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John Maeda said, As we both have an arts background, the word “integrity” has special meaning. She said resolutely, “Integrity equals consistency.”

Ah, interesting odd tidbit.

Internal consistency is my nemesis. Consistency, aka “voice” – those subjects, attitudes, moods, syntax, lineations, cleverness ratio, densities, language register – which some aspire to, to make it seem like one knows what one is doing because one is making a reliable caricature, a personal brand, a polished set that looks intentional because it has one feel to it. This could add up to a whole, easily balanced to the idea that everything one makes adds towards a life poem.

I disprefer the everything agreeing. I like things to jangle and not pretend there is ever one thing, one monolithic prevailing mood, subject or object. It is a blinkeredness that I find unsettling, hazardous, oppressive. If one is to arbitrarily pick a set of things and make everything reconcile or relate to those things, one is ignoring or resisting all else. Why does that bother me so. I like a simple pattern. I like it interrupted better. Some wabi sabi to acknowledge that the sample of similar has an error.

Knowing my penchant for this, I work against it as well to make a set that is smooth, playing make-believe that there can be one led-by-the-nose-narrative-arc that isn’t so wed to random and mismatched elements. If I only make uneven then it is as false as to only make pretty.

I like the swatch more than the overall. Consistency in practice makes me fear for the well-being of the maker to keep oneself in a small box without resolving past it. Even if the box is of bliss, it is a box. Even if it is a large box, the corners are too predictable and square.

Even if it hard to do the box well and one could do it for a lifetime without attaining perfection…maybe I’m just claustrophobic. Or a.d.d. Or untrusting of being pinned within something and missing out on other things. But if one is speculatively surveying other options, one loses the richness at hand, can’t invest in delving and those rewards. Hm, nope, still haven’t convinced myself.

Maybe my trip is that if you are doing what logically follows, you are doing what you should. To be disciplined or specialized in such a way, you omit messy unfitting bits. I value the unfitting bits but it’s a complementary relationship. You can’t have bits that don’t fit unless you have a straight man for its comedy or contrast to give each part significance.

In Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry: Essays by Jane Hirschfield, on p. 45, she said

Syntax and form are also worldview; a poem’s perception and its linguistic surface are inseparably fused If they are not the poem’s possible discoveries will be squandered, falling into either mannered or incoherence.

I don’t think that that is the necessary outcome. Perhaps tho, the off-note will ring, same as any time one writes about control in blank verse or about randomness in a rhymed lipogram. But tension between the worldviews gives some animation. Who has one worldview, one role in life? Isn’t keeping parallel systems that rise in context more common as we adapt to the zeitgeist of each scene? Some people are integrated more, some echo more but both seem a hemming towards rather than the natural free flow.

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Categories: Poetics.

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