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The Act of Observation

Posted 20 May 2004, 2.00 am by shaggy

We create (the great poets of our time) from observance. We are the soldiers that trudge through the beautiful and the sick, the lovely and the horrid, in order to see fully, and in seeing, by observing, perceiving, and interpretation, we paint the colors on the canvas, plant the seeds of our life; our poetry is the true building block.

Yet what should poetry truly be, in itself? If poetry is the paint, from what is it composed? One of the most fundamental uses of observation is in the sciences. Here, knowledge becomes a tower of Babel, man striving to make his domain higher and higher still. It can only stand on itself, its own past. On the backs of the dead, it leaps higher.

Yet, science also operates under a different human necessity: it explains how things are connected. This is the key to all human art. The artist connects with his mind and soul what he cannot with his flesh. This is the kinetic build-up that the poet feels when he composes. His heart beats greatly, his lips move without his control. The music which spews from his lips may be discordant, its harmonies drastic or under-developed, but from his heart, he creates a (possibly-- though probably not) new understanding, fashioning the world from his passions. When the Muse catches the artist, he is attached to something greater and far different than himself.

This is why the Bible was written in dramatic style.

There is, however, at the same time, an element of mimesis. Love exists as a feeling, though words fortify its meaning. The heart beats, sweat may go to the palms, heightened awareness, mouth watering, excitement... none of which constitute love itself, but upon observing, the poor fool suddenly realizes what his body is actually doing: it tells him that he is, more than likely, in love.

Language is a system. A great, cycling system that creates. And yet, no matter how fast the poet creates, the world begins to crumble. This is the absurdity Albert Camus speaks of when he talks of Sisyphus. The world crumbles and we rebuild and renovate. We must survive, the edifices we create must stand.

Ours is a fight against gravity.

What do we support on our backs, the great poet foundation? The answer is simple: Humanity. A more difficult question would be "what is humanity?" Indeed, the answer has always alluded us. What exactly are we? Are we a thinking beast? Are we the children of some magical Creator, who watches over us? Whatever the case, there always remains the interest of what we are to each other. In some cases, what we are is embedded in our simple existence. We are born brother and sister, daughter and son. What we also are proves a matter of our creation: We are lover, teacher, and friend. The problem becomes one of free will: Why does one choose his or her role? The poet hears the call of language, attempts to create ways to communicate that which has no words, but where does this call come from?

The existential problem is not that there is no purpose. The problem is that we do not understand what we feel within ourselves. We know that it is theoretically possible to have no reason to exist, but still we strive to exist. This is, to some degree, absurdity.

We don't know why we exist, we can come up with only unsatisfying answers, but we still remain, observing our own handiwork with great relish.

We have no purpose which we can understand except for pleasure. We relish in observation, we must see all not only with one sense, but with all our senses, and not only with our senses, but with our mind, our heart and our soul.

I watch, complacent, as the waves crash against the shore, and as the rain trickles down my skin. I think to myself, as I observe, "my god, but life is beautiful." A terrible, powerful, wonderful beauty is born.

HOLY WAR

Posted 19 May 2004, 8.49 pm by shaggy

Lost in comatose breath,
You spill me out amongst the
Stars, where wondrous
Death breaks me down,
And self-sustained but tired,
I play the gentle trick I've
Always known: Repeat with me
The marks on the doorways.
We cannot see them,
But without them, we drown.

THE POETICS OF PAIN

Posted 11 May 2004, 8.21 pm by shaggy

The amateur poet turns to poesie's seductive path often as catharsis. Like religion, poetic contemplation gives meaning and order to an otherwise dreary state. Just as George Orwell admitted in 1984, "the greatest book is one that tells you what you already know." So is the case with poetry. Poetry (and by which I mean fiction in general) gives the reader glimpses of a solution. They can be only glimpses, only momentary, because of subjectivity. The author cannot solve all problems, but can merely posit answers to the questions he has experienced for himself. Even to make up a fictitious problem is to deal with it through experience, and this is the power of our great authors. Poe did not need to be haunted literally in order to have his "Tell-Tale Heart;" he massaged his own experiences into an all-new creation, projected as a discussion of guilt and Poe's (in)famous Imp of the Perverse.

Of course, there is such a thing as fiction which serves as autobiography. Pierre Drieu la Rochelle's Will O' The Wisp offers a startling glimpse into the mind of the troubled. Indeed, to read la Rochelle's words is to become troubled. But even here, there is comfort: someone has been in this situation before.

Even if our heroes do not survive, or even if our hero is Prufrock, we can still move on if we remain connected to each other. If fiction brings the reader into the author's world, Poetry is a kiss. That feeling we as humans need so much, that shiver down the spine of the lover as he kisses, is our greatness.

Even through darkness, knowing we are more than one, knowing that I am many, gives us strength. This is why literature has always acted like religion, and vice versa. It tells us what to do when we are lost. This becomes the dilemma for the poet, then. What remains to be solved? What secret passages need to be mapped? We can leave no stone unturned, no word unspoken. There may be no orginal phrasing, there might not even be any original problems, but the ever-changing world constantly kills off our forgotten poets, leaving their song as only a memory in the few minds that have heard.

Whenever the well-read poet runs into a situation without answers, poetry is born. Even the most well-read and astute student must inevitably say to himself, "where is my answer? Where is my God, my Zarathustra, my burning bush?" At these moments, the poet may not shine in his decisions, but as Nietzsche would praise, the poet proves to himself that he can stand through his greatest lover and enemy: confusion.

There is nothing more painful to the philosopher poet than confusion. Both the poet and the philosopher work in arguments, either syllogisms or emotional metaphors. Both implore that we not only see the world past Plato's shadows on the wall, but understand it and ourselves.

sophrosyne -- "know thyself and nothing in excess." Following the Greek attribute is not always simple, or even easy; this is where the philosopher and/or poet lends a helping hand to wisdom.

In a world of Nietzschean eternal return, where culture and society repeat themselves, there is a great challenge to the poet. Dream images, no matter how personal, become potentials for plagarism. So the existentialist problem becomes even more absurd, and the absurdity a function of education (or perhaps of archetype).

The importance of experience grows exponentially. The old aphorism, "if I could have know back then what I know now," separates the immature poet and the mature scholar of poesy. Both poets are equal in importance. The immature poet encourages well-meaning naivité, where the mature scholar speaks of things as they should be, as the wise voice that speaks of what the confused need (though often at first cannot find).

With this in mind, it becomes apparent that the problem of consciousness is not to "bridge the gap" between our understanding and Kantian things-in-themselves, at least not completely. Though we can never understand what exists outside of the mind, the problem (at least for the poet) is to understand what is universal in mind and contemplation. There is little in consciousness that is particular. This is why plagarism is almost-- if not completely-- unavoidable. The most seemingly random thought still has been organized by the mind, and though the mind holds many variables (necessary for evolution of any sort), there is an amazing overlap for procedures.

This, incidentally, is also how we can ever know one another. This is how we can sympathize with the pain of another.

The duty of poetry is, in essence, healing. Because we can know of our many similarities, this wisdom comes with the responsibility of exposition. With poetry, the feeling of disconnection that one may suffer from can be healed. We all are, to some extent, sufferers like Prufrock, and poetry begins to allow ourselves forgiveness for this, acknowledgement that we exist inside our skin, though we so rarely admit such a thing. We both contemplate the great questions (existential, nihilist, religious, et alia) and worry about our thinning hair and if we "dare eat a peach."

We are both simple and complex simultaneously.

VICTIMS

Posted 11 May 2004, 8.16 pm by shaggy

Do not remember me,
As I am gone.
Do not forget me,
As I have lost.
Take me as your own,
Use my blood to drink
To help you as you think.
This was not my game,
But I am dead, all the same.
People tell me that I'm gone.
How can I be? I live on
In my words, in my life.
History saves me, paints my swollen face
On the pages of man where one expects grace.
I am not gone, but a dark reminder:
Things need to change.

The Observer at the End of Time

Posted 9 May 2004, 4.49 pm by Alexander

Of the many startling ideas to emerge from Relativity and Quantum Physics (time dilation,gravity lenses,black holes, sub-atomic particles etc.) possibly the most startling of all is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle which suggests, in simple terms, that nothing can be said to exist until it's observed.

Electrons don't spin sedately around the nucleus, as Newtonian mechanics would have it, but rather exist as a sort of haze, representing the probability of their being in any one place at any one time.

Some scientists see the involvement of the observer as the most important feature in quantum theory. Until the observer observes, subatomic particles can be said to exist anywhere, or not at all. Only in the act of observation is the particle brought into existence, so to speak.

How does this relate to us? Well this is where the Participatory Anthropic principle comes in. On a subatomic scale, quantum phenomena are only brought into existence by observation;but the entire universe is made up of nothing but a vast multiplicity of quantum events interacting on a monumental scale. Do we need any other explanatory device for the whole of the cosmos? If not, then the universe has been brought into being by countless acts of observation, by all the observers who have ever existed, exist now, and will ever exist in the future.

Not convinced? Quasars are believed to be the most distant objects ever observed. They're about 90,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles away. This means they existed about 15 billion years ago, because the light took that long to reach us. When we observe them, therefore, we're looking billions of years into the past, to the early days of the universe. The participatory anthropic principle suggests that the quasar didn't exist until the light from it was observed - before which it was a possibility, a hazy electron.

The Participatory Anthropic Principle view of the universe makes it a kind of self-perpetuating loop. The Big Bang takes place, stars and planets develop, life begins, the universe is observed further and further into the past - and as such the distant past is projected from the far future. The observer at the end of time brings all the past into existence.

So what happens if all life is extinguished, if there is no observer at the end of time? The whole universe will cease to exist, and will cease to have ever existed. How to account for this? If we exist now, it must mean that there will always be a future observer to bring us into existence. This is the essence of the Final Anthropic Principle, which states that once intelligent life exists, it will continue to exist until the end of time, and spread throughout the entire universe. If organic life isn't up to the task, intelligent self-reproducing machines will do instead. Life, after all, is a sum of knowledge. All our knowledge, all our culture, all that is the essence of our intelligent existence, can be carried throughout the universe by such machines, thus perpetuating life forever, and accumulating all the knowledge that there is to know, and observing all that there is to observe, until the end of time.

These ideas bear a striking resemblance to the Hindu belief in the Dance of Shiva, in which Shiva brings the universe into existence with his dancing. When he stops dancing (observing?), the universe ceases to exist.

Christians, too, can draw comfort of sorts from the above. They're taught that God has always existed, and will always exist, that he is omniscient and omnipotent. The thought may not greatly appeal to Christians, but is God the observer at the end of time? Is God an unimaginably large number of intelligent machines spread across the universe? Is God, after all, the Son of Man?

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Complete Chaos

Posted 2 May 2004, 3.40 pm by Alexander

As user submissions are a little thin on the ground at the moment, I'm going to hold you all to ransom by posting my old articles, back in the day when I actually used to write for this site (and quite a few others). If you want them to stop, you'd better start submitting your own stuff.

------------------------------------

I was arguing with a friend of mine the other day, as I tend to do, about the concept of complete chaos.

My main assertion was that complete chaos cannot exist by definition. Chaos can only exist within an ordered structure. It's not just a matter of context either - I'm not talking semantics here. Think about it. Chaos by itself is not chaos, it's nothingness. Without a speck of order there is no matter, no rationale for chaos to deconstruct. What does chaos consist of? Randomness? Even a random number is made of accepted integers.

As an example my friend cited the mentally ill, the true schizophrenics. Aren't their minds in complete chaos? No. Without even a shred of order their mind would not be a mind it would become an abstract, and their physical form with it. Complete chaos would have to scramble everything, from gene strands to atoms to light. It is the completeness of the chaos that is impossible within the accepted regimen of our existence.

Now, I do believe chaos can exist in degrees, and in context of an accepted ordered infrastructure, but complete chaos? There is no such animal, not even theoretically.

What do you think?

Senior Citizens are entitled to half fare upon presentation...

Posted 14 April 2004, 2.44 am by Indigo

I've always wanted to write an anthology of stories about people I see on the bus. I'm obsessed, it's a sickness. I even have a notebook where I write the things I see and the emotions I feel from watching people on the bus. Here's my first ever bus person.



Her hands shook with arthritis as she counted out eight quarters.

"Two Dollars.." she said, shaking her thin tooblonde hair "Rediculous."

The bus driver looked caught between interjecting some pearl of wisdom and staying quiet for his own good. The woman looked to be in her late sixties. Her hair was dyed and fried, and she fought to keep her lips pressed closed in a tight frown. This was difficult because the weight of age was dragging her chin down, trying to part her thin
red pressed-together-till-they-hurt lips. The folds of her skin seemed heavy and stretched from the stress of a life writing it's final chapter against time and gravity and death and other lovely inevitable things.

She managed to haughtily stumble up the steps, and the driver caught her by the elbow, pursing his lips and looking slightly to her left, a little above her shoulder, the displaced eye contact reminicent of a blind man, but more common of a "respectful" younger person in regards to someone so old that it was impossible not to stare.

"Ma'am..." he said, requesting her attention, although he had her by the elbow. "Ma'am." he asked again. She did nothing but look down at him, ignoring the people shifting uneasily in their seats, averting their eyes, raising their books.

"You...only have to pay half fare, ma'am." he said, sounding short of breath, sounding put off, sounding sad.

"What?" She asked, not out of deafness but out of confusion and hurt.

"You...need only show me.." the next words he mumbled, but then with his eyes in that annoying 'Hey look over there before my eyes fly out of my skull' way, he motioned to a sign above his seat that read:

Senior Citizens
are entitled to
half-fare upon
presentation of
a Medicare card.

She squinted at it. It made her contacts feel dry and her hands feel like they'd been dipped in chalk. She dumped all the quarters in her hand into the change machine, and the thing registered $3.75.

"Shove that sign up your ass." She said, sweetly, and stumbled down the aisle to sit next to one of those troublemaker-looking young men who was not looking over her shoulder, but right at her sagging, wrinkled face, as he said in his young troublemaker way; "Nice."

After Amber Died

Posted 13 April 2004, 10.58 pm by ArtemisKat

"You've got the pick-up back on the road, right?" Bill asked, breaking the painful silence between the two of them.
Jody's curt one word reply brought back the barely shattered ice as the two of them stood in the bitter winter gale. They stared alternately at one another and the still steaming body lying in now scarlet snow.
Taking a step toward Jody, Bill began to speak, a note of hesitancy in his voice. "it wasn't fair of Anders to have you shoot her. You've cared for that horse, and all his horses, for years." He stopped for a moment and scratched his balding head with the hand not holding his ancient hunting cap. "I know you loved the horse. You loved her more than that little snot, Evie, ever did, but we've got a job to do. Save your mourning for later, or you'll have lost more than just this one horse."
Jody opened her mouth to speak, then snapped it shut again. What did Bill know about these things? Amber was the first foal she'd ever helped to birth. When the mare died, it was Jody who kept that spindly-legged filly going. It was she who set up camp in the next stall and she who bottle fed the little motherless bundle of energy quivering on four very unsteady legs.
Finally Jody nodded, "Lets go get the truck, Bill," she said turning her back on the form which has so recently held a life force inextricably twined with her own.
As she trudged through the snow, Jody could feel Bill's eyes on her back. Hearing him heave a tremendous sigh, Jody half turned and said, "It's not your fault either, you know. Anders should have listened when you told him she wasn't in any condition to be exercised."
Driving back to The Death Spot, the air between them continued to be empty, though filled with an almost painful static charge. Upon arriving back at the site, Bill immediately jumped out of the truck and directed Jody as she backed near to the vacant corpse.
Climbing in the back of the half ton pick up, Jody grabbed the ropes and threw them over the duel rear wheels to a teary-eyed Bill. Catching sight of his eye, she straightened up sharply and asked in disbelief, "Are you crying?"
He simply turned his head and remained quietly waiting for the rest of the equipment.
"Bill, I'm so sorry. I...I...just don't know how to deal with this. I've seen death before. I mean, I've caused death before, just like this, but it's so different this time. I just..." she trailed off at a loss for words.
Bill wiped his eyes, stood taller and replied with an abnormal gentleness in his voice, "It's alright Jody. But for now, let's just get this done as quickly as possible. I have kids waiting at home for Santa to bring them their presents, and I'm not the only one with someone waiting."
Sighing, Jody nodded and grabbed the ply-wood boards lying in the bed. She pushed them off the back and created a ramp up which they would drag the horse just like they would a deer shot for food, or a large wolf shot to keep the other animals safe. Jody marveled at how impersonal it suddenly seemed.
Mild grunts and the sound of horse hide scraping wood were all that could be heard for the next half hour. Every so often Jody would catch Bill glancing at her, an indecipherable expression on his.
Suddenly infuriated by his silence and strange air, Jody gave one great heave. In the next instant she found herself lying on her back in the cold, sticky snow wonder what the hell had happened. Bill's face appeared at the edge of the truck.
"Well, I guess that's one way to get this job finished quickly," he said with a rough laugh. "But did you really have to take a flying leap backward? I'd have thought you'd have wanted to stay a bit drier than that."
Grinning wickedly Jody scooped up a handful of snow and jumped to her feet. In one swift motion she had Bill's bright red face well washed. It took but a moment for her to sober up again.
"Let's head out to the factory and get rid of this lump," she said with far too much callousness to her voice to be convincing.

"What's done is done," Jody whispered. They placed the tattered black hat with its red band on the head of the giant snowman now standing as a memorial to the third lost horse of the winter. "When will Anders learn? When will he understand that these horses have legs too delicate to be racing on icy trails full of pits and holes in the middle of December? He loses horses every winter, although never this many at once. I don't understand. How can he afford it?"
Walking away, Jody turned around for one more look at the site. No trace of blood remained, only the sad Frosty, weeping in his own way and waving at the sky with his empty black arm.
"He looks like death, hiding under a cover of peaceful snow, just waiting for his next victim," Jody thought.

I appreciate constructive critism greatly. If you have any, I'd also appreciate if you'd let me know whether I can contact you to talk about your suggestions and get further advice.

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This is again from the 'Faces of Death' cycle. In this piece, the mottled effect was produced by flicking turpentine at the image once it was smeared into the ink.


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80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?

* Alexander wonders if this still works

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