Graphing the Poets

How are “poets” something to graph? The word “graph” is ambiguous, bringing to mind a lot of schoolwork involving “plots” (wiggly lines), or maybe histograms or pie charts.

However “graph theory” is a thing, and has to do with nodes and edges, networks, trees (a subtype of network), even polyhedrons (more wireframes). It’s a “graph” in that sense that we aim to create, regarding “the poets”.

For example, using the query language known as Cypher, developed for a graph database known as Neo4j, one might record that the node Ezra Pound was very gregarious, in the sense of reaching out to others with a gesture of wanting to assist.

He helped James Joyce get published. An edge joining Pound to Joyce might say “promoted”. Pound also promoted T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.

Just recently, like today, I discovered that Edgar Allan Poe was a Margaret Fuller fan, despite the latter’s penchant for Transcendentalism.

Every school child learns (I use hyperbole for effect) that Poe was down on Transcendentalism, which meant different things to different people. “Was down on” could be another label for a graphed relationship, twixt author and ism.

Since we’re doing isms, and since I’m meaning to be flexible in my definition of who’s a poet, lets contrast Transcendentalism with the Pragmatism of William James.

Then let’s remember the philosopher Wittgenstein, a fan of Tolstoy’s, found James a most eloquent expositor of what could not be said. If language bewitches, then James was bewitched, by his own philosophy, thought Ludwig.

Wittgenstein was “critical of” (note to Cypher), but not devoid of admiration for, this famous pragmatist and anthropologist.

And so we might continue to weave our fabric of relationships, our graph.

Knowing who was a contemporary of whom is informative all by itself.

That T.S. Eliot was critical of Walt Whitman, who witnessed the Civil War, helps us assemble the puzzle pieces. We learn which scenarios partially overlapped.

Buckminster Fuller, grand nephew of Margaret Fuller, overlapped Ezra Pound. The latter had become discouraged, having been encaged, then confined, then released to return to Italy.

Because he had been so gregarious, he had many friends willing to lobby Congress for mercy. Let’s just agree he’s mentally ill and keep him hospitalized. Execution of a national treasure would have been overkill.

Once discharged and lodged near Venice, Pound attended some talks Fuller gave and that cheered him up a bit.

More isms could be woven in at this point. Unitarianism was taking off around this time.

We could give Cypher a real workout.

holographic graph