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While the Waves Crashed
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[The general will was an abstraction...]

John Lowther, Sonnets from 555

    The general will was an abstraction, but general animosity is concrete, lived, and suffered.
    Control the food supply, and you control the people.
    Tell me again.
    Whenever governments adopt a moral tone—as opposed to an ethical one—you know something is wrong.
    Our struggle is your struggle.
    Now everyone knows.
    But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
    There is no minimalism in a slum.
    Then, together try to do something about it.


555 is a collection of untitled sonnets whose construction is database-driven and relies on text analytic software. I crunched and analyzed Shakespeare’s sonnets to arrive at averages for word, syllable and character, these averages became measures for three sets of sonnets. The lines are all found, their arrangement is mine. Values for word, syllable and character were recorded. Typos and grammatical oddities were largely preserved. The line selection isn’t rule-driven and inevitably reflects what I read, watch, and listen to, thus incorporating my slurs and my passions as well as what amuses and disturbs me. These sonnets were assembled using nonce patterns or number schemes; by ear, notion, or loose association; by tense, lexis, tone or alliteration. Think of Pound’s “dance of the intellect among words”— The dance in question traces out a knot (better yet, a gnot) that holds together what might otherwise fly apart. I espouse only the sonnets, not any one line.

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