“…He said real poetry won’t be in words after a while. He said the icy beauty of the perfect signification of fabricated nonverbal symbols and their relation through agreed-on rules will come slowly to replace first the form and then the stuff of poetry. He says an epoch is dying and he can hear the rattle. I have all this in letters he sent me. I keep all my letters in a box. He said poetic units that allude and evoke and summon and are variably limited by the particular experience and sensitivity of individual poets and readers will give way to symbols that both are and stand for what they’re about, that both the limit and the infinity of what is real can be expressed best by axiom, sign, and function. I love Emily Dickinson. I said I wasn’t going to pretend like I understood and disagreed but it seemed like what he thought about poetry was going to make poetry seem cold and sad. I said a big part of the realness that poems were about for me, when I read them, was feelings. I wasn’t going to pretend to be sure, but I didn’t think numbers and systems and functions could make people feel any way at all. Sometimes, when I said it, he felt sorry for me, and said I wasn’t conceiving the project right, and he’d play with my earlobes. But sometimes at night he’d get mad and say that I was just one of those people that are afraid of everything new and unavoidable and think they’re going to be bad for people. He came so close to calling me stupid that I almost got really mad. I’m not stupid. I graduated college in three years. And I don’t think all new things and things changing are bad for people…”

David Foster Wallace, Here and There (from Girl With Curious Hair).


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