Tangia--discussion   (part 0)

to Gabi
    AA, 2013-06-09

These discussion notes are meant to assist aspiring working poets. I hope that they may be of interest also to other readers who enjoy poetry. (The front page for poetry on this site is Tangia).


Why "Tangia"? Why not "Poetry"?

Different people understand poetry differently. I'd like to avoid pointless arguing about what is truly poetry. Instead I talk about Tangia (always upper case T). Tangia is what I say it is. But for practical reasons I will still use the term poetry most of the time.

I'll write about etymology of the term Tangia below in the short section about

Times and places. Poetry exists.

Poetry (Tangia) exists most everywhere on Earth within the folk poetry. There were also times and places when poetry had special social status.

Let me mention ahead of time that the folk poetry and the oriental poetry characteristically was using juxtaposition while skaldic poetry used diagonal kenning. (Of course poetry everywhere is using also metaphors and similes). More about it later.

Short definition of poetry

Tangia is a text which expresses sensual experience--real or ficticious, and which induces in the reader the meaning and emotions which go far beyond the literal text itself.

Sensual experiences are: image (including light intensity, color, shape, texture), movement (including the changes of tempo), sound, smell, temperature, texture of materials, ...-- in short, these are sensations perceived by senses: eye, ear, nose, tongue, skin.

The text itself should be limited to sensual sensations. But the impact of the poem on the reader should go much further than a simple physical record. That impact should be achieved without any additional general abstract words.

Things don't have to be 100% according to the general principles. Impurity is essential to a pearl. The same holds for art. There is room for yin and yang. Also, the voice of the lyrical subject of a poem is somewhat privileged. Such privileges should not be abused though, authors should apply discretion.

Two sources, two levels.

When reading a poem the Tangia reader gets the sensual impressions from two sources:

One could say that ultimately these two sources (the described scene and the physical quality of the text) have one joint source, the text itself. However there are two levels of perceiving it. One is physical (material), like the way you perceive not a text but a tree or a wall--you disregard the meaning of the words and phrases. The other level is higher--you disregard the physical quality of the text, and you are concerned with the interpretation of the words and phrases (at first with the direct interpretation, and then with your own induced reflections).


John von Neumann was the first to understand life, the very possibility of self-reproduction of complex creatures. An organism, using a bit of simplified biological language, includes a DNA plate, which stores a recipe of how to make a copy of that same organism. The recipe includes an instruction which says that it itself should be a part of the organism. On one hand the DNA plate is interpreted on a higher level as a text which has to be in a (mechanical) sense understood, and on the other hand the same DNA plate exists as a material part of the organism, just as a knee or a finger. A poem is like a DNA plate. It should be interpreted as a text, while at the same time it exists also literally, as a physical sound object, and--since the advent of written language-which has a look.