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Cognitive ecology & visual poetry : toward a multimodal cognitive poetics Borkent, Michael 2015

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  COGNITIVE ECOLOGY & VISUAL POETRY: TOWARD A MULTIMODAL COGNITIVE POETICS  by  MICHAEL BORKENT  B.A., The University of Victoria, 2004 B.Ed. (Secondary), The University of Victoria, 2007 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 2009  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (English)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) April 2015   © Michael Borkent, 2015   ii Abstract In this dissertation I offer a new approach to North American visual poetry. I develop an eco-cognitive analysis of visual poetic features and bring them into critical dialogue with other literary genres. I focus primarily on the Canadian tradition and reception of visual poetry, using it as a helpful microcosm for discussions of poetic influence and critical engagement, while also bringing it into dialogue with experimental and lyrical transnational Anglophone poetry and poetics. I propose an interdisciplinary methodology that addresses visual poetry as a hybrid of verbal, visual, and tactile modes of communication. I discuss visual poetry from the perspective of conceptual mechanisms that produce specific interpretive possibilities, thereby offering a more robust account of how visual poems specifically interact with the materiality of print culture. I begin by defining multimodal literature and visual poetry and outlining a multimodal approach to media that bridges traditional poetic and hermeneutic approaches. I propose a model of cognitive ecology as a framework that meets the needs of visual poetic criticism. In particular, I rely on research into perception, mental simulation, and conceptual integration to show how communicative modalities are transformed to yield synthetic multimodal understandings of hybrid texts. Furthermore, I consider common cognitive biases to expose the underlying fallacious assumptions in several poetic, critical, and popular approaches to visual poetry in Canada and abroad. I then show how my eco-cognitive framework offers a more productive understanding of the interactions between modalities.  I offer critical tools which view the poems as multimodal anchors for conceptualization, thereby distinguishing between multimodal textuality and the readerly experience of it.  Finally, I develop a theory of cognitive improvisation which addresses how even illegible or abstract cues in visual poetry can prompt meaningful interpretations. I argue that all experiences of texts involve some level of cognitive improvisation, but that visual poetry foregrounds this aspect of everyday creativity. Finally, I show how this multimodal cognitive poetics extends naturally to other forms of multimodal literature, especially comics and  graphic novels.  iii Preface  This dissertation contains original, primarily unpublished, independent research by the author, Michael (Mike) Borkent.   Permissions have been sought for all figures included in this dissertation. Copyright, along with my gratitude, remains with the authors and estates: Nelson Ball, Daniel f. Bradley, Gary Barwin, derek beaulieu, bill bissett, Christian Bök, Lindsay Cahill, Estate of Barbara Caruso, jwcurry, Marita Dachsel, Lisa David and the Zallinger Family, LLC, Paul Dutton, David Ellingsen, Jesse Patrick Ferguson, The Globe and Mail, LeRoy Gorman, Helen Hajnoczky, Brian Henderson, Marshal Hryciuk, peggy lefler, Donato Mancini, Steve McCaffery, Gustave Morin, Estate of bpNichol, Eleanor Nichol, Rob Read , Michael V. Smith, Talonbooks, Jillian Tamaki, The University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Collections, Eric Zboya.   A much shorter version of Chapter 5 has been published as “Visual Improvisation: Cognition, Materiality, and Postlinguistic Visual Poetry” by Mike Borkent in Visible Language 48.3 (2014): 4-27. I thank Visible Language for their kind permission to include that material here.   iv Table of Contents 	  Abstract ............................................................................................................. ii	  Preface .............................................................................................................. iii	  Table of Contents ............................................................................................. iv	  List of Figures .................................................................................................. vii	  Acknowledgements .......................................................................................... ix	  Dedication ........................................................................................................ xi	  Chapter 1 - Multimodal Literatures & Literary Criticism ............................... 1	  1.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Multimodal Literatures ......................................................................................... 4 1.2.1 What is Visual Poetry? ..................................................................................... 7	  1.2.2 Canadian Visual Poetry .................................................................................. 13	  1.3 Methods and Modalities ..................................................................................... 19 1.3.1 Critical Approaches: Poetics and Hermeneutics ........................................ 19	  1.3.2 Hybrid Media and Multimodality ................................................................ 23	  1.4 Toward a Multimodal Cognitive Poetics ......................................................... 27 1.4.1 Overview of Subsequent Chapters ................................................................ 34	  Chapter 2 - Cognitive Ecology & Multimodal Meaning ................................ 38	  2.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................... 38 2.2 Cognitive Ecology and Material Culture .......................................................... 44 2.2.1 Intersubjectivity and Construal ..................................................................... 51	  2.3 Attenuated Cognition and Mental Simulation ................................................ 56 2.4 Cognitive Phenomena ......................................................................................... 64 2.4.1 Niches, Attention, and Affordances: Material Possibilities ....................... 67	  2.4.2 Fictivity ............................................................................................................. 71	  2.4.3 Gestalts, Image Schemas, and Primary Scenes ............................................ 73	  2.4.4 Frames and Domains ...................................................................................... 78	  2.4.5 Dissonance: Frame Conflict and Frame Shifting ........................................ 83	  2.5 Blending and Creativity ...................................................................................... 86 2.6 Cognitive Ecology and Multimodal Literatures .............................................. 90 Chapter 3 - Visual Poetic Fallacies, Contexts, & Cognition .......................... 94	  3.1 Reading Alternatives ........................................................................................... 94   v 3.2 Reading the Horizons of the Publishable ......................................................... 96 3.3 Intermedia and Representational Fallacies .................................................... 104 3.4 Materiality and Literary Scenes ....................................................................... 112 3.4.1 Print Hybridity and the Rise of Visual Poetry .......................................... 112	  3.4.2 Art Manifestoes and Visual Poetry ............................................................. 121	  3.4.3 Clean and Dirty Visual Poetry ..................................................................... 130	  3.4.4 Late Canadian Visual Poetry ....................................................................... 135	  3.5 Canadian Heterodoxy and Poetic Politics ..................................................... 144 3.5.1 Experimentation and Heterodoxy .............................................................. 144	  3.5.2 Lazy Jerkism: Poetic Politics and the Conduit Fallacy ............................. 156	  Chapter 4 - Multimodal Poetic Anchors in Cognitive Ecology ................... 163	  4.1 Visual Poetry and Multimodal Anchors ........................................................ 163 4.2 An H in the Heart: Gestalt Phenomena ......................................................... 168 4.2.1 Barbara Caruso’s Postmodern Memorial .................................................. 170	  4.2.2 Rob Read and the Ascension of St. Art ...................................................... 175	  4.3 Landscapes: Embodied Viewpoints ................................................................ 181 4.3.1 Pondwise Barwin and beaulieu ................................................................... 183	  4.3.2 Gustave Morin’s Atomic Traversals ........................................................... 187	  4.4 Cartographic Subjects: Distanced Viewpoints .............................................. 195 4.4.1 jw curry and peggy lefler’s Complex City .................................................. 196	  4.4.2 Daniel f. Bradley’s Traveler .......................................................................... 207	  4.5 Textualizing Material Culture ......................................................................... 213 4.5.1 Jesse Patrick Ferguson Materializes the Mind .......................................... 213	  4.5.2 Helen Hajnoczky’s Corsetry ........................................................................ 219	  4.5.3 Helen Hajnoczky’s Folk Artistry ................................................................. 223	  4.6 Reading Seeing Readers .................................................................................... 227 Chapter 5 - Cognitive Improvisation & Postlinguistic Visual Poetry ......... 229	  5.1 Postlinguistic Visual Poetry ............................................................................. 230 5.2 Cognition and Improvisation .......................................................................... 238 5.2.1 Improvisational Creation ............................................................................. 241	  5.2.2 Fictivity and Improvisational Reading ....................................................... 246	  5.3  Typographical Postlinguistic Visual Poetry .................................................. 250 5.3.1  beaulieu’s Machinic Disruptions ............................................................... 250	  5.3.2  Mancini’s Sculpted Letters .......................................................................... 255	  5.3.3 Judith Copithorne’s i line ............................................................................. 261	  5.4 Bodily Traces: Asemic Postlinguistic Visual Poetry ..................................... 268 5.4.1: Steve McCaffery’s Need for Speed ............................................................. 273	    vi 5.4.2 Klauder’s and Hryciuk’s Crude Gestures ................................................... 275	  5.4.3 David Ellingsen and Michael V. Smith’s Body Poems ............................. 280	  5.5 Postlinguistic Borderblurs: Hybridized and Rematerialized Poems .......... 283 5.5.1 Hybrid Poetry: Gary Barwin Creatures Language .................................... 284	  5.5.2 Eric Zboya Explodes Language ................................................................... 289	  5.5.3 Visual Poetry and Improvisation Revisited ............................................... 299	  Chapter 6 - Cognitive Futures and Borderblur: A Conclusion ................... 304	  6.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................... 304 6.2 Sequential Visual Poems and Comics ............................................................. 307 6.3  Multimodal Questions ..................................................................................... 321 6.4 Sensuous Scholarship: Multimodality for All ................................................ 325 Bibliography .................................................................................................. 329	  Appendix A: Colophon ................................................................................. 378	     vii List of Figures Figure 1: Untitled visual poem by bpNichol .................................................................................... 3	  Figure 2: Image-text relational potentialities ................................................................................. 26	  Figure 3: Untitled poem by Steve McCaffery ................................................................................. 39	  Figure 4: “The Creatures That Led to Modern Man” by Rudolph Zallinger ............................. 42	  Figure 5: “Narcissus A, 8” by Paul Dutton ..................................................................................... 54	  Figure 6: The duck-rabbit illusion first used by Joseph Jastrow .................................................. 62	  Figure 7: “Gossip" by Melody Wessel .............................................................................................. 70	  Figure 8: untitled poem by bpNichol .............................................................................................. 88	  Figure 9: untitled visual poem by bpNichol ................................................................................... 98	  Figure 10: The emptied box of bpNichol’s Still Water ............................................................... 100	  Figure 11: “Easter Wings” by George Herbert ............................................................................. 115	  Figure 12: Cover image of Bertall's ABC. Trim. Alphabet Enchanté ......................................... 116	  Figure 13: “Christmas Cheer” advertisement in The Globe (Toronto), Dec. 15, 1869 ........... 117	  Figure 14: Cover of Punch in Canada 1(4), March 2, 1849 ........................................................ 117	  Figure 15: Untitled poem by LeRoy Gorman ............................................................................... 133	  Figure 16: Untitled poem by derek beaulieu. ............................................................................... 134	  Figure 17: "stigation" by jw curry ................................................................................................... 139	  Figure 18: “Wife” by Marita Dachsel ............................................................................................. 149	  Figure 19: Untitled poem by Eugen Gomringer .......................................................................... 149	  Figure 20: “circular logic” by Lindsay Cahill ................................................................................ 151	  Figure 21: “H (An Alphabet)” by bpNichol .................................................................................. 169	  Figure 22: "Against Closure: a drawing for bp" by Barbara Caruso .......................................... 173	  Figure 23: "poem for bpNichol" by Rob Read .............................................................................. 176	  Figure 24: “H for bpNichol” by Christian Bök ............................................................................ 180	  Figure 25: "moon over pond" by Gary Barwin & derek beaulieu .............................................. 184	  Figure 26: "cul de sac at the end of finity" by Gustave Morin .................................................... 188	  Figure 27: Untitled poem by Gustave Morin ............................................................................... 194	  Figure 28: "metro" by jwcurry and peggy lefler ............................................................................ 198	    viii Figure 29: Magnified and reoriented section of “metro” ............................................................ 201	  Figure 30: "3 small cities in ontario i have never been to" by Daniel f. Bradley ...................... 209	  Figure 31: "Black Noise" by Jesse Patrick Ferguson ..................................................................... 214	  Figure 32: “Viau’s Corsets” by Helen Hajnoczky ........................................................................ 220	  Figure 33: Untitled poem by Helen Hajnoczky ........................................................................... 224	  Figure 34: untitled poem by derek beaulieu ................................................................................. 236	  Figure 35: Untitled poem from Alphamiricon by Brian Henderson ......................................... 245	  Figure 36: Example of fictive change simulation for top-most letter in Figure 34 ................. 248	  Figure 37: Possible fictive motion paths for Figure 34 ............................................................... 250	  Figure 38: untitled poem by derek beaulieu ................................................................................. 251	  Figure 39: “The Jazzercize Dance of Hope” by Donato Mancini .............................................. 256	  Figure 40: “Literature Prefers Metaphor” by Donato Mancini ................................................. 260	  Figure 41: "The Letter i" by Judith Copithorne ............................................................................ 261	  Figure 42: “A-FRACTAL” by Christian Bök ................................................................................ 267	  Figure 43: An unnumbered page from the 15th century Voynich Manuscript ........................ 270	  Figure 44: Untitled calligraphic poem by Brion Gysin ............................................................... 272	  Figure 45: “Graphetic Study Seven” by Steve McCaffery ........................................................... 273	  Figure 46: Untitled poem by Gerard J. Klauder ........................................................................... 277	  Figure 47: “clouded sulphur” by Marshall Hryciuk .................................................................... 279	  Figure 48: Untitled poem by David Ellingsen and Michael V. Smith ...................................... 281	  Figure 49: Untitled poem by Gary Barwin ................................................................................... 285	  Figure 50: “Alphabetica 6” by Eric Zboya ..................................................................................... 290	  Figure 51: Untitled page from Flatland by derek beaulieu ........................................................ 295	  Figure 52: “life” by Mike Borkent .................................................................................................. 309	  Figure 53: “thers 2 much in my hed agen inklewding th rocks” by bill bissett ....................... 310	  Figure 54: “Hike” by Jillian Tamaki ............................................................................................... 316	    ix Acknowledgements This dissertation would not have been possible without the support, encouragement, mentorship, and friendship of Barbara Dancygier. My thanks to Sherrill Grace and Vin Nardizzi, who have unfailingly provided supportive, critical, and encouraging feedback throughout the development of this work, as well as substantial doses of moral support. Of course, even with their careful attention to my work, all errors, omission, and irregularities found here are my own. I must also acknowledge my intellectual debt to Stephen Scobie for introducing me to bpNichol’s visual poetry many years ago, and to Les Eleanor for introducing me to the joys of literary studies in the first place.  I will always be thankful to members of the TA “Beer Summit” and the Dissertation Writing Group, whose friendship and support throughout the course of my MA and PhD are immeasurable: Sarah Crover, Mark Diotte, Genevieve Gagne-Hawes, John Green, Paisley Mann, Eve Preus—you are the best! I dedicate the use of George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” in Chapter 3 to Mark and Genevieve (it also happens to be relevant to the chapter). Genevieve’s typically well-honed response to this inclusion: “Goddamn it, George Herbert. Always creepin' in.” Thanks for all the good times you guys! I thank the many poets and academics that have inspired my research, and for my family and friends who have sustained it through the years. Your ongoing interest and encouragement have meant a lot. I thank Lieven Vandelanotte and Eve Sweetser for their ongoing support and friendship. I extend my sincere gratitude to Alexander Bergs, Peter Schneck, Thomas Hoffman, and Jens Bonk at the Universität Osnabruck. The times spent   x there was incredibly productive, inspiring, and enjoyable, in no small part due to the many beers and laughs shared with such good company. I am indebted to countless conference attendees, chairs, and organizers for the opportunities to test-run my ideas and to be enriched by critical and informative responses. Many graduate students and faculty members in the Department of English have also been sources of inspiration, debate, and support over the years, for which I am grateful. I especially thank my colleagues and friends at Canadian Literature, Margery Fee, Laura Moss, Glenn Deer, Kathryn Grafton, Judy Brown, Donna Chin, Alissa McArthur, and Jamie Paris; it was a true pleasure working with you. I also thank Louise Soga and Dominique Yupangco for years of great support and laughter.  My thanks to the Department of English (UBC) for their support and mentorship, especially through Teaching Assistantships, Pedagogy Workshops, and the Faculty Research Series. I am also grateful to have received the William Royce Butler and Jean Campbell Butler Scholarship and Gabrielle Helms Memorial Graduate Scholarship. Substantial support was also provided by the University of British Columbia and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This research would not have been possible without all of this generous support.  Most importantly, none of this would have amounted to anything if not for the love, inspiration, support, and patience of my love, Brianna Brash-Nyberg, and our daughters, Madeleine and Zoë. They put up with many conference trips, late nights, and tired daytimes, for which I cannot repay.   xi Dedication        For Brianna, Madeleine, and Zoë   1 Chapter 1  Multimodal Literatures & Literary Criticism  We are living through what might be the greatest age of visual poetry. - Geof Huth1 1.1 Introduction This dissertation originates (1) from my interest in multimodal literatures, in particular visual poetry, (2) in my desire to develop a more comprehensive methodology for its analysis, and (3) in my concern with having these works inform the discourses of poetics dialogue to produce a wider, more varied, and clear view of the issues. Since multimodal literatures—such as the following untitled visual poem by bpNichol (Figure 1)—combine verbal, visual, and material modalities to prompt meanings, I draw from a range of literary, art, and cognitive theories and criticism, especially from research in cognitive science pertaining to how people understand and interpret visual, verbal, and other modalities. This interdisciplinary approach adds to the emerging, interdisciplinary field of cognitive poetics by developing an empirically-informed theoretical model of multimodal reader comprehension. Cognitive poetics2 is motivated by similar questions to what Benjamin Bergen presents as motivating recent studies in cognitive semantics:                                                       1 Huth (2008, n.p.). 2 Cognitive poetics now includes a number of more specific domains of interest. For instance, Stockwell (2009) advocates for a “cognitive stylistics” approach, Oakley (2009) for “cognitive     2 maybe what does X mean? is the wrong question, or at best maybe it’s only part of the question. Perhaps the real question is what are the understanding processes that X invokes? How you put the pieces together and what steps you go through once you’ve assembled them may be equally important as what the pieces are like themselves. (2012, 150)  Bergen’s questions helpfully redirect analytical approaches to examine both readerly experiences of textuality (what Stockwell (2009) calls “texture”) and the underlying mechanisms that produce it.  I follow this reorientation to questions of meaning by developing a cognitive poetic framework and analyzing a variety of visual poems. Throughout the discussion, I argue against iconophobic ideals that linger in criticism and the general literary community, that tend to value the verbal modality over other visual and material modes of communication. Rather, I argue for a more dynamic, interactive and synthetic approach that examines how different modal cues motivate specific readings. Throughout this discussion, I show how visual poems strategically employ connections between perception and conceptualization                                                                                                                                                                         rhetoric,” and Herman (2003, 2010) for “cognitive narratology.” Richardson (2004) offers a helpful overview of a range of these distinctive interests and methodologies. With this wide array of interests, it is at times difficult to say exactly what cognitive poetics is; however, recent years has shown a convergence on embodiment, mental simulation, and conceptual integration theory (blending) as central elements of cognitive cultural studies, areas of research I synthesize in the following chapter. The wide number of papers on these topics at recent conferences in 2013, such as the 1st International Conference on the Cognitive Humanities in Wales, and the Cognition and Poetics conference in Germany, suggest the growing recognition of the importance of these concepts.    3 processes to prompt responses in readers in a way that cannot value one mode over the other but must engage with them through their hybridity. Through this model I trace the processes of readerly creativity involved in developing interpretations of these hybrid works. As such, visual poems invite creative interrogations of their forms and modes through their overt, material manipulations of various aspects of the print (and occasionally digital) medium.    Figure 1: Untitled visual poem by bpNichol (1990, n.p.).  In this chapter, I begin by defining multimodal literatures and visual poetry and locate several challenges for their reception by both popular and scholarly audiences. I discuss how several major critics have called for a reunification of formalist approaches to literature (poetics) with critical hermeneutics to produce a “robust” poetics. The hybridity of visual poetry necessitates such an approach, but only with a more nuanced discussion of poetics and hermeneutics in relation to modalities and media, turning often language-focused practices towards their material substrates. I then show how a multimodal cognitive poetics presents a coherent framework that attends to both the reading experience, in all its modal and material richness, and the mechanisms that make it possible. I then present,   4 through a brief overview of the following chapters, how I address key issues relating to visual poetry through this multifaceted, interdisciplinary approach.  1.2 Multimodal Literatures Multimodal literatures, as their name denotes, are literary artifacts constructed through the use of multiple modalities. Multimodality is best defined as “the multiplicity of semiotic resources within a particular artefact or event. It insists on combination and integration in semiosis, rather than on modes working in isolation” (Gibbons 2012, 5). For example, linguistically constructed texts, such as the traditional novel or poem, employ primarily one particular modality, whereas texts that include more than one modality (such as the combination of drawn lines and words in bpNichol’s poem above) for constructing meaning are multimodal. I will discuss shortly how modalities typically work together to some degree or another, and are not nearly as isolated as they might appear—after all even a printed novel employs visible language (type) to communicate. For now, the division between monomodal and multimodal works is helpful in denoting a general quality in how readers perceive them. Alison Gibbons advocates considering multimodal literatures as a spectrum of different forms, which vary based on their modal usages (3). She focuses on experimental novels, and here I focus on visual poetry, extending the discussion. I could of course have also included a range of other texts under the rubric of multimodal literatures: comics and graphic novels, experimental novels, children’s books, photo essays, artist books, advertisements, emblems, websites, and so on. (I do nod toward comics in the final chapter, but only briefly, by way of example of possible future developments.)   5 I follow Alison Gibbons (2012) in using multimodal literature as shorthand for this range of creative artifacts. I also use it somewhat hesitantly. Combining multimodal and literature together should not be read as a critical prioritization of the “literariness” of these works, which traditionally emphasizes the grounding of meaning in language and literacy (and often with an emphasis on figurative language). Rather, literature is used here to refer to conceptual and poetic affinities to and interactions with literary practices, linguistic and bibliographic assumptions, and other domains of overlap with traditional literary production.3 At the same time, each form of multimodal literature exploits different features of modalities and mediation in unique ways, and in the case of visual poetry often develops a self-reflexive, parodic, and destabilized quality to the works. Thus, multimodal literatures function as a general group through their common employment of visual, verbal, and manual modalities for meaning construction, but they often explore their subjects through different hybrid representational strategies. What has been said of comics can easily extend to other multimodal literatures as well: they are “their own thing” (Wolk 2007, 14; see Ch 1) with their own unique forms and genres. Multimodal literatures are a synthetic art form that blurs the borders between traditional visual, verbal, manual, and kinesthetic arts. I do not feel it                                                       3 I hope to avoid here an analogous rendition of the erroneous over-usage of the term “graphic novel” and the resultant debates that have ensued over when it is applicable. In that case, many comics are not graphic novels, even when published in a long form (the term implies that all of them are of significant length and complexity and are fictitious), but rather include a wide array of lengths, formats, and both fictional and non-fictional content. While “multimodal literatures” is helpful, more distinctions will continue to need to be made between the different forms that fall within this umbrella term.   6 necessary to make claims about how multimodal literatures are and are not literature, which would be more self-justifying than helpful (and, honestly, who can really define what literature is?). Rather, I seek to show how visual poetry prompts complex conceptualization processes while interrogating received notions of language and communication. Such challenges are often considered the domain of literature, and as such, this dissertation asserts the literariness of visual poems simply by attending closely to their complexity. Multimodal literatures provide a fascinating type of literary artifact that has often been excluded from critical purview, likely due to its exploitation and exploration of modalities and representation, experimenting with the traditional parameters of narrativity and poeticity as defined by language and literacy through and through. As book history scholars like Jerome McGann (1991; 1993) and George Bornstein (2001) argue, the material conditions of production and presentation, and many other issues surrounding editing and development, play a significant role in how literature is defined, read, and interpreted. Similarly, literary and cultural critics are turning more and more towards multimodal sources and recognizing the limitations of the “literacy myth,” which places the understanding of visible language as the marker of true civility and progress (Graff 2011). Scholars in cultural and Indigenous studies argue that assumptions relating to literature and literacy are directly tied to colonial notions of cultural nationalism and progress and ignore the many other material and performative ways that cultural ways of knowing are represented and   7 propagated (Teuton 2010).4 Focusing on multimodal meaning construction, as I do here in relation to visual poetry, recognizes the importance of these different modes within a coherent model of comprehension. The breadth of representational styles within visual poetry alone reveals the inherent complexity of multimodal literatures (and other forms of multimodal communication) that requires a flexible critical methodology. To address the challenges and questions these works present to contemporary literary critics I enact a double-agenda: (1) I provide a cognitive-analytic methodology to illustrate the complexity of  conceptualizations prompted by visual poetry, and (2) I show how visual poems offer crucial contributions to literary studies by exposing key questions pertaining to expressivity, modalities, mediation, and the role of the reader in navigating this complex multimodal terrain.    1.2.1 What is Visual Poetry? Visual poetry provides a particularly useful type of multimodal literature through which to explore different issues of multimodality because of the diversity of its hybrid forms that blend or integrate the modes to varying degrees while also remaining relatively short. Thus, a wide array of forms and modal interactions can be engaged with relatively quickly.                                                        4 For instance, Gingell and Roy (2012) argue for the employment of the term “orature” to recognize Indigenous non-literate (as in not documented in visible language) forms of storytelling and poetry performance which fall outside of the domain of literature and literacy, but which are none-the-less complex multimodal performances of cultural history and identity. We could also add “visuoture” or the like to acknowledge the range of the glyphic and iconic visual lexicons that inform most cultures.   8 Here, I should note that I am employing the specific phrase “visual poetry” rather than an older phrase often considered to be a synonym: “concrete poetry.” While visually informed works were initially popularized through the International Concrete Poetry Movement (to be discussed more in Chapter 3), concrete poetry has since come to include other forms of materially and modally-focused experimental works, such as sound and kinesthetic poetry (Balan 2002). Thus, concrete poetry has become a general term that includes several forms of materialist poetry, including the more specific form of visual poetry. Several of the poets discussed in this dissertation are involved in more than one form of concrete poetry, and as such, could also be called concrete poets, but since I am focusing primarily on one aspect of their work, and for the sake of clarity, I refer to them as visual poets.   Visual poems are “an ongoing return to and encounter with the creative ground state and the charged space of the working surface” (McElroy 2000, 10), a surface that affords a range of material and modal opportunities for expression and play. As multimodal compositions, these works employ verbal, visual (which includes typography, drawings, and spatial arrangements), and occasionally kinesthetic or manual elements (such as page turns, size, and bindings) to construct meanings. Visual poetry often reflect the spectrum of interactions that W.J.T. Mitchell refers to as “image/text,” “image-text,” and “imagetext” in   9 Picture Theory (see 1994, 89 n9), in order to illustrate the disparate, composite, or synthetic relations (respectively) between modalities.5  However, as I show throughout the examples in this dissertation, the relations between modalities often transform as readers engage with a poem, and thus, the form plays dual or multiple signifying roles in the unfolding development of comprehension. For instance, in the example from bpNichol above, are these just curved lines that guide us to construct the frog from the fragments of other words, or are they also the pond’s embankment and the frog’s trajectory into the pond? Likewise, is fr just a word fragment, or a tuft of grass on the embankment and an incomplete glimpse of the frog before it disappears into the water, to linger in the mental ears of the viewer only as pure sound? Through this multimodality and flexibility, such works pose substantial questions to literary critics. For instance, how do we articulate the communicability of forms and images in conjunction with literary and linguistic forms, especially when such forms seem to be duplicitous? Which approaches help in the critical analysis of distinctions and connections between modes, and which hamper it? What readerly dispositions inform the interpretation of simultaneous uses of different modes, and how do these impact modal relations as meaning is constructed in the “reading” process? How do these associations reflect connections between perceptual and conceptual processes, and how does this engage with issues of seeing, reading, and                                                       5 Other models of image-text relations are also available, but are less supportive of critical analysis. For example, Richard Kostelanetz (1970) offers the dichotomy of “imaged words” and “worded images,” but I find this maintains a sense of one modality always dominating the other rather than the spectral hybridity that I wish to affirm.   10 understanding? How can we approach these complex and dynamic connections and inferences critically? Jack David notes in a general introduction to bpNichol’s concrete poetry, that  [w]e have grown accustomed to seeing words as symbols only; now let the words be visual symbols and objects.  This is Nichol’s interpretation of allegory – to speak otherwise than one seems to speak.  Here, the letters look otherwise than they seem to look. (1980, 17) Vanessa Place and Robert Fitterman, in their popular Notes On Conceptualisms (2013 [2009]), describe conceptual writing—a theoretical and creative practice in which contemporary visual poetry participates—in similar ways. They observe that “conceptual writing is allegorical writing” through which “words have been given ontological heft as things” (13). They go on to show how conceptual poetry is richly invested in materiality, which includes attending to the networks of “prosody / book-object/page-object / language / external context(s) / internal text(ures)” (43). Such a focus means that, “Collage, pastiche, procedure, constraint, performance, citation, documentation, and appropriation (part or whole) may be techniques used in conceptual writing” (43). Such modes of creation that undergird this materialist allegorical writing are clearly employed to construct many of the visual poems featured in this dissertation. With language and imagery functioning in such allegorical and transfigured ways, how do we best analyze this multiplicity or conflation of representations through this compression of modes and meanings?   11 To return to the previous poem, Nichol’s seemingly simple visual translation of Bashō’s most famous haiku6 (see Bashō 2004; Aiken 2003; Britton 2002, 10) opens up the methodological problems of describing cross-modal representations and elucidating the synthetic, complex, and dynamic understandings derived from them. At the same time, an illusory simplicity clothes this complexity such that many readers do not realize how much they infer and unpack from these prompts in order to understand them, which can lead to the hasty dismissal of texts like this as banal, gimmicky, and childish. This raises the two-fold challenge of addressing, (1) how readers can come, often quite easily, to complex interpretations of prompts like those that construct the frog, and, (2) how critics might unpack the underlying complexities of this synthetic process in order to engage in closer analysis of multimodal literatures.7  Visual theorists have refuted the logocentrism of the “linguistic turn” (Mitchell 1994, 11), which regards visuality as “a point of peculiar friction and discomfort” (13). As such, these critics have pushed others to engage more holistically with how they describe form and                                                       6 This poem in particular has been visually translated and reconfigured in a variety of ways by a range of visual poets, such as in the works of Barwin and Beaulieu (2005), Hryciuk (2010), and McCaffery (2007). The focus on this particular poem is in no small part due to bpNichol’s many visual translations of it, including Fig. 1.1, themselves inspired by Dom Sylvester Houedard’s own visual translation (qtd. in McCaffery’s epigraphs (2007, n.p.)). I refer to these visual poems as “transaptations” (Borkent, under review) as they both translate and adapt qualities of Basho’s poem as well as prior visual poetic engagements. For a thorough reading of bpNichol’s poem, see Borkent (2010).  5 See Borkent (2010) for a detailed analysis of this poem.   12 meaning, recognizing a meaningfulness to forms that dissolves the easy form/meaning dualism.  Defining visual poetry based solely on distinct formalist properties is like defining comics in the same way: “impossible” (Groensteen 2007, 12-17). Some practitioners and theorists turn to the notion of “borderblur,” drawn from Don Sylvester Houédard and popularized in Canada by bpNichol (1970, 78; see Balan 1999; 2002; Emerson 2011; Scobie 1984),8 or the somewhat self-explanatory notion of “intermedia” developed by Dick Higgins (1965; cf Pineda 1995; Reis 1996).9 Stephen Scobie suggests that these ideas reflect a common self-referential feature of modern arts which seek to “examine the limits of [their] own existence” (1985, 442). Jacques Ranciere (2007) calls this self-referential turn the basis of a new “aesthetic regime,” that emphasizes the participatory role of the reader-viewer. Yet Johanna Drucker notes the inadequacy of linguistic analysis “to confront the synthetic sensibility of the present” and questions “the processes of signification so essential to these projects as they are conceived of in aesthetic terms” (1998, 13). The qualities of visual poetry                                                       8 Canadian poet Stephen Cain uses “borderblur” as the title for the only section of visual poetry in his mixed-poetics book (Cain 2005), and it similarly informs Wershler-Henry’s book tribute to bpNichol, Nicholodeon (1997), indicating that this term still exhibits both theoretic and poetic appeal. 9 I should note that many critics when discussing borderblur or intermedia usually refer to the visual and performing arts, such as the works seen in Morely’s (2003), Weiner’s (2000), and Sanders and Bernstein’s (2001) compilations rather than to more popular arts like comics. For instance, Dick Higgins doesn’t include comics in his discussion (1965) or subsequent chart (Higgins 1995) of intermedia, even though they were exceptionally popular throughout this timeframe and very relevant to his discussion.   13 are often described or illustrated in terms of generic slippage and overlap that produce a sense of indeterminancy and “radical artifice” (Perloff 1991) caused through traditional models of generic and linguistic typological containment.  At the same time, a logocentric perspective cannot sufficiently address how in visual poetry “metaphor has become a tool of both form and content” (Beiman, 1974, 200) through which “’meaning’ … is multiplied” (221), such as the features discussed of bpNichol’s fr-o-g poem above. While scholars of visual poetry actively discuss the textual phenomena of synthesis and multiplicity, how such experiences of texts arise remains largely unexplored. Understanding how readers interact with different mediated modalities to construct poetic meanings, including knowledge of writerly and readerly expectations, uses, and interpretations (see Reddy 1979; Devitt 1993; Lakoff 1987), presents a gap in knowledge that must be filled in order for a more comprehensive engagement with such works.    1.2.2 Canadian Visual Poetry In order to maintain a focus on styles of image-text interaction and comprehension within a somewhat distinct socio-cultural, literary, and historical context, I limit my engagement primarily to Canadian visual poetry in English. The Canadian poems present a helpful microcosm (with unique influences, traditions, and understandings of such works) of a wider, transnational poetic movement. Of course, international influences and ongoing poetic interactions influence the Canadian poets, and they in turn add to ongoing transnational developments in visual poetry and other experimental poetries. Visual poets play an important part in the wider “conceptualist” movement, which includes the appropriative and processual traditions of Fluxus, Oulipo, Flarf, and other experimental and   14 postmodern approaches that focus on documents and communicative artifacts (especially writing) as objects for remodeling and interrogation.  At the national and regional levels, individual connections, literary networks, and publishing ventures inform expressions and connections. Furthermore, the history of avant-gardism in Canada laid the groundwork for the experimental work of visual poetry (Betts 2013); after all, “avant-gardes arts communities[] are not discrete or closed communities” (7). bpNichol, a crucial figure in the development of the Canadian visual poetry tradition and in connecting Canada with the international visual poetic scene, reflects that “i [sic] could go on forever giving you that sense that there were purely canadian [sic] roots [that] helped lend us all off in this direction” (bpNichol 1972, n.p.). To a significant extent, it can be claimed that there is a coherent Canadian stream within the wider, transnational visual poetic movement. As Jars Balan describes, the Canadian (as location)-specific roots for visual poetic experimentation are long, going back to Indigenous petroglyphic and sculptural arts (1999, 9). Much more recently, Balan describes three waves of development, which parallels Caroline Bayard’s (1989) much more detailed discussion of “new poetries” in Canada, which unfold largely along generational lines. The first wave of modern and early postmodern visual poetic expressions include works by Brion Gysin, Earle Birney, Margaret Avison, Colleen Thibaudeau, Phyllis Webb, and others (see Balan 1999, 9-13). Arguably, the popular work of Marshall McLuhan on media in the 1950s and 60s—and especially his visual essays, such as The Medium is the Massage with Quentin Fiore (1967), which enact his critical philosophy—played an important role in affirming these visual poetic developments. During this time, the International Concrete Poetry Movement, was developing a variety of models of how visual poetry functions. As I discuss in Chapter 3, these models tended to focus on more direct,   15 mimetic interactions between visual and verbal qualities of poems. Caroline Bayard argues that this mimeticism reflects an embrace of the iconic fallacy (1989, 22-34) and dismisses such works as largely an adolescent playfulness prior to the development of proper postmodern poetry in Canada. However, Marjorie Perloff (2007a) rightly argues against Bayard’s dismissal of early concrete poetry, showing, rather, that it established a productive discourse in which to explore cross-modal interactions in meaning construction. Perloff suggests that our contemporary new media culture has continued to support visual poetic developments through a growing valuing of hybrid discursive forms. These early practitioners kick-started an ongoing hybrid movement.   Second wave of Canadian visual poetry, which began in the late 1960s and blazed throughout the 1970s, drew wider attention from poets and their readers, and flourished especially under the inspiration and active mentoring and publishing work of poet bpNichol. This literary scene, inspired by the International Concrete Poetry Movement, is when visual poetry firmly established itself as a poetic movement in Canada, developing creative practices and affinity networks across the nation. Poets like George Bowering, Judith Copithorne, David UU, John Riddell, jwcurry, peggy lefler, and a wide range of others continued to foster experimental approaches in Canadian poetry. As I discuss as well in Chapter 3, this lateness to the visual poetic scene came with some benefits for how creators theorized their engagement with the materiality of print culture. Small press support, especially the crucial support of Coach House Books, of individual works and anthologies helped establish the place of visual poetry in Canada by the early 1970s. Important publishing ventures, such as the small press connections between bpNichol (grOnk and Ganglia presses and Coach House Books in Toronto) and bill bissett (blewointment press in Vancouver), illustrate how   16 aesthetic ventures linked poets across the country and supported its rapid development (see Francis 1967; Francis 1973;  Nichol 1972). These presses helped consolidate a literary presence that facilitated connections abroad as well (Sharpe 1999). As I discuss in Chapter 3, through these interactions, a particularly Canadian style of visual poetry emerged, which emphasized more open and dynamic meanings.  The popularity of visual poetry at this time, however, was fleeting in its scholarly reception. To my knowledge Stephen Scobie’s essential book on bpNichol (1984), Bayard’s more dismissive assessment of concretism (1989), and Clément Moisan’s (1983) uneven comparative history were the sole monographs to critically engage with the Canadian movement, along with a few more papers sprinkled across the major journals.10 Jars Balan (1999) illustrates the brief scholarly engagement with visual poetry through its reflection across several editions of Gary Geddes’ popular anthology 20th Century Poetry and Poetics, which included visual poetry in the 1969 and 1973 editions but which drops any hint of it in 1985. Geddes removed the visual poetry because “the poetic groups and movements of this century now seemed to him less important than the brilliance and performance of their best practitioners” (Butling and Rudy 2005, 74; see 78 n.34), thereby suggesting that visual poetry had not withstood the test of time. “In the fourth edition, published in 1996, a sampling from Nichol was restored to illustrate the concrete phenomenon, at least acknowledging that it was part of the history of twentieth century poetry” (Balan 1999, 14). That poems by bpNichol                                                       10 See (Scobie 1985), (Jaeger 1999), (Henderson 1989)   17 serve this token function reveals his dominant role in the visual poetic community, especially in Canada. However, it also shows how visual poetry has remained largely excluded from conversations about Anglophone poetry and poetics. I present one reason why this exclusion has happened as part of Chapter 3.  The third wave of visual poetry in Canada began largely as a generational shift in the 1980s, which continued to be influenced by the second wave poets. Since this shift, the movement continues to develop in theoretical sophistication and poetic complexity as a postmodern and radical approach to the materiality of signification. Poets like Christian Bök, derek beaulieu, Helen Hajnoczky, and Donato Mancini (among many others) continue to interrogate their practices from a range of positions, including poststructuralist, postmodern, and feminist theories. Poets continue to explore modal and medial possibilities, especially those which have grown through advances in digital (and printing) technologies and changing social and cultural conditions. As Susan Rudy (2010) notes, such “radical poetries” continue to open up possibilities for meaning-construction by enacting complex critical positions on and through the materiality of language. As I discuss in Chapter 3, a growing heterodoxy in Canadian poetry likely traces back to the materialist focus of visual poets and their ongoing interrogations of modes of representation. This materialist inclination will likely continue to grow as the materials for creation continue to diversify, including through access to archaic as well as high-tech creation methods. Most of the visual poems in this dissertation come from these second and third wave poets.  Throughout these ongoing developments, small, micro, and self-publishing ventures have sustained the visual poetic and wider “radical” poetic community (Butling and Rudy 2005). Just like early on with bpNichol’s grOnk and Ganglia presses, bill bissett’s   18 blewointmentpress, and jw curry’s Curved H&Z press, recent presses like derek beaulieu’s House and No Presses and Marshall Hyruciuk’s Neitsche’s Brolly continue to promote and sustain ongoing poetic explorations, regionally and transnationally. The differences in business models for small press and self-publishing likely allow for very different forms of work to find an audience, giving more freedom (but with a more limited distribution) to such works. Small presses have sustained visual poetry across the waves of its development in Canada. As I discuss in Chapter 4, this has led to important intertextual connections between Canadian authors. It also presents a challenge to critics hoping to access a particular artist’s works, since this wide range of materials is often difficult or nearly impossible to find, as many texts, especially micro-published works, elude the bookstores and even the archives. It is important to note that while focusing on the Canadian literary scene, the avant garde community has always been transnational, such as through the influence in particular of European, Brazilian, American, and British creators, and vice versa.  In Chapter 3, for instance, I include discussion of popular and influential transnational poetry and poetics as key areas of knowledge for understanding Canadian visual poetic expression. Transnational influences played a key role in complicating and diversifying multimodal literatures in Canada. There are certainly reasons to ignore national boundaries as well as to sustain them. As with most literatures that emerge from the periphery, affinity networks supported through small presses, mail art, and social media, rather than more populist and nationalist distribution networks through mainstream publishers and bookstores, direct interactions and support these experimental initiatives, even while limiting their exposure.  Finally, and most importantly, many of the Canadian writers discussed in this dissertation have flown under the academic radar, creating a critical need for further focus on   19 their works. Perhaps visual poetry has fallen prey to scholarly iconophobia or dismissals of it as too gimmicky or iconically repetitive. I will discuss here, as well as in Chapters 2 and 3, elements of critical ideology that keep these works on the periphery. Whatever the reason for this low profile, Canadian visual poems (as well as their transnational brethren) deserve much more sustained attention in order to address their offerings. This dissertation begins to address that deficit.  1.3 Methods and Modalities    1.3.1 Critical Approaches: Poetics and Hermeneutics  Discussions of multimodal literatures often come up against several background challenges, even before engaging with modal and medial qualities of the texts themselves. The history of multimodal literatures, especially in North America, has been plagued with iconophobic moral panics regarding literacy and thought. This is most obviously evidenced in the criminalization of comics in Canada and the USA in the 1950s, as comics became known as “the enemy of education” because of their employment of images (Dorrell, Curtis, and Rampal 1995: 232). Visual poetry remained under the judicial and political radar, since it was a small-market product sold largely to adults through mail art networks rather than a mass-market product presumably sold mostly to children. Nonetheless, the reception of visual poetry, as evidenced through the dearth of scholarly engagement, has also been affected by the culturally pervasive iconophobic understanding of modes: In many people’s minds there remains a rather simplistic correlation between ‘looking at pictures’ and a deficiency in literacy, as it is frequently assumed that only those who are unable to read the words have a need for illustration. Visual literacy, except in its highest   20 manifestations in the work of designers and classical artists, is rarely granted status within our education system. Teachers have been educated to consider the movement from pictures to words largely as a matter of intellectual progression. (Millard and Marsh 2001, 27) The valuing of words over images reflects a commonly held belief that W.J.T. Mitchell calls the “fallacy of the visual turn, a development viewed with horror by iconophobes and opponents of mass culture, who see it as the cause of a decline in literacy” as well as critical thinking (Mitchell 2002, 172; see also 1994). Similarly, W.J.T. Mitchell shows how underlying most definitions of imagery is a fear of the image, which inoculates it as simulacral mirror rather than acknowledging it as a communicative form unto itself.  To reform this bias against the image in literature requires an alternative perspective on multimodality that addresses what is offered rather than (all evidence to the contrary) what it might destroy. As Jean-Paul Gabilliet notes regarding comics, such multimodal literatures reflect “the emergence of new content and new forms which are not always easy to judge using the evaluative tools at our disposal, that is, those relied upon by the ‘consecrated society’” (2010, 307). Should one believe iconophobia to be an archaic response of a bygone era, consider the following anecdote: Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel, Essex County, was eliminated from “the battle of the books” on the CBC program Canada Reads 2011 with a vote of 4 to 1. The book, while lauded for its powerful storytelling, was dismissed, in the words of two debaters, for its “lack of writing” and because “that’s not reading.” Such statements reveal the language-dominated valuing and evaluating of texts; books and “real” literature have been reduced to simply printed words. When images come into the mix within this paradigm, it produces a “ clash of opposites” and a perceived “struggle between   21 passive and active experience” (Hatfield 2009b, 133). While society continues to change, and multimodal literatures continue to gain in popularity in part due to our current multimedia environment, the modal hierarchy of word over image (never mind the employment of other modalities as well) continues to inform reading and interpretative practices. I would suggest that scholars also face another perhaps even more difficult challenge when engaging with visual poetry. Literary criticism typically engages in scholarly discursive practices of summary, analysis, and explication, all of which rely on what Edward Slingerland describes as “necessary reductionism” (2008a). Such practices are regularly employed even on poetry, itself already a reduced form of linguistic expression. Therefore, reductionism typically facilitates analysis, and is arguably the modus operandi of literary criticism. In the case of visual poetry, however, these texts can rarely be reduced visually or verbally without a significant loss of meaning. For instance, with bpNichol’s fr-o-g poem discussed earlier, how does one reduce two and a half words and a couple of curved lines any further? The necessary reductionism of typical critical engagement must be inverted into an expansionism that addresses the web of connections, processes, and inferences that these works prompt. This still involves similar characteristics of criticism, such as selection, connection, and explication, but with different degrees of granularity and a reversed directionality.  The inversion of this critical perspective, along with a focus on multimodal rather than linguistic cues, requires a recalibration of traditional approaches. Jonathan Culler argues that literary criticism can be loosely broken into two methodologies, that of poetics and hermeneutics. For present purposes, poetics can be considered the analysis of systems of rules and conventions which support creative expression, while hermeneutics comprises theoretically- and historically-inflected interpretative approaches to signification. Culler   22 traces the development of this distinction through the recent history of a wide range of figures and movements in literary theory, noting that poetics has been largely eschewed for hermeneutics over the past few decades (he offers a variety of renditions of this discussion: see 1981; 1997; 2007). He suggests that poetics has come under fire for its perceived formalism by advocates of hermeneutical approaches “based on the impossibility or inappropriateness of the systematic projections of structuralism” (2007, 10-11). However, Culler argues that this dualistic distinction between poetics and hermeneutics (which I should point out also internalizes the dualism of form and meaning) must be reintegrated as a cooperative venture in developing a more nuanced engagement with forms and conventions in order to develop comprehensive interpretations of artistic innovations. He calls this synthetic methodology a “robust poetics” (11). To unite these two streams of critical inquiry requires a theoretical ground that can productively combine form and meaning, which Johanna Drucker argues requires locating individual action as a part of the semiotic exchange through “its fixity and permanence as the instrument of continual invention” (1994a, 38). Drucker further shows that interactive model requires a theory that takes the substance and materiality of media into consideration (39). Such an approach connects subjectivity, which includes elements of the “somatic realm,” with a model of play within signification, such that “the concept of materiality is understood as a process of interpretation rather than a positing of the characteristics of an object” (43). Here, the dualism between form and meaning, between poetics and hermeneutics, is dismantled through their shared relation to the process of meaning development and interpretation, thereby uniting form and meaning within the readerly experience of the text-object. Rather than maintain the idealist dualism between pure thought (as subjectivist meaning) and base   23 matter (as objectivist form),11 Drucker describes a theoretical position that one might call a synthetic and creative pragmatism (Cf. J. Cohn 2006, 39-96), and which grounds Culler’s notion of a robust poetics in the interpretative spaces of both material and representational existence.     1.3.2 Hybrid Media and Multimodality W.J.T. Mitchell asserts that “all media are mixed media, and all representations are heterogeneous” (1994, 5). Thus, media are modal hybrids in which images, words, bodies, and sounds in particular make up the multimedia social landscape. In what might be characterized as an intervention in the field of visual studies, Mitchell states:  The postulate of mixed, hybrid media leads us to the specificity of codes, materials, technologies, perceptual practices, sign-functions, and institutional conditions of production and consumption that go to make up a medium. It allows us to break up the reification of media around a single sensory organ (or a single sign-type, or material vehicle) and to pay attention to what is in front of us. (2002, 174) By shifting the terrain of the discussion away from modally essentializing axioms, Mitchell opens up a space for a more sensitive engagement with the synthetic qualities of contemporary multimodal literatures. Comics scholar Charles Hatfield affirms this position                                                       11 Drucker (1994a; 1994b), Hart (2004), and Spolsky (2002) argue that structuralist and post-structuralist positions remain two sides of the same coin, retaining Idealist and logocentric distinctions between form (as matter) and meaning (as Idea) even while seeking to subvert them. Hart and Spolsky further show how insights from poststructuralist critiques of formalism can be integrated into recent work in cognitive science and cognitive poetics.     24 by suggesting that critics “collapse the word/image dichotomy” and focus on “word and image as two ‘different’ types of sign” (2009b, 133; see also Mitchell 1994, 83-107). Both Mitchell and Hatfield thus refute any preferential treatment of modes in order to develop a more specific medial and sensual poetics.  Mitchell provides a helpful shift away from previous iconophobic models of media and promotes a recent trend towards modal specificity and integration. David Herman, a key figure revitalizing the field of narratology, also places particular emphasis on the distinction between modes and media in order to better engage with multimodal and transmedial textuality (Herman 2009, xiii; see Kress 2009; 2010). He notes that media harness specific modes by acting as environments for representation with unique potentialities and limitations. Thus, modes are sensorial channels for communication, and media are the specific ways in which technologies facilitate their combination and creative employment (see Gibbons 2012). Most media, to some degree, have conventions and requirements for blending modalities, thereby facilitating the emergence of generic and formal expectations that can be creatively engaged with.12 Multimodal literatures, especially visual poetry, are                                                       12 One important distinction between Herman’s and my own view of print is that he views transcriptions of recordings of narratives as a shift towards “monomodal” representation, thereby ignoring the visuality of the writing and design of those transcriptions. While typically, verbal narratives prioritize the verbal channel, that it is visually represented remains significant, since this adds tonal qualities like emphasis through bolding or italics, accessibility through font choice, and so forth. These qualities of print are only possible through cross-modal, iconic constructions (see Hiraga 2005). Importantly, this hybrid view of print adds to Herman’s subsequent call to explore the consequences of mode and media “that come into play in the process of transmitting, transcribing and archiving stories” (Herman 2009, xiii).   25 particularly interesting is this light, since they represent different employments of the modes primarily deployed in the print medium (more so digitally as well) while also interrogating their medial resources.13 To analyze a given visual poem requires specificity about how the poem explores and complicates the potential of both visual and verbal modes of representation, in particular through their interaction. In other words, how are the communicative channels being harnessed and crossed for poetic effect. The visual mode may range from realistic, artistic imagery to schematic or diagrammatic qualities to abstract shapes. Likewise, verbal elements can range from words and phrases across to letters and fragments. Each modality, therefore, has a wide spectrum of representational potential. This spectral diversity can be usefully diagrammed as I have in Figure 2, showing a range of ways that visual and verbal modalities interact with each other across a spectrum of recognizeability. There may be many of these types of relations within a single poem, supporting different inferences at different times or in different spaces. The degree of detail or schematicity of modal features impact the specificity their interactions and interpretations.  Of course, modalities do not operate in a vacuum, but respond to medial potentialities produced by the capabilities and limitations of print technologies themselves (linotype,                                                       13 Some critics consider comics a medium unto themselves because of the distinctive formal qualities of their construction (e.g see Chute 2008; McCloud 1994; Saraceni 2003b; Wolk 2007). I disagree with this position, since comics remain fixed to a bounded page and limited by print technologies. As my description of mode and media should make clear, I’m approaching media in a more specific sense rather than as a loose parameter of creativity. Put simply, comics (and visual poetry) are a hybrid form within print media, not a hybrid media simply presented in a book.     26 mimeograph, xerograph, etc.), the paper qualities, and other material cues that may inform responses. Typographers have long known the value of well crafted letters and well-designed pages as part of the meaningfulness of the text they present (see Bringhurst 2004; Lupton 2004; Lupton and Phillips 2008; Vos 1996). Likewise, in book history and print culture studies (McGann 1993; Drucker 1994a), details of paratextual materials, editorial transformations, and production values inform discussions of how books are received. These medial qualities add to and complicate yet further the variables at play in cross-modal relations, such “that the apparently simple concept of the imagetext opens up a kind of fractal expansion of terms” (Mitchell 2012, 3). The visual and tactile qualities of these medial features, suggested by the grey circular underlay to the diagram, indicate how the materiality of the print medium always renders modalities “hybrid” (see Hayles 2003; 2004; Mitchell 2002), or as I would prefer, multimodal. Thus, this is but a crude schematic rather than a comprehensive diagram.   Figure 2: Image-text relational potentialities.   27 In Picture Theory, W.J.T. Mitchell argues that the discussion of modes is “never just a formal issue” (1994, 89), but requires the creative, materialistic, and phenomenological navigation of the synthetic and disjunctive relations between modes which opens up “the relative value, location, and the very identity of ‘the verbal’ and ‘the visual’” (89). Here, Mitchell calls for a critical position that both distinguishes and blends modalities through a reflection upon the creative relationality between representations through specific media (materials) (much like in Figure 2) and the understandings and feelings they prompt in readers or viewers (phenomenology). Mitchell’s position on visual studies reflects Culler’s call in literary studies for the balancing of poetics and hermeneutics by weaving the skepticism of critical theory with the texture of the text. The study of multimodal literatures, and especially visual poetry, then brings this approach to the fore, since such works, as Johanna Drucker shows, place a particular emphasis on the role of the reader in constructing the textual meaning. To better address the material phenomenology of seeing, showing, and reading requires an account of readerly synthetic creativity that navigates multimodal textuality rather than trips over modal relations. As I will show throughout this dissertation, grounding modes and media within a multimodal, multisensory perspective helps address the communicative qualities of cross-modal relations and creativity, which opens these texts to complex critical engagement.  1.4 Toward a Multimodal Cognitive Poetics In this dissertation, I develop a multimodal approach to the hybridity of visual poetry through the lens of cognitive poetics. Cognitive poetics is an emerging field of literary analysis that draws on cognitive science to shed light on various processes of meaning   28 construction and creativity. Of course, to discuss how a multimodal text comes to mean something requires that we agree upon what we mean by “meaning” and its connection to modalities and cognition.  Cognitive science has recently grown to be uniquely positioned to begin to address how and why particular meanings and creative avenues emerge out of the finitude of neurons and flesh to prompt a seeming infinitude of understandings. The critical method this dissertation develops and employs draws upon insights from second wave cognitive science,14 which shares affinities with aspects of pragmatism and phenomenology, to document the parameters and processes involved in language and image comprehension. A central theoretical position of recent cognitive science locates cognition as a dynamic interaction between the human mind, body, and environment, which is referred to as “cognitive ecology” (Hutchins 2010) or as embodiment (Chemero 2009; Gibbs 2006a; Rohrer 2007).  Human meaning comes out of these interactions, and as such meaning is grounded in conscious and unconscious embodied experiences of the environment. Such a perspective is inherently multimodal.                                                       14 Cognitive science, as I use it here, includes, but is not limited to, cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, developmental psychology, visual, attentional, and ecological psychology, neuropsychology, and cognitive anthropology. The “second generation” or “second revolution,” as David Herman calls it (2010), reflects a relatively recent shift in cognitive science towards a “dynamical model” of the embodied mind (Gibbs 2006a; Chemero 2009; Gibbs and Colston 2012), to be elaborated on in the next chapter and employed throughout this dissertation. Importantly, this theoretical focus shifts away from the “representationalist” terminology and analysis of symbolic, disembodied, amodal, homunculus-oriented, Objectivist-styled constraints on thought and experience maintained by first generation cognitive scientists and linguists (E.g. Fodor, Pinker, Chomsky). More on these differences in the next chapter.   29 The notion that experience is structured by and reflects linguistic thought, and that we only understand experience through language, is now widely accepted in literary studies and across the Humanities. This constructionist perspective illustrates a cognitive model that divorces symbolic thought from the material world (a pervasive issue within Western philosophy: see Lakoff and Johnson 1999), with language and culture engaged in supplemental and simulacral processes to hide our bodies from our minds. I will rebut this heritage of dualistic views in more detail in the following chapter. These “disembodied” approaches have long roots (from Plato, Descartes, Saussure, etc.), and continue to be the dominant discourse surrounding language and subjectivity.15 For instance, Saussure famously claimed that “[w]ithout language, thought is a vague, uncharted nebular. There is no pre-existing ideas, and nothing is distinct before the appearance of language” (112). Recent research suggests the inverse: viewpointed, sensorimotor experiences, which include object and social interactions, ground language in patterns and processes of embodied experience (see Langacker 2008; Dancygier and Sweetser 2012). Language takes a secondary role to embodied experience as it helps in definition, construal, and creative elaboration and projection of experiences, and through these capacities provides a central mode of social connection and worldly interaction. Projecting a causal power onto language itself, rather than recognizing it as a product of complex embodied processes, misconstrues the                                                       15 See Crane (2001), Hart (2004), Lakoff and Johnson (1999), McConachie (2006), and Slingerland (2008b) for more detailed discussions of poststructuralism and postmodernism from a cognitive perspective (Cf. Alaimo and Hekman 2008; O’Brien 2001).    30 multimodal experiences of human subjectivity (Cf. Easterlin 2012). 16  Furthermore, linguistically based models of knowledge totalize the multiple modalities of human experience and expression under a single sign (Gibbons 2012, 7-20). Language is important, but it is not the basis of all meaning and cognition. The phenomenal experience of multimodal human communication and cognition is much more complex. To suggest otherwise ignores the role of sensorial experience as formative and informative facets of creativity and understanding.  Without dismissing much of the helpful critical work rooted in prior theories of language, thought and culture, the theoretical grounding of this project in second generation cognitive science repositions and upends these assumptions by locating language and literature, as well as other cultural expressions, as emergent properties of creative cognitive processes grounded in bodily, sensorimotor experiences. These experiences motivate, inform, and constrain cultural and social expressions, and in turn, social and cultural discourses interact with them as well. By engaging with these parameters and structures of sense and experience, more nuanced claims about cognitive ecology and creativity emerge (E.g. see Arnheim 2004; Oakley 2009; and Oberman, Winkielman, and Ramachandran 2010). W.J.T. Mitchell affirms, “[it] is not just that we see the way we do because we are social animals, but                                                       16 O’Leary (2005) makes the argument that this is the gist of Foucault’s argument for philosophy, which connects his work to those of pragmatists like Dewey. However, while it is important to keep in mind that these writers locate the efficacy of language in its intersection with social relations, this does not do away with discrepancies in how they position linguistic meaning and the influence of such a position on critical outcomes.   31 also that our social arrangements take the forms they do because we are seeing animals” (2002, 171). Exploring how perception and conception inter-relate presents a crucial path forward towards a sensual, multimodal view of cognition and for a robust poetics by locating socio-cultural practices as part of embodied experiences, interweaving with each other.17  The early and influential visual psychologist Rudolf Arnheim observes that “human thinking cannot go beyond the patterns suppliable by the human senses” (2004, 232-33). This statement parallels Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological recalibrations that assert that the body is “the fabric into which all objects are woven, and it is, at least in relation to the perceived world, the general instrument of my ‘comprehension’” (1962, 235), or in other words, “the theory of the body is already a theory of perception” (Merleau-Ponty 1962, 203). The embodied cognitive approach nuances the connection between sensuality, representation, mediums, and reception by locating specific perceptual and conceptual features of human sensory and cognitive systems that prompt modal and cross-modal understanding. Thus, rather than affirm the notion that language overwrites the body, this dissertation will show how language and images are complexly interwoven by the embodied mind, as we think both about and through them.                                                        17 I should note that cultural narratives and discourses can seem to impose themselves upon individuals, but research by feminist and postcolonial critics surely shows this to be a function of power dynamics and social pressures rather than language itself. The socio-cultural environment plays an important role in the development of embodied knowledge and language use, but it is also a dynamic space, in which values and concepts are always in flux.    32 Language, images, and other human communicative modes derive from and are motivated by facets of our embodied, cognitive interaction with the material and socio-cultural world, even when mediated by various technological environments. I develop an embodied methodology that is empirically plausible in terms of the evolutionarily18 and ecologically developed physiological and psychological mechanisms that inform human perceptions and actions,19  which motivate creative representations, and which facilitate multimodal comprehension in and across a variety of expressive modes. In this way, I respond to W.J.T. Mitchell’s “invitation to rethink what theorizing is, to picture theory and perform theory as a visible, embodied, communal practice, not as the solitary introspection of a disembodied intelligence” (1994, 178). Through a detailed understanding of the complex relationship between verbal, visual, and mental imagery within the social and material environments that facilitate communication (including, the visible page-stage and                                                       18 My project has notable affinities with (the at times troublingly conjectural and reductionist) evolutionary literary criticism of scholars like Boyd (2009) and Carroll (2008;  see also Slingerland 2008), in particular its emphasis on our species wide developments of cognitive capacities and features. However, I want to shift the emphasis away from the evolutionary principles of phylogeny, ontogeny, and “ultimate functions” towards the shared interest in how cognitive embodiment and attenuation works and functions now as an emergent property of the interweaving of evolutionary and ecological processes (E.g. see Fauconnier and Turner 2002; Gibbs 2006; Herman 2003; Turner 1999). After all, the individual human experience is a confluence of multiple times scales—evolutionary, cultural, familial, and personal. 19  This is, of course, keeping in mind the current limitations of some experimental psychological research outlined by Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan (2010). To address some of these deficits, I draw on a variety of forms of disciplinary research, in particular cognitive linguistic research which is more grounded in cross-cultural analysis, forging a robust poetics out of affinities between observations and results rather than inherent methodological or disciplinary ideologies (see Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Part I; Gibbs and Colston 2012).   33 assumptions about readership), I develop a more comprehensive analysis of multimodal meaning construction.  As a theoretical position, multimodal cognitive poetics places an emphasis on the creativity inherent in readerly interactions with literary works, and accounts for the specific features of texts that might motivate particular interpretations. As such, it shares affinities with Wolfgang Iser’s (1980) description of the reading process for “reader response” criticism, but without the dualistic presentation of The Reader (Richardson 1997).20 Rather, this approach presents a more detailed and plausible account of how background knowledge is coopted into meaning construction processes, or in Barthean terms, how the communally shared “work” transforms into the individual’s interpretative “text” (Barthes 1977). Thus, I point out elements of poems that might be ambiguous and produces several interpretations. Visual poems excel at presenting conflicting and contestable qualities that challenge readers to navigate them like a puzzle. I locate what I believe to be crucial features of a given visual poem, and illustrate how it both motivates and constrains particular readings. Thus, I present a predictive rather than proscriptive model of reading visual poetry. Perhaps tracing motivations and interpretations will help ease uncomfortable readers into the realms of                                                       20 Through this model of multimodal comprehension I am not asserting a monist perspective of an archetypal reader: the embodied approach recognizes that background knowledge is always personally inflected as well as socially, culturally, and aesthetically situated.  Since cognitive science emphasizes central patterns of human comprehension, this model should not be misunderstood as normalizing the diversity of a given readership as previous models of reader response are charged with doing (Richardson 1997).   34 multimodal experimentation.  Certainly, locating the embodied parameters of comprehension exposes the processes by which reader-viewers of visual poems likely navigate the variety of hybrid cues. Explicitly detailing these processes renders them accessible to critical reflection, thereby bridging the formal analysis of poetics with the meta-cognitive, critical reflections of hermeneutics.     1.4.1 Overview of Subsequent Chapters The following chapters (1) develop in detail the cognitive parameters and processes for multimodal comprehension; (2) explore how pervasive folk ideas about language inform the presentation and reception of visual poetry; (3) show how perceptual cues influence conceptualization in modally distinct poems; and (4), shows how abstract (postlinguistic) visual poems also derive meanings from perceptual cues and improvisational processes. I conclude with a brief discussion of connection between visual poetry and their sister multimodal literature, comics.  In the following chapter, I establish the cognitive parameters for multimodal reading experiences, contributing to and expanding the emerging field of cognitive poetics. Whereas cognitive approaches to literature have typically focused on linguistic constructions of meaning, I expand this perspective to include multimodal prompts. I emphasize that meaning is created by interactions between the brain, body, and environment (cognitive scientists call these interactions cognitive ecology or embodiment). This embodied perspective helps establish why and how multiple modalities can function seamlessly together in a given text. From this perspective, I show how visual poetry strategically activates embodied knowledge in order to prompt multiple interpretive possibilities of various textual   35 cues. I explore this strategic activation through a discussion of the theory of conceptual integration, which describes how embodied knowledge is selected and combined to develop novel, emergent understandings. Through the analysis of several examples grounded in this embodied theoretical framework, I show how recent studies of image and language comprehension provide theoretical tools that reveal how readers create complex meanings from visual poetic “illusions of simplicity” (Borkent 2010, title). In the third chapter, I turn to the writings of Canadian and international poets, scholars, and reviewers to analyze how they conceptualize visual poetry. I show how often these poems are misunderstood because they challenge a common yet fallacious understanding of meaning, the “conduit fallacy.” This pervasive folk theory of language asserts that linguistic forms carry or contain meaning within them, a meaning which is then delivered, unimpeded, to the receiver. This insidious folk theory has even permeated poststructuralist analyses of these poems. I show how visual poetry explicitly experiments with and challenges aspects of this formalistic fallacy.  I also clarify the claims in several visual poetic manifestoes by explicating how they construe specific aspects of this model of communication.  Understanding the conduit fallacy shows how the visual poetic tradition connects to, and is distinct from, other avant-garde and postmodern traditions that interrogate received notions of representation and meaning.  The conduit fallacy is not explicitly recognized—but rather assumed—in many mainstream conversations about Canadian poetry and poetics that typically excludes visual poetry. According to this view, visual poetry employs formal gimmickry without developing true (linguistic) content, and is, therefore, at best a distraction from so-called real poetry. I challenge the way in which these representations of visual poetry locate poetic meaning solely   36 in figurative language. Visual poems, by virtue of their multimodality, challenge this model of poeticity by drawing on the materiality of print culture. Visual poems force the reader to reconsider the materiality of representation and mediation, often doubling semiotic possibilities (such as in the multiple readings of the lines and letters in the poem above) and setting up complex emergent understandings. I argue that a multimodal perspective on meaning engages more fruitfully with the variety and heterodoxy of contemporary poetic expressions, thereby beginning the process of integrating visual and experimental poetic approaches into the discussion of poetry and poetics.  In the fourth chapter, I show how dominant perceptual and formal cues in visual poems, such as gestalt phenomena, viewpoints, and clear modal cues, prompt complex interpretations.  I argue that visual poems anchor these dynamic processes by providing perceptual constraints on what can and cannot be inferred. Thus, I show how perceptual cues inform conceptualization processes by constraining them in strategic (although not deterministic) ways. I focus on poems that maintain relatively clear material and representational cues to chart how different features motivate embodied cognitive responses. I also trace how meaningful qualities of the poem transform through cognitive activation processes, such as the changing understandings of elements of bpNichol’s frog poem above. My unique multimodal cognitive poetic approach shows where, how, and why these poems, as static marks on the page, motivate and constrain dynamic understandings and interpretations.  In the fifth chapter, I push my critical model further to explore how particularly challenging, abstract, and non-referential forms of visual poetry—which I call postlinguistic poetry—might still constrain interpretive processes. I show how these poems require a   37 dynamic, improvisational model of perception and meaning that pushes beyond the clear modal constraints offered by the poems in the previous chapter. I describe several types of postlinguistic poems (typographical, written, hybrid, and remediated), emphasizing how such texts are both produced and read through improvisational techniques. Such visual poems push readers to improvise new relationships to communicative multimodalities. In this way, the poems also act as art manifestoes for a creative, improvisational disposition toward print culture. To conclude the dissertation, I show how the multimodal cognitive poetic model I develop can extend to other forms of multimodal literature, especially comics and graphic novels. I discuss how the sequentiality and emergent narrativity of comic strips are composed out of the natural extension of the same processes that I discuss for interpreting visual poems. I explore how sequential visual poems and abstract comics share many things, which suggests a spectrum of multimodal literary expression with specific semiotic potentialities. These connections raise further areas for development of this multimodal cognitive poetics, and for the criticism of other multimodal literatures as well.   38 Chapter 2  Cognitive Ecology & Multimodal Meaning  there is always something vegetable about the imagination, something sharply limited in range. -  Northrop Frye21  I move, therefore I become. - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon22 2.1 Introduction Multimodal literatures, including visual poetry, necessitate a robust multimodal poetics—a critical engagement that attends to literary, linguistic, and visual interests by accounting for multimodal creativity and comprehension. Visual poems, such as Steve McCaffery’s untitled visual poem seen here (Figure 3), often produce a range of interpretations grounded in the modal and material qualities of their presentation on the page. McCaffery’s poem, for instance, gives hints of stamped and overlaid letters and the word “from” on one side, and a pictographic representation of a Neanderthal man holding a club on the other, along with a sense of the printed page as a space of both action and display. As I will show through a brief reading of this poem, even in a seemingly straight-forward poem like this, many complex inferences and                                                       21 Frye (1971, xxi). 22 qtd. and trans. in Cohn (2006, 76).   39 connections are made that construe understandings of language, humanity, and the nature of representation in specific ways.   Figure 3: Untitled poem by Steve McCaffery (1970; reprinted in 2002, 26).   One might read McCaffery’s untitled poem as follows: the movement of the body stepping out of the linguistic mush from left to right (along the line of reading, no less), suggests the linguistic production of the human (self) image or body (rather than the bodily construction of language) through causal connections. The causal sequence begins in rough typographic forms, stamped erratically onto the page, and includes the singularly legible and causal word from (barely visible, upside down, twice, in the upper-left quadrant). This typographic chaos ends on the mid-line of the page and transforms into or births a humanoid form (produced “from” it).   40 Even without interrogating these elements too closely, this transformation suggests a direct relationship between language and human form. This image might be said to show a Self being rendered understandable through language, thereby reifying the Saussurean model of language: “[w]ithout language, thought is a vague, uncharted nebular. There are no pre-existing ideas, and nothing is distinct before the appearance of language” (1966: 112). In a way, as the figure emerges from the chaos, it embraces its humanity through the distinction of language and tool use (two characteristics commonly, albeit falsely, considered to be unique to humans). Furthermore, one might read this as the figure moving forward through language into intentional action. So far, the poem seems a nice yet benign visual artifact. However, two troubling aspects emerge out of the combination of language and this particular humanoid image. The poem draws on a classic depiction of Homo habilis, the “adept tool-user” (31) from Rudolph Zallinger’s illustration of the “Creatures That Led to Modern Man” (30), or as it became more popularly known in later iterations, “The March of Progress” (Figure 4).  This widely known diagram of human evolutionary development was published in F. Clark Howell’s school book on Early Man (1968), just two years before McCaffery’s poem. The popular diagram shows the first humanoid tool user as directly linked through several stages to contemporary hu(man)ity in a singular, progressive line.23 McCaffery’s poem reuses this image in a somewhat degraded state, but                                                       23 See Wood and Richmond (2000) for a review of contemporary analyses of human evolution which shows tree-like groups (clades) of hominids,  that branch off of the general development toward contemporary humans. Thus, many of the previously diagrammed species that were included in the “March of Progress” were alternatives rather than a part of a linear progression to Homo homo sapien. In     41 otherwise they are identical. The poem blends language into this key development of tool use in the human evolutionary lineage, perhaps to signal that language is a pragmatic, advantageous tool crucial to human evolution.  However, the evolutionary view of language that emerges also comes with several problematic readings. Firstly, the images also suggest a progress narrative toward visible language and literacy, mapping written language onto evolutionary development. Conflating progress and literacy within an evolutionary and social paradigm makes me uncomfortable: this ideology informed the long colonial history in the Americas by characterizing Indigenous peoples as savages who needed Western literacy in order to become “civilized.” Assimilationist policies sought to extinguish numerous Indigenous languages and cultural practices due, in part, to the Western prioritization of writing and literacy over orature and other expressive arts (see Edwards 2004, esp. 74). As Plains Cree Métis scholar Emma LaRocque states, “[i]t is often taken for granted that literacy is an enormous improvement in human evolution. Those of us who come from oral traditions have quite different perspectives on literacy (and evolution). In fact, literacy becomes the enemy when printed words are use for ‘extinguishment’ purposes . . . . in certain contexts documentation is to be assidiously avoided” (2010, 20). In some ways this poem connotes a similar, troublesome combination of literacy and (social Darwinian) evolution that visualizes colonial ideology. At the same time, the club might be drawing attention to the                                                                                                                                                                                this revised view, Homo habilis is included in the earliest divergent group only two times removed from contemporary humans rather than six times, as indicated in Zallinger’s illustration.    42 aggressive, destructive tendencies of this colonial perspective, and perhaps also the “violence of language” against things through its inherently incomplete representations (Schwenger 2001). However, the popular view of this image, reinforced by Zallinger’s caption, as of a tool-carrying rather than a weapon-wielding man, leaves me less certain about that more generous reading.   Figure 4: “The Creatures That Led to Modern Man” by Rudolph Zallinger (illustration in Howell 1968, 30), commonly referred to (and spoofed) as “The March of Progress.” This poem also presents a troublingly masculinized view of language, since language is embodied in male form and is, therefore, the gender with inherent voice. This image of the cave-man also invokes the racialized and fallacious yet common narrative of the prehistoric man who clubs and takes possession of the woman as a marriage right (see Brody 2000, 261-63). The masculinization of language—even while illustrating a sense of power dynamics that make this reification possible (which echoes second-wave feminist critiques at the time of the poem’s composition)—remains, in my view, largely untroubled within the prompts of the poem.  Of course, there are perhaps more favorable interpretations. For instance, Geoffrey Hlibchuk considers this poem to model a linguistic theory that “indexes a body, albeit one both corpse and corporeal” (2011, 19). Such a reading shows how the poem illustrates McCaffery’s notion that “words are part of the dead and language the product of life feeding on death” (McCaffery and Nichol 1992, 31). Hlibchuk offers a “necropoetic” reading of McCaffery’s poem   43 as a “nested maze of interiorities spilling outward” (20), the “possible forms of life that could be birthed from these entropic nests” of bodies (21). While this reading incorporates a sense of linguistic inheritance into the time-space trajectory I discussed, I also find this reading somewhat inconsistent. If the “interiorities spilling outward” are located solely behind the person, in the inaccessible and extrapersonal space often correlated to the past (Kendon 2004; Núñez and Sweetser 2006), then the poem construes language as inherently independent of intersubjectivity, reinforcing a logocentric, transhistoric perspective. Such a construal seems to chafe against some aspects of the argument. Furthermore, the poetic integration of specific pictographic and typographic elements still raises questions regarding the intersections of gender, power, and language, which I must put aside at this point to focus on the key issues of this chapter.  A brief discussion of Steve McCaffery’s poem shows the incredible richness of meanings generated from visual poetic works. As can be seen from this cursory glance, the poem prompts a wide array of inferences and connections that cohere into specific understandings of humanity and language. Thus, we can see the productivity connections between visual and verbal modalities as they network domains of knowledge and experience to suggest specific stances on various topics. The question from a cognitive poetic perspective is: how does all of this happen? How does one see and read such a work and navigate the interactions between modalities? Why does the static figure become charged with action? How does the poem seem to quickly suggest a range of issues, some of which I have outlined, that surround the intersections between language, technology, and humanity? How do all these complex understandings emerge from such a seemingly simple work? Such questions raise the need for attention to the processes and mechanisms of cognition that facilitate this explosion of possibilities which help readers develop and navigate multiple and overlapping readings. Knowledge of such processes and mechanisms   44 presents an opportunity to critically engage in detail with both the materials in hand and their effects on cognition.   This chapter presents a cognitive model that helps isolate several key cognitive mechanisms that reader-viewers draw on in order to understand multimodal literatures. I do not aim to offer an exhaustive account of cognition, but rather a model of major mechanisms of comprehension and creativity that clarifies the relationships between modalities and meaning in visual poetry. Exploring the cognitive processes of meaning construction helps us to better isolate and critically engage with features of multimodal literatures. This approach also shows how such works prompt an especially active engagement on the part of readers.  2.2 Cognitive Ecology and Material Culture The contemporary scientific research I draw from participates in second generation cognitive science.24 This recent approach to cognition participates, along with a range of other fields, in what Jesse Cohn calls the “corporeal turn” (2006, 83), which share an emerging ecological                                                       24 First generation cognitive science assumes a computational, modular, and logical mind—itself governed by linguistic, amodal (nonperceptual) signs—that operates as an independent system separate from the functions of the body. McCaffery’s poem above might be said to illustrate such a position. Another “revolution” (Herman 2010) produced second generation cognitive science, which explores the dynamic, modal (perceptual), and embodied characteristics of thought that dissolve the dualistic logic of the earlier model. See Lakoff (1987) and Barsalou (1999) for comprehensive critiques of first generation approaches and their grounding within objectivist philosophy, followed by groundbreaking discussions of embodied meaning from cognitive and psycho-linguistic perspectives.    45 perspective on meaning and cognition.25 This recent advancement in cognitive science distances itself from the first dominant perspective which focused on a Cartesian, disembodied, modular, amodal, and computational model of mind, informed by work in behaviourist psychology, generative linguistics, and early Artificial Intelligence.26 Rather, the second generation approach grounds cognitive processes in sensorimotor experiences of the body (typically called cognitive embodiment) and its interactions with the environment (usually referred to as distributed or situated cognition). These cognitive processes are intimately networked, so that conceptual work can be off-loaded onto surrounding materials (including people, books, attire, and other things in the environment). Thus, the second generation approach to cognition presents “a fully dynamical science of the entire brain-body-environment system” (Chemero, 2009, 152) and a post-Cartesian, flexible model of experience and knowledge. Edwin Hutchins calls this networked system of embodied, situated, and distributed cognition “cognitive ecology” (2010).  Research into cognitive ecology shows that simply focusing on embodiment, as the corporeal turn would suggest, is insufficient and requires a wider eco-cognitive approach because                                                       25 This line of thinking found extensive discussion and the launching of a sub-discipline in psychology through the crucial work of James J. Gibson (esp. 1979) on ecological and perceptual psychology. Gibson’s work has informed important developments in both embodied philosophy (e.g. see Johnson 2007; Noe ̈ 2004; 2009) and “radical” cognitive science (e.g. see Chemero 2009; O’Regan 2011). Of course, this work was not autogenetic, but drew inspiration and insights from phenomenology (Freeman 2004), gestalt psychology, the psychological investigations of William James, and the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey.  26 See Barsalou (1999) for a concise assessment of problems with first generation cognitive science and how the second generation approach addresses them. See Gibbs (2006a) for a more thorough description of embodied cognitive science.    46 of the non-corporeal facets of the environment that contribute to cognition as well.27 This approach finds the origins and structures of meaning in the organic activities of embodied creatures in interaction with their changing environments. It sees meaning and all our higher functioning as growing out of and shaped by our abilities to perceive things, manipulate objects, move our bodies through space, and evaluate our situation. (Johnson 2007, 11)  In the eco-cognitive model, objects in the environment contain information that impacts actions and interactions. For instance, even such cultural artifacts as timepieces and books can seem benign until we need to exploit them to accomplish a goal. Thus, knowledge and understanding are experientially contingent; meaning emerges out of the multimodal processes of cognitive ecology as we come to understand and interact with our surroundings, and we draw on this knowledge when making sense of representations in various modalities and media. For instance, in McCaffery’s poem, we recognize the walking figure as humanoid. Similarly, the direction of implied motion constructs the sense of a path, and through that a sense of correlational or causal motion. The contrast between the left and right sides of the poem further reinforces this causal                                                       27 The ecological focus of this approach to meaning obviously suggests links to ecocriticism more generally. There is certainly room to make this connection, but I cannot develop it in detail at this point for the sake of brevity. As I go along here, it should become clear that the eco-cognitive approach affirms several areas of contemporary ecocriticism, such as by explicitly engaging with the limitations of human perception that reflect a physiologically determined interaction with the world that renders all meaning systems inherently anthropocentric. Furthermore, it recognizes that language construes and alters understandings of experience; representation thereby affirms or denies possibilities for conceptualization. At the same, this model also affirms the potential for experience to break our sign-systems. Thus, I affirm a biocultural model of human society much like that proposed by Murray Bookchin (1996).    47 connection by constructing two distinct spaces on the page. The barely visible word “from” within the stamped chaos affirms this connection by potentially labeling it as a past space or at least one from which the figure emerges. These connections between perceptual and conceptual elements motivate the reading I offered of the poem. Importantly, the eco-cognitive approach reveals critical links between perception and conceptualization processes involved in understanding the poem. Perceptual-conceptual confluences have contributed substantially to studies of cognition and representation (for key reviews see Barsalou 1999; Gibbs 2006; and Hutchins 2010).  Evidence of cognitive ecology has been especially relevant to recent changes in linguistics, in particular studies of force-dynamics in grammar (Langacker 1990; 2008), perceptual cues in semantics (Coulson 2001; Talmy 2000), systematic accounts of form-meaning relations in semantics (Fauconnier and Turner 2002; Goldberg 2003), and a non-deterministic view of categorization through perceptual phenomena like prototypicality and abstraction (Lakoff 1987). Aspects of cognitive ecology inform many other areas of cognitive scientific research as well (see Gibbs 2006a), and include models of action-in-perception in visual psychology (Arnheim 2004; O’Regan 2011), co-signaling in gesture studies (McNeill 1992; McNeill 2005; Müller 2007; Kendon 2004), and studies of creative interpretations of interfaces in new media (Chow and Harrell 2013). Recently, eco-cognitive approaches have also contributed to the analysis of other modes, such as interactions between acting and vocal expression, as well as allegorical qualities of sonic representation, in musical performance (Sharon, Fais, and Vatikiotis-Bateson 2013; Zbikowski 2002). Similarly, embodied analyses of creative extrapolations and interactions with visual art account for the phenomenological experience of both surface and depth (Arnheim 2009; Currie 2003; 2004; Johnson 2007; Zeki 2004). These areas share an interest in the relation   48 between perception, action, meaning, and representation while focusing on a multimodal, rather than solely linguistic, understanding of meaning construction. The eco-cognitive approach, therefore, provides a critical framework for showing how medial environments and representational modes add to understandings of cultural artifacts. Interactions between perception and conception function through integrated sensorimotor contingencies learnt from past experience and through qualitative parallels between senses (Köhler 1929; Ramachandran 2011; Ramachandran and Hubbard 2001). Such connections between senses illustrate a synaesthetic quality to cognition and representational modalities and suggest that cross-modal interactions between various forms and meanings are significant in communication (Freeman 2007; Hiraga 2005; Perloff 2010; Taub 2001), in particular by prompting “voluntary, partial synaesthesia” in recipients (Slingerland 2008, 217).28 For instance, in McCaffery’s poem, the stamped texture of the left side correlates visually with perhaps the felt roughness of a stone or with visual obscurity, which suggests a quality of the language, perhaps as a gravelly or harshly produced sound, or at the very least is indistinct. The smooth form of the man contrasts with this sensual chaos, which suggests a movement from harsh perceptual indistinctness of perhaps prelinguistic noise to the clarity of intention and action as one gains literacy. The synaesthetic conflation and conversion of sight, touch , and sound imbues the reader-viewer’s understanding of the poem with a multimodal texture, fleshing                                                       28 Studies into sound symbolism continue to affirm Ramachandran and Hubbard’s approach. For instance, mappings between sound pitch and visual height also present analogies between modalities that inform how we understand an interlocutor by presenting a form of vocal gesture (Clark, Perlman, and Falck 2013).   49 out the transformative nature of language.  McCaffery and bpNichol, in their collaborative theorizing in Rational Geomancy (1992), describe this synaesthetic transformation in terms of translation (47-51), “thereby opening up the entire area of translation as one primarily of invention” (49). The multimodal integration seen in aspects of poetic interpretation are buttressed by the pervasiveness of synaesthetic metaphors in language (Lakoff 1987; Sullivan and Jiang 2013) and multimodal metaphors more generally (Forceville and Urios-Aparisi 2009). For instance, the metaphor, THINKING IS MOVING (Lakoff 1993), facilitates the reading of McCaffery’s poem as one of the progress to literacy and beyond, in which the implied external movement of the figure connects to the implied internal nature of linguistic proficiency. Hence the visual focus on the head and foot. Similarly, the depiction of a tool in hand perhaps correlates to the metaphorical notion of UNDERSTANDING IS GRASPING, in which language comprehension becomes a tool for interaction. Thus, the movement of the figure produces a refinement of perception and action within a literate space, all of which is arrived at through synaesthetic connections between visual, verbal, and sensorimotor qualities prompted by the poem. Much like McCaffery’s visual poem, representational modalities, such as gesture, spoken and written language, and images, all prompt the activation of synaesthetic cognitive complexes. Gesture scholar Cornelia Müller notes that “we think in terms of the expressive modalities we have at hand” (2007, 109), which means that “language is at its core multimodal” (111) and serves as a form of external, situated scaffolding of cognition (Clark 2008). Since meaning emerges out of readerly activation processes, N. Katherine Hayles argues that “[m]ateriality thus cannot be specified in advance; rather, it occupies a borderland—or better, performs as connective tissue—joining the physical and mental, the artifact and the user” (2004, 72). As we have seen with McCaffery’s poem, rather than the work having inherent “conceptual content,”   50 this content is part of an enactive, projective, and dynamic interpretational and constructional process in the reader-viewer and can prompt racialized, gendered, and social Darwinian valences. While texts exist as material products in the world, they are meaningless until they are cognitively networked.29 These conclusions are particularly salient for the discussion of a range of multimodal literatures beyond the relatively straightforward poem discussed above. Such literatures, often self-reflexively incorporate a wide array of medial and modal prompts associated with print media, such as page turns, bindings, page sizes, paper qualities, typefaces, and font sizes as part of their representational practices, as well as overt uses of aspects of visual and verbal modalities (see Gibbons 2012, esp. 29-41). Book historians like Jerome McGann (1991, 56-67) and George Bornstein (2001, 6-7) call this array of medial/modal features bibliographic codes. McGann describes bibliographic codes as “the symbolic and signifying dimensions of the physical medium through which (or rather as which) the linguistic text is embodied” (56). N. Katherine Hayles (2003) refers to them more broadly as “the material conditions of textuality.” Peter Stockwell, an                                                       29 The poem, therefore, is meaningless until engaged by a human with the sufficient background knowledge (education, experience, etc) to network with it sufficiently to unpack its potential meaning. The book is meaningless as a prompter of social and cultural understandings significant to other organisms, but remains a potentially significant object in the environment. Thus, for a bookworm, dust mite, mouse, or another organism which would find a book an inviting environment or useful object, the book would be meaningful but in a different way. Of course, in this chapter I am talking about human biocultural cognition, which means that meaning develops around experience and learnt parameters of engagement. At the same time, this should not be read to exclude non-human agents who might also interact with the artifact and develop their own sense of its meaning. In their case, their embodied limitations will inform their understanding of it.    51 important advocate and developer of the cognitive poetic approach to literature, calls such “experienced qualities of textuality” texture (2009, 1), which overtly signals the sensuousness of his approach to language and literature. As Alison Gibbons notes, however, experimental literatures are particularly well positioned to “pose a challenge to cognitive poetics and may subsequently play an important role in its advancement” (2012, 38) by pushing it beyond its linguistic focus to include typographic features. As with McCaffery’s poem, the recognition of the synaesthetic and multimodal processes of medial and modal elaboration on the part of reader-viewers rapidly expands our understanding of how such works push beyond linguistic determinism. In this dissertation, I join Gibbons in expanding the parameters and processes of texture to include a range of multimodal cues to show how more detailed engagement with the processes of cognition reveal the creative conceptual and perceptual assemblages, leaps, and shifts facilitated by the multimodal construction of meaning.     2.2.1 Intersubjectivity and Construal As a part of cognitive ecology, representations always incorporate the individuality of personal experience and embodied viewpoint as well as intersubjective social and cultural assumptions. As Eve Sweetser observes, We have no non-viewpointed perception of the world: our bodies are always asymmetrically constrained in visual and manual access to the world, as well as in motion—the space in front of us is accessible in a way that the one behind us is not. And there’s more to it, which has been much less examined than the single viewpoint. As soon as there’s another person sharing space with me, my body tracks what they can see or reach, as well as what I can see or reach. (2013, 240)   52 When employing representations, users engage in a process of perspectivization, or as it is more commonly called, construal (Verhagen 2007). We attempt to construct a viewpoint for others, for a variety of reasons, and, in turn, try to understand their viewpoints as well, which creates an assumed intersubjective relation prompted by environmental cues (including media and representation). This projective assumption of intersubjectivity leads to the problematic discussions in many literature classes of the borders of authorial intentions and their determination of reader interpretations (a.k.a. the intentional fallacy). While we can never access the minds of others, the recognition that representational practices are generally intention-loaded practices is sufficient to prompt a wide range of intersubjective and intentional assumptions in readers that contribute substantially to the emergent meanings of texts (see Crane 2001; Gibbs 1999; 2001). Barbara Dancygier argues for viewing “literary texts as dynamic means of supporting intersubjective minds” (413). Reading intentions into actions and representations is crucial to sociality and interpretation and will play an especially significant role in the next chapters on visual poetry (especially Chapter 5) by loading intentionality onto abstract works and investing them with manifestic and speculative qualities. The intersubjective bias of intentionality follows from the principles of cognitive ecology, since others populate and engage in the same environment and with whom we are in constant dialogue; therefore, they are both subjects and objects within this space, influencing and being influenced through modes of action and representation. Place and Fitterman call this blended positionality “sobjectivity” (2013, 38-40). Cognitive ecology oscillates between systematic cohesion and environmental and intersubjective disruption that feeds back and throughout the system. This intersubjective fluidity allows us to accommodate multiple viewpoints, to diversify our subject positions, and to understand different construal phenomena. Texts play an important   53 role as intersubjective disruptions. For instance, as I discuss in Chapters 4 and 5, many visual poems offer critiques of urban and gendered experiences and might also be said to act as art manifestoes for speculative linguistic futures. At the same time, the variability of communicative practices also requires a continual assessment of possibilities of meaning as we engage with a work, since representations never fit the world, but are “good enough” as partial prompts for creative selection and projection within the processes of meaning construction (Spolsky 2001; 2002). Construal and perspectivation phenomena within representational modalities are products of readerly inferences about prompts, and often reflect eco-cognitive biases surrounding roles, values, and domains of experience (see Barsalou 2008; Gallese and Lakoff 2005; Kiefer and Pulvermüller 2012; Verhagen 2007). Material artifacts prompt these various phenomena through their activation within an individual’s eco-cognitive network, which includes their background knowledge. 30   To show how construal, viewpoint, and intersubjectivity add to the analysis of visual poetry, I turn to Paul Dutton’s poem “Narcissus A, 8” (Figure 5). This poem offers incomplete glimpses of a capital letter A. We recognize the A through the perceptual phenomena of object completion while, at the same time, recognizing its incompleteness. One might infer that the poem is constructed out of many letters that have been sliced up and pasted together, or as a single letter that has slid about the page and has been visually captured at various stages of its                                                       30  The eco-cognitive emphasis on interweaving physiological and socio-cultural knowledges correlates nicely to Pierre Bourdieu’s work on the concept of “habitas” (1990; see Lizardo 2004), which denotes the blending of social positioning, taste, education, and other experiences that inform how we assess and interact with people and things around us.   54 movements, or as many letters that have been layered upon each other with some occluding others. Furthermore, the repetition of parts of the letter, including serifs and parts of the ascenders and descenders, develop a sense of interchangeability as well as difference; these letters are the same, yet distinct in the facet that is presented to the reader. As such, readers likely develop a construal of a fragmentary, multifaceted, and dramatic letter. Furthermore, similarities and differences perhaps interweave into a multi-viewpointed appraisal of the letter, suggesting that the poem represents the intersubjective conglomeration of perspectives, such as what might collectively accrue upon a letter hung on the wall of a kindergarten classroom.   Figure 5: “Narcissus A, 8” by Paul Dutton (2010).    55 Since the intersubjective realm that this text inhabits is informed through cultural and social discourses, this helps address how the title further construes the poem by drawing in the Grecian myth of Narcissus. The multiple glimpses and gazes that seemed to inform this poem might also be read, in light of the title, as a repetitive gaze at a singular form. Here, the viewpointedness of language is harnessed as both a literal and mythical gaze. This mythical attribution extends our understanding of the multiplied and fractured representation of the letter A, perhaps to construe it as having been broken through over-zealous attention. At the same time, language may also be construed as an inherently dubious and incomplete reflection of either the reader/writer or of the world. Yet in this duplicity the letter nonetheless holds the viewer captive. It is noteworthy that it is an indefinite article that features in this fragmented poem, since it can so easily apply to anything and nothing; it does not discriminate. Perhaps the fractured image of the A is a reflection of any or all readers or writers who has become obsessed with language. At the same time, since Narcissus becomes trapped by his own reflection perhaps the title suggests that a focus on language is a focus on oneself, that language is in some way a self-reflection. This nicely captures the sense of perception and language being inherently viewpointed from the individual’s specific embodiment. Furthermore, the frame of Narcissus also carries a caution against the downfalls of representation, since Narcissus is held captive (quite literally) by an image. The poem complicates our perspective by presenting a rippled, textured figuration of a multiplied letter that is both sign and image. The cumulative construal of the letter A in this particular poem may present the rippling surface of language itself, which presumably reflects or gazes back at the reader. The poem, perhaps, serves as a caution against the mesmeric potential of seeing oneself in language, or of expecting a truthfulness from language, itself so multifaceted and polysemous. By butchering the   56 letter A, Dutton has constructed its true face as illusory, empty, indefinite. Readers are invited to traverse this illusion to enact a narcissistic fixation on the poem while also attempting to see through or beyond its hall of mirrors. The poem shows how viewpoint, construal, and intersubjectivity can be reified in a material object while simultaneously seeming to caution readers against presuming any fixed representational meaning within linguistic expression. The multiplied, rippling letter seen in this poem might very well be the intersubjective letter through which Narcissus is saved. Here the poem defamiliarizes the false-mirror of language by employing its inherent multi-viewpointedness to break its mesmerism.  2.3 Attenuated Cognition and Mental Simulation  Research into cognitive ecology clearly shows that sensorimotor (perceptual) regimes inform conceptualization through materialistic, schematic, viewpointed, and intersubjective assumptions of cognition geared for action. Thus, sensorimotor systems reuse systems designed for action in the world for conceptualization processes as well. In order to ground conceptualization in perception and action—in order to reuse, manipulate, and extend embodied knowledge—knowledge must be distanced to some degree from action; it must be attenuated (Langacker 2008, 536-37). That is, when we think about dancing, we do not actually start dancing in the streets. Except for at Mardi Gras or in flash-mobs, if that happened we would find ourselves quickly attenuated from society! In fact, cognitive processes operate on varying levels of activation and through parallel mirror neuron systems, such that perceptual systems can operate—modally and synaesthetically—by activating and networking mental imagery, memories, and environmental cues without prompting bodily action. These attenuated functions ground knowledge in sensorimotor processes while divorcing them from requisite actions; this   57 separation allows people to intuit, anticipate, infer, rehearse, imagine, and project understandings and emotions from their experiential pasts onto others and things in the present and into possible futures. Attenuation explains the synaesthetic and intersubjective phenomena discussed above. Attenuated knowledge activation has recently been explained most fully through the theory of mental simulation (often, hereafter, referred to just as simulation31). Benjamin Bergen summarizes simulation as “the creation of mental experiences of perception and action in the absence of the external manifestation” (2012, 14). In other words, it is the activation of embodied ecological knowledge without activating the body itself. For instance, mental simulation produced the sense of cutting, layering, and sliding ascribed to Paul Dutton’s “Narcissus A, 8” above. Simulation is pervasive in cognitive processes, including short- and long-term memory formation and activation, and is characterized by the partial de-coupling and appropriation of sensorimotor processes for perceptual and conceptual elaboration. As Bergen shows through discussions of brain scans and other empirical evidence, common mental processes like assessing objects and sounds, recalling memories, and envisioning interactions, when prompted through verbal instructions, “engage the specific parts of the brain dedicated to the different modes of perception and action” (47). Simulation is a whole-brain phenomenon that works across                                                       31 I should be clear that whenever I say simulation, it must not be confused with Jean Baudrillard’s (1994) conceptual apparatus of simulacra and simulation. Baudrillard’s concepts refer to material cultural productions and their ideological implications; thus, his work more closely aligns with how discourse can augment frames of experience through metaphorical expressions rather than on mental processes per se. For a largely analogous, cognitive approach to such discursive and cultural phenomena, see George Lakoff’s (2002) work on political metaphors and frames.   58 sensorimotor systems as we interact with various things in our surroundings. Mental simulation plays a crucial role in such processes as forethought, object recognition, event responses, and intention recognition because it acts to integrate past experiences with present events and to make inferences about objects, things, and people surrounding us (Bergen 2012, 82-86; Oberman, Winkielman, and Ramachandran 2010). Simulation also plays a significant role in social interactions. It helps us recognize the actions and possible intentions of others, by running our own simulation to mimic what others are doing. Vittorio Gallese (2009) suggests that simulation creates a projective, interpersonal dynamic much akin to the psychoanalytic ideas of transference and countertransference. Thus, it plays a strong role in empathy by creating that “feeling for” someone else (see Carr et al. 2003; Iacoboni 2008; 2009).32  Empathy derives from simulations of events, intentions, and background knowledge in conjunction with facial expressions and bodily actions. All of these combine to prompt affective understanding as we quite literally envision ourselves as an other in order to understand them (see esp. Carr et al. 2003; Gibbs 2006a; Gallese 2005; Iacoboni 2009).  Simulation establishes an intersubjective link through shared expressions which are crucial to the development of language use (Corballis 2010). It suggests why readers empathize with, or project themselves into the positions of literary characters, sympathizing with some and                                                       32 Antonio Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens (1999) offers a compelling overview of emotion, affect, and consciousness from an embodied perspective that correlates to simulation theory through his discussion of ‘as-if’ loops. Of course, there is much more to emotion and affect beyond simulation theory (see Dalgleish, Dunn, and Mobbs 2009), but it does clarify the prompting of intersubjective states.   59 despising others. Literature provides a means of engaging with a variety of social interactions and learning opportunities through vicarious, fictional simulations grounded in an intersubjective communicative modality (Mar and Oatley 2008; Keith Oatley 1995; 1999; Zwaan 2009). Simulation is, therefore, crucial to Rolf Zwaan’s notion of the immersed experiencer: “Comprehension is the vicarious experience of the described events through the integration and sequencing of traces from actual experience cued by the linguistic input” (Zwaan 2004  38; affirmed by Bergen 2012, 72). As Benjamin Bergen suggests (2012, 66-72), vicarious comprehension almost exclusively exploits human-scale viewpoints. It follows that simulations are also individually nuanced:  people simulate in response to language, but their simulations appear to vary substantially.... Variation in the things people think words refer to is important because it means that people use their idiosyncratic mental resources to construct meaning. (Bergen 2012, 19) Thus, individual cognitive ecology constrains meaning to some extent. While physiological similarities mean that people are bound to interpret things in a number of predictable ways (as reflected in consistencies across cultures in the employment of contrastive image-schemas like UP-DOWN, LEFT-RIGHT, and FRONT-BACK in metaphorical constructions), the diversity of individual experiences also requires cognitive flexibility for interaction and construal so that we understand each other even through the differences. Such flexibility has led to the development of alternativity and figurativity in meaning systems (Tomasello 1999; Turner 2014), since these systems can only be “good enough” rather than representationally perfect or mimetic in order to   60 apply to unique occasions and to be manipulated by individual users to their purposes (Freeman 2007; Spolsky 2002).33 Simulation drives visual and verbal comprehension processes in both literal and metaphorical uses.34 In fact, as Benjamin Bergen argues (2005), mental simulation presents a coherent argument for viewing literal and figurative language as a part of a spectrum rather than as a basic division between types of linguistic usage (conclusions that are further reinforced by critiques of the metaphor/metonymy binary: see Barnden 2010). It also functions across realistic and alternative uses of imagery and in combinations of modalities. For example, Gibbs and Matlock (2008) discuss a poster with a picture of a raised boot. Under the boot, a caption states, “You have feet. Stomp out racism in your scene” (161). To interpret this poster, “people envisioned stomp out racism by imagining their bodies in action against the metaphorical object or living entity of racism” (161-62). By activating sensorimotor understandings, the everyday, literal experience of stomping is transformed into a metaphorically and socially loaded conceptualization. As Benjamin Bergen summarizes, to understand metaphorical language, we appear to construct embodied simulations that are slightly less detailed than ones we construct for literal language, but that are no less motor or perceptual....The idea that we’ve come to is that we take what we know about how to perceive concrete things and to perform actions, and we use that knowledge to both describe                                                       33 Place and Fitterman (2013) note that “Radical mimesis is original sin” (20), which I think construes the desire for linguistic determinacy rather nicely.  34 Substantial evidence now shows how ubiquitous mental simulation is in modal interpretations. See Bergen (2012), Gibbs and Matlock (2008), and Ramachandran (2011) for general introductions.    61 and also think about abstract concepts. In this way, we bootstrap harder things to think and talk about—abstract concepts—off of easier things to think and talk about—concrete concepts. (2012, 208-09) Thus, cognition involves a propensity for projection beyond material and perceptual constraints through multimodal abstractions (see also Gallese 2003; 2008; Gallese and Lakoff 2005). This means, at times, that a mental simulation, by using perceptual systems, in fact interferes with perception, so that if one hears about or expects something, it can alter whether or not one attends to things in your surroundings. In some cases, the imagined and the real become indistinguishable (Bergen 2012, 26-30). While simulation is attenuated from action, it can still cause interference in sensorimotor systems. Nonetheless, this perceptual engagement typically facilitates comprehension. Competing simulations can also impede each other. Incompatible visual and verbal prompts within the same sensorimotor system cause delays in comprehension by creating competing simulations that inhibit each other (86-92). For instance, pictorial illusions like bi-stable images, which can be interpreted two ways equally, pose such a challenge. A classic example of bi-stable imagery is an “illusion” (Figure 6) popularized by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1953, 166) and E. H. Gombrich (1960, 5), but first employed for psychological studies by Joseph Jastrow (1899, 312). 35  Bi-stable images oscillate between identifications because of their simultaneously salient features, which need to be clarified either through reconstrual or framing                                                       35 See Kihlstrom’s (2004) history of this particular image and the role of Jastrow in developing the psychological study of such perceptual illusions.   62 (Peterson et al. 1992), thereby driving counteractive simulations that need to be disintegrated to be intelligible. In this case, one cannot perceive the rabbit and duck at the same time, but must oscillate between them, and often preferences are given to one or the other interpretation depending on experiential situatedness, including how the illusion is presented and titled. While the representation is a hybrid of both, our phenomenological experience of it is as either a rabbit or a duck or a rabbit or a duck or a .... You get the point.   Figure 6: The duck-rabbit illusion first used by Joseph Jastrow (1899, 312).   On the other hand, images and texts can also help support each other by priming compatible simulations of different or cooperative elements of an experiential network. As Bergen suggests, multiple simulations can run parallel to each other (2005, 273) as long as their proximity does not cause excessive overlap or incompatibilities within neuronal systems that causes “cross-talk” or cognitive noise (2012, 261-64). Simulations can also build upon each other in what Bergen calls “multiphase simulations” (2012, 148). These are particularly salient to discussions of literature, where a complex sequence of mental images develops narrative or   63 poetic effect. Mental simulation, therefore, plays a crucial role in activating modal prompts as well as weaving together more lengthy comprehension processes within or between them.  To be clear, this should not appear as a solely bottom up understanding of mental simulation, since it plays a functional role in cognitive ecology, and the social and cultural spheres play a crucial role in sensorimotor developments.  For instance, mental simulation processes tied to understanding causal motion are impacted by the writing direction of the given language, and presumably the literacy level of the subject (Bergen 2012, 184). This directionality also impacts inferences made about other cultural artifacts such as comics (187). Such evidence reveals the impact of cultures, history, and artifacts on simulations as parts of cognitive ecology. Simulation crucially facilitates the feedback loop between the environment and resultant activations in cognition. Thus, there is a dialogic relation between prior knowledge and ongoing modal prompts that draws on this knowledge to make sense of things. Importantly, this means that simulation not only mimics actions, but also extends understandings beyond their material constraints. In line with Michael Newall’s (2011, Ch 2) work on visual depiction, simulation moves perception beyond seeing to what Newall calls “non-veridical seeing,” which is the recognition of depicted properties that support understandings that go beyond what is represented. For example, one might see a head going past a window and infer that it includes a whole person. Without this automatic cognitive process, a person sitting near a window would find the world a rather frightening place of disembodied heads. Ecological psychology refers to this phenomena of perceptual in-filling as “amodal, indirect perception” (Rock 1997). Newall suggests that understanding the subject matter of a picture means that viewers move beyond seeing to recognition and projection or seeing-in, which means we see content that is not physically there, which renders the experience of the image non-veridical.    64 Non-veridicality is the central problem in art criticism of “double perception” that E. H. Gombrich describes as “the complex interplay between reflex and reflection, involvement and detachment that we so inadequately sum up in the term ‘illusion’” (1973, 241-42). Mental simulation gives us a verified cognitive process with clear parameters for engaging with this transformative process from seeing to perceiving (Oberman, Winkielman, and Ramachandran 2010).  What Newall and Gombrich describe as the process of moving beyond seeing to recognition and activation strongly reflects research on mental simulation that accounts for this cognitive fluidity. Simulation is a crucial mechanism for experiencing images and language by activating recognition and interactional processes and operates at a variety of scales of eco-cognitive knowledge. Distinguishing carefully between the static representation before the reader-viewer and the dynamic mental simulation that activates it helps isolate how different material features of the work prompt emergent understandings derived from the reader’s simulative processes and responses.36 2.4 Cognitive Phenomena Within the broad framework of dynamic cognitive ecology, several dominant structures and phenomena constrain or facilitate the activation of embodied background knowledge. Furthermore, they reflect patterns of environmental engagement that are embedded in material                                                       36 This resonates with Roland Barthes’ (1977) distinction between work and text, but builds in a relational and dynamic process for articulating how the reader develops their personal understanding (text) from the communally accessible, materially embodied literary work.    65 culture, which leads some researchers to refer to human meaning systems and cultures as biocultures. The recognition of how specific features of modal and cross-modal representations inform interpretations of multimodal literatures allows for a recursive tracing of how particular meanings are motivated from a text.  To interact with any environment requires an organism to figure out their physiological capabilities for interacting with specific objects around them; this requires the ability to read for affordances, for potentialities for action and interaction. As Anthony Chemero notes, this aspect of seeing beyond things—of seeing things for how they support actions rather than as simply objects unto themselves—shows that what we perceive of as meaningful “cannot be merely physical” (Chemero, 2009: 135). Affordances illustrate a projective quality of cognition that develops textual phenomena such as fictive motion or fictive change in which representations cue alternate fictive understandings, such as when we say that a long fence “runs across the field,” when in fact it cannot physically do so. Thus, this projective quality of perception informs conception. As consistent sensorimotor interactions with things in the environment develop over time, these lead to relational patterns that support faster responses through established assumptions and inferences (although these patterns are always flexible and can be updated when incongruences arise). The more settled the patterns of relation, the more unconscious they become. Cognitive scientists have engaged with these experiential patterns across a variety of levels of granularity or specificity. Each level informs meaning construction in language and   66 other modalities. Object and scene affordances remain relevant, but are also encoded in abstracted orientational and directional parameters called image schemas (such as UP-DOWN or PATH37). While image schemas are a part of how environments and objects are understood, they can also be projected onto more abstract concepts to help structure them, such as in metaphors of morality like GOOD IS UP and BAD IS DOWN. Through image schematic structure, a conceptual system of relation emerges that can continue to connect across various images, phrases, poems, and stories. For instance, “falling into a pit of despair” maps perception to affective qualities and even moral connotations.  More complex networks of action and knowledge that connect understandings of objects, roles, and values are called frames, and these can be activated metonymically or metaphorically (Dancygier and Sweetser 2014). Both creative constructions of meaning are perhaps best modeled through the theory of conceptual integration (commonly referred to as blending), which explicitly traces how perceptual and conceptual cues are selectively projected into an emergent, synthetic understanding (called a blend). I will discuss all of these aspects of cognition in more detail in the following section in relation to a visual poem by Melody Wessel. The complex integration of modalities in multimodal literatures allows them a wide degree of flexibility in how they prompt meanings across this granular spectrum of cognitive architecture. I begin at the “bottom,” or most basic and schematic of interactions, in order to                                                       37 Image schemas, as well as other basal level conceptual structures like conceptual metaphors, are typically referred to using small capitalization to distinguish them from higher order perceptual and conceptual phenomena.   67 work my way up to more complex features of cognition. At the same time, all of these features or phenomena inform image and language, so this is an artificial breaking apart of features in order to highlight their functionality (see Bergen 2012, Ch. 3; Lakoff 1987; Oakley 2009). The basic configurations of perceptual systems are recruited for interpreting representational artifacts, and thereby move readers beyond a purely material engagement with textualized artifacts. By parsing eco-cognitive responses to multimodal literatures in this granular way, we can see the significance of their contributions to emergent understandings and interpretations.     2.4.1 Niches, Attention, and Affordances: Material Possibilities  One of the ways that we load the environment with meaning is through affordances.  First thoroughly discussed by James J. Gibson (1979), and elaborated upon by successive ecological psychologists, affordances are best thought of as the possibilities for action that something presents to an organism. This means that they “are relations between [an organism’s] abilities and features of the environment” (Chemero 2009, 145), such that objects or things in the environment afford a variety of specific, possible actions or responses that correspond to an organism’s niche, its specific place in a dynamic ecosystem.38 For instance, a mug affords grasp-ability, contain-ability by prompting simulations of sensorimotor knowledge of its form and actions associated with it (Bergen 2012; Iacoboni 2008; Pecher et al. 2009; Zwaan, Stanfield, and                                                       38 I cannot go into the details of psychological research into affordances, but Chemero (2009) and Greeno (1994) offer good, detailed contemporary summaries and engagements with the field. Mark Johnson (1987; 2007) also employs the Gibsonian notion of affordances in his discussions of embodied meaning.   68 Yaxley 2002; Ebisch et al. 2008). Importantly, language comprehension prompts the same object interactions in mental imagery (Pecher et al. 2009; Zwaan, Stanfield, and Yaxley 2002). It follows that we  can then employ our knowledge of object affordances cross-modally in order to interpret representational prompts. Anthony Chemero also points out that events alter affordances of the environment, since an organism’s actions must change in response to them (148). Thus, affordances are materially and ecologically located as well as niche specific. They are also malleable, since organisms must be able to update and adjust their interactions to the actions of or changes to the thing or object of their affections or intentions. Cognitive research shows that biases toward action extend through to a variety of multimodal phenomena, such as linguistic and gestural content (see Arbib 2010; McNeill and Duncan 1998; Slobin 1996). This shows that affordances work cross-modally and multimodally. Therefore, through cognition material artifacts become similarly loaded with affordances as objects in the environment and much more so than just using a book as a doorstop based on the affordances of its bulk and weight. Media correspond with specific modalities that activate abilities for creative action and response. As such, they present a type of environment or niche in which creative expression and action are accomplished and in which specific affordances are available for engagement.  Here we can see a ratcheting up of engagement from that of action in the world to action in and through texts. For multimodal literatures, and especially visual poetry, in a sense the page becomes a stage. Media do not afford the degree of embodied dynamicity of an actual, ecologically robust environment, but they do place unique constraints upon expression (action) and interpretation (response). As Jay David Bolter notes, “signs are always anchored in a medium. Signs may be more or less dependent upon the characteristics of one medium – they may transfer more or less well to other media – but there is no such thing as a sign without a   69 medium” (1991, 195-96; qtd in Chandler 2007, 55). While some visual poetic texts gesture to a space beyond mediation, they nonetheless cannot do so without the affordances of the medium (including both its technologies and conventions) through which they are presented to the world and which inform their ability to gesture (Dworkin 2013). Much like the mug with its potential for particular interactions, media also prescribe particular affordances. For print media, such affordances are largely constrained to visual, verbal, manual (ex. size and shape), and proprioceptive (ex. weight and page turns) qualities. Creators of literary works (in particular visually salient ones) engage with the affordances of sign systems, print technologies, social expectations about bibliographic and visual representation, modal limitations, and material productions to construct their works. For example, Melody Wessel’s visual poem “Gossip” (Figure 7) largely employs pieces of letters to represent a shaped mosaic with a crumpled up title at the top. Wessel, as with other visual poets, employs the material affordances of type primarily as an artistic material rather than linguistic element within the poem. Furthermore, she breaks from bibliographic conventions and reading practices by creating dominant vertical rather than horizontal lines and making the titular word a globular mass rather than a clear, linear sequence of letters. Wessel takes letters and jumbles and sculpts their shapes to develop a form that breaks expectations while suggesting a relation to the interpersonal issues of gossip. The affordances of letters as parts of a mosaic facilitate this pictographic recalibration by signaling a writerly intentionality to the work’s unexpected pictorial presence as a smokestack or a penis with punctuation marks circling at the bottom and titles forming at the top. The reader’s sense of intentionality comes from simulating the possible routes to constructing the poem with parts of letters by recognizing the affordances of the modalities that Wessel has employed to construct phallic or industrial imagery. This glimpse of the creative   70 process adds a specific dynamicity to the poem’s materially static presence on the page. Furthermore, as I will demonstrate, the phallic or industrial imagery also adds to interpretations of the gossip that it produces. One might contend that the poem is either situating gossip as an outcome of sexual or illicit activities or as a social pollutant.  How one comes to such conclusions involves an array of cognitive mechanisms that contribute to the phenomenal experience of the poem. Beginning as I have with basic attentional experiences like affordances, I will continue to work my way up to more complex features of cognitive architecture and to a more robust reading of the poem.  Figure 7: “Gossip" by Melody Wessel (in Hryciuk, 2009, 9).    71    2.4.2 Fictivity When I examine Melody Wessel’s visual poem “Gossip,” parts of the image seem to move, cycle, rise, and expand. Here we see another phenomenon through which cognition transcends the materiality of experience to reveal a “cognitive bias towards dynamism” (Talmy 1996, 213). Such perceptions of the poem illustrate a transformation of a static array of typographical marks into a dynamic image, diagram, or scene. Mental simulation helps develop this emergent experience of “fictive change” and “fictive motion” (Langacker 2008; Matlock 2004).  Fictive change denotes the subjective construal of something in terms of an alternate state of being. For instance, conceptualizing a “broken line” involves a sense of an archetypal line which breaks in the process of being represented on the page as a series of dashes (Langacker 2008, 530). By simulating the breaking of a whole line to interpret the dashes, readers develop a sense of a state prior to representation and, thus, understand both the represented and the prior state together. Other change-of-state expressions involve similar conceptual processes such that the negated state always informs conceptualization by infusing the static representation with a dynamic, transformational shadow. For instance, the central columns of Wessel’s poem appear to be made of bits and pieces of broken letters, which give a sense that language is being glimpsed in the process of cohering into words, or that it has been butchered to facilitate production. This hint of language construes gossip as the end product of a process of linguistic incompleteness or decay. The embedded title, at the top right corner of the poem, also reflects this dynamic sense of linguistic reconfiguration, since the reader must unscramble the letters in order to find the title. Between the title and the central columns, fictive change adds a dynamic quality to the poem and emphasizes the disintegration of linguistic elements in the production of gossip.    72 A related dynamic inference from static representations is fictive motion. Leonard Talmy (1996), in his influential discussion of various types of fictive motion, describes them as “nonveridical phenomena” that draw on perceptual experiences to inform understandings of language and other representational forms. These phenomena include “linguistic instances that depict motion…[and] visual instances in which one perceives motion with no physical occurrence” (211, emphasis mine). For instance, one might describe (as I did above) a fence that runs across the field, or a road that hugs the coastline. Through mental simulation, readers project dynamic perceptual and agentive qualities onto objects, which transforms their perceived states of being (Matlock 2004; Oakley 2009; Richardson and Matlock 2007). Fictive constructions prompt a more dynamic and dramatic understanding, such that the fence is conceived of as longer, or the road is understood to run closer to the edge than, say, a shore-side road. Furthermore, conceptualizing static objects as mobile involves inferences about trajectories and relations between static elements, including the understanding that a line of static letters can run across a page. In terms of Wessel’s “Gossip,” a repeated form, such as the sequences of question and exclamation marks, can be construed as a single form glimpsed moving repeatedly through time and space, thereby prompting a sense of fictive motion across the page. These marks also appear to circle around and into the base of the central column, thereby seeming to add themselves into the chaos at the base of the pillar of broken letters. By simulating these motion paths, one garners the understanding that this particular object is attracting attention by raising questions and generating excitement. Through such qualities, further linguistic particles (and presumably their speakers) add themselves to the production of more gossip.  Leonard Talmy (1996) describes a variety of fictive motion paths with specific qualities and functions. One major group is “demonstrative paths,” which direct attention (219-26); it is   73 through the imaginary line of directed attention that fictivity emerges. Talmy includes arrows as a type of demonstrative fictive motion that can include both agentive and non-agentive qualities (229). For Wessel’s poem, this means that fictive motion is also involved in the unidirectional motion of the bigger column and the oscillation of the smaller one beside it. We might read these in diagrammatic terms as depicting a more dominant upward force that is complemented by a secondary oscillating force. This may correlate with the phallic qualities of the poem, which thrusts predominantly upward, but it might also suggest a back draft within the smokestack that is spewing pollution.  Putting these various fictive qualities of the poem together suggests that linguistic elements accumulate at the base, are transformed or crushed, and make their way to the top to produce the cloud of gossip. The distinctiveness of the title beside this production process suggests that it is the final product that spews out and is captured in this poem before it drops back down. The visual conspicuousness of the gossipy globule suggests a weight to it that will likely drag it back down to the base, perhaps as part of a feedback loop, which adds a further sense of its social impact and its weight in public discourse. There emerges from these fictive force dynamics a fairly specific diagram of action attached to the end product of gossip.  So far, I have shown how mental simulation of fictive motion paths constructs a coherent, dynamic scene of action in Wessel’s visual poem. Mental simulation is the engine that animates these letters on the page-stage as they are eco-cognitively networked,     2.4.3 Gestalts, Image Schemas, and Primary Scenes My discussion of affordances and fictivity demonstrates how perception integrates projections of movement and agentivity into inferences about things. This reflects the cognitive propensity to   74 incorporate action into perception in order to extrapolate beyond that which is represented (Noë 2004; O’Regan 2011). Gestalt psychology corroborates these findings through experiments on perceptual and cross-modal phenomena that show patterns of interpretation that extend beyond the representations themselves. These non-representational phenomena, much like affordances and cases of ficitivity, emerge through perceptual processes. Gestalt phenomena include figure-ground relations, object completion, and a variety of forms of grouping based on proximity, similarity, symmetry, causation, continuity, ease of connection, and closure of broken elements (see Chandler, 2007, 151-52; Köhler, 1929). These phenomena of perception show how we typically group and schematize things in our environments to make them more manageable. For instance, in Wessel’s poem “Gossip,” the bolded font style and proximity of the letters that make up the globular title groups them and supports the notion of fictive change of the word “gossip” discussed above. Similarly, the repeated punctuation marks become grouped based on similarity and facilitate the impression of fictive motion. Likewise, the columns of broken letters are viewed as coherent forms due to their proximity and parallel figuration. Also, the fictive change that is incorporated into the columns is perceived through a retroactive object completion, or indirect perception (Rock 1997; Epstein 1997). From this truncated list of perceptual processes, it should be clear that gestalt phenomena play a crucial role in directing attention and facilitating particular inferences about forms and their relationships with each other.  Mark Johnson (1987), inspired in part by Arnheim’s (2004 [1969]; 2009 [1974]) work on gestalt phenomena and art, draws on these biases and perceptual patterns to describe basal units of comprehension and reason that he calls image schemas. These are sensorimotor regimes that reflect pervasive perceptual phenomena—such as UP-DOWN, PATH, CONTAINMENT, and FORCE—  75 which structure a wide array of experiences: “an image schema is a dynamic, recurring pattern of organism-environment interactions. As such, it will reveal itself in the contours of our basic sensorimotor experience” (Johnson, 2007, 136). Image schemas are multimodally constituted (Damasio 1999) and are products of perception for action. Therefore, they include qualities and types of experience tied to motion (such as vectors and force dynamics), locations of objects, and interactions with them (Zlatev 2005). Image schemas support perceptual and conceptual inferences and mappings in the development of complex emergent meanings. For instance, image schemas support structural, orientational, and ontological understandings through basic metaphorical elaborations (Lakoff and Johnson 1980; 1999). These basic schematic qualities help structure understandings by providing intuitive parameters on conceptualization processes. For instance, the image schema of CONTAINMENT suggests an inside and an outside, the inability to transcend the contained space without a specific ability to access or rupture the barrier, and so forth. To return to Wessel’s poem, the VERTICALITY and PATHS suggested by the arrows add to the sense of gaseous or globular production implied by the plume at the top. Both the columns and the plume derive from image schemas of CONTAINMENT. This image schema reflects an important feature of the conceptualization of gossip, which is set up through insider-outsider dynamics and serves to socially evaluate and regulate behavior in many cultures (Merry 1997). At the same time, the globular, disjointed “gossip” at the top also suggests a break from the BALANCE otherwise seen in the poem, since its visual weight seems to drag the whole poem over to the side. This may reflect the common Western view that gossip is a social contaminant that mars reputations by propagating misinformation and throwing off balance the social equilibrium. The poem, therefore, develops an image-schematic network that informs more complex emergent   76 understandings, especially with the integration of social metaphors surrounding gossip. At the same time, it may seem to go against other cultural practices, which use gossip as a way of maintaining social balance by construing it as unbalancing the social order. Of course, this is a fictive construal rather than an actual event. Gossip currently floats in the air; we cannot be sure if it will float or fall.  Image schemas act as one type of basal cognitive infrastructure that facilitates mappings between experiential domains to construct metaphors, analogies, and other correlational groupings and creative understandings. Mappings emerge out of the activation of recurrent and abstracted patterns of experience throughout cognitive development. Joseph Grady and Christopher Johnson (1997) argue that recurrent patterns of phenomenal experience, which they call primary scenes, provide a coherent ground for making meaningful mappings (or primary metaphors). Primary scenes help show how mappings connect perceptual and conceptual facets of experience. For instance, seeing something and knowing of its existence prompts the primary metaphor, KNOWING IS SEEING, which informs statements like “I see what you’re saying.” Such a metaphor may inform a reading of Wessel’s poem, in which we see a long inarticulate process of development, from the bottom up, before finally reading the term “gossip” as the end product. This clarification reinforces an outsider viewpoint on the gossip, and shows how one might only understand what has come to pass once its come out into the open. Similarly, the primary scene of grasping an object in order to engage with it leads to the UNDERSTANDING IS GRASPING   77 metaphor, which underpins an expression like “I get what you’re saying.” 39 Also, connecting the form of containers for different types of content produces the basic metaphor FORMS ARE MEANINGS, which informs such statements as “let me build from what you’re saying.” This metaphor may add synaesthetic qualities to the reading of the word “gossip,” which appears as a tangible object at the top right of the poem. The mangled, globular form suggests that both the form and meaning of gossip is malformed, unreliable, ill-conceived, even while being perceptible in its end-state. Likewise, it looks much like a crumpled up version of itself. In a sense, the columns are producing a social text that is visually instantiated for the reader while also being crumpled up and tossed away. This emergent product is the residue of the gossip—perhaps a fallen note that was passed around the room—finally being exposed for the world to see.40 However, to get to a more complete understanding of how these diagrammatic qualities inform and are informed by wider socio-cultural areas of knowledge, we must turn to a more complex relational structure of cognition: frames or domains.                                                       39  Each of the primary metaphors described above link perception with concepts; such connections have been of central importance to philosophical debates about language and thought. The philosophical debates focus on how the primacy of visuality helps us think in specific ways about language and thought (Jay 1993), but obscures the other embodied aspects of primary scenes, such as that provided through a focus on touch or even on sensual limitations (Vasseleu, 1998). A widened view of multimodal primary scenes, signaled by this shift in philosophy as well as in recent cognitive science, in fact provides crucial grounds for a clarified view of creative associations and interpretations through the explicit connection between perception and conception that grounds inference and mapping processes (Johnson 1981; 1987; 2007; Lakoff and Johnson 1999). This approach develops a specifically synaesthetic, multimodal understanding of metaphor and knowledge (Sullivan and Jiang 2013).  40 My thanks to Paisley Mann for drawing this “crumpled note” element to my attention.   78    2.4.4 Frames and Domains As I have explained, schematic impressions of embodied experience help us interact with and make sense of our environments, and these impressions inform representational meaning systems as well. Mark Turner (1996) notes that on a broader scale, these schematic impressions are also often story-like and provide patterns of interaction that can be mapped onto novel situations. Experiential pattern formation requires a process of abstraction from individual instances by pruning and compressing multiplicity into singularity. For instance, we compress many different days into the singular concept of the cyclical day by matching up recurrent phenomena like the rising and the setting sun and moon while ignoring extraneous ones like what you ate at a particular moment on a given day (see Fauconnier and Turner 2008, esp 58). Ignoring the details does not mean that we necessarily forget the details of salient days, but that their content is compressed in favor of the recurring pattern and only decompressed when needed to explain particular features or qualities of experience or to recall a specific memory. In the later section on conceptual integration, I will examine how the ability to compress and decompress understandings of experience is crucial for understanding creativity (Turner 1999). Charles Fillmore (1982) isolates a particularly helpful and specific type of patterning of everyday life that he calls frames. Frames are any system of concepts related in such a way that to understand any one of them you have to understand the whole structure in which it fits; when one of the things in such a structure is introduced into a text, or into a conversation, all of the other things are automatically made available. (Fillmore, 1982, 111)  One ubiquitous example of a frame, which illustrates the way in which a single prompt calls up the whole structure, is that of an economic exchange. In this frame, a word like sell activates   79 knowledge of merchandise, purchaser, exchange value, and so on. A single relevant prompt can activate the interactive frame knowledge of objects, roles, and event structures.  At the same time, frames are not determinate, but can be updated as specific information continues to inform the situation. For instance, selling something can apply to milk as much as to one’s soul. Both instances invoke the frame of economical exchange, one with a much more nefarious outcome than the other (depending on your opinion of the dairy lobby). Frames vary in granularity, but typically they include knowledge about roles, values, objects, and other elements of a specific experiential domain, and typically they include both locational and configurational aspects.41 Frames provide cognitive access to encyclopedic or schematic knowledge and exploit multimodal facets as needed (Fillmore 2003; Cienki 2007). Yet it is important to note that generally frames act much like gestalt phenomena (Cienki 2007, 173), in that they typically provide near immediate understandings of an array of interconnected things without significant detail or depth.  Thus, frames work economically, as do most cognitive processes, to provide just enough infrastructure to facilitate comprehension. If we choose, we can                                                       41 In this section I follow Alan Cienki (2007) in largely conflating Fillmore’s idea of “frames” with Croft’s description of “domains” in his analysis of metaphor and metonymy (a view affirmed by Croft 2002; Clausner and Croft 1999). Fillmore’s research has been widely cited and developed in discussions of a broader array of linguistic phenomena (see Sweetser and Fauconnier 1996), so I retain his language in my work. Croft’s work, while excellent, is also much harder for the uninitiated to parse. The similar concept of “scripts” also relate to frames as an understood sequence of events, but is largely limited to sociology and anthropology, as is the slightly different usage there of the term frame popularized by Goffman (1974), which typically means “frame of interpretation” (Cienki 2007, 173-74; see also Gerrig and Egidi 2003). To avoid confusion, I will use the most popular term in the literature that most commonly overlaps with cognitive and literary interests.    80 pay more attention to the frames that scaffold understanding, but only if we put effort into drawing this background information into view. Furthermore, frames operate at different degrees of granularity, such that some frames may contain many smaller ones within them (for instance, gossip is a frame within a broader communication frame), and frames can also overlap through shared features (for instance, unrecognizable language features in multiple frames beyond the hidden spaces of gossip, such as code-breaking, travel, translation, the murmur of conversations in the other room, and so on). Exposing how frames of knowledge are accessed as part of comprehension facilitates critical introspection by specifying why someone might or might not understand a given text.42  Let’s now return to Wessel’s poem “Gossip.” Gossip invokes frame knowledge of communication, including assumptions about social interactions and cultural norms. At a more detailed level, gossip is itself a frame that denotes a social sphere in which people are divided such that one group of individuals can freely talk about another person or group without their consent or the possibility for recourse to factuality. Gossip is often assumed to be only loosely grounded in observations or knowledge of a person and often progresses to gross over-exaggerations, misunderstandings, and complete fabrications of information. Gossip tends to have the most                                                       42 The fact that we think we know what we know, when in fact much is lost or augmented in the processes of perception, illustrates why introspection is often a poor explicator of processes of understanding (Gibbs 2006b). This is an important caution for literary scholars (myself included!), who often rely upon phenomenological introspection to guide their hermeneutic practice. Of course, introspection and intuition are incredibly useful tools (as literary critics have amply shown), but these tools are strengthened through knowledge of their weaknesses as well. A thorough understanding of the building blocks of cognition, such as I present here, helps satisfy that caution to a significant degree.   81 social impact in societies that have bounded, strict social codes with high costs for breaking them, that have a high degree of interdependence, and where group consensus can produce collective action (Merry 1997, 69-70). Drawing on this background, the poem appears to model insider-outsider dynamics through a clear figure/ground layout and CONTAINER image schema, which distinguishes between those with power and involved in gossiping and those who are excluded. For instance, by simulating the fictive motion of the circling punctuation marks, the reader also develops a sense of the emotional qualities that imbue the closed gossip circle, such that those with access to the insider social group are attracted to and excited by the potential (mis)information gossip provides, and themselves may contribute to the gossiping. At the same time, the reader-viewer is kept in the position of an outsider to the gossip by witnessing the attraction and the production of gossip but by being unable to participate in it directly; hence, we can see the fictive change and fictive motion of language being manipulated, but are unable to parse it. This readerly positioning correlates with the social power of gossip, which coheres around particular figures and can be used for social control and the harm of others.   At the same time, gossip is described as “idle talk” and “trifling or groundless rumour” (OED n.p.). Gossip is notoriously powerful in the hands of some, yet is composed in large part of untrustworthy information. Here, the fictive dynamicity of the poem also construes the content as only partly grounded in reality, since very little of the poem provides interpretable language that can be factually corroborated. It also seems to build up away from its ground. Thus, the communication frame contains moral viewpoints upon the gossiping figures and their roles, as gossip typically generates socially manipulative communication that is dislocated and ungrounded.   82 There is also other frame knowledge that is drawn on pictographically by the poem. As discussed earlier, the general structure of the poem resonates with the form of a phallus or smokestack (and the FORCE and PATH image schemas that go with them). Smokestacks are typically unappealing features of industrial production that spew out pollutants. Something similar might be said of penises, especially from moralistic perspectives that consider spilled ejaculate as a dirty, inappropriate product. Blending the communicative frame of gossip with the frames associated with smokestacks offers a metaphorical understanding of gossip as a social pollutant. When associated with penises, gossip is construed as an unsavory, ejaculated byproduct of illicit activities, perhaps of linguistic masturbation, that may also be construed as a pollutant. Through pictographic activation of particular frames, gossip is negatively construed as the outcome of information being manipulated in a closed-off space that festers and grows until it contaminates its surroundings.  The oscillating arrow that sits beside the phallus/smokestacks indicates ongoing activities in either frame. This activeness may be read as the singular production of gossip, but it may also imply, especially in conjunction with the sense of the title beginning to fall down, that gossip breeds more gossip, that it feeds back into further social interactions. This may resonate in ecological terms as an ongoing accrual of social pollution from the smokestacks, or in sexual terms as the inappropriate (re)production of false communication, rather than a (morally sanctioned) factual linguistic utterance. Nonetheless, it should be clear that the poem appears to diagram a construal of gossip as a wasted production of manipulated language that continues to influence social relations, perhaps in a negative way.  This reading of the fictivity, imagery, and metaphorical frame blending may seem to offer a complete engagement with the poem. However, the poetic diagram opens more detailed routes   83 for simulation and frame evocation; for instance, it may be explicitly diagramming sexual congress, not just a generic penis. Since “[n]umerous examples suggest that gossip centers on areas where the cultural ideal is demanding and creating stress” (Merry 1997, 54), the poem may very well be commenting on moralistic and normalizing perspectives on gender and sexuality. Since gossip also establishes and maintains reputations, and it “circulates around ambiguous situations” (53), it would seem that sexuality, fits this model well by being heavily codified and sanctioned, especially in more traditional social groups, and yet also typically private, and, therefore, ambiguous and largely unverifiable. At the same time, as the Oxford English Dictionary shows, gossip has typically been gendered feminine, whereas a masculine phallic form dominates this poem, which seems to invert the traditional gendering of gossip. Furthermore, this recodification more explicitly shows that anyone whose reputation is being marred by gossip is “getting screwed.”  To some extent, due to the pictographic complementarity between smokestacks and male genitalia, it would seem that both readings can blend together. However, they are not synonymous, since each metaphorical construction has distinct entailments. For instance, the double arrow would either refer to external or internal motion, thereby presenting two conflicting locations of agentive action, and the top would signify a body rather than gaseous pollution, thereby construing the CONTAINER image schema differently. How might we deal with this cognitive dissonance?    2.4.5 Dissonance: Frame Conflict and Frame Shifting  As schematic knowledge of domains or areas of experience, frames act like cognitive categories and parse the world into meaningful and manageable conceptual units. As George Lakoff (1987)   84 argues, based on the work of Eleanor Rosch, categories are not strict containers but radially open affiliations where content is situated relationally and somewhat fluidly. Thus, something can occupy different categories at once.  Cognitive categories have no distinct delineation of boundaries, although many things will certainly be either in or out. Similarly, depending on the specificity and scalarity of the frames in question, there may be overlap between multiple frames with shared content while other aspects will be very specific. Whether or not something is counted as a member of a category depends on the circumstances as well as the backgrounds of the users; the same is true of frames. For instance, there are cases of frame conflict in which readers negotiate multiple frames simultaneously in order to attempt to settle on the most coherent one. Much like bi-stable images like the duck-rabbit discussed earlier (Figure 6, pg. 62), this conflict can generate multiple interpretations out of a single prompt and depends on the frames that readers bring to bear on it. Arguably, the sexualized or polluting readings of Wessel’s “Gossip” fall into this space, in which personal biases and preferences will influence which reading one gravitates towards. Therefore, frame conflict can be employed creatively to strategically suspend comprehension or to suggest multiple possible understandings. Wessel employs an abstract shape with a duplicitous referent which allows for this double reading. The poem therefore construes impressions of gossip by prompting simulation of it as both a private and public affair that impacts both those targeted by it as well as the community at large. Frame conflict, in this case, proves more productive than frame coherence.   However, frame conflict is the marked state, while resolution or coherence is the cognitive optimum. More common are cases of frame shifting, in which an assumed frame is later dropped or updated in favor of a better fitting option. Seana Coulson (2001) shows that frame   85 shifting is crucial to many jokes, especially ones with a punch line, but it is also employed in metaphors, analogies, and an array of other reasoning processes. Both frame conflict and frame shifting illustrate the navigation of multiple, overlapping simulations of frame elements, as readers move through multimodal communicative events towards a cohesive understanding. Frames offer a partially abstracted infrastructure for simulative inferences, but it may take time to find the right fit for prompts, and embodied experiences add the potential of multiplicity. Nonetheless, this seeking behaviour can be rewarding unto itself, as in problem solving tasks and puzzles. The genre of mystery writing, for instance, illustrates the broad appeal of delayed frame fulfillment on a broad scale. Frames inform perceptions of experience to facilitate comprehension and also offer affordances for strategic and creative interaction and employment. They offer a particularly useful and dynamic structure of cognition because they can be used selectively and at various levels of granularity; we see this, for example, in the harnessing of both schematic, diagrammatic, and lexical elements of frame knowledge in Wessel’s poem: “Gossip” offers different levels of specificity for action and understanding. As Mark Turner (2008) argues, frames can extend beyond and transcend their basic features and often inform metaphorical constructions. I will return to a discussion of metaphor when I discuss mappings and conceptual integration networks (also commonly called blends) in the next section of this chapter. While frames can be strategically compressed to speed comprehension and to build affinities between different frames, they can also be decompressed. Due to the networked structure of frames, parts of a frame evoke the whole through frame evocation (metonymy).  As we saw with “Gossip,” these metonymic processes import detailed knowledge from the title to help parse the diagrammatic elements of the poem. Representational modes and strategies profile   86 elements of frame knowledge while priming the remainder of the frame in the background. Profiling or focalization, coupled with processes of compression and decompression, give frames a degree of flexibility that mirrors the level of specificity of the prompts while maintaining connections to a wider relational infrastructure that gives all of the parts distinct and potentially expansive meanings.43  Frames will feature prominently throughout my analyses of visual poetry. As multimodal and dynamic networks of interaction, frames support cross-modal mappings and connections while also suggesting modally-specific conventions that constrain or redirect understanding. Thus, frames may work to support modal-specific or cross-modal connections, may expose modal resonances or discrepancies across domains, and may draw coherence from linguistic prompts that anchor pictorial interpretive possibilities (Chandler 2007, 204-06), or vice versa.  2.5 Blending and Creativity  As I have shown in the previous sections, cognition is geared to action in the biocultural environment. Multimodal experiential knowledge is accrued, schematized and made accessible through framed metonymic and blended relations. Using the attenuated, enactive, and                                                       43 Adele Goldberg (2003) calls consistent form-meaning connections constructions, which share many features with frames: they too are abstract patterns that prompt inferences within linguistic discourse. This is a particularly beneficial approach to analyzing linguistic constructivity, conventionality, and language learning and development, but is less directly related to cross-modal analyses. Blending (Fauconnier and Turner 2002) offers an explanatory model of cognition that illustrates how constructions work, and, thereby, presents a more supple and multimodal approach that I employ instead in the next section.   87 appropriative process of mental simulation, our agile minds create novel, complex, and fictitious understandings through a process Edward Slingerland calls “selective synaesthesia” (2008, 151-218). This selective activational process occurs through a specific online (in-the-moment) ability to select, project, and manipulate complex networks of conceptual and perceptual information, an ability Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner (1998) first called conceptual integration theory (CIT). CIT has since come to be more commonly called blending (see Dancygier 2006). Blending helps explain how creative understandings emerge out of the activation of perceptual and conceptual mappings. It also clarifies interactions between different representational modalities, since it is grounded in multimodal cognition. Some blends seem to be presented fully formed, such as in some visual poems, or through visual metaphors, such as the metaphorical interpretations of Wessel’s “Gossip” poem (see Forceville 1994; 2002; 2009). For example, the untitled poem by bpNichol seen here (Figure 8) offers a blend of the word “dream” with the silhouette of the headboard of a bed and breath (or sound). To comprehend such a visual blend, readers need to dis-integrate the composite representation into its component parts of a word and a bed, activating a temporary mental space for each element that reflects the content of the prompt.44 Mental spaces are in-the-moment understandings “set up, structured, and linked, under pressure from grammar, context, and culture. The effect is to create a network of spaces through which we move as discourse unfolds” (Sweetser and Fauconnier 1996, 11). The mental spaces for this poem involve activating at least                                                       44 Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner (2002, 2008) developed the multimodal theory of blending from Fauconnier’s (1997) linguistic work on mental spaces.   88 the frames of dreams and beds, which themselves share the frame of sleep which helps blend them together. Having a shared structure between the two mental spaces helps stabilize a temporary relation that allows dissimilar elements to also be integrated, blended, such as in metaphorical and other figurative constructions. In this case, the shared multimodal frame of sleep helps bring together the different focuses on dreams as mental phenomena and beds as material objects.  Figure 8: untitled poem by bpNichol (1983, n.p.).  Through the combination of mental spaces that focus on mental and physical experiences, the blend produces understandings that transcend the prompts. By integrating the frame of dreams with the material qualities of breath and a bed, readers likely recognize the   89 presence of the unrepresented figure sleeping there, dreaming. The poem presents a scene without a subject that readers have to blend into being (generating the blend’s emergent structure), as their viewpoint is initially located outside of the bed. The construction of a sleeping subject is facilitated by simulating visual allusions—to breath and the representational convention of indicating sleep through a line of ZZZZZZZs rising from a bed—grounded in the form of the word. The overlap of roles and identities between the frame of dreams (which require a dreamer) and the bed frame (which is purpose-built for a sleeper) facilitates these emergent understandings.  With the subject of the poem blended into being, the experience of the poem transforms, in particular by changing how features are read. Convention suggests that the poem be read left to right, top to bottom, which draws the reader down the word and into bed with the sleeping subject. However, once the blend is developed, the reader might readily reposition herself to mentally align her viewpoint with that of the most familiar embodied experience, that of the sleeper. In such a process, the reader becomes, in a way, the subject snoring and dreaming. The visual weight of the m/bed further anchors this conception, albeit still blocking the view of the subject that the reader might align with. Initially this dominant m is somewhat puzzling. However, by comparing the newly blended information with the initial mental spaces (called backwards projection), it becomes the ground of the subject, of me, and the poem’s meaning. Through simulation of the emergent understanding of the blend, this poem prompts the development of multiple viewpoints, subjects, and spaces of rest. This reflects the previously discussed notion of sobjectivity, through which multiple positions are experienced of texts. In this case, the reader is invited into bed to dream with the sleeping yet invisible persona of he poem, while at the same time remaining distanced by the imposing m that blots out recognition.     90 The analysis of bpNichol’s dream poem shows how knowledge is activated, extended, and blended to develop emergent understandings that transform our understanding of the initial prompts. Whether or not one gets a blend is contingent on whether or not one can simulate the relevant information to generate a coherent blend. Composite blends like this poem present a coherent scene that at the same time pose the challenge of being disintegrated in order to be activated, re-synthesized, and interpreted.45  Blending analyses of frame structure and simulation processes offers a concise and explicit approach to meaning construction within the dynamic systems of cognition (Bergen 2005, 269). Furthermore, it provides a hermeneutically relevant approach to multimodal textuality and creativity by allowing critics to trace how particular texts prompt specific simulations and readings. Through this approach, we can show how the sum of a blend becomes much more than its parts.  2.6 Cognitive Ecology and Multimodal Literatures  Think with the senses, feel with the mind. - La Biennale di Venecia46                                                        45 As “a mechanism of creativity” (Turner 1999; 2014), blending offers a robust framework for discussing slippages and mappings between iconic and symbolic modes of representation such as in formal poetry (Hiraga 2005), sign languages (Taub 2001), and gesture (Narayan 2012; Özyürek et al. 2007), which makes it particularly useful for analyses of multimodal literatures.  46 Storr (2007, cover/slogan). My thanks to Lieven Vandelanotte for drawing this wonderful slogan to my attention.   91 Having given a more detailed account of how ecological cognition draws dynamically on the modalities in selective and creative ways, I now turn to the broader significance of such a position. At this point, it should be clear that this stance in no way reflects the naive realism ascribed to science by some postmodernists (see Slingerland 2008), in which materiality is assumed to be constant and objective. Rather it begins from the common-sense assertions of the reality of the world we inhabit as animals, and our indebtedness to it for self-knowledge. Such a position helps locate creativity, imagination, and the complexity of literary appreciation, affection, and fascination within the interstices of embodied and ecological experiences. Rather than remain in introspection about cognition (Gibbs 2006b), it moves to find ways of uncovering the nonconscious processes that inform meaningful understandings of multimodal cues. In a way, knowledge of cognition extends introspective intuitions further by supporting or thwarting particular conclusions. Where does this leave us regarding the central questions of print media, representations, modalities, and how we come to understand these material cues? We’ve now come to see the astuteness of Northrop Frye’s observation of there being “something vegetable about the imagination, something sharply limited in range” (1971, xxi) which opened this chapter. Frye’s comment signals that cognition is always human scale, in that it remains restricted to, and structured by, embodied constraints on mappings, it is vegetative in the sense that it is richly grounded. It takes mental work, through a variety of types of blending (metaphorical, analogical, metonymic, etc), to break from these experiential limitations. And even then, eco-cognitive experiences limit how far we can elaborate and extend understandings of the unfamiliar, in a recursive process Monika Fludernik calls “naturalizing the unnatural” (2010). One need only look at even the most extreme science fiction to see this, where most aliens and ecosystems are   92 bastardized versions of things in our own surroundings. At the same time, because we can selectively synthetize and recombine through attenuated processes across multimodal knowledge, we can expand these seeming limitations of the sensible exponentially. This affords us a wide range of creative possibilities and responses. We are able to project our dynamic, embodied experiences onto the most banal things to remake them in fascinating ways. Likewise, this creative interaction is relived (to a degree) by audiences, readers, and viewers through the reanimation of individually-skewed as well as socially and materially distributed knowledges that help us think and feel anew or to connect and sympathize with figures in a story, all of which gives a text what Peter Stockwell (2009) calls texture.   As Marshall McLuhan repeatedly emphasized, media act as sensorially circumscribed environments that offer modes of representation that afford particular actions and constrain others (see 1964; Cavell 2002). Through the sensorium, technologies and media act as “extensions” of human abilities and as spaces for interaction. The medium of print is constrained to visually defined representations, including static images, written language, layouts, and so on. These constraints have led to a variety of bibliographic and artistic codes that range from typographic through to generic features and from realist to abstract forms. Rather than “codes,” I prefer to call these features bibliographic and typographic frames, since we actively engage with them rather than simply decode them. Texts are not cold computational algorithms but enactive, simulated multimodal adventures in eco-cognition. Multimodal literatures make much of the range of sensorial possibilities of print (and increasingly digital) publication forms—including both the simulated actions, sounds, and smells that images and texts evoke—and require readers to activate and navigate its multimodal terrain by harnessing simulation as a mechanism of activation to move beyond specific modal channels   93 (Bergen, 2012, 13). Navigation occurs through dynamic cognitive interactions between modalities, the activation of multimodal knowledge, and cross-modal connections that facilitate or constrain interpretations. The following chapters focus on visual poetry and its associated criticism, to unpack the ways it creatively exploits ecological cognition to explore the limitations of print and exciting image-text developments to carry on the pervasive human tradition of multimodal conceptualization. This eco-cognitive approach illuminates how multimodal literatures, and particularly visual poetry, are “tools for thinking” (see Herman 2003), by rendering explicit the processes by which readers think through them.    94 Chapter 3 Visual Poetic Fallacies, Contexts, & Cognition  Words are wild, sentences tame them. – Dom Sylvester Houédard47   The new poetics frames a new hermeneutics, taking upon itself the task of making society conscious of its own secrets. – Jacques Rancière48 3.1 Reading Alternatives Visual poems employ the visibility of written language and pictographic elements to construct poetic meanings. In a broad sense, the diversity of poems that include overtly visual elements ranges from acrostics, collages, found poems, and pattern poems to palindromes, villanelles, and other forms of poetry with structural constraints. All poems, to some extent then, might be considered visual poems, if one considers conventions and constraints like line breaks and other formal or conceptual limits (see Levenston 1992; Mitchell 1980). However, as Rosmarie Waldrop points out, "[w]e do not usually see words, we read them, which is to say we look through them at their significance, their contents. Concrete Poetry is first of all a revolt against this                                                       47 Houédard (1963) quoted in Scobie (1984: 34). 48 Rancière (2010, 127).   95 transparency of the word” (2005a [1976], 47). Margery Perloff (1991, 120) claims that the early visual poetry of modernist avant-gardists of the Dada and Futurist movements were the first works to purposefully harness the visibility of writing to transform and especially to layer and interweave reading and viewing practices.  This chapter addresses how such practices have been historicized, theorized, and politicized, and grounds these positions in relation to commonly held, yet fallacious, beliefs about representational modalities. Cognitive research into representational biases helps clarify how poets and critics envision the functions of language especially, which informs their assumptions about poetry. To address the theoretical and political construal of visual poetry, in Canada and abroad, I begin by describing the medial situatedness and self-reflexivity of visual poetry within the “horizons of the publishable,” in particular to emphasize the eco-cognitive role such communicative choices play in interpretations. I go on to show how the unpacking of the “conduit fallacy” is crucial to seeing what visual poetry explores and contests. The materialist inclination in visual poetry requires a detailed engagement with the conventions that inform (usual print) production in order to address how these features impact their reception. I go on to show how the long history of pattern, concrete, and visual poetry has continually returned readers to this common fallacy, exploiting various features of visible language and representational media for poetic effects. I then focus on modernist and postmodernist manifestoes about visual poetry to show how they internalize and query different elements of the conduit fallacy, continuing to question how meaning is connected to the materials of print culture.  Having analyzed how knowledge of the conduit fallacy informs both historical and poetical accounts of visual poetry, I will then turn to show how assumptions about   96 communicative modes also inform how it is politicized within literary and cultural scenes. I will focus on the Canadian scene by way of an under-explored example with a particularly “prudish” history (see Betts 2013). By focusing on the conduit fallacy, I expose the cognitive basis for the literary and critical sabotage (or at least marginalization) of visual poetry and other avant-garde and experimental literary works in Canada.  3.2 Reading the Horizons of the Publishable Visual poems draw attention to and explore the affordances of the materiality of visible language in all forms and styles (including handwritten, stamped, typewritten, and stenciled forms) as well as its material substrate (such as on a post-it note, page, postcard, or pamphlet) and other medial qualities (such as specific layouts, orientations, and bindings). In many ways, visual poems explore what Rachel Malik calls the “horizons of the publishable,” which are composed of “a set of processes and practices ... constitutive of all formations of writing and reading. Publishing precedes writing and governs the possibilities of reading” (2008, 707).  Of course, publishing also provides possibilities for viewing visual art in print. Visual poems develop through the creative deployment of perceptual and conceptual relations within these horizons and showcase the complexity   97 of the print medium and all that goes into its different forms and conditions of production, as part of their meanings.49 The following untitled visual poem by bpNichol (Figure 9) succinctly illustrates this situated, medial engagement. It comes from a small unbound and boxed collection of visual poems, Still Water (1970b), which along with three other publications in 1970 led to Nichol’s receipt of a Governor General’s Award that he shared with Michael Ondaatje.50 In this particular poem, the removal of the letter ‘p’ contributes to the evocation of 'emptiness', as the graphic form correlates with the word's semantics. At the same time, the sound of the word is also prompted through an attempt to read its incomplete graphical form, which necessitates mental scanning of the word's linear shape                                                       49 Visual poetry has maintained this medial focus since the rise of the internet and digitization, developing a strong presence on the internet and using the expanded affordances of digital mediation to develop animated and hyperlinked works that add dynamical qualities of time and motion, as well as space (see, for example, Jim Andrew’s or simply enter “visual poem” into any regular or video search engine).  50 The other texts that won Nichol recognition were his edited collection, The Cosmic Chef: An Evening of Concrete Poetry (1970a), and two chapbooks, one of lyric poetry, Beach Head, and another of short fiction, The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid”. This award to Nichol was debated in the House of Commons floor due to bawdy humor used to deconstruct the myth of Billy the Kid. Conservative MP Mac McCutcheon refered to this chapbook as a “questionable piece of literature” and “an affront to decency and a discouragement to serious literary efforts” (Davey 2012, 142). Frank Davey notes that “[t]he controversy  garnered Barrie nationwide publicity—publicity that was favourably received in most of the arts community, possibly more so than the award itself.... not at all a bad thing for a Canadian writer partly grounded in Dada” (142). Ironically, Nichol’s award money would go on to financially support bill bissett’s writing and publishing of his postmodern manifesto, RUSH: What Fuckan Theory: A Study uv Language (2012 [1972]) a text which in title and content would also be profane in its own ways.   98 and the cumulative gestalt grouping of displaced but similar typographical parts. (Should a reader not see the visual or implied phonic connections between the parts, the poem would likely remain a largely meaningless collection of four letters on a card.) Finally, the word’s lonesome spatial arrangement on the page evokes bibliographic conventions (from the bibliographic frame) whereby pages are typically filled with print. In a way, the poem also reflects the collection’s title by emptying the page in order for it to be still.   Figure 9: untitled visual poem by bpNichol (1970a, n.p.).  Furthermore, the poem is also presented on a square cue card (approximately the size of the open space around the poem above51) contained in a small box (14 x 14 cm).                                                       51 The recent collection The Alphabet Game: A bpNichol Reader, edited by Darren Wershler and Lori Emerson (Nichol 2007), attempts to replicate the cue cards of the original boxed publication by placing a frame around the poem approximating the size of the cards. This is an answer born of necessity, since Wershler and Emerson sought to include these poems within a bounded collection. However, Wershler and Emerson’s presentation of the poem complicates rather than clarifies it. I would suggest that it would have been better to leave the poem on a blank     99 This atypical presentation of the collection of poems offers the reader the opportunity to control the reading process by shuffling, arranging, and positioning the poems, rather than having them bound in a specific order and orientation. While this readerly freedom may seem somewhat innocuous, I once inadvertently extended the meaning of the “em ty” poem by accidentally dropping it to the bottom of the box. This “mistake” repositioned the poem such that it then seemed to comment on the conventions of print as well as on the box itself (although the box was technically no longer empty, it was relatively so). This accident in particular highlighted the control functions of bindings and page-containment on poems in more typically bound and published works. Through this in-the-moment sensorimotor event (recreated in Figure 10), the poem seems to comment on its bibliographic context. The unexpected extension of the poem as a comment on the state of the box illustrates how bpNichol’s choice to free the poems from being bound also means that they can be dropped, lost, and otherwise altered in ways not commonly experienced by readers of poetry. Together the “empty” page, the “empty” word, the “empty” box, and other interactions, do not simply refer to “something empty,” but prompt a simulated, synaesthetic sense of emptiness through a layering of                                                                                                                                                                   page, rather than adding a box to signal its prior material constraints, especially since this addition is not glossed elsewhere. Adding the box makes the poem a contained emptiness, rather than one that speaks to the open field of the page as a whole, as it does in the original. I should add that this is a notable issue primarily with this one poem and does not impact readings of other poems from that original boxed set, nor should it take away from this otherwise exemplary collection.   100 representational and material understandings. The “em ty” poem, therefore, builds the possibility of the poem representing a static, descriptive sense of something empty, as well as a more dynamic, phenomenological experience of emptiness. The poem inhabits two states of being, which can be further altered through interactions with readers.   Figure 10: The emptied box of bpNichol’s Still Water (1970b) with the “em ty” poem left behind. The University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Collections, Vancouver. Photo by author. The other poems in the Still Water box do not engage with print conventions so directly as the “em ty” poem, rather tending to evoke nature imagery through both word and pattern. Nonetheless, they also build parallels between the modes, much like we saw with the “em ty” poem. Furthermore, all of the poems have the potential to be recontextualized or resituated through their unbounded presentation. The poems,   101 therefore, focus readerly attention on the modes of representation as well as onto the control that publication technologies assert over the experience of texts and images. These poems explore the possibilities of representation while also integrating the reader’s experiences in ways unavailable to poems in a bounded work. For instance, consider the impact on interpretations if Nichol’s “em ty” poem (or others from the collection) were to be displayed in a window. The unbound and unbounded poem develops a meta-commentary on the text, experience, and texture through its representational and material qualities.  bpNichol’s “em ty” poem shows how the visual poetic approach adds meaning by mobilizing the materiality of the written word, visual cues, and the page on which they reside to explore the horizons of the publishable. My approach runs somewhat contrary to some notions of visual poetry, which is purported to produce “an instantaneous lightning that empties the word, deprives it of its being, at least as we know it, and makes space for a new existence” (Henderson 1989, 28). At the same time, it is also said to prompt a sense of prelinguistic, “libidinal excess” (McCaffery 1986 [1980], 143-58; affirmed in beaulieu 2006). Some poems do this, but many do not. These medial qualities and practices lead Lori Emerson to suggest that visual poetry “reflect[s] a desire to ... draw attention to the literary artifact as both a created and mediated object – techniques which essentially turn the artifact inside-out” (2011, n.p.). Margery Perloff refers to this characteristic approach of visual poetry (and other avant-garde experimental forms) as the pursuit of “radical artifice,” which is  the recognition that a poem or painting or performance text is a made thing—contrived, constructed, chosen—and that its reading is   102 also a construction on the part of its audience. At best such construction empowers the audience by altering its perceptions of how things happen. (1991, 27-28; see also Drucker 2004, 45-68, 161-196) Thus, visual poetry enacts this radical artifice by making visible the materiality of print culture as a component of poetic meaning.  The aforementioned “em ty” poem by bpNichol is a good example of this employment of the affordances of print materiality. As this example shows, the radical artifice of visual poems reflects, augments, or unravels assumptions about mediation in relation to textuality and visuality in print culture, itself a constantly changing composite of developing technologies and interests. In the end, visual poems participate in an avant-garde tradition that shows that “[a]ll books are visual” (Drucker 2004, 197). Through this visual-material attention, visual poems “not only permit but indeed compel us as readers to relax the visual-cognitive discipline with which we usually confine words to their symbolic meanings—a discipline that all of us have acquired through years of training” (Gross 1997, 31). In other words, visual poems require readers to read differently.  The exploitation of the material conditions of visible language make visual poetry best characterized as an inter-medial and inter-generic expression (Olsson 2002; 2011; Reis 1996; Higgins 1965; Pineda 1995). Since it commonly blurs the boundaries between modalities as well as generic and medial expectations, visual poetry has come to be commonly characterized as a product of borderblur—a term popularized in Canada by bpNichol but which he attributes to British visual poet Dom Sylvester Houédard (1970, 78). Nichol defines borderblur as a “poetry that arises from the interface” (2002, 134).   103 This interface-conscious practice, according to Jesper Olsson, qualifies visual poetry as “media poetry” since it “has contemplated its medial and material conditions” (2002, 179). Such observations correlate it with other forms of experimental literature as well, such as the multimodal experimental novels discussed by Alison Gibbons (2012). Gibbons argues that bi-stable oscillation “is this perceptual fluctuation between looking at the surface of the page and looking through the page to immerse oneself in its content which characterises multimodal literature” (115). I, therefore, include visual poetry within her definition. Furthermore, Gibbons argues that multimodal experimental literature requires bi-stable reading practices, connected to such “illusions” as the rabbit-duck discussed in the previous chapter (see Gibbons, esp. 113-26). Bi-stability means that the phenomenological reading experience incorporates both a textual meaning and an emergent awareness that imbues the medium (in this case, of print) with a degree of dynamism. This bi-stability was seen in bpNichol’s “em ty” poem with the sense of meaning being both a description of something being empty as well as performing and embodying emptiness.  The self-reflexive and strategic deployment of print modalities and media in visual poems means that visual poets, at different times and places, have understood the communicative potential of cross-modal connections in a variety of ways, ranging from unifying and synthetic relations to disruptive and disjunctive tensions. This chapter shows how the multimodal eco-cognitive approach sheds light on the problematic yet pervasive “conduit fallacy” that informs several conceptual and political positions on the hybridity and materiality of visual poetry over the course of its development. Rather than necessarily undermine these positions, this chapter shows how a commonly held belief   104 about representations supports the ways in which poems are understood, not just unto themselves, but also in relation to theoretical and political poetics.  3.3 Intermedia and Representational Fallacies Visual poetry mobilizes relationships between visible language, imagery, and tactility to construct meanings; therefore, how these relationships are understood plays a crucial role in how visual poetry is critically engaged with. The notion of visual poetry being a liminal, hybrid form may prompt engagements that re-enact a false split between the static immediacy of the image and the idea of sequential depth of language inherited from Gotthold Lessing’s (1874) distinctions between painting and poetry. Without dismissing Lessing’s many good observations about each form, the inherited view often presents images as static and immediate in contrast to poetry and other literary works as rich, complex, and narratively driven. From this perspective, visual poems could be said to develop both depth for images and immediacy for language, but such a position is too polarizing in its inherent valuing of one or the other modality. For example, this logic is visible in Richard Kostelanetz’s (1970) articulation of a basic visual poetic distinction between “worded images” and “imaged words.”  Similarly, Willard Bohn suggests that “it is impossible to bridge the gap separating the two modes of expression” (2011, 14). Bohn argues that visual poetry requires a three-step linear process of engagement, first engaging with the immediate imagic design (as a viewer), then linguistic decipherment (as a reader), and then a synthesis of the previous operations, as a form of interaction, reevaluation, and elaboration (15-17). For some poems this may be true (as it often is in the structuralistic poetry Bohn analyzes, quite excellently I might add), but it   105 homogenizes the creative possibilities of intermodal constructions. Furthermore, Bohn seems to be at odds with his own claim, since he also suggests that with visual poems the “effect is direct, instantaneous, and unmediated” (14). This claim suggests immediacy to the synthesis while also dematerializing the poem from its medial qualities. bpNichol’s “em ty” poem already disrupts Bohn’s image-word-synthesis model of comprehension, since the emptiness of the word is only produced after the word is read. Furthermore, the salience of the printed page also plays a crucial role in understanding the poem, which does not fit with the suggestion that the effect of visual poetry is “unmediated,” but quite emphatically the opposite. As I will show throughout this and the following chapters, the ways in which visual and verbal qualities of poems are interpreted are incredibly dynamic and not so easily delineated. For instance, as Sabine Gross concludes from her eye-tracking study of visual poetry, typically, “readers alternated repeatedly between iconic and symbolic modes during the time they were engaging with the text, which shows that it is the interaction between the two levels rather than the information given in each that drives the reader’s interest” (1997, 28).  Mobilizing the eco-cognitive model of comprehension outlined in the previous chapter helps show how modalities function in composite texts to promote bi-stability within and between modalities.  The problematic dichotomy between modalities is also challenging because it imbues the criticism with a range of visual fallacies. W. J. T. Mitchell (2002) critiques these fallacies as restrictive and reactionary, and argues that they misinterpret how visual modalities really act and interact with other modes within media. As I discussed in the previous chapter, visual theorists like Mitchell (1994; 2002; 2012) and Michael Newall (2011) have pushed for the articulation of both immediacy and depth for the phenomenal   106 experience of images of various types as a process of showing seeing (to borrow the title of Mitchell’s article), or as I might rephrase it: construing perception. Visual poems emphasize the potential to defamiliarize visible language in a way that exploits it to bring seeing and reading together to develop specific construals of their topic. bpNichol’s “em ty” poem above is an exemplary showcase of this hybrid unsettling of distinctions and its potential ease of integration and understanding.  In the next chapter I survey a range of cross-modal strategies that these poems employ to do so, and the simulated blending networks that facilitate comprehension. But first, here, I will present a central fallacy that undergirds much of the perceptual and conceptual work that visual poems do, and which informs many of the poetical and critical conversations around them.  Visual poetry often troubles and exploits a specific and pervasive Western metaphorical conceptualization of how language functions, which dates back to Aristotle (Grady 1998, 3 n1). I follow Barbara Dancygier in referring to this view as the conduit fallacy (2012, 203-04). Originally, Michael Reddy (1979) documented a selective list of 141 examples of “our language about language” (to borrow his article’s subtitle), and shows their reliance upon a pervasive folk theory of language that he calls the conduit metaphor. The conduit metaphor, which likely accounts for around seventy per cent of all expressions regarding language use in English, conceptually structures understandings of form and meaning as follows: (1) ideas or meanings are coherent entities that can be manipulated, and thus, (2) representational expressions (words and sentences) are objects that contain the meaning within them. This visualization of meaning being contained within something employs the metaphoric construal whereby perception and access are equivalent to knowledge, such that knowledge is something that one can perceivably   107 grapple with like an object. Finally, (3) these communicative objects and their contained meanings are sent or transferred unaltered through a conduit to a recipient. This metaphor is reflected in statements like do you get what I’m saying? He packed a lot into that sentence; I can’t find the right word; or, building from what you said. Such statements support the notion of a word as an object that contains and carries the meaning within it. As Grady (1998) argues, this conceptualization of language is built from a network of primary metaphors motivated from embodied experiences of perception of objects, especially perceptions of their composition, purposeful manipulation, and intersubjective transference. Thus, a person mentally simulates the object interactions (and their affordances) of transference, packing, searching, and stacking prompted in the previous phrases in order to understand their metaphorical implications and to understand how language works as a composite of forms. As Grady (1998) also shows, this metaphorical structure relates to concepts about other representational acts that also attribute meanings to forms.  Simulating object relations within the conduit metaphor supports specific understandings of textuality that likely draw on early exposure to letters and words in picture books as primary scenes and frames of literacy, and especially the pervasive picture book practice which seeks to “concretize” specific referential relationships (Nodelman 1988, 2). On their own, letters are at first meaningless forms but they then transform through the synesthetic mapping of auditory and visual forms, producing a literate experience of speedy access and control of their presumed content. As a reader becomes more naturalized to literate experience, the blended synaesthetic nature of visible language becomes less obvious, and slowly becomes compressed into a simple   108 reality of a singular form-content (much like the concept of the cyclical day: see Fauconnier and Turner 2008). This compression gives the common sense impression of words as containers and conveyers of meaning. As Dancygier notes, “the primary fallacy of this construal [of language] is that meaning is stable, bounded and possible to transmit intact” (2012: 203; see also Gee 2008: 6-12). This commonsensical yet fallacious metaphorical complex can only emerge through compressions of communicative and embodied features that hide erroneous and counterfactual conceptualizations.   The conduit fallacy propagates several significant errors that are especially relevant for discussions of visual poetry. First, the conduit metaphor, with its emphasis on linguistic containment, suggests that meanings or ideas are independent of the forms of words themselves, which offers a logocentric and idealist perspective that negates the role that form plays in construing meaning. In contrast, famed typographer Robert Bringhurst asserts, “Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness . . . . Like music, it can be used to manipulate behavior and emotions” (2004, 19). The conduit metaphor does not easily concede Bringhurst’s assertion of typographical interpretation. Furthermore, the containment of meaning divorced from form abrogates the materiality of visible language’s mediation, ignoring its speaker-dependent information (such as gesture, which typographical emphasis approximates through italicization, bolding, or capitalization), its contexts (social, cultural, historical, and medial), and its conventions (such as generic, social, and cultural codes). The modes of representational mediation contribute to how readers (and viewers) process the meaning of words and other representative modes, particularly on the page. The metaphor breaks down because   109 the meaning-container must necessarily transform through dynamic interactions with both the material forms of the conduit and the contextual scenes it traverses. As such, the distributed and situated elements of meaning begin to challenge the tyranny of the Logos. These sensuous and material contributions to meaning bring into view the eco-cognitive network of the reader or viewer of representational forms, against which the conduit metaphor chafes. For the written word, reader-viewers must take up the word-object and engage in interpretation, regardless of how it came to them, the intentions of the compiler, and what prompted its initial usage (information that is not necessarily readily available to recipients of written language). While the conduit metaphor presents this reception as simply a process of opening the representational container and accessing the universally known meaning inside, an eco-cognitive approach shows that embodied processes like simulation engage with the multimodal qualities of representations. To return to the earlier example from bpNichol of the compositely “em ty” poem, the poem illustrates how the author actively plays with the conduit metaphor, taking the container and its page and making them expressive through their visuality. Thus, Nichol subverts the assumed dichotomy between form and meaning by feeding them into each other to produce a synaesthetic understanding of the empty container and its mediated and contextualized emptiness.  An eco-cognitive approach to meaning, therefore, counteracts the fallaciousness of the conduit metaphor while revealing its relevance to the work of visual poetry. Barbara Dancygier (2012) finds a balance that sidesteps the challenges of both the conduit and intentional fallacies within this complex relationship. She observes that meaning emerges    110 in the process of interpretation...the author, like the speaker, constructs the text, and the reader, like a hearer, interprets it, based on the textual prompts, available contextual ground, and general knowledge, and in an intersubjective context where other viewpoints are accessible. (203)  What the conduit metaphor constrains is an account of the contributions of personal and materialistic facets of the reader’s experiences that nuance her reactions to the message which might lead to a variety of interpretations, as well as the histories and modes that inform expression in particular genres and media. Understanding representational artifacts requires the activation of modal cues as well as the projection of authorial intentionality (see Dixon and Bortolussi 2010; Gibbs 1999; 2001) to facilitate the inferences and simulations that develop meaningful blends. 52  The guise of written communication invokes the trappings of all communicative modes that typically include intentionality, viewpoint, presentation, reception, and interaction. Readers respond to and interpret the forms and functions of communicative modalities in accordance with contextual expectations, background knowledge, perceptual cues, and embodied                                                       52 Intentions are encoded in language, even if they may be misunderstood. As Mary Crane (2001) argues, the notion of the intentional fallacy misrepresents how readers interact with works which often involves the assumption of intentionality even if it is not helpful. We are cognitively biased towards action and intersubjectivity, and, therefore, biased to include intentionality and causality within interpretations. The helpfulness of discussions of the intentional fallacy is to caution against asserting closed, authoritative readings of texts, but it does not follow that readings are therefore always indeterminately open and divorced from authorial intention. The representational choices of the author obviously still impact the interpretive processes of the reader.   111 reactions. The focus on form-content within visual poetry prompts the explicit engagement with the connection between perception and conception that embodied research locates as the basis of higher order cognition. The materiality of visible language and media play a crucial role in prompting meanings in visual poems that break the purported containment ascribed to words as well as images. In this way, visual poetry, so exemplarily represented here by bpNichol’s “em ty” poem, ruptures the containment of the conduit metaphor. Knowledge of multimodal cognition provides the means of explaining the complexity of this rupture.  Mary Lewis Shaw asserts upon reviewing a range of early visual poems, “the concrete poem is thus no longer a monument to language, becoming rather whatever the reader beholds. . . . Its poeticity is gained with its presence through the act of perception” (1989, 41). Similarly, Sabine Gross concludes that visual poems “not only permit, but indeed compel us as readers to relax the visual-cognitive discipline with which we usually confine words to their symbolic meanings. . . . [They] remind us of the visual aspect of writing that we have come to suppress” (1997, 31). Visual poems, like bpNichol’s “em ty” one, reincorporate perception into poetry, building up the meaningfulness of form and presenting a glimpse of multimodal communication within the limitations of print media. Such an approach emphasizes Waldrop’s assertion that visual poems make the word visible, but it also illustrates how reading conventions and materiality play a crucial role in the development of meaning. Seeing visual poetry as intermedial foregrounds a necessary reorientation toward what we consider meaningful, by activating a multimodal approach to mediation and signification. The poems simultaneously employ and contest the conduit metaphor.   112 Nonetheless, while they share a consistent interest in the materiality of visible language, different poets and theorists have understood the relationship between pictorial form-meaning (as image, diagram, or gesture) and verbalized form-meaning (language, words) in vastly different ways throughout the history of concrete and visual poetry. I turn now to briefly examine these alternative perspectives in light of the conduit metaphor and multimodal cognition.  3.4 Materiality and Literary Scenes    3.4.1 Print Hybridity and the Rise of Visual Poetry Visual poetry has a long heritage, likely tracing back to the origins of writing itself, that point of language’s visual materialization (Balan 1999, 7; Byrum and Hill 1993, 2). Throughout the history of visible language, creative engagements with the expressivity of its forms can be found.53 Through an etymological study of grammar and syntax, Gunther Kress and Leo van Leeuwen (1996, 18-21) show how the materiality of the written signifier crucially informed early conceptions of meaning and literacy which subjugated form to meaning, slowly concretizing the conduit metaphor as a dominant conceptualization of written language. On the other hand, Dick Higgins (1987) shows how visual poetry—especially pattern poetry that shapes the language into a visual image                                                       53 See Drucker (1995) for examples of creative interactions with letters of the alphabet themselves. Other notable examples by visual poets include bpNichol’s ABC: the aleph beth book (1971), jwcurry’s A: 4 Views (1998), and derek beaulieu’s letter rubbings (2008) and many letraset mosaics, such as his 16 by 52 inch Prose of the Trans-Canada (2011; see Barwin 2013).   113 reflecting the central verbal imagery—is common across many literate cultures, suggesting a “universal ... tendency to attempt the synthesis of visual and literary experience” (1987, 3). Higgins begins his account of such hybrid tendencies with the Grecian “Phaistos Disk” from around 1700 BC (3-17), as well as in non-Western examples of hieroglyphs and ideograms. Visual poetry was recognized as a distinct form of expression by the Greeks as technopaigneia and by the Romans as carmina figurata (2011).  From Higgins’ extensive overview, hybrid communication seems to be a consistent part of the material practices of literate cultures since language was materialized within them.  Much more recently in the Western tradition, typographers were (and remain) interested in developing a creative synergy between the shapes of letters and layouts and the content of the given text in order to ease comprehension (see Bringhurst 2004; Lupton 2004). While the development of printing technologies were largely a means of mass production (in contrast to its textual forbearer, the manuscript), it came to be coupled in Europe with an interest in the relationship between print style and comprehension, an interest that prompted creative explorations by some. For example, in the 17th century, George Herbert published The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations (1633), which included his commonly known and anthologized poem “Easter Wings” (Figure 11), which patterns the text (word-objects) in the shape of wings to reflect its verbally constructed imagery of larks and spiritual flight. Interestingly, Herbert is not unique in his use of formal patterning, which can be found in many European Renaissance poetries at this time due to the growing interest in Greek literature (Brown and Ingoldsby 1972; Church 1946). Notably, each line employs its form to add   114 iconic meanings to the language. Furthermore, the two parts of the poem face each other, mimicking each other’s shapes, developing a perceptual link and unification of the parallel stanzas. Arguably, the book itself also takes on a wing-iness when opened to this poem, by reflecting its structure in the curvature of the pages. As such, the reader and the poet seem to take spiritual flight through the poem’s orientation and material exploitation of the printed form. Through this patterning, Herbert develops a complex iconic and metaphorical system that interweaves form and meaning (see Hiraga 2005, 58-63).  William Blake’s many illustrated and illuminated books published throughout the late 18thand early 19th centuries also explore image-text interactions (see Mitchell 1994: 111-50). As Mitchell surmises, “Blake wants a writing that will make us see with our ears and hear with our eyes because he wants to transform us into revolutionary readers, to deliver us from the notion that history is a closed book to be taken in one ‘sense’” (150). Blake’s approach included the development of print technologies and techniques that attempt to reintroduce the lost employment of illumination and rubrication54 to the print age through the development of the time and skill-intensive technique of “illuminated printing,” itself a part of a wider, growing interest in developing image-text printing technologies at that time (Viscomi 2014). This interest can also be seen in the many                                                       54 See Phillips (2013) for an informative analysis of the creative and rhetorical uses of illumination and rubrication in a manuscript of Piers Plowman; see Hamburger (2011) for a broad discussion of iconicity in script. See also Drucker’s (1995, 93-128) helpful overview of medieval philosophies about scripts.   115 examples throughout history of lettres animées (see Drucker 1995; Gross 1997), such as Bertall’s ABC Trim (Figure 12).  Figure 11: “Easter Wings” by George Herbert (1633, 34-35). Public domain. This version is digitally enhanced and revised to correspond with the 1633 printing,  including the additional of a mid-line to reflect the spine of the book, as displayed in  the Early English Books Online database (Proquest)55                                                        55 Ironically, while being one of Herbert’s most well known poems, it has also been notoriously mis-printed in numerous anthologies over the years. Originally, this was to save printing costs by turning (and thereby standardizing) the orientation of the poem. A case in point: it appears in the reoriented and standardized form in the popular Norton Anthology of Poetry revised shorter edition (1970) and 3rd edition (1983). The orientation was returned to its original orientation in the 4th (1996) and 5th (2004) editions, but with the order of the poems reversed! Presumably someone fixed the orientation of the previously standardized version without realizing that this would reverse the order of the stanzas by drawing the second stanza up into first position. Ironically, I did not notice this reversal either. My thanks to Vin Nardizzi for bringing this to my attention and for pushing me back into the archives.   116 The interest in the printed mediation of language and imagery is obviously not limited to the creative arts. For instance, commercially, print technologies supported innovations with Victorian advertisers (as they do today) who employed the malleability of page space in newspaper classifieds to solicit attention in ways that bring to mind early concrete poems (for example, see Figure 13). Similarly, the growth of pulp printing of engravings, such as in popular humour magazines like Punch in Canada (see Figure 14), spurred on the development of image-text printing methods and technologies (in the case of the Punch franchise, it also played a significant role in the development of political cartoons and later comic strips: see Sabin 1996).    Figure 12: Cover image of Bertall's ABC. Trim. Alphabet Enchanté (1861).    117  Figure 13: “Christmas Cheer” advertisement in The Globe (Toronto), Dec. 15, 1869. Proquest Historical Newspapers Database.   Figure 14: Cover of Punch in Canada 1(4), March 2, 1849. McCord Museum:  2.5 Canada, M119.1.5   118 Margery Perloff voices a concern (reaffirmed by visual poet, derek beaulieu [2006, 81]) that the stylistic proximity between visual poetry and commercial interests like advertising and branding might produce a “dead end to the former” (Perloff 1991, 119). I do not share her concern. Not only has this proximity always been present and visual poetry continues to flourish, but it implies that market forces and popularly produced image-texts will somehow replace the creativity of poets. This seems like a thinly veiled attempt to differentiate the creativity involved in constructing (high culture and niche-market) poetry from that of creating (low culture, mass-market) advertising. Furthermore, markets likely drive technological innovation more than artistic inclinations; thus, visual poets need a variety of publication markets to help generate materials and technologies for their own projects. As Willie Van Peer (1993) argues, changes in poetic practices are historically associated with, and often foreground, changes in mediation technologies. Moreover, and perhaps ironically in this context, visual poets have also been explicitly tied to advertising campaigns by The Hudson’s Bay Company in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Ross and York 2014), which paid poets like Earle Birney, Judith Copithorne, Michael Ondaatje, and P.K. Page handsomely for their works. They made $50 per poem in the late 1960s and early 70s, which, adjusted for inflation, is $337 in 2014. Another important cross-over between the arts and advertising in Canada is the work of abstract artist and illustrator, Oscar Cahén. Similarly, in the international history of concrete and visual poetry, several influential figures, including Eugen Gomringer and members of the Brazilian Noigandres group, worked in design and advertising. Rather than polarize visual poetry against advertising, I prefer to position these connections as a range of creative responses motivated by the constraints of media and technologies both   119 within and outside the arts. While different motivations and exigencies drive each form (including the need to earn a living), they overlap in their shared creative engagement with hybridity within the horizons of the publishable, whatever those horizons might be at any given time throughout history. Across genres and publication forms, the page (and more recently the screen) has grown increasingly and pervasively into a dynamic space for action, connection, and transformation of modalities of representation, something not seen since printing technologies replaced scribes and illuminated manuscripts during the Renaissance (itself a fraught transition that involved controversy and social stigmas (Eisenstein 2012)). The promotion and exploration of the dynamic possibilities of representation rose most prominently and importantly with the twentieth-century avant-garde movements. French Imagism, Futurism, Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, and Vorticism, as well as the later works by the Situationists, Constructivists, Spatialists, and Lettrists offer significant and influential artistic and typographic antecedents to the ongoing concrete and visual poetry movements in terms of both methods and poetic philosophies (see Dworkin 2003, 3-30; Drucker 1994a; Perloff 1986). For instance, Gill McElroy draws a connection between the founding Lettrist Isidore Isou and Canadian experimental writer bpNichol by noting their shared understanding of language: as Isou put it in his Letterist manifesto, “the word is the first stereotype . . . the carpentry of the word built to last forever obliges men to construct according to patterns” (qtd in McElroy 2000, n.p.). Here, the characterization of language as a material for building crude patterns and stereotypes reflects the limited view of the conduit metaphor through which meaning is fixed within a malleable form. Letterists and visual poets of other stripes (including the popular Fluxus movement in the   120 United States) seek to break such fixity by showcasing the meaning of forms by carving them up into patterns. What is especially noteworthy of the Letterists and other avant-garde movements is their attempts to dramatically disrupt fixed pictorial, typographic, and bibliographic expectations and to expand the possibilities within literature for multimodal relational potentialities.56 The promotion of alternative perspectives marks a notable shift from a historical focus on representationally constrained realist approaches to an aesthetically exploratory and disruptive paradigm (see Rancière 2009, 51-82).57 These movements even promoted an exploration of bibliographic and typographic qualities of expression within the poetic practices of poets considered outside their purview (Scobie 1984, 32-3), including the significant formal manipulations of e.e. cummings (see Hiraga 2005, 109-11; Webster 1999) 58 and Charles Olson and other Black Mountain Poets (Waldrop 2005b). Arguably, the multimodal possibilities for expression afforded by publication technologies at that time facilitated these changes in creative perspectives through integration in the eco-cognitive network. The growing exploration of alternative semiotic regimes by the latter part of the 19th century set the groundwork                                                       56 The Modernist avant-garde explored how formal qualities of print were meaningful, influencing both later typographic (see Lupton 2004, 25; Heller and Fili 1999, 72-91) and poetic movements (see Bohn 1986; 2001; Drucker 1994a; 1996; Dworkin 2003; Perloff 1991). 57 This important shift in perspective largely grew out of anarchist and Marxist critiques of representation as a means of gaining power and control, and the desire to break from these modes in order to promote a creative and critical thinking, individual expression, and freedom (see A. Antliff 2007; M. Antliff 1998; Cohn 2006; Leighten 2013). 58 Notably, bpNichol dedicates one of the poems in his first collection of visual poetry to cummings (2005, n.p.).   121 for the emergence of concrete and visual poetry and many other avant-garde and postmodern literary works. All of these approaches share an interest in breaking from the conduit metaphor’s false dualism between form and meaning.     3.4.2 Art Manifestoes and Visual Poetry In 1955, two influential concrete poets and designers, Eugene Gomringer (Swiss) and Décio Pignatari (of the Noigandres group in Brazil), met in Ulm, Switzerland, prompting a rapid growth in international dialogue that included and influenced many North American visual poets (Balan 1999; 2002; Clüver 1996; Drucker 1994a, b; 1998; 1996; Vos 1996).59 This began the global network of the “International Concrete Poetry Movement” (ICPM) or the classical period of visual poetry,60 which is often considered to have run its                                                       59 This poetic engagement with the visuality of written language also reflects growing interest at this time in language, typography, and media popularly promoted by Marshall McLuhan in The Mechanical Bride (1951), Counterblast ([1954] 2011), The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), and Understanding Media (1964), as well as in his work with Quentin Fiore in The Medium is the Massage (1967). 60  There may be some confusion here caused by the conflation of concrete with visual poetry. Concrete poetry—in its contemporary definition—includes a wide variety of medial or representational foci, including aural, visual, plastic, and kinaesthetic forms (see Balan 2002). On the other had, the traditional concrete poetry movement focused primarily on visual poetry (i.e. only one of the forms currently considered a part of the contemporary understanding of concrete poetry). While many practitioners used (and some still use) concrete poetry to describe their predominantly visually-focused practices, I solely use visual to keep the historical and theoretical perspectives clear, not to imply that the initial movement is all that far removed from contemporary practice. Bracketing off that movement as a single, unified event also ignores both the diversity of approaches and voices within it, as well as the ongoing tradition of visual poetry     122 course from 1955 to the early 1970s. (The contemporary period of visual poetry continues to explore hybrid mediality to the present, and it is this period that I focus on later.) The demarcation of these dates likely reflects a spike in critical activities in the mid-1970s tied closely to two popular anthologies put out by Emmett Williams (1967) and Mary Ellen Solt (1969).61 While Solt’s anthology provides the most comprehensive overview of the first two decades of the ICPM, these anthologies in no way indicate a stymying of production.  With the rise of the ICPM came a range of manifestoes, which befits it as an inheritor of the avant-garde and its interest in performativity and representation (see Puchner 2006).62 I will briefly consider just three central manifestoes written at the beginning of the ICPM that have informed ongoing considerations of the meaningfulness of visual poetry, in particular the role of visual and verbal modalities in readerly                                                                                                                                                                   energized by it. As Dick Higgins remarks, “in the 1950s and 1960s the concrete poets were intensely conscious of their antecedents in dada and futurism” (3; see Scobie 1984; 1985; 1997). 61 Other international anthologies of concrete poetry include those edited by Accame, Heckmanns, and Kunstvereinm (1969), Kostelanetz (1970), Bann (1967), and Wildman (1967, 1969). The few, short Canadian anthologies, all of limited distribution, are by Colombo (1971), bpNichol (1970a), Basmajian and J(o(h)n)ston (1989), and beaulieu (1999).  62 Mary Ann Caws (2001) includes several visual poems as a part of her collection of avant-garde manifestoes under the categories of Symbolism (27-49), Cubism (126-30); Futurism (170-71, 190), Dada (290-91, 294-95), Surrealism (319, 335), Vorticism (344-48), and more. Strangely, her section on “Concretism” and other relevant sections completely misses the concrete poetry movement’s central manifestoes discussed here, one of the very few yet notable holes in her otherwise superb collection.     123 understandings and their relation to the conduit metaphor of language.  These manifestoes locate three perspectives on modal hybridity and help situate the later additions of Canadian poets to the scene. They also shed light on the advantages of arriving late.   The first significant instance of the term “concrete poetry” being ascribed specifically to this form of poetry came in Öyvind Fahlström’s 1953 “Manifesto for Concrete Poetry,” which was translated by Karen Loevgren into English for Mary Ellen Solt’s influential anthology, Concrete Poetry: A World View (1969). In this manifesto, Fahlström describes concrete poetry as “created as structure . . . . It is certain that words are symbols, but there is no reason why poetry couldn't be experienced and created on the basis of language as concrete material” (1968, 75). As such, this process produces “an interference with the material itself by means of separation . . . the newly-formed context [yields] a new material” (78). Concrete poetry, in Fahlström’s manifesto, must “break through the frontiers” (Fahlström 1968, 77-78) by re-structuring forms on the page through a process of bricolage (Bessa 2008, 14) that blends forms and meanings into each other and renders porous the conduit metaphor’s containment. Furthermore, elsewhere Fahlström states that the visual poem’s destruction of rigid linguistic forms seeks to reflect a responsivity to experience, “to the reality of their surroundings: they are neither dream-sublimation nor futuristic fantasy, but an organic part of reality I am living in although with their own principles for life and development” (qtd in Bessa 2013, n.p.). This perspective invites poets to incorporate environmental qualities into the process of transference, and for readers to activate and re-conceptualize linguistic values and ideas through a situated process of embodied action and visualization. A. S. Bessa (2013) argues    124 that Fahlström’s model of concrete poetry sought to balance a mechanistic and architectural model of language with an organic connectivity. A. S. Bessa also notes that visual poetry from this perspective acts like a performance score (2008, 7), inviting, in particular for Fahlström, an aural response. More recently, writers like Michael Basinski continue to affirm “the poem’s performability” as a means of generating an “aural interpretation” (Byrum and Hill 1993, 13). In cognitive terms, Fahlström and Basinski appear to acknowledge the role of simulation of aural verbal qualities as readers activate the written and visual cues. However, as Marjorie Perloff notes of the general trend in poetry, “the speech-based poetics of mid-century has given way, more and more, to the foregrounding of the materiality of the written sign itself” (1991, 137-38). We could contend that Fahlström’s  and Basinski’s emphasis on aurality inherits this speech-based model and imposes it upon contemporary works. More reasonably, I think, we might simply add that the structural cues and relations between linguistic prompts incorporate a gestural quality that promotes a sense of multimodal performability. And we should not ignore the fact that quite a few poets perform their visual poems as sound poetry, employing the poem as a score. Furthermore, Fahlström’s emphasis on the materiality and situatedness of the visual poem as performance score aligns it with the previous discussion of the conduit fallacy, since this approach views the poem as a means of opening up the conduit metaphor of language to the constitutive elements of forms and paths of transference and reception. Through performance of the visual poetic cues, the situatedness of the page and the reader’s cognitive processes imbue the cues with meanings. For ease of reference,   125 I will call this the external performance model of visual poetry, since it relies on elements outside of the poem informing it, making it contextually and cognitively contingent.  In contrast to Fahlström’s external performative perspective, the influential Noigandres group in Brazil—consisting of Augusto de Campos, Décio Pignatari, and Haroldo de Campos—offers a different view of visual poetry. In their manifesto, “Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry,”63 they begin much like Fahlström, with poems that are “things-words in space-time. Dynamic structure: multiplicity of concomitant movements” (Campos, Pignatari, and Campos 1968, 72). At the same time, they endorse a concrete poetry that is a “pure structural movement. . . . geometric form and mathematics of composition” (72). In this purity, the concrete poem becomes “a mechanism regulating itself: feed-back” (72), much like a self-contained industrial machine or modernist monolith of language (Bessa 2013; 2008, 8-13), controlled and clean, unsullied by the world: “Concrete [poetry] is an object in and by itself, not an interpreter of exterior objects and/ or more or less subjective feelings. . . . Its problem: a problem of functions-relations of this material” (Campos, Pignatari, and Campos 1968, 72). While their                                                       63 While here I integrate the Brazilian theorizing of concrete poetry because of their global influence on the early dialogues of the Concrete Poetry Movement, concrete poetry in Brazil underwent its own specific change in trajectory shortly after these manifestoes, a shift which was largely divorced from other post-modern developments in North America and the UK in particular. Charles Perrone (1996), while overplaying the significance of the Noigandres group within the international movement (Polkinhorn 1998), still helpfully unpacks these several phases of development within Brazilian concrete poetry that contribute specifically to that nation’s poetry and illustrate the specificity of visual poetic developments within particular social contexts.   126 manifesto unmistakably reflects Fahlström’s emphasis on the architectural structuring of concrete material, it turns this structure away from an intersubjective process of bricolage and performative reconceptualization and toward a linguistically internalized and determinate use of form, much like an industrial machine producing objective realism. In a way, this approach is the poetic analog of New Historicism. The Noigandres’ perspective on visual poetry, therefore, distances itself from sensuality through metaphors of industrial production (much like the Vorticists), emphasizing it as a “beautiful useful machine” (Pignatari qtd in Bessa 2008, 8) that is isolated and disassociated from its typical contexts (13-14). In fact, Haroldo de Campos “described the phenomenological tendencies of poetic Concretism as a shortcoming rather than a positive quality” (Erber 2012, 94). I refer to this as the purely internal performance model. Arguably, such a formulation of visual poetry re-enacts the conduit metaphor’s notion of words as object-forms to be manipulated and set up as a complex system that the reader will presumably receive and understand. This approach sees the self-contained poem-object as representationally transparent and objective, which construes the act of communication and reception as benign. Contrasting these two perspectives, we can see how the Noigandres “Pilot Plan” abrogates Fahlstrom’s organic external performative qualities that disrupt the conduit by emphasizing an impersonal machinic production, internal to the poem itself. Rather than intersubjectively responding to and feeding into the world (becoming networked), the Noigandres view presents visual poems as feeding into themselves as controlled systems of meaning production. In this way, “their goal is not to destabilize language so much as to point to an entirely new means of textual production” (Bessa 13). Here, the conduit   127 metaphor remains, looped into itself like a poetic Möbius strip that presents a distanced, utilitarian, and objectivist position that performs its own meaning, rather than inviting readers to participate in performing the poem. One final theorist of the emergent Concrete poetry movement is Eugen Gomringer. While Bessa (2008) largely equates Gomringer’s perspective with the Noigandres group’s on the basis of their shared connections to the Bauhaus movement, I suggest that Gomringer is somewhat less deterministic, while still affirming the importance of visual structure in constructing meaning. He described his approach as a natural, poetic simplification, restriction, and reduction of language into “constellations” (Gomringer 1968a, 67). He suggests that this process better reflects the role of language in society: “Headlines, slogans, groups of sounds and letters give rise to forms which could be models for a new poetry just waiting to be taken up for meaningful use. The aim of the new poetry is to give poetry an organic function in society again” (67). He later confirms that “[the] purpose of reduced language is not the reduction of language itself but the achievement of greater flexibility and freedom of communication (with its inherent need for rules and regulations). The resulting poems should be, if possible, as easily understood as signs in airports and traffic signs” (Gomringer 1968b, 68). Thus, Gomringer advocates a “universal poetry” (68) through the complete transparency of meaning through form, as icons. Here, the conduit metaphor is adjusted to invert the traditional correlation between language and meaning. Stephen Scobie warns that “[u]nless very wittily conceived . . . such expressionist techniques are little more than gimmicks” (1984, 35); Gomringer preemptively responds to such critiques by asserting that “[the] constellation is not a dead-end or an end at all, as the literary people have said, but on the contrary that   128 it uses thinking and structural methods which can connect artistic intuition with scientific specialization” (1968b, 86). Gomringer’s approach articulates a space between Fahlström’s and the Noigandres group that attempts to employ both form and content together in a totality, not as a mechanistic system as the Noigandres group would have it, but as a nexus of functional and intuitive qualities of textuality and thought.  What the Noigandres group and Gomringer share is a wider modern, cosmopolitan drive to develop universalistic designs in which “the attempt to integrate pictorial and typographical elements is paramount” (Rand qtd in Heller and Fili [1999, 147]).64 Nonetheless, Gomringer also attempts (somewhat paradoxically) to combine this universalism with an active reader. While he does desire a representational transparency, he also suggests that visual poems are an arrangement, and at the same time a play-area of fixed dimensions ... ordered by the poet. He determines the play-area, the field of force and suggests its possibilities. the reader, the new reader, grasps the idea and joins in....The constellation is an invitation. (1968a, 67) Here, Gomringer presents concrete poetry as a universal value of language arrived at through structure (much like the Noigandres group’s plan) but with Fahlström’s organic readerly engagement and interactivity.  Fahlström’s dynamic organicism, Gomringer’s invitational constellations, and the Noigandres’ self-solving linguistic systems mark three theoretical positions on the                                                       64 See also Lupton (2004, 25) and Heller and Fili (1999, 68-93).   129 spectrum of approaches to visual poetry and textuality, each suggesting different implications for the relationships between form and meaning, between visual and linguistic qualities, and within the responses prompted in readers. From the perspective of the conduit metaphor, each emphasizes different aspects of it. Fahlström integrates socio-environmental qualities of performance into the process of transference through formal manipulation.  On the other hand, the Noigandres group delimits meaning as determined and performed by form, leaving forms to cycle without care. Finally, Gomringer attempts to elide the challenges of transference by contemplating closing the gap between representation and interpretation through mimetic structure, where the reader engages in a delimited performance.  As I argued in the previous chapter, no artifact is meaningful until it becomes integrated into the reader’s intersubjective cognitive ecology. Thus, the Noigandres position is simply untenable as a universalist and wholly disembodied perspective. Gomringer’s articulation of this universalism is more cognitively reasonable since it locates this universal meaning within an iconic mimeticism seen in the presumed accessibility of shared visual imagery. While this position can still easily be challenged due to its assumption of an equality of cognitive activation and interpretation of imagic cues, it finds a perceptual common ground in which to locate a universal meaning, whereas the Noigandres position remains lost in logocentric abstractions. Judging from the contents of the influential anthologies by Emmett Williams (1967) and Mary Ellen Solt (1969), the concrete poems put out during the early years of visual poetry (those of the ICPM)  present a general inclination for mimicry that layers communicative modes in a style reminiscent of Gomringer’s and the Noigandres group’s description of structure. In these   130 early stages, the more universalistic and objectivist positions seem to have been most popular, eliding the organic, fluid approach advocated by Fahlström in favor of clean and mimetic designs. As such, while these early works do explore and open up the relationship between form and meaning, the conduit metaphor remains largely secure, since they buttress the notion of transference through a simplification of content and mimeticism of form.    3.4.3 Clean and Dirty Visual Poetry Through the comparison of three early concretist manifestos, I’ve shown that the functionality of visual poetic hybridity has been interpreted in three ways: through (an unreasonable) abstract systematicity, through mimetic transparency, and through a dynamic and performative multimodality. Only two of these positions are cognitively realistic since the Noigandres’ position elides the place of the active reader and her role in constructing meaningful networks within cognitive ecology. While I obviously do not ignore a mechanistic facet to this poetry, since medial and technological interests remain crucial to most visual poems, I question how meaning can be attributed to these features if it remains isolated from response. The two remaining positions of universal mimeticism or organic dynamism continue to inform contemporary discussions of visual poetry, invoked through the now   131 commonly employed distinction between clean and dirty poetry, respectively.65 For clean visual poems, the structure clearly mimics the verbal content by employing form to largely repeat and emphasize rather than add to the poem’s possible interpretations. Dirty poems, on the other hand, offer less obvious connections and are rife with potential for creative engagement, where the visual and the verbal inform and transform each other and create space for readers to improvise meanings. Many subsequent poets and scholars have taken up this basic dichotomy between clean and dirty poetry, although its originator remains in question (Emerson 2011b). Stephen Scobie, among others, ascribes the dichotomy to Canada’s foremost visual poetic populist and practitioner, bpNichol (1984, 139 n16).  A recent example that helpfully illustrates the distinction between clean and dirty visual poetry is the following untitled poem by LeRoy Gorman (Figure 15), who often uses crisp letters to create minimalist poetry. In this poem, the word fog is broken apart and interspersed with punctuation. This portrayal transforms the simple word into a visual representation of a foggy scene with the orb of the sun or moon overhead, and                                                       65 This distinction is likely a modification of Mike Weaver’s (1966) discussion between expressionist and constructionist concrete poems (Doyle 1970). The clean-dirty dichotomy also parallels Richard Kostelanetz’s (1970) distinction between “imaged words” (patterned poems) and “worded images” (laid out words). However, Kostelanetz’s model is somewhat more prescriptive in its engagement with visual poetic elements since it requires words to exist in order to construct a visual poem, whereas dirty poems do not require verbal content. As I will show in the discussion of asemic and postlinguistic visual poetry in the following chapter, visual poetry does not require words to be meaningful.    132 perhaps with two ships (the lines connected to the “f” and “g”) in close proximity. Similarly, reorienting the parentheses mimics a common way of sketching wavy water. This imagistic use of letters and punctuation reinforces the basic frame knowledge of the word, while adding a further degree of specificity regarding locations, ambient light, and action. One might infer that the poem depicts a near miss between two ships or an impending disaster (in which case the orb overhead also retains its aural qualities as a shocked cry, “oh!”). Another reading might be that the two letters reflect headlands, Scylla and Charybdis perhaps, in which case the ominous atmosphere remains, but with a sense of risk and possible transformation as one moves through the liminal space from one watery location to another through the fog. In this reading, the poem also gains a sense of depth as we simulate looking and moving through the gap between the headlands, whereas the other reading constructs a viewpoint that focuses on a scene playing out across the surface of the water-page. Whichever reading one is partial to does not particularly matter, although if you are partial to both the poem fosters a bi-stability between the possibilities of surface and depth and movement and stability.  The poem elegantly transforms the simple word ‘fog’ to invoke some of its ominous connotations within a specific aquatic setting, highlighting aspects of frames associated with it (including Grecian myths and perhaps global commerce and shipping). On the surface, then, this poem employs a clean, mimetic approach to focus on clarity of structural and imagistic elements to invoke a scene. Importantly, the cleanliness of this poetry need not be considered a negative quality, as too simplistic or gimmicky. This brief poem, and other clean visual poetry like bpNichol’s “em ty” poem above, illustrates how simplicity can generate a variety of interpretive possibilities.   133  Figure 15: Untitled poem by LeRoy Gorman (Gorman, Bradley, and Hryciuk 2000, n.p.). While productive, the clean approach has nonetheless faded in prominence in contemporary visual poetry in favour of the more dramatic and less deterministic dirty approach. For example, in the following untitled poem (Figure 16), derek beaulieu has manipulated the nearly identical shapes of the letters ‘a’ and ‘g’ to develop a poetic artifact in the form of something like a looped or knotted rope. This elaborate weaving or overlaying constructs a singular, composite entity through the similarity or synergy between typographical forms. At the same time, the poem appears to construct what might be considered an extended, visual rendition of the word “gag.” The poem’s cyclicality and inverted mirroring—a visual style commonly seen within beaulieu’s book chains (2008) of which this poem is a part—seems to stop compositional expressivity itself by creating a Mobius strip out of the word, effectively gagging written language through its own forms. Thus, the poem mocks approaches to language that overlook the letters for the words by punning on the alternate meaning of ‘gag’ as a farcical joke. The otherwise blank page further emphasizes the singular word and its insular form, adding to the sense of binding and isolation. Here, the letters and their context enact the verbal   134 content, while also poking at critical approaches that ignore their creative, material potential.   Figure 16: Untitled poem by derek beaulieu (2008, 48). In terms of the clean-dirty typology, beaulieu’s “gag” poem might be considered an elegant clean poem, since it mimics or enacts the meaning of the word, placing the visual in service to the verbal. However, the overt lettristic connections between the letters, which visually support the synthesis of the two meanings of the word while elaborating its form, add dirty features as well. Furthermore, this is the only poem in beaulieu’s book-length visual poetry project that uses any recognizable words at all. Perhaps we could infer, within that broader context, that this is rather a dirty poem that has stumbled across its verbal cue through structural affinities between the letters to render itself clean. In a way, in this poem the letters speak for themselves through their form by building their own word through formal affinities, and the author is simply a clairvoyant medium acting as a conduit for this formal expression. Such a reading reflects the anti-authoritative and defamiliarizing stance of most dirty visual poems. The perceptible oscillation between clean and dirty designations in beaulieu’s poem affirms Stephen Scobie’s assertion that while useful for “describing tendencies ... it is unlikely that   135 any given piece will fall wholly within one category” (43), and suggest that we treat the clean-dirty binary as a spectrum of sorts.66 The lasting legacy of this cleanly structured style can be seen in the poetry and poetics of contemporary visual poets, in either their continuance of its possibilities, as seen in Gorman’s work, or, more commonly, through an active rejection of it (see beaulieu 2006; Drucker 1996). By the 1970s, more dynamic and even illegible poems began to take centre stage, exploring a diversity of interactions with visible language and its mediated surfaces, often breaking the forms to explore the meanings that arise from their destruction. It is on this dirtier side of the spectrum that Canadian visual poets have largely excelled, although many, including bpNichol, continued to explore its possibilities.      3.4.4 Late Canadian Visual Poetry  bpNichol played a particularly crucial role in motivating, supporting, and contributing to the Canadian experimental arts scene. He is credited with publishing the first visual poetry in Canada with his collections bp (or JOURNEYING & the returns) (1967a) and Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer (2005 [1969/ 1973]), which were followed shortly by David Aylward’s Typescapes (1967), Judith Copithorne’s Release (1969) and                                                       66 As I discuss in the introduction, hybridity of visual and verbal modes does not function completely as a spectrum, since both modes also present a spectrum from concrete to abstract uses. As such, the combinatory possibilities are exponentially increased. This chapter presents this more complex view, in which concrete verbal cues can be presented in abstract visual ways, and so forth.   136 Runes (1970), and Earle Birney’s The Rag and Bone Shop (1971), among others. While Brion Gysin’s experimental paintings or indigenous petroglyphs also serve as important antecedents to contemporary visual poetry in Canada, they have remained separate from its development until quite recently (Balan 1999). 67  Nichol is the sole Canadian representative in Solt’s anthology of the ICPM (1969, 216), but through his active creation and promotion of visual and experimental poetics in Canada, beginning in the late 1960s, things quickly changed. Had Solt’s anthology been published in the early 1970s, the Canadian section would presumably have been considerably larger.  Through crucial communal networks and small press ventures, a poetic scene emerged that explored the intersections among visual, material, and conceptual understandings of language (Sharpe 1999). Wynne Francis documents the rise of this “radical fringe” in the 1960s (1973, 14; see also 1967), to which he attributes a widening poetic sensibility toward new expressions and questions of poetic voice, imagery, and form. At the core of these developments was a small network of writers and artists,                                                       67 Since this is a historically focused section, I downplay the work of British-Canadian painter and poet Brion Gysin, since he worked primarily in the United States, especially with William S. Burroughs. I include Gysin instead in the discussion of meaning in abstact visual poems in Chapter 5.  Indigenous pictographic and other material cultural practices share many affinities with visual poetic sensibilities (Balan 1999, 9), however, only recently have Indigenous authors turned to multimodal literatures. Most notable in visual poetry is the recent work by Jordan Abel (2013). Comics and graphic novels have had a far wider engagement (Gabilliet 2009), particularly as a suicide prevention tool and as a means of sharing cultural knowledge (e.g. see Yahgulanaas 2009) and addressing the traumas of colonization and neocolonization (e.g. see Robertson and Henderson 2012).    137 including bpNichol, bill bissett, Barbara Caruso, David Aylward, jw curry, Judith Copithorne, Steve McCaffery, David UU, and others (see Balan 1999; 2002). Between these authors, a wide range of image-text interactions were developed which promoted ongoing experimentation and innovation in contemporary poetry. Several anthologies of visual poetry emerged out of this young literary scene, including bpNichol’s The Cosmic Chef (1970a) and John Colombo’s New Directions in Canadian Poetry (1971), perhaps to assert a Canadian perspective lacking (due to its lateness) in the popular anthologies by Solt and Williams.  The lateness of visual poetry in Canada, following almost two decades after the ICPM began, had its advantages, since it allowed the poets to learn from the clean and dirty approaches that had been previously developed by others. The poetry that emerged in Canada quickly embraced a liminal creative space that was characterized by Stephen Scobie as “dirty-clean” (Nichol 2002, 136), which I would liken especially to Fahlström’s approach discussed above. 68 Many Canadian visual poets credit as key influences the early creators I’ve discussed, as well as the growing (somewhat late itself) English-                                                      68 As a very crude distinction of basic aesthetics (more and better distinctions later), Canadian poets who carried on the traditional, cleanly structured aesthetic of the Concrete Poetry movement include bpNichol, Gorman, Hryciuk, Rhodes, Shikatani, Sweed, and UU. Poets who continued to develop alternative, more organic, fluid and dirty approaches also include bpNichol, as well as Basinski, beaulieu, bissett, Bök, Broady, Cain, Copithorne, curry, Hajnoczky, Mancini, McCaffery, mcpherson-eckhoff, Morin, and Wershler-Henry, among others. These alternative, dirty or dirty-clean approaches have become the predominant form of visual poetry in recent decades.    138 language tradition in the UK that included bob cobbing, Edwin Morgan, and Ian Hamilton Finlay (see Morgan 1968; Nicholson 2002; Scobie 1984), and in the US that featured Emmett Williams, Mary Ellen Solt, d.a. levy, and others (see Clüver 1996; Draper 1971; Vos 1987).  Many visual poets at the time and since encouraged a complete opposition to the structured and universalist approach of traditional clean visual poetry, preferring a rougher and more gestural quality. For example, “Stigation” (Figure 17) by jwcurry, one of Canada’s foremost practitioners, manifests its own visual poetics through collage.69 The poem presents a hole torn in a sheet of paper, through which one can glimpse a mash of letters that most clearly repeat “seems” over an underlay of upside-down letters and the phrase, “can be.” The term “SHIFT” hangs above the hole, which suggests that the sheet marks an act of distancing oneself from that which seems but is not real. The distancing effect also reflects the poststructuralist disruption of linguistic reference, which is itself only a supplemental “seeming.” Furthermore, the top of the hole interrupts the “SHIFT” at the “I.” By foregrounding the “I” while also breaking the word, the shift becomes a pun on the perceptual qualities of viewpoint (the eye of the text) as well as on the intrusion of the authorial “I” who has constructed the poem.                                                        69 “Stigation” has a complicated publication history. While originally published in 1982 in Karl Kempton’s KALDRON #15, the photo-quality was too poor for much of the details to be visible. It continued to be reproduced in less-than-ideal form for several years. jwcurry considers the reproduction in October Is Dada Month, included here, to be the most accurate (scan generously provided by curry).   139  Figure 17: "stigation" by jwcurry; photograph by Mark Laba  (Hryciuk 2009, 6). Used with permission.    140 Interestingly, this author has put together a poem that seems to mean something out of snippets of text and image that might or might not be his own. The pun of the eye/I reinforces the sense of the constructedness of the text, which the “SHIFT” already foregrounded by labeling the shift from what seems to be a more distanced perspective that recognizes the constraints of media on textuality. Through the strategic layering and manipulation of texts, the poem construes the act of poetic creation (and also reading) as a metacritical perspective on the world of language, the world that “seems.”  The poem continues to foreground a model of creation through its other components. Down the left hand side is the made-up word and title of the poem, “stigation,” with two definitional phrases interwoven into it. The first, intones an educational process, which “must be taught in sequential steps.” The second phrase asserts, “the text does not minimize,” which counters Gomringer’s description of visual poetry, discussed earlier, as a universalist reduction of language through the image. This text cannot be so constrained. Thus, this poem asserts an alternative perspective on the efficacy of visual poetry, perhaps to construe the arrangements of words as something more particular rather than universal, more materially constrained in is conceptual formations.  While it may “not minimize,” the text can be fragmented through “rearrange / ment” through the process of “stigation” expressed through the (re)compositional, active phrases, “he glued,” “he constructed,” and “he tore,” lurking on the dark periphery. This poem presents language as a material that can be cut, pasted, and transformed, while still being composed of basic insoluble building blocks. Thus, poetic manipulation can gesture beyond the illusionary qualities of linguistic representation (the “SHIFT” back from what   141 “seems”), but it will always be constrained to some degree by language itself and thereby cannot become universal. In this way, the conduit metaphor’s emphasis on containment is maintained, but the processes of presentation (and to some degree transference) impact reception through their materiality. The form has become a part of the meaning, rather than a transparent, inconspicuous container of meaning.  jwcurry’s poem acts as a personal art manifesto that enacts his poetic method through its materiality by visualizing disruption, appropriation, and rearrangement. The paper screen with the hole in it marks a perceptible poetic threshold or filter (which, unlike bpNichol’s earlier poem, is also not “em ty”). This poem occludes the seeming intelligibility of language (it’s overt referential nature), in order to multimodally re-construe language as an entity or object which requires distance and fragmentation for creative recombination. jwcurry encourages and enacts a perceptual “shift,” therefore, away from a naïve view of linguistic reference and conceptualization, away from the conduit fallacy. Rather than take language at surface value—for what it seems to say—the poetic approach of reconstruction, of “stigation,” actively interacts with it, not to reduce it, but to re-conceptualize it through materialist and perceptual manipulations.  Returning to the title, “stigation,” we can see how it takes stigmatism, the sharp focus (rather than double focus of astigmatism) of the camera eye (or perhaps camera “I”?), and blends it with the slightly more elongated word it seems to be torn from, instigation, which is the act of inciting actions often deemed rebellious or inadvisable. This blend metonymically invokes both whole words from their parts and suggests an emergent structure wherein clarity of sight itself incites revolutionary action. The poem further elaborates on the “shift” in perception that precludes a clarity of sight, and enacts   142 or instigates the collage approach to textual construction. Through the poem, the basic emergent structure of the title is run through the medium of print to enact itself as an art manifesto (including the mental simulation of cutting apart and pasting together strips of paper and text). Through the title and its representation in words and pictorial elements, the poem encapsulates a manifesto for poetic intervention and creative fomentation and clarification through destruction, complication, and transformation. This manifesto affirms a poetry that enacts Mikhail Bakunin’s assertion in 1842 that “the passion for destruction is a creative passion too!” (1980, 57). As such it also reflects Fahlström’s manifesto, much more than those by Gomringer and the Noigandres group, because it engages with the potential of multiplicity and it entices readerly creativity, rather than reducing the poem to visual and systematic clarity. Fahlström’s emphasis on indeterminacy, openness, and readerly engagement seems to have had the most staying power (albeit not always recognized) as a poetic model in the Canadian scene. This longevity is likely due to its resonances with the popularity of poststructuralist critiques of representations (see Erber 2012), as well as Lacanian psychoanalytic literary theory (see Jaeger 1999), which place similar emphases on idiosyncratic plurality and rupture.  For instance, Stephen Scobie (1984) relies heavily upon Jacques Derrida’s discussion of “free play” for his analysis of polysemy in visual poetry. Similarly contemporary poet derek beaulieu actively “endorses” poetry that is almost entirely “dirty,” particularly works that push toward chaotic and unintelligible representations, in order to showcase this polysemy that visible language affords (2006, 79). All of these critical approaches are keenly interested in how meaning arises from the interface, but they construe the productivity of the visual poetry in slightly different ways,   143 and often at the expense of other types of poetry. My approach, especially as shown in the following chapter, works across the spectrum of visual poetic expression—since both clean and dirty poetry remains open for consideration—while affirming the ways that multimodal representations seem to oscillate between different interpretations. As I have been arguing, attention to the tension between form and meaning within the conduit fallacy reveals one way that visual poems manipulate the materiality of visible language for creative effect and produce this oscillation or bi-stability. Even while continuing to display features attributed to clean visual poems (Schmaltz 2012), contemporary visual poetry moves increasingly towards a diversity of synthetic and idiosyncratic engagements between modalities that do not necessarily aspire towards clear understandings but may nonetheless include crisp visual representations (see Clüver 1996). Digital technologies, in particular, facilitate this clarification and smooth coordination of representations; arguably, many earlier poems were made “dirty” through the involvement of scissors, glue, and photocopiers, which simply could not attain the crispness that digital technologies can now produce. Furthermore, the increasing variety and affordability of print technologies, as well as changing ideas regarding language, have fostered many developments. Kenneth Goldsmith (2002) attributes the ongoing advances in visual poetry especially to digital technologies, which afford more opportunities for engaging with medial constraints while also providing alternative modes of distribution. All of these variables make it difficult to tease apart too boldly the relation among expression, technologies, and reception, except where the poem itself foregrounds these features and when one might posit reasonable cognitive constraints upon how meaning is   144 constructed. I will discuss these in more detail in the following chapter. The focus on the materiality of the page and the visuality of writing and images pushes readers and viewers toward a “micro-aesthetics of perception” (Weaver qtd in Doyle 1970, 92), a quality seen especially in the manifestic visual poem by jwcurry discussed above. These qualities mark visual poetry as a dramatic shift away from the form and content of lyrical “speech-based” contemporary poetry. This reorientation suggests a subtler critical relation between visual poetry’s interrogation of the conduit metaphor through language, the page, and the book, and assumed modes of representation in other forms of poetry that often seem to accept the conduit fallacy by emphasizing creative style and content as conveyed through language. 3.5 Canadian Heterodoxy and Poetic Politics    3.5.1 Experimentation and Heterodoxy There is a wide diversity of visual poets and poems in Canada, yet there is a surprising dearth of scholarly attention to them within major journals or anthologies, two particularly important institutional markers of knowledge production and its transmission.70  Gregory Betts (2013) argues that Canada “has not been a good or                                                       70 By major journals, I mean peer-reviewed journals like Canadian Literature, Studies in Canadian Literature, and Canadian Poetry. The now defunct Open Letter is the only significant (albeit not peer-reviewed) Canadian literary journal that featured regular articles on experimental works, and it had a very small circulation.      145 encouraging setting for avant-gardism” (7) because “the radical terms of engagement presented and embodied by avant-garde art have consistently been sabotaged by the most pedestrian and prudish terms of engagement” (8). However, the tide is changing. The growth of new anthologies (including Crag Hill and Nico Vassilaskis’ (2012) excellent international collection), and a growing number of published and republished visual poetic works (especially by BookThug and Coach House Books), are making more visual poetic texts available to a wider audience. More broadly, academic attention is also generally growing toward hybrid literary forms, especially graphic novels, and to visual literacy (Elkins 2008) and multimodality (Kress 2010; Gibbons 2012; Forceville and Urios-Aparisi 2009). Nonetheless, visual poetic works remain marginalized.71 This marginalization—which was instantiated early on in Wynne Francis’ (1967; 1973) discussions of the “radical fringe”—is often coupled to descriptive terms like                                                                                                                                                                   Anthologies provide an important, although not exclusive, institutional expression of classroom readings and of the general readers understanding of the canon (see Gerson 1990). The vast majority of anthologies of Canadian literature exclude multimodal literatures almost entirely. 71 Some of this marginality is also self-imposed, since many postmodern works are self-published or put out through small presses. It is difficult to distinguish exactly between self and institutionally imposed marginality.  This marginality is also somewhat ironic in a nation that, especially from the 1950-1980s, was actively involved in the national support of cultural projects. One would think that the Canadian nation, whose self-image seems to also be marked by marginality, would have actively celebrated this area of cultural production that was better recognized outside of Canada than within. Even the anti-institutional work of Fluxus visual poets like Dick Higgins and Emmett Williams in the United States received better exposure.   146 “experimental literature.” Experimental is, however, often “an undefined word which seems to exempt the critic from the responsibility of saying anything more precise” (Scobie 1984, 12), and could be considered “scientistic and trivializing” (Mancini 2012, 60). Donato Mancini notes that a wide variety of terms have accumulated around such works that include avant-garde, postavant, innovative, inventive, engaged, radical, speculative, and postmodern (39-45; 59-65). Mancini prefers the term postmodern which best “gesture[s] towards the irreducible plurality (in terms of divergent political affiliations, formal strategies, reading practices, etc.) of new poetries emergent in Canada since the early 1960s” (64). At the same time, Gregory Betts suggests that focusing on postmodernity elides the radical, transformative potential of visual poetry by rendering it “decadent” rather than incendiary (2010). Furthermore, as Stephen Scobie states, “‘experimental’ is a good word to the extent that it suggests writing that finds its energy in the exploration of its own limitations” (1984, 12-13) and which “violates and reshapes” the conventions of literature and language (Scobie, 1984, 13). For similar reasons, Pauline Butling and Susan Rudy (2005) describe such works as “radical.” Whichever term one prefers to capture the sense of how visual and other experimental poetries function, their acts of exploration and reconstruction play a crucial role in developing knowledge and poetic practices around the conduit metaphor and mediation by rupturing both the forms and functions of language and images. This gives visual poems—and other types of postmodern or radical poetry—crucial functions as transformers of the more dominant lyrical forms of poetry (as I will show, the forms and functions of which are also policed states).    147 The perceived dialogue between the lyrical centre and the radical, postmodern periphery has led contemporary poet-critic Carmine Starnino (2012a) to observe that contemporary Canadian poetry “is far too heterodox to be trapped in existing definitions of traditional and experimental” (xi). Arguably, this heterodoxy is due to migrations of experimental elements into the mainstream. Under the traditional model, this might be articulated as a movement from the periphery toward the centre. A more contemporary approach would be to articulate it as a dialogic relationship between different literary scenes which share some overlapping interests while also holding various distinct ideologies and values (Rae 2009). This overlap and dialogue help make the distinctions between different genres and particular audiences somewhat more tenuous. For instance, these connections were seen from the very beginning of visual poetry in Canada, with now canonical poets like Margaret Atwood dabbling with visual poetry (as well as illustration and comics).72 Other poets were also strong supporters of the movement; for instance, Margaret Avison exchanged mutually supportive correspondence with bpNichol (see letters collected in Nichol 2002). As part of a range of avant-garde and postmodern poetic challenges (including Surrealist, OuLiPo, Fluxus, Flarf, Black Mountain, Language, Conceptualist, and so on: see Betts 2013; Bök 2002) to the centrality or dominance of lyrical approaches to poetry, visual poetry helps widen the scope of                                                       72  These poets include George Bowering, John Colombo, R. Murray Schafer, Lionel Kearns, Seymore Mayne, Michael Ondaatje, Peter Stevens, David McFadden, Victor Coleman, George Suknaski, and others (Balan 1999, 13), as well as M. Travis Lane and P.K. Page. The list becomes substantially longer when one moves into more recent decades.    148 possibilities for poetic expressions.73 For instance, Rachel Zolf represents differences in gender, voice, interruption, and silence by using different colours of font and bold redactions in Masque (2004). Likewise, M. Nourbese Philip juxtaposes different gendered, institutional, and personal discourses and voices through different orientations and fonts in She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989; see Kinnahan 2005, 80-131). Similarly, Mark Goldstein often explores questions of identity surrounding adoption through visual means in his book Form of Forms (2012). What yesterday was deemed a radical fringe is today moving into an acceptable (albeit avant-garde inflected) middle ground, and perhaps tomorrow into the mainstream. This follows a general trajectory in Canadian literature more broadly towards a diversification of modes, styles, and voices.    An especially noteworthy example of this transformation, and one that will delight followers of visual poetry, is “Wife” by Canad