Artificial Intelligence

Colonial Poetry Conference in Kelowna on March 17

As waves come onto the shore of the Pacific, they re-create the gravitational field of the Earth, laying it down in music…

San Josef Bay, Vancouver Island

… along with the gravitational field of the moon, as interpreted by water.

Mind you, the same thing happens in the Horse Heaven Hills, where the wave forms above get large. Take a look at the image below and imagine the depth of water flowing overhead. Yes, indeed. A few hundred metres! The Earth is, gorgeously, an amplifying lens.

Kiona, Washington

Oh, we do sing. That is the Earth’s language. Before we continue with reading it, take a look at what artificial intelligence looks like. Instead of a wetland…

… for instance …

…for instance …

Okanagan Lake Night Goose Nest at Dawn

…for instance …

…we get compacted industrial gravel, on which is heaped tons of road salt, gravel and snow, to melt into the water in the next few weeks.  The image below shows the south shore of Swan Lake. Well, the former shore, as it interacts with North American racial politics, as spoken through a language of corporatism.

Shouldn’t We Be Talking About This? Isn’t This “Us”?

This is a way of using the remnant of a wetland to clean snow created by inappropriate technology (cars, roads, cities and stuff).

This is what cars wish for us. It is also a language, and speaks beautifully, as the Earth folds it in and takes in its poison to neutralize us, to bring us in.

Earth, Talking

On its negative side, it is what Canada’s social individualism, ie human exceptionalism, leads to. We might as well face it. This, as well:

Gorgeous, isn’t it! Fire hydrant and decorative rose, to be viewed by car. It is planted to comfort individuals as they zip along in their cages of steel and petroleum, which is a way of saying within their cultural and historical cages, as free as a scented air freshener.

That’s one of the purposes of the roses: mind-fresheners. The Earth has her own purposes: she absorbs human history and spits out a conversation. She is always taking material in and binding it. The result is consciousness. It is profoundly non-human, yet humans can move through it, as one of its amplifying forces, and they can be made conscious by it. This farm site below, for instance, with the cat Boots in his haunt.

Keremeos

In the language of Canadian or American identity screens, this is called “decay,” although it is life asserting itself with great verve: poetry freed of the class-based restrictions of human identity. The image above, in other words, is drenched with language, life and conversation. Now, here’s the curious thing. Within this assertion of the Earth against the intrusions of the artificial intelligence of human individual identity and “creativity”, embedded in a colonized landscape of nuclear reactors and and slavery, freedom and race, poets are gathering at Canada’s local university on Saturday, March 17 to discuss human identity politics as it pushes poetry this way and that. Here’s what they are going to discuss:

Saturday, March 17

  • 1:00 – 2:30 pm: Shifting CanLit | Panel: Juliane Okot Bitek, Karen Hofmann, Karis Shearer, Rob Budde | Moderator Laisha Rosnau

In recent years, the ground has seemed to shift under what we knew as “Can Lit.” Questions of privilege and power — who holds it and who is denied it — and of how gender, race, identity, and class inform writing, teaching, publishing and community have come to the forefront of discussion in classrooms, backrooms, bedrooms, and on social media. How does discussion and debate around what CanLit is — who is included and who is silenced — affect how and what we write, how and what we teach, and how we interact with writing communities?

  • 3:00 – 4:00 pm: Stories Between: A conversation about Narrative and Voice

Panel:  Margo Greenwood, Cree Scholar and Writer: Pauline Terbasket, Syilx Okanagan Activist and Storyteller; Teresa Marshall, Activist, Filmmaker and Writer; Sarah de Leeuw, Academic Researcher and Literary Non-fiction/Poetry Author
This panel brings together two Indigenous women with two settler women to discuss storytelling across geographies, cultures, disciplines, and within contours of friendship, relations, and reconciliation. Themes include: ecology; family; academic writing merged with personal reflection, and; storytelling infused with research, politics, and poetics. The audience is invited to join in the conversation. SOURCE

In other words, a group of people embedded within the grids of activated individualism within American technological society, are going to discuss the interface of the Earth with some pretty bad history, through the lens of inter-human social struggle. It has a pretty fun catch, too. Look again:

How does discussion and debate around what CanLit is

Do you see that? These “poets” are talking about a thing (of the past) called “CanLit”. “Canadian Literature,” in other words. Which isn’t “poetry” at all! (I am old enough to remember when it came to town, and, boy, am I glad to see it go.) In other words, they are talking about the threads of power within a colonial art form, the national poetry of the country called Canada and how it asserts its power over this space through literature. They are fine-tuning the machine. Well, yeah. Machines do need some fiddling or they break down. Still, it never has been any fun to be controlled by this machine, and I do wonder what the conversation would look like if they just set aside the CanLit and talked about poetry. I really like poetry. I would love it if the poets talked about this:

 

Poetry, aka Road-Side Snowmelt With Salt and Gravel

And maybe that is what they’ve come to talk about. That would be exciting. Or indigeneity. I love that, too, seeing as I draw my identity from this space of Earth and not from the colonial society that rules it for its distant purposes.

Okanagan Hemp. The Defining Cultural Language of this Spiritual-Human-Cultural Space

There’s more fun stuff. Take another look:

How does discussion and debate around what CanLit is –– who is included and who is silenced — affect how and what we write, how and what we teach, and how we interact with writing communities?

Got that? The panelists write and teach (shouldn’t they walk within poetry and give it life within human society, to keep that society alive and bound with the Earth?… well, my indigenous nature is betraying itself again, pay it no mind) andinteract with” writing communities. This image (below), I presume, shows one of these writing communities, a clutch of poets:

Writing Workshop Team, Vernon

Silenced by human exceptionalism.

Yeah. As the Earth is speaking, and the debators are speaking about “writing communities,” they must mean those does, who write in non-human languages but write nonetheless, with deep meaning, and without racial politics (which I think is a good goal. Racism is so awful.) Even so, the debators are not part of these communities, at any rate. They “interact” with them, as “teachers” and “writers,” which is to say at a bit of a distance. I think the intent is that privileged humans in leading cultural positions guide the writing of other humans who write for less elite purposes to invite them into circles of power… I think. I don’t know. It’s a culturally-specific assumption, which means you have to be a part of the culture to understand it. Still, would it be too forward to ask: what then of the Earth? What of the writing communities of which the human ones are only pale reflections, and which have deep roots here in in indigenous tradition? Wouldn’t it be great to talk about that, which concerns us most deeply? Isn’t that important? All this other stuff sounds so, well, White. The image below, however, pulses with respect.

At the moment, though, I am just amazed. The promo material speaks of a “we,” which is, presumably, meant to be “all humans,” but perhaps not “all humans and Boots the Cat and a turquoise door under a Hawthorne tree at 18 Below” and not “all humans plus some indigenous white guy who reads this space as his mind and self,” so, really, I think it is good to ask: Who is this “we”? This “we” who “writes” and “teaches” and “interacts with”? Dunno. Presumably, it is not just one of its components, not “writers” or “teachers” or “interactors” but all 3-as-one! If you’re just one, and, let’s say, interact with the writing community below…

… or this one …

Marmots Colonizing a Subdivision Road Barrier, Vernon

Yes, this is language at work. 

… nope, because the primary limitation is that one must limit one’s interest to human social poetry concerned with:

Questions of privilege and power — who holds it and who is denied it — and of how gender, race, identity, and class inform writing, teaching, publishing and community have come to the forefront of discussion in classrooms, backrooms, bedrooms, and on social media.

Well, I hold neither privilege nor power, so can’t comment on the difficulties of holding its reins, and don’t wish to take part in the machine-tooling of colonialism, either, so I’m going to have to leave it to the experts who have to reach into the beast’s heart daily to keep it functioning. But I do know some things about privilege and power: the roadside maple below, whacked back to make room for automobile sight lines, on a piece of wetland under land claim, and slated for redevelopment as housing for six wealthy families from somewhere else. That’s colonialism, privilege and power all in one, no matter how you dice it up. So, really, to answer the conference’s question: CanLit’s effect on negotiations of privilege and power is to deny this maple speech, or at least to say that elite writers and teachers have other, compartmentalized concerns.

To me, it means that if you care about talking with this maple, you are not part of the CanLit conversation or the poetic conversation that follows it. It looks like that, but, hey, really, I can only guess. The language is too secret for me. The experts will have to weigh in. There is, of course, more. Some strong and wonderful people are gathering …

Panel:  Margo Greenwood, Cree Scholar and Writer: Pauline Terbasket, Syilx Okanagan Activist and Storyteller; Teresa Marshall, Activist, Filmmaker and Writer; Sarah de Leeuw, Academic Researcher and Literary Non-fiction/Poetry Author
This panel brings together two Indigenous women with two settler women to discuss storytelling across geographies, cultures, disciplines, and within contours of friendship, relations, and reconciliation. Themes include: ecology; family; academic writing merged with personal reflection, and; storytelling infused with research, politics, and poetics. The audience is invited to join in the conversation. SOURCE

It’s going to be a great conversation, but will it be about this eagle nest (below), or the profound spiritual conversation of which it is a part? Earth, spirit and human worlds are in conversation in this valley, and have been since the ice left 10,000 years ago. It’s called “nature” now and relegated to science, so I suspect that the poets are not meeting to have this conversation, although not to speak of this as poetry is colonial and serves no one well. It’s just the nature of the university and its colonial traditions.

Still, I do hope the conversation speaks about this. After all, this landscape is a spiritual ground, rich with speech, in which individual identity is integrated into stories larger than any human intent, and in which human conversations only have meaning within their relationship to this larger, non-human conversation. Limiting those conversations, conversations like this …

…to an individual, personal human sphere and a non-poetic overlay of human language (everyday English) is a technique for attempting to modify a profoundly aggressive intrusion into the living Earth-human community, to ultimately free people from the chains of the intrusion. Like, whew. That’s good work, but…why is it so complicated? Why not just free people right away?  Why not learn the speech of the earth? Why not be indigenous? Isn’t that the ultimate goal? Why not just go there? Is there something I’m missing?

Wetland in Vernon, Talking

Tricky, huh. One has to be sly. One has to approach things sideways. I think the effort is to maintain power and to spread it to all. Well, yeah! This:

Sadly, I don’t think the keepers of colonial poetry in Canada consider that poetry, so it remains to be seen whether a personal approach will work, or whether just speaking with and as the Earth instead of as the artifice of a colonial human identity module is going to work better. Or whether we need everyone’s voice, even the Earth’s.

Robin Bathing in Green Water Gully Turned into a Wet Water Flow by a Colonial Water Understanding, Vernon

This Saturday, I’ll be with the Earth, talking to her about it. I have no voice except for what she speaks through me.  Oh, as UBC says of its colonial poetry experiment:

 The audience is invited to join in the conversation.

You’re welcome to join us, but if you find it necessary to do this the hard way, through literature, I hope metaphor will take your hand until it flies off laughing and leaves you alone in wonder, alive with all the people, alive and dead, who have touched the Earth …

… and who are her speech.

Otherwise, yet another generation will go by like the wind.

 

 

2 replies »

  1. Thanks for telling us about this. And thank you for attending on behalf of your readers as well as all the Life you share with us through this blog.

    Like

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