The following was written in advance of the happening strangely toward 2011. Here I attempt to unravel the relationship between poetic politics, human agency, and desire, that formed the substance of the work.

It is as though, between my hand and the work, there exists a thread that I must keep delicately taut. The work is as yet unmade. It has not happened, but it has been promised. Can this be said of any work of art? Yes, of course, yet there is something significant about the stubborness with which certain works evade being present. It is as though they would like to dwell a little longer in an undetermined space of their making, where daydreams mingle with desire.

This nacent site where dreams and desire perculate, is also the formative site of human agency. What is agency, but our ability to act on the world, to make our hidden thoughts part of a larger matrix of existence? Moments that constitute significant changes become part of our history. And so agency becomes connected to politics, as a process that can affect change and imbue a thought with a concrete reality.

Not every act is destined to become part of a shared history. And not every thought or dream is meant to become a concrete reality. Poetry is something that resides in the indeterminate world of thoughts. Though it can create an action, indirectly, as a catalyst on the psyche, it exists and is complete before this action. Language is the medium for this strange world.

Of course, writing is itself an act of agency. As such, it makes a decision on a thought to give it form. Though the text is concrete, the images brought up in the text are often unrealized, perhaps unrealizable. Here we can differentiate between a process that fully realizes a thought into concrete reality, and a process like utterance or writing that allows the thought to remain part of both worlds. Language and other forms of communication offer us intermediate states. As thoughts emerge from inner consciousness they achieve different levels of form or formlessness. Thoughts can emerge wholly, partially, or not at all.

If a thought can have many outcomes or no outcomes, what kind of responsibility does this place on us as humans, as agents of our present and possible futures? We cannot anticipate the consequences of an action or utterance. Even the most direct action can have unexpected consequences. Conversely, huge events in humanity’s histories have often been sparked by what would, in another time or place, have remained inconsequential.

This might seem to put humanity in an unequal relationship with its history and future. Circumstances and culture are malleable, but in unexpected and sometimes volatile ways. Perhaps we can look at this unequal relationship as one that gains us considerable freedom in our thought and action. If we can affect history through agency, but have no control over the specific outcomes, then neither should we control our agency.

Myriads of situations become, as they pass out of our present, available as a seeming whole, a past, a history. Yet those myriads of situations, and in turn, the myriads of natural and cultural processes from which those situations were formed, are so unruley, that they inspire in me a desire to affect the world similarly. I have called this tendency ‘poetic politics’.

When we operate poetically, in proximity to politics, we can use our agency in playful ways. An ability to affect change on a situation does not decide the success or failure of a gesture or action. Rather, change becomes only one possible outcome of many. Just as a poem is an end in itself, a gesture of poetic politics resonates similarly. The possibility of acting poetically in the world opens up a vast terrain where we move strangely toward something unknown…