environments when text is forked. A notion of impermanence is crucial as that idea of the transitory is applied to all components of the pieces, different parts of the digital landscape fading at different times in different degrees, for instance. Impermanence alone confers some dynamic status; at a minimum, that of being active, the activity of some form of departure from at least one state of being to something else; to be impermanent is to at some point change. In forked text, there may be some consideration of just when in the existence cycle of the piece an encounter occurs; perhaps parts of a title remain elusive; it is possible to configure the piece in a way that explores, or at least acknowledges, the elusiveness. Impermanence is a factor that interacts with any LFT system because it is a particular temporary form that arises out of a system of interaction in which location and time (part of location already) are participants, contributing to an unlikelihood that any particular outcome may be repeated exactly as at least one of the participants, time, for instance, will have changed, and in interacting with even only time, other participants in the interaction change as well. Each five o’clock is not the same five o’clock. Just working with impermanence alone can have exciting and disturbing consequences on both making and perceiving in virtual as well as multidimensional locations or spatial locations. Indeed, the virtual is experienced while the person experiencing it is in multidimensional space. Assumptions about beginnings and endings of both the host (page in any of its iterations including paper pages and digital pages) of content and content itself are challenged and configurable in an interaction (collaboration) with impermanence. Crazy things can happen when playing with, when investigating, when interacting with and collaborating with impermanence.

Blogging is particularly adept at illustrating this point simply, as a blog tends to a single-page configuration that does not have to end and to which content may be added or removed or modified at any location in the (apparently) endless page. The page is not turned per se, but is scrolled, travelled; as a user progresses through older posts, the user moves through time and may add thoughts that the content inspires in the location of the content, what functions as past active in the now of interaction with the reader. The past is not permanently past, but may be transformed into the present while that lasts, and then return to a different past also available for activation in a temporary iteration of a now present encounter. Indeed, in many blogging environments, a new post may be assigned a past date, causing the new post to appear where the date belongs chronologically. Something similar happens when reading conventional books, but without a specific platform in place for immediate sharing of a response that itself may be responded to in a community of public response, and without an ability to immediately update content. Posts to blogs are published, and most blogs are public, appropriately, for configuring information that belongs to all participants in the interaction. Through simple hyperlinks, which may be made with automated tools provided by many blog hosts, and through embedding still and moving visual (other than text) and audio information, which may be accomplished as an automated feature provided by many blog hosts, a blog’s content, which could be narrative, which could be poetry, can be connected to a wider offering of related (in some way) information, the embedded and/or linked-to content becoming participants in an interacting system. Digital placement expands the content, pulling into itself any information in another digital location that the writer feels is useful. Indeed, some computer-generated poetry takes advantage of this ability to locate and include information in the making of what I’ll refer to as digital accretions. Particular kinds of accretions may be ordered through specified instructions, or algorithms, that snag and order information according to those well-defined instructions.

An untrained general maker is not completely excluded from these ways of gathering and assembling digital accretions, perhaps taking advantage of various automated generators operating according to a well-defined set of instructions defined by a maker of those instructions that are then used by a secondary maker to arrange content in ways outside of the usual making practice until use of automated generators, this can happen, becomes the usual practice. Utilizing information gathered even from various search terms, within a defined range of specificity, can also produce unexpected digital accretions or outcomes outside the maker’s usual practice until at some time this way of making becomes (though it may not) the usual practice or a new form of practice emerges from making digital accretions from results of search engine outcomes of pursuit of solicited (the instructions that are the terms of the maker’s search) information. Enhanced and extended content. Even through blog post comments, especially those that permit hyperlinks, and if hyperlinking in comments is not enabled, complete URLs can be part of the comment, either published immediately, or after approval by the blog administrator (author[s]). Not only can information that remains in the location from which it is linked or embedded into another location participate in unlimited numbers of remote virtual locations simultaneously, that information can be captured (sampled), reconfigured (remixed), and placed in this reconfigured form back into a digital habitat, a fully collaborative habitat. In this way, through linking, there are remote accretions, accretions over distance. There is enabling of tremendous configurability and reconfigurability whether or not a maker knowingly activates any of it.

—I don’t mean to imply that blogs are necessarily actively maintained by blog makers; millions are inactive, are artifacts yet remain available for interaction, with or without current content that could update a dormant apparently endless page. Comments to posts in dormant blogs can still be published unless the blog is configured to require approval for publication. Establishing blogzines for digital text display and encounter is so easy that a blogzine is a likely entry into (configurable) digital expression. A website can easily function as a digital book, each page a chapter, for instance, and each page may have sub-pages that can be off the navigation map, accessible only from the page that is the location of sub-page bifurcation—

Please note that I am using maker instead of poet for the remainder of this writing so as to overcome limiting factors imposed by understandings of poet and writer already in place; thinking is marked by understandings already acquired, and no matter how subtle the marking might be, it is exerted onto both conscious and unconscious decisions of inclusion and exclusion. A maker might make anything; so long as there is making, an act of bringing into some form (any) of temporary existence, any form of structure on any scale, including the ephemeral and evanescent, including byproducts of making, which a maker may not at this time have any means to notice; that is to say, much, or little or even nothing has opportunity to slip through the tines of a Limited Fork that the maker is using; I choose in my practice to assume (it is indeed a limited tool, flawed) that something on some scale probably falls through, escapes notice, or slips through as an outcome of making, some particle, some piece—but I don’t, can’t at this time, know what, know when, know how; I’m faced with gaps between tines and my interacting with configurations of interactions with those gaps. So, in case stuff is getting away, that in case informs the practice, marks it, makes me aware of a likelihood (for having acknowledged those gaps) of making with partialities of partialities, outcomes that at best are partialities of partialities, and for interacting with that thinking, what is made changes, is marked by it, assembled according to it. And there’s some wow in this—look at this accretion, that accretion—I could not predict this emergent form; it came into being as an outcome of my interacting with an interaction I decided to investigate, filtered through what I’ve learned to make or what I learn to make as a consequence of interaction inquiry. Each outcome made in collaboration with participants in the interactions, in part document configurations of inquiry that emerge as the collaborative venture adapts to what occurs in multiple locations of intersection in the investigation. Not all participants are invited (by any participant), by the way. There may be random intruders, roving vectors, even saboteurs (from the point of view of participant[s]) that another participant may have invited (voluntarily or involuntarily). Any possible scenario may unfold. And only possible scenarios. If it happens, it’s possible. Not happening may not indicate impossibility, just that something that could have happened or might have happened didn’t, perhaps as an outcome (response) to certain details of assemblage at a given moment and the circumstances attached to that moment. I have yet to find a way to detach an element from a moment without its then belonging, temporarily, to any number of other moments, including, immediately, a moment of detachment.

In Limited Fork Theory, everything exists as a remix of materials, of elements, atoms, molecules, particles released during a form of big bang (what interests me even more are considerations of what banged and the implications of those considerations; that can but won’t be considered here); even to write is to remix alphabet, assemble words, sometimes assembling those words into patterns that recur, perception differing in the context of host, circumstance, moment, etc. Powerful tools of capture fit in pockets. Most portable devices contain applications to facilitate sharing of information, once again challenging notions of ownership and editorial authority. The assumption of these tools is that information will be shared in social digital spaces where the information becomes community property where an author is acknowledged, but where response (including response in the form of reconfiguration) is encouraged. Creative Commons licenses allow those who acknowledge information assemblage as collaborative to identify outcomes of making as available to the community, often, in my favorite license, for further configuration, with a stipulation (share-alike) that outcomes of will be placed into the community available for even further [re]configuration—I further stipulate for non-commercial purposes, to make anything that can be made from what I place online but not for economic profit; any other configuration of profit is encouraged. Share, share, share! Make, make, make! Share again, again, again! Make again, again, again!

Without delving into what could be a useful consideration of editorial standards and meritorious making, I will just comment that in LFT practice, there is more accountability than was ever demanded by anyone for what I wrote; in the collaborative fixture of interaction, acknowledgment of participants in an interaction has become increasingly important in attempts to understand some of the partiality that adhered to a tine and in attempts to understand some of the nature of marking that occurs as tine and adhered stuff interact. Because LFT studies interactions, it becomes necessary to try to acknowledge and document, in any form that emerges out of an attempt to access information about the interaction (in which I participate as investigator, perhaps an additional role when investigating an interaction in which I was already participating), some of the possible configurations of that interaction, that being dynamic, is probably unlike what it was when investigation was initiated, so the now of investigation studies a prior scenario transplanted into a tine of now that is not the tine being followed by participants in the interaction in the concurrent now in which they are not participants though may be influenced as an outcome of some aspect being placed into that other tine of now—participants bifurcate, fork into something participating in the interaction being studied and continue as something influenced by, but outside of the investigation—this continuation may not be observable by the investigator, may be something that enters a tine gap, but I have not observed this slippage or fall or push or dive, or rising—some/any sort of passage through tine gap[s]. It is digital making that allows for realization of simulations of LFT practice, but analog simulation realization is also possible, and for me became easier after exploring the rich digital landscapes of simulation. Strange gestures, peculiar outcomes that studying some of the nature of interaction predict, can be simulated digitally without most of the seemingly more rigid (and more difficult to both execute and reconfigure) outcomes of three-dimensional interactions and collaborations. Much of what’s impossible in multi-dimensional physical spaces can be realized in digital environments and in a similar virtual landscape of imagination. More outcomes can be investigated virtually than spatially without many of the consequences of physical marking. The digital timescale tends to differ from the spatial timescale; there is a different notion of gravity, weight, pressure. The laws of physics do not regulate directly behaviors possible in digital environments; the physicality of objects used to interact with, and to enter digital environments are subject to laws of the environments that host them, just as the brain is hosted by the skull while idea and thought are not hosted directly by the skull but by the brain that is configured to host electrical and biochemical information that is the direct host of idea, and what idea hosts, including imagination. The content of idea is directly hosted by outcomes of electrical activity, by the energy of that: idea as product of the waste, as byproduct of electrical activity.

Conversely, making in and with space can accomplish some of what’s currently impossible in digital environments. To make singular, unique aesthetic text objects instead of mass-produced books without individuality at the point of making, but at the point of use, individual patterns of use. Digital options in Limited Fork Theory practice exposed spatial options in tines having access to any form of interaction, including those in three-dimensional macro- and micro-locations. At the moment, digital environments function somewhat as compressions of three-dimensional space into flat forms without volume that manipulation could harm to a point of destruction. Digital environments simulate dimensionality without virtual objects having volume for existence in space without digital life-support equipment. A single poam system may straddle digital and spatial environments in an array of iterations, each interacting with what may be hosted by intersections of environment, some forms evolving into species of making that acquire adaptive features that support activity and presence across merging or blended boundaries in those interactions in which merging or blending, for instance, occurs. A poem is a single text piece. A collection of poetry is a group of text pieces. But when form is open, then even a single piece is a system, which like the human body, could be made of various geometries with various points of connection and disconnection. A collection of poams can be a cluster of subsystem geometries, assembled into a variable super cluster of complex geometries. I will say no more about splendors of volume including those manifesting, temporarily, in crystalline geometries, in a piece devoted to championing digital text-based (but not, I’m happy to say, text-exclusive) constructions; oh, text-rooted (on some scale) I willingly admit, not ashamed of that at all, growing from, sprouting out of text as a bifurcating system with an opportunity to transform, but certainly not a mandate to mutate. However, once marked with this philosophy of making, the philosophy interacts with context and participates, to some degree, in attempts to frame and configure information within systems of perception.

For me, then, it’s obvious that continuing to refer to what digital environments enable as poetry denies growth of creative product into areas poetry (a marked term) tends not to claim easily, including volume. Limited Fork Theory accepts any form of poetry as possible outcome systems within a more generalized outcome system; a poem is a form of poam: product of act[s] of making. In this way, making is released from known (marked) form requirements, no matter how modified they become. Modified form requirements retain a core, a defined core of evolutionary genre memory, so modifications tend to occur in response to (at least some vestige of) that core. The poam takes its form or forms from what emerges as possible among constituents of an interaction system. That emerging form is also marked, but the marking is an outcome of the collaboration, and may include anything that becomes available for participation, arranged and/or accidental, incidental participation. Poams, then are mixed, mutts instead of purebreds—for me, there is no escaping this, philosophically and biologically—on some scales, just about no one escapes being a biological poam mutt as that, in some form, manages to stick to a tine of genome’s evolutionary package. Limited Fork Theory assumes a possible connection whenever something is available/becomes available for (temporary, on some scale) connection. Even if the connection can (or should) occur only in imagination, a location of energy and biochemical stimulation in the physical brain, the connection is both valid and temporary. Digital tools can help simulate a poam made of the substance, the energy, the electrical impulses of idea.

One day it may be possible to project an idea directly into shareable locations, multidimensional or virtual, but approximation prevails for now. It’s likely that at best we deal with approximation in most circumstances, even in those circumstances where some dare to believe, to think, some even to know that we are not dealing with approximation. Maybe that is the case, but with that fork, I wonder whether or not something has interacted with gap in such a way as to complicate a knowing; I can’t even know, as I’ve stated, whether or not anything is interacting with gap in any way, but gap is present, and I am marked by what gap could mean, configurations of possibilities of gap. Limited Fork Theory is built out of stuff available for building; it is assemblage, accretion rather than something altogether new that is not marked. The LFT marking is not the marking of poetry; LFT practice is marked by the device in use, but so far, it is not a predictable marking that occurs in outcomes of LFT practice. The nature of interaction, some of which may be interacting in subtle, in profound, etc. ways with gap, helps over a certain configuration of predictability in a way ideal for digital investigations. Simply stated, the bifurcating system that is the fork, for which, in this instance, an eating utensil may serve as model, is unable to access totalities. The fork has tines, and perhaps the tines are slippery this time. By design, the tines have space between them. Opportunities for entrance of information and exit of information. Because of these gaps, there is opportunity for loss of information that tines may, accordingly, temporarily succeed in accessing. There is perhaps even likelihood that the participating tines (for they need not be the same length, the same shape, need not be attempting to access information on the same plane, need not move in the same direction, on the same timescale); there is perhaps likelihood that something falls through the tines, off the tines; something outside of what was being accessed may fall on the tines—all of these scenarios rendering any information accessed at least partially untrustworthy. It is possible that nothing falls off, nothing falls through, but the presence of the gaps maintains a possibility of lost information without a way to prove that nothing fell off, that nothing managed to fall on a tine. Making informed by such consideration changes; it is making that acknowledges that information is lacking something, may be faulty, is probably incomplete, is only partial, is based on only what manages to adhere to tines that are fishing for information, but there somehow also coexists a sublime possibility that nothing slips, that everything is here and functioning—that an initial intimacy of that extreme compression of what was to become possibility and substance of subsystems once it banged apart; possible that all substance was marked by initial intimacy, and the apparently increasing distance between things is celebratory, is passionate, is acknowledging initial conditions of the most incredible intimacy ever—everything’s riding out the joy in any way that it’s possible (including digital ways) to ride out joy, positively, negatively riding out joy, getting it out of the systems, priming things for whatever becomes enabled by whatever follows riding—the fork does not give me access to that. I have my hands out to catch crumbs of what might be falling/rising, but my fingers, my tines alternate with gaps. What’s really transformed here is thinking, even gaps in thinking.


Thylias Moss is a professor of English language and literature at the University of Michigan. Her most recent volume is Tokyo Butter, a collection of poems written during the gestation of Limited Fork Poetics, her theory of interacting language systems. Other publications include Slave Moth: A Narrative in Verse (Persea Books, 2004; a Village Voice best book of 2004), the memoir, Tale of a Sky-blue Dress (William Morrow, 1998), and the poetry collections: Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (Persea Books, 1997; finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems (Ecco, 1993), Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky (Persea, 1991; winner of the 1991 National Poetry Series Open Competition and of the Ohioana Book Award), Pyramid of Bone (University of Virginia, 1989; finalist for the National Book Critic's Circle Award), and Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (Cleveland State University, 1983; finalist for the Best of the Great Lakes First Book Prize). A 1996 Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation and a recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, she has also received grants from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Kenan Charitable Trust.

Notes

    1. An anagram generator, such as the one at futureboy.us, active at the time of this writing, is as easy to use as Googlism. Type in a word, and instantly receive a list of that word reconfigured into other words; the subtitle of this essay comes from an anagram for limited fork from this generator. The list that follows contains anagrams for Limited Fork Theory that contain rilke (that resonated with me).

      • rilke defy hoot trim
      • rilke defy tooth MIR
      • rilke defy tooth rim
      • rilke hide fry motto
      • rilke method fri. toy
      • rilke method fir toy
      • rilke herd motif toy
      • rilke die forty moth
      • rilke dime forth toy
      • rilke dime fry tooth
      • rilek demi-forth toy
      • rilke demi-froth toy
      • rilke demi-forth hot
      • rilke ideo-fort myth
      • rilke dire foot myth
      • rilke ride foot myth
      • rilke diet roof myth
      • rilke tide roof myth
      • rilke edit roof myth
      • rilke tied roof myth
      • rilke diety form hot
      • rilke deity from hot
      • rilke deity for moth
      • rilke dye forth omit
      • rilke dye foot mirth
      • rilke dye thrift moo
      • rilke modify the rot
      • rilke modify her tot
      • rilke food tier myth
      • rilke food rite myth
      • rilke food tire myth
      • rilke food yet mirth
      • rilek hid mote forty
      • rilke hid tome forty
      • rilke hydro tome fit
      • rilke hydro mote fit
      • rilke mid-hefty root
      • rilke dim hefty root
      • rilke rid them footy
      • rilke rid thyme foot
      • rilke dirt foe mothy
      • rilke dirty heft moo
      • rilke dirty foe moth
      • rilke dirty hem foot
      • rilke tidy heft moor
      • rilke tidy heft room
      • rilke the moody rift
      • rilke to do hefty rim
      • rilke dry thief moot
    2. Googlism for: poetry

      • poetry is passion
      • poetry is for real people
      • poetry is a political act"
      • poetry is complete nonsense
      • poetry is a destructive force by stevens
      • poetry is the drug of choice
      • poetry is a sudden process of verbal compression
      • poetry is the sudden process of verbal compression
      • poetry is sense
      • poetry is plucking at the
      • poetry is for poets
      • poetry is poetess sondra faye's official site of
      • poetry is for everybody
      • poetry is a very complex thing
      • poetry is found in life
      • poetry is about onelivingthing
      • poetry is neuroanatomy
      • poetry is this?
      • poetry is published
      • poetry is everywhere
      • poetry is for wimps
      • poetry is bad
      • poetry is not a luxury" la women of color
      • poetry is sexy
      • poetry is for sissies
      • poetry is the beginning
      • poetry is in play / daniel sendecki
      • poetry is ugly by angela armitage
      • poetry is no shameful disease
      • poetry is not a luxury"
      • poetry is sacred
      • poetry is written in the
      • poetry is more than just words
      • poetry is for
      • poetry is bread
      • poetry is not an hermetic academic pursuit
      • poetry is a joyful music to the ears
      • poetry is connected to the body
      • poetry is free
      • poetry is driving me mad by brad evans
      • poetry is redundant
      • poetry is fun
      • poetry is what fish won't eat by clarinda harriss and three red
      • poetry is black
      • poetry is built like that
      • poetry is the strength of
      • poetry is often understood to be about
      • poetry is useless
      • poetry is for suckers
      • poetry is done"
      • poetry is direct
      • poetry is for the ear
      • poetry is exciting
      • poetry is for real people like me
      • poetry is this 'my country'? on the anniversary of the tampa
      • poetry is celebrated
      • poetry is a political act?
      • poetry is in the details
      • poetry is complete nonsense spike milligan
      • poetry is a destructive force by wallace stevens
      • poetry is for by john olson
      • poetry is the drug of choice by john olson
      • poetry is a sudden process of verbal compression a collection of poetry by elisha porat
      • poetry is the sudden process of verbal compression a collection of poetry by elisha porat
      • poetry is powerful
      • poetry is just the evidence
      • poetry is plucking at the heartstrings
      • poetry is life
      • poetry is for americans
      • poetry is for immigrants
      • poetry is life version
      • poetry is not nutritious
      • poetry is fun back to list
      • poetry is about one living thing a report of an aesthetic realism class by amy dienes
      • poetry is about one living thing
      • poetry is increasing
      • poetry is banned
      • poetry is the sole reason i live
      • poetry is her life
      • poetry is this? i
      • poetry is sent in by you
      • poetry is william saroian
      • poetry is not a luxury" la women of color
      • poetry is
      • poetry is the beginning & art by d
      • poetry is in play
      • poetry is ugly
      • poetry is no shameful disease?
      • poetry is that one will
      • poetry is not a luxury" author
      • poetry is written in the four line ballad form of rhymed quatrains
      • poetry is once more the talk of the town an old art form enjoys a broad
      • poetry is ultra
      • poetry is called
      • poetry is bread page you can reach me by e
      • poetry is bread you can reach me by e
      • poetry is psychoanalytic treatment
      • poetry is pain
      • poetry is not my vice
      • poetry is everywhere poetry is music to your ear poetry is a graceful dancer with elegance and flair poetry has many shapes and forms but poetry is not square
      • poetry is pretty much like life
      • poetry is connected to the body again
      • poetry is driving everybody crazy pay off baudelaire's debt heal the wrist shot by verlaine heal verlaine's wife their poetry is driving everybody crazy
      • poetry is redundant ©1992 by sam mills from his book
      • poetry is the best prophylactic against
      • poetry is what fish won't eat
      • poetry is black the last poets
      • poetry is built like that arts profile
      • poetry is the showcase for poetry written by teens
      • poetry is the strength of ghazal
      • poetry is often understood to be about little other than courtly love and romantic excess
      • poetry is useless; but still; under a starry sky; manifestations of non
      • poetry is the place for you to
      • poetry is done" by dean blehert you can make any sentence poetical by mentioning blood or bone
      • poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected
    3. Googlism for: digital

      • digital is page to read more about the program
      • digital is" technology program
      • digital is
      • digital is going to save blockbuster
      • digital is your business?
      • digital is the dna of all advertising
      • digital is the thread that weaves through all of advertising
      • digital is analogue
      • digital is not fillm
      • digital is not film
      • digital is our destiny
      • digital is just too much
      • digital is the leading online distributor of licensed
      • digital is your company?
      • digital is the future
      • digital is not recognized
      • digital is better than
      • digital is newest partner to the summon? web
      • digital is part of a burgeoning movement of publishers and aggregators who are choosing to make their content more discoverable to students and
      • digital is not different
      • digital is the common version containing up to six discrete channels of sound
      • digital is fastest growing search engine marketing agency
      • digital is the fastest growing search engine marketing agency
      • digital is better than film
      • digital is always better than film?
      • digital is rubbish
      • digital is so much better then analogue
      • digital is driving first half world music sales
      • digital is the master copy
      • digital is a data storage pioneer and a longtime leader in the hard drive industry
      • digital is dumbo's stoop life