‘Internet compressed maximalism,’ part 1 (if the term isn’t yet coined); also known as ‘On chronic indecisiveness version # 2)

“ ‘Internet-compressed maximalism,’ part 1, (if the term isn’t yet coined[1]); also known asOn chronic indecisiveness-version #2’”

*I dedicate this poem to Dr. Rosa Soto, Ben Nobuto, Dr. Stefano Eroclino, Nick Levey, Dr. Martha Witt, Dr. John Parras, Professor Christopher Salerno, Dr. Phillip Cioffari, and Dr. Leonard Winogora who encouraged and assisted my attempts at applying critical thought and creative writing to interdisciplinary, cross-genre consciousness, and striving to do so with some degree of succinctness, despite my tendency to be all too verbose…

–“time yet for a hundred indecisions/ And for a hundred visions and revisionsT.S. Eliot;

— “how can I explain, it’s so hard to get on?” — Bob Dylan

“the discovery of limitations, and learning to live with them”—Phillip Lopate

–“since everything may have some quality that may someday make it part of a great new context”—Robert Musil[2]

The ever increasing

near infinity[3]

(much of which I think we all

ought to skip

right past, you know…those ugly thugs in love with their public relations bullshit

who are after nothing but your fucking money

and/or your mindless labor…they hurt you, as you, their de-facto indentured servants, stock their products on their shelves to raise up their fucking “numbers,”

and their wealth…*no matter what the state of your health*! We’d tell them to go to hell but they got Crude Rude Deluded Dude “truth isn’t truth’  Giuliani, Mitch Trump’s little bitch McConnel, and one of America’s greatest living hypocrites Lindsey Graham [a top courtier of Trump’s lala land, a fief in **The Corrupted United Fascist Fiefs of American Hell**] , and a swath of America’s most mentally unwell, “drinking the Kool-Aid” and swept under Trump’s and Putin’s Fascism spell!;

…I hope you can forgive my angry tone, but I believe many of us know I’ve not distorted this, not blown things out of proportion, so let’s place the facts
on the floor – so to speak—then send them off to war

[I do hope it’s obvious that I’m being figurative]…

…so let’s place the facts on the floor and send them off to war

against those who deplore them, and against that which wastes

our TIME  

–quoth John Lennon:“As soon as you’re born they make you feel small/By giving you no time instead of it all/Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all”–

[replace the paradigm! Replace the paradigm!] I mean, the damn time I waste

trying to get a song on a Spotify playlist to play, only to sigh because find I might be better off if I switch from Spotify to Apple Music.

[five dollars less cause I’m a grad student…only to find I missed that Spotify offers that deal too!…!..!…].And just before I “lose

my fucking mind” I realize all

I had to do was sign off and sign back on…). Yes, this ever increasing near infinity all too often

dizzies me, “beats the shit out of me”

as if it were a boxing king in the ring; every thought

about the ever increasing near infinity

punching me…


[1] When I speak of coining the term “internet-compressed maximalism” I am speaking very specifically and semantically. As I shall discuss in further detail later, there is in fact quite a fair deal of literature and concepts surrounding maximalism. Musician Ben Nobuto, in his Masters Dissertation Digital Maximalism and ‘The New Post-Everything’” says:

“Owing to the nature of the subject matter, any essay on maximalism has the potential to be infinitely broad and discursive (definitions alone vary significantly from context to context, be it for maximalist architecture, fashion, literature or home décor)…does the logic of technological progress in our current century entail…‘a slow erosion of our humanness and our humanity’? It’s an idea that, I believe, has profound consequences for art, and considering the extent to which most of our lives (at least in economically developed parts of the world) are now inextricably intertwined with new media technologies that articulate, shape and define our experiences in ever-shifting, imperceptible ways, it seems to be an idea that can’t not be confronted on some implicit, subconscious level whenever we interact with the world and with others through art and other means of expression.” (Bennobuto.com; Writing; May 1st, 2019 ; https://bennobuto.com/writing/collaboration-with-dj-13-days-slb48)  

[2] … “When they’ve tortured and scared you for 20 odd years

Then they expect you to pick a career

When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear”

-John Lennon; “Working Class Hero”

“The idea of cutting into a continuum, arbitrarily selecting the objects to focus on, certainly not the only ones possible, presented some interesting theoretical implications.” (Ercolino, Stefano. The Maximalist Novel: From Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow to Roberto Bolano’s 2666 . Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

–even settling on my epigraphs evokes anxiety within me. I attribute the challenge in part to 1) postmodernity (and one of its’ offshoots: maximalism [a]. The writer Gloria Anzaldua discusses this in her book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, and even more specifically in her chapter “La conciencia de la mestiza” or “Towards a New Consciousness.”  She writes: “Jose Vasconcelos, Mexican philosopher envisaged una raza mestiza, una mezcla de razas afines, una raza de color- la primavera raza sintesis del globlo. He called it a cosmic race… his theory is one of inclusivity [b]” (emphasis mine). She also writes: “The ambivalence from the clash of voices results in mental and emotional states of perplexity. Internal strife results in insecurity and indecisiveness.” (emphasis mine). Her next point is what I consider paramount to the evolutionary break away from postmodernism that results in maximalism (though she doesn’t put it as such, explicitly): “The counterstance refutes the dominant culture’s views and beliefs, and, for this, it is proudly defiant. All reaction is limited by, and dependent on, what it is reacting against. Because the counter-stance stems from a problem with authority (emphasis mine) –outer as well as inner—it’s a step towards liberation from cultural domination. But it is not a way of life. (emphasis mine) At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores once, and at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes… The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react…characterized by movement away from set patterns and goal and toward a more whole perspective, one that includes rather than excludes (!!!; emphasis mine)…attempting to work out a synthesis…a new consciousness…that questions the definitions of light and dark and gives them new meanings… we are the grinding motion,/the mixed potion (yes/emphasis/as perhaps you guessed?/is mine)” (see pages 99-103).

[3] “Inside the museum infinity goes up on trial

Voices echo ‘this is what salvation must be like after awhile’”

Bob Dylan; “Visions of Johanna”

I say “near infinity” because I reject the concept of “pure infinity.” Why? Because at the nexus of time, space, and motion, “at the edge of the universe” as the Bee Gees sing,  where the expansion TOWARDS so-called infinity may be CONCEPTUALIZED…(imagine hypothetically we had a telescope that could actually SEE and photograph this point of expansion) it has a finite aspect, rendering reality, logically speaking, perceptionally (if that is not a word, I –hereby coin it!) speaking, furthermore (because human consciousness, while capable of sharpening its closeness to objectivity, is ultimately a little biased), at a given fixed place, time, and essence…to be in a state of finiteness… 

  1. a). How we might want to define “Maximalism” depends on who is defining it (oh, postmodernism….) and also the context/medium we’re referring to. To repeat Nobuto: “definitions alone vary significantly from context to context, be it for maximalist architecture, fashion, literature or home décor.”  For example, my initial research into this concept led me to aesthetic theories and/or cultural trends pertaining to interior design. Further research on the topic led me to Dr. Stefan Ercolino (who fascinatingly enough was foundational in my starry-eyed fixation on ideas of “cross-genre” writing). Ercolino identifies 10 characteristics that tend to distinguish maximalistic literature from other “sorts” or “genres” : 1) Length [[i]]; 2)Encyclopedic mode; 3)Dissonant chirality; 4)Diegetic exuberance; 5) Completeness; 6) Narratorial omniscience; 7) Paranoid imagination; 8) Intersemioticity; 9)Ethical commitment 10) Hybrid realism; (Ercolino, Stefano. The Maximalist Novel: From Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow to Roberto Bolano’s 2666 . Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

b). “My claim that the maximalist works studied here are unified by something akin to what, reading Walt Whitman, Franco Moretti calls a “rhetoric of inclusivity”—Dr. Nick Levy writes, accentuating or adding substance to a consciousness of inclusivity as the outgrowth of postmodernity (in my opinion).; (Levey, Nick. Maximalism in Contemporary American Literature [Routledge Studies in Contemporary Literature] [p. 15]. Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.)

  1. For an advocatus diaboli challenge to Ercolino’s perspective on length (and thus inspiring within me even greater interest in an “internet-compressed maximalism”) you might find Nick Levey’s thoughts interesting. He writes, “Stefano Ercolino recently claimed that it is ‘difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a maximalist novel that is not long.’ But here, in this book, maximalism isn’t exclusively attached to a certain kind of novel such as the ‘encyclopedic’ or ‘mega’ novel, which is often taken as the most obvious result of a maximalist approach to writing. Instead, I see maximalism as a mindset and approach to novelistic poetics that finds the lure of detailedness irresistible, despite its often troublesome nature. There’s no necessary relationship between length and maximalism, at the very least. Wallace, for example, was also a writer of short stories, and it seems limiting to suggest his writing is not maximalist simply when it appears in shorter forms. To borrow a phrase from Arthur Saltzman’s study of minimalism, I aim to view maximalism as a ‘mode of inquiry,’ a ‘set of ways of asking questions about the contemporary world,’ rather than a particular kind of text. To restrict discussion of maximalism only to those works that appear ostentatiously excessive is to overlook many of its most interesting manifestations. It’s probably even more accurate to say that some of the books we study here (those of Nicholson Baker and Pynchon’s later work, Inherent Vice) might only have maximalist aspects, rather than being entirely maximalist objects. All good maximalist novels seem also to reflect on maximalist writing, therefore it’s important to recognize that these writers’ relationship to the style often changes or is revised over the course of their careers.” Levey, Nick. Maximalism in Contemporary American Literature (Routledge Studies in Contemporary Literature) (p. 6). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Written in Bernards, NJ,  between Friday, October 9th and Friday October 23rd, 2020

Author: Poetry by Sean O'Connor

Hi, I'm Sean. I’m a poet. My favorite poets, my literary role models, are Bob Dylan and John Lennon; I also draw heavily from the fiction of Thomas Mann, the non-fiction of Phillip Lopate, and the prose of David Foster Wallace. Other poets and writers I love include Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Claude McKay, and A.E. Stallings, Milan Kundera, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Robert Musil, Susan Sontag, Leslie Jamison, Michel de Montaigne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, My themes tend towards the philosophical and psychological, exploring the idea of what it might mean and be like to live an ever improving life. I’m currently pursuing my MFA in Creative & Professional Writing at William Paterson University, where I also received my BA in Liberal Studies (with concentrations in Political Science & History). I also work as a writing tutor for Raritan Valley Community College. Aside from my writing, I’m vehemently political, fascinated with human sexuality, open about my polyamory and…I love dogs. My wife and I adopted a Siberian mix from St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in October of 2019.

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