112th Annual Conference - Riverside Convention Center, California
Friday, October 31 - Sunday, November 2, 2014

This page is about the 2014 conference. For 2015 conference info, go to PAMLA 2015.

Painting Thinking: Heidegger and the Very Long Poems of A.R. Ammons

Melissa Fabros, University of California, Berkeley

This paper will discuss Heidegger's query of techno-scientific thinking, as rhetoric of violent mastery, and his call for "a comportment which enables us to keep open to the meaning hidden in technology." I pose A.R. Ammons's longform poems as demonstrating Heidegger's conceptualization of a "releasment" that still remains engaged with science

Proposal: 

This paper will discuss Heidegger's query of techno-scientific thinking, as rhetoric of violent mastery, and his call for "a comportment which enables us to keep open to the meaning hidden in technology". I pose A.R. Ammons's long-form poems as demonstrating Heidegger's conceptualization of a "releasement" that still remains engages with science and knowledge making.

This paper draws its conceptual framework from Heidegger's writings on science and technology and Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars such as Lucas Introna. The papers will discuss Heidegger's call for an alternative rhetoric for knowledge building than the one used for science, and STS's further investigations of Heidegger's initial formulations, and how Ammons poetry may imagine a model of “Beyond Techno-Scientific Thinking” (Guzzoni).

Ammons's methodology for his longer poems are based on writing daily over the course of weeks and months, as in the case of Tape for the Turn of the Year, Hibernaculum, Glare, and the Snow Poems.  These poems often capture Ammons's daily thoughts and local happenings. Much like Frank O'Hara, Ammons's work is often highly historically embedded. While Frank O'Hara's work provides snapshots of culture and history, Ammons, particularly in the long form poems, illustrates more accurately “being in time,” inclusive of everyday life's boredom, doubt, and frustration. These long form poems are highly dependent on “encounters with things,” whether the things comes from nature or man; the “things” that Ammons's encounters fundamentally construct these poems. Ammons's poems that record over time the poet's daily encounters with things—a literal “poetic dwelling with things” –animate Heidgegger's proposition that “painting thinking” and “releasement” provides an rhetorical antidote/alternative to the violence of science's rhetoric of mastery and calculation (Introna).

Ammons's incorporation of “things” or technology's artifacts model an ethical stance proposed by STS scholars. In Science and Technology Studies, critics propose an attitude that sees “things” as more than humans' technological artifacts, and they pose that things independently shape human “being.” Thusly, humans should adopt a new ethics of things—“an ethos beyond ethics, or the overcoming of an ethics based on human willing towards an ethos of letting be” (Introna). I see Ammons's work as participating in early conceptualizations of the "ethics of things", and thereby, this paper hopes to initiate discussion on ways poetry might find purchase in the field of Science and Technology Studies.

Works Cited:

Introna, Lucas D. "Ethics and the speaking of things." Theory, Culture & Society 26.4 (2009): 25-46.

Guzzoni , Ute. “Gelassenheit: Beyond Techno-Scientific Thinking .” Glazebrook, Trish, ed. Heidegger on Science. SUNY Press, 2012.