Flusser, Vilem. ‘Poetry’ Does Writing have a Future? translated by Nancy Ann Roth (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2011) 71-75

A distinction is traditionally made between poetry and mimicry (poesis and mimesis). But under the sway of the alphabet, this close connection between thinking and language – poetry – is usually understood as a language game whose strategy is to creatively enlarge the universe of languages.
The universe becomes poetically broader and deeper through the manipulation of words and sentences, the modulation of linguistic functions, a game with the meanings of words and sentences, rhythmic and melodic modulation of phonemes.
Poetry in this sense is that source from which language always springs anew and, in fact, overall in literature, even in scientific, philosophical, or political texts, not only in poetic ones.

Images will detach themselves from their imitative, mimetic function and become inventive and poetic. This poetic power is clearly visible in films, videos, and synthetic images. As for poetry, in the sense of a language game, on the other hand, its route to the new culture appears to be blocked: for it is bound to alphabetic writing.


We are not always aware of what we owe to poetry in the broader sense: almost everything we perceive and experience. Poetry produces models of experience, and without such models, we would scarcely be able to perceive anything. We would be anesthetized and would – having to rely on our atrophied instincts – stagger about blind, deaf and numb.

Poets are our organs of perception. We see, hear, taste, and smell on the basis of models we have from poets.

These colors, sounds, and tastes are as they are not because they have been culturally – that is to say, poetically – shaped from some imperceptible natural ground.

The model of love that channels the contemporary love experience is Hollywood’s rather than the Buddhist or the central African because media channels are built on an historic, imperialistic pattern.
If cable were introduced to the media, for example, central African love models could be transmitted as well as those of Hollywood.

We already perceive in a far more complex manner than earlier generations did. Not only our love lives, but also our perceptions of color, sound, and taste are becoming more complex.

Poetry in the sense of a construction of experiential models is already beginning to develop now and will achieve dimensions in the near future that will exceed all expectations.

The alphabetic poet manipulates words and linguistic rules by means of letter to produce a model of experience for others. In doing so, he thinks he has forced his own, concrete experience (sensibility, idea, desire) into the language and so made this experience and the language that has been changed by this experience accessible to others.

The new poet, equipped with apparatuses and dining on them digitally , cannot be so naive. He knows he has to calculate his experience, to dissect it into atoms of experience to be able to program it digitally. And in making this calculation, he must confirm the extent to which others previously modeled his experience. He no longer identifies himself as author but rather as remixer.

Even the language he manipulates no longer seems like raw material stacked up inside him but rather like a complex system pressing in around him to be remixed.
He relies on theories and no longer works empirically.
Such an informatic approach to poetry has long been in preparation. In Mallarme, for example, this attitude finds theoretic, nearly informatic expression; and the cool, calculating, exact, even mechanical dimension of poetry is clearly visible in the precision of many of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
The new poet, sitting at his terminal and waiting expectantly to see which unanticipated word and sentence formations appear on the screen, is gripped by a creative delirium no less intense than the one a writing poet felt in his struggle with language.

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