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Dactyls and Pterodactyls: New Convergences of Poetics and Science

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If poetics refers broadly to the principles by which things are made, how is the kind of process that yields poetry (in the narrow sense) related to other kinds of making? This essay explores promising resonances between traditional poetics and new paradigms coming out of complexity and systems theory. Of particular interest is Terrence Deacon’s Incomplete Nature, an account of the relationships among layers of emergent order in the universe, under the heading of a general theory of dynamics. In particular, this essay understands poetry in relation to other kinds of making through three principles Deacon identifies as crucial: constraint, emergence, and absence. These principles tend to validate rather than to undermine traditional accounts of poetic making as inspiration, often involving entification in the form of attribution of creative agency to entities such as muses or to the text itself.


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