Inaudible Crossing, Interstellar Voice
shock, songs unsing
in space, float subsonic
in the heliosphere. Trans
missions from the unknown
broadcast voices on a solar
of the sun.
sound: variations on a theme.
Radio dials past praxis
theory, a message lost
noise and static.
Fortinbras was told:
"The rest is silence."
 Explanatory Note
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On September 5, 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1. The satellite's mission was to explore the outer regions of our solar system and beyond.
The termination shock is the point in our universe's heliosphere where solar winds slow down to subsonic speeds. Scientists consider it to be the first major boundary between our solar system and deep space, followed by the heliopause and the bow shock.
The heliopause is the point where the sun's solar winds cease entirely.
The bow shock is an ambient space between the solar system and what lies beyond.
While the poets watched the sky dissolve into the ocean and the ocean dissipate into the sky, their thoughts wandered toward outsideness, as their minds tend to do while staring at natural phenomenon after a near-death experience. On this occasion, the poets thought they heard a faint whispering; most likely, they were receiving alien transmissions. Jack Spicer also received such transmissions throughout his life, and in many cases, these transmissions made their way into his poetry. Of course, there is the distinct possibility that the messages Spicer and the poets received were not from aliens, but from ghosts:
The wires dance in the wind of the noise our poems make. The noise without an audience. Because the poems were written for ghosts.
The ghosts the poems were written for are ghosts of the poems. We have it second-hand. They cannot hear the noise they have been making.
Further complicating the matter is the possibility that the voices are the voices of the ghosts of aliens. In fact, this proposition makes the most scientific sense because, by the time alien transmissions could reach Earth, the sender, most likely, long since would have died.
In a surprisingly affirmative essay by Adorno (i.e. "Resignation"), the German philosopher forwards the following positivistic position with regard to thought: it is a "force of resistance" and produces "the happiness of mankind" within the thinker.
Phrases tend to affect individuals or groups of individuals in different ways, many times in an adverse manner. As Lyotard demonstrates in The Differend, there is an "impossibility of avoiding conflicts"; furthermore, when two or more parties negotiate phrases, there is an "absence of a universal ... discourse to regulate them." The question, then, becomes: how does one proceed in and with the world of phrases in the most just manner when it is inevitable that at least one party will be wronged in some fashion? Or in Lyotard's idiom: "how does one save the honor of thinking?" This is of importance to the above poem because, as Lyotard goes on to mention, "one's silence still makes a phrase," therefore to not phrase cannot be a viable option for avoiding injustice. As such, one has to consider differently the meaning of Hamlet's final words to Fortinbras. Likewise, how is one to newly consider Voyager 1's silence once it passes through the termination shock and its communications can no longer be transmitted back to Earth? If, in fact, the "history of the world cannot pass a last judgment. It is made out of judged judgments," then how do both silences pass into "history of the world"?
- ^ Earlier in the same essay, and in contradistinction to his positivistic notions concerning thought, Adorno claims that praxis "stands in a far more direct relationship to repression" and the "only meaning that praxis retained was this: increased production of the means of production." Accordingly, for the philosopher, praxis, far from being a practical mode of resistance, actually aides in repression and capitalism's strangle-hold on the masses.
- Jack Spicer at the Open Directory Project
- Works by or about Jack Spicer in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Brief biography
- A Spicer Chronology
- Jack Spicer at the EPC
- Jack Spicer at PennSound
- Guide to the Jack Spicer Papers at The Bancroft Library
- An Advertisement for Jack Spicer essay @ The Valve
- Vocabulary Lesson by Katherine Montgomery, an essay on Jack Spicer. Winner of 2006 Hopwood Award for creative nonfiction
- Profile of Jack Spicer on Poets.org includes links to further readings, related prose including information on Other San Francisco Renaissance Poets, and some Spicer poems including "A Book Of Music", "Improvisations On A Sentence By Poe", "Orfeo", "Psychoanalysis: An Elegy",
- "Sometimes Love Lives Alongside Loneliness" a review of the book My Vocabulary Did This to Me at New York Times Book Review
- Review at Booksmark Magazine of My Vocabulary Did This to Me with link to Los Angeles Times review
- A review of Spicer's poetry by Ben Lerner
- Listening to Poetry, Jack Spicer's My Vocabulary Did This To Me a review/essay by Zack Finch