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Poetry and Science
The poetry proposed by Stanisław Dróżdż is based on the aesthetics determined by logics and mathematics which I personally prefer to the aesthetics based on subjective inclinations of the author and evaluation criteria defined by individual tastes of the readers. Having an everyday contact with a rationalized reality we may have problems with verifying the functionality and, consequently, evaluating and estimating the worth of the work of art created often as a result of an unordered stream of consciousness. In the past, there used to be the aesthetic canons which defined the principles for writing poetry. They constituted the substitutes of objective indicators related to the form and the content enabling the readers to create the interpretation sequences of the poem aimed to facilitate its understanding in the scope of a given convention ruled by specific logics. That provided a possibility of establishing the function and the value of the poem, which was fallible but, as for those times, inclined to objectivity. The anarchy which exists nowadays in this field solidifies the conflict between the author and the recipient of art, which leads to a continuous increase in the distance between the recipients and the works created for them.
The looser the bond between the human being and art became, the closer the human being was related to science. That could be probably due to the fact that science and poetry have been following different paths. Science evaluated from naïve views of reality to the logically coherent theories which have been describing this reality in a better and better way. This difference, however, does not exclude the rejuvenation of the relationships between the human being and art, which could occur only through the integration between art and science. Such art mostly integrated with science is what Stanisław Dróżdż proposes in his works.
Paradoxes of Stanisław Dróżdż from Wroclaw
The concept-shapes together with the interpretation field which surrounds them resemble, for instance, the paradoxes of Zeon from Elea or Eubulides, whose solution led inter alia to the formation of differential and integral calculus and axiomatic set theory etc. They are provided with such a context because, likewise those paradoxes, they attempt to recapture the essence of reality and describe it with the language being precise for them thereby initiating the poetry of our times, the poetry of a contemporary human being.
Here are the examples of well-known paradoxes and some of their parallel (only in terms of exemplification) equivalents – concept-shapes.
In order to cover any distance, the object must first cover the half of this distance and then the half of the distance which is left and then again – the half of the remainder….and that will continue infinitely. Therefore, in order to cover any distance, the object must cover infinite number of fragments, which is impossible in a finite course of time.
2. The Arrow
There is such a moment when the arrow thrown into the air is not moving but only resting in the air without covering any distance in space. It refers to each moment and time consists of individual moments, which means that the arrow cannot move forwards during its flight but it rests throughout the whole flight.
We all agree, that when we take two people, one of whom is not bald and the other has only one hair less than that one, it means that the other one is not bald either. Let us place many people in one row where the person with the thickest hair, who assumingly has 100 000 of them, will be the first and will be preceded by the person with one hair less. In such a case, this other person, according to the abovementioned rule, will not be bald. If we put 100 001 people in such a row, in which one had one hair less than the other, the last one without any hair would not be bald. He would not be bald because in the row of people who had only one hair less than the other, someone, for instance an x-person in this row, would have to be called bald and initiate the row of bald people. However, if the x-person was bald, the person on the one side with only one hair more would not be bald, but the person on the other side with one hair less – would be bald…That situation, as we all have agreed, is impossible, which means that bald people do not exist at all.
The features of poetry by Stanisław Dróżdż
The most characteristic features of this poetry include: 1) paradoxicality 2) mathematization.
Ad 1) Paradoxicality is based on the similarity of concept-shapes to the ancient paradoxes in terms of their content and on the paradoxality of the form of these ‘notations’ which contradict generally adopted forms of poetic notation. The paradoxes as well as the concept-shapes raise important and difficult problems such as:
1) Optimum (‘Baldness’) refers to the problem of fuzzy concepts which is a significant question in the information theory, especially for such areas as communicativeness, precision and clarity of discourses.
2) Trwanie (‘The Arrow’) relates to the concept of continuity of time raised also in the other ‘notations’ such as the project ‘The Hourglass’.
3) Między (‘Dichotomy’) refers to the problem of convergence of an infinite sequence, the essence of infinity itself in the aspect of its limitations is presented in the project Infinity.
In the concept-shapes, difficult concepts from the field of Mathematics, Physics and Logics are being translated into the ‘language of poetry’ and this transposition provides these concepts with the sense of literature and the literature with the precision which could be considered as the introduction to the integration between art and science.
Ad 2) Mathematization is observable for instance in Forgetting. This ‘notation’ can be defined as a mathematical formula y = f(x), where x – time, which means that the properties of mind are the function of time. [Co jest funkcją czasu – właściwości umysłu? Z oryginalu nie dalo sie jednoznacznie wywnioskować]
Other ‘notations’ composed solely of mathematical and alphabetical symbols impose their interpretation by evoking the associations implied by their titles. For instance, Mathematics is the symbol of Mathematics and its every day applications. In Loneliness the number fulfills the role of a lyrical sign illustrating ‘the paradox’ of the loneliness in the crowd, singularity and separateness, solitude even in the infinite amount of gathered elements. The graphical layout of this ‘notation’ explicitly indicates a unidirectional trend in the element movement which in spite of being collective in its character is underlain by loneliness: the elements which may represent the people are moving constantly one next to another, one after another in the unchanged distances between each other which cannot be overcome and which although unrepeatable are still identical and seemingly integrated by this identicalness.
These psychical conditions in their intellectual and sensual dimensions are known to us in our daily lives and refer to any situation which happens to us and which we happen to find ourselves in. The entire triptych as well as each of its three single elements which could constitute separate wholes symbolizes the conditions of our existence.
The original character of its form combined with the obviousness of its content whose banal character has been removed by the original form provoke us to pose a question whether the activity carried out by Dróżdż can be referred to as poetry.
Although this experimental ‘literature’ cannot be defined as writing poems, it is definitely a form of poetry, a condensed, synthetic poetry of shortening which implies explicitly pure poetic feelings in a simple and efficient way so different from ‘baroque-like’ sophistication of traditional poetry which suppresses the true content.
There is a convergence of purposes and subjects between ‘the notations’ created by Dróżdż and a contemporary traditional poem observable, for instance, if we compare such poetic projects as The Alphabet by A. Stern or The Language or The Present Tense by M. Miszewski with Forgetting by Dróżdż or one of the poems by R. Gamzatow from the collection Miniatures (p. 41) with Before and After by Dróżdż. Although we could provide much more similar examples, these ones presented above are sufficient to signalize and illustrate the problem of these poetic parallels where concept-shapes reveal their true poetic character being involved not only in rationality but also in emotions which is the attribute of poetry.
1) ‘Poetry’ by Dróżdż is based on reason rather than feelings and on science rather than lyrical poetry and that is its main program. It is supposed not to affect us but to describe the reality in a new way to the benefit of a contemporary human being for whom the traditional means of poetic expression are insufficient. It is also lyrical in its character but this lyrical poetry is based rather on philosophy being more profound and touching than typical lyrical poetry.
2) This poetry is not about subjective originality likewise the traditional poem which was not intended to provide an objective perception of reality but conversely to present the reality in an extremely subjective manner.
Dróżdż demands from poetry to be true and verifiable in its reception likewise science which does not imagine but discovers and makes statements. In order to provide credible descriptions the science uses mathematical terms according to the rule that the more mathematical in character, the more adequate a given description is. Probably that is the reason why Dróżdż uses in his concept-shapes the elements of mathematics and logics.
3) Owing to their original notation or shape endowed with semantic aspects, the concept-shapes combine the elements of science, literature and fine arts existing on the border of all these disciplines. The reason for this integration appears to be the feeling of distrust to the traditional language used for describing the reality which is going under a constant change. That forces us to continuous searching in the field of poetry (and not only there) for new means of expression exemplified by the ‘notations’ created by Dróżdż.
However, the question if these searches are accurate and successful is to be answered by the recipients of these works.
This text is published in the catalogue of the exhibition of works by Stanisław Dróżdż entitled Structural Poetry. Concept-Shapes, Gallery ‘odNowa’, Poznan, March – April, 1969. It was reedited by the Author in 2011.