Poetry in the digital age: A Heideggerian account
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For Heidegger, technology is the greatest danger because, it blocks the unconcealment of truth. As Heidegger equates poetry with truth, such a view of technology implies bleak consequences for poetry; in fact, it questions the possibility of great poetry in this age. To speak of technology now, means to speak of digital devices and processes. If Heidegger’s account of technology is still relevant, then it must account for the digital. This thesis argues that Heidegger’s view of technology is appropriate to the digital, understood as an intensification of technology, in which the Cartesian subject is recast as standing reserve. In this way, Heidegger’s account provides a powerful way to interrogate movements in contemporary poetry. Heidegger understands poetry and technology in terms of metaphysics. In the earlier works, he characterized metaphysics in terms of a number of binary dualism such as the subject/object dichotomy, and of particular relevance here the literal/figurative divide. In a technological age, these binaries are dissolved. This, however, does not represent an overcoming of metaphysics but, rather it heralds an age where both the modernist subjects and objects are enframed. The literal/figurative divide is also blurred in technology. Heidegger argues that aesthetic accounts cannot not explain great poetry, because they mischaracterize its Saying in terms of metaphor. However, in technology things lose their ability to metaphorically stand-in for something else; they are disclosed merely as standing reserve. Because of this, aesthetic accounts can no longer account for contemporary poetic metaphor. The post-internet poetry of Sam Riviere shows us how things presence in the age of Google, simply as orderable stock, and furthermore it discloses how Google, as enframing, is the essence of the technology. In this way, Riviere’s poetry goes some way toward a poetic confrontation with technology, but ultimately, remains within trapped within the metaphysics of technology.