"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Some examples of non-provocative utterance. (Excepted are those utterances that are not intended for others--a private diary, for example...and utterances that are manifestations of mental disorder, the verbal tics of a Tourettes sufferer, the lunatics who sleep in the alley by the halfway house/free clinic down the street who wake me up every morning with insane ranting--no, scratch that last one. I yell at them to shut up, so their behavior, intentional or not, IS provocative.)

I DO watch a lot of gangster movies and I do sometimes talk to graduate students, but I don't think I'm being naive here--almost all utterance IS communication. And ALL communication is provocative, to varying degrees.

Help me out here.


Anonymous said...

Answering, "Fine," when someone asks, "How are you?".

Jonathan said...

Aren't there two senses of the word provocative? One being, "designed to elicit a response, of any kind," and the second being, "calculated to provoke a response of arousal, outrage, or some other particularly strong emotion"? We speak of a provocative dress. Presumably other dresses are not so provocative, though they still might "provoke" some reaction in weaker sense 1. Should poetry always be provocative, in the strongest sense? Yes.

gina said...

What's the context? I'm not sure what you're after--?

Charles said...

My boyfriend talks to himself a lot. Does that count?

Tony said...

Thank you, Jonathan. That's what I was after. I wasn't reading Jordan correctly.

Interestingly enough, I discussed this with my brother last night, and it almost provoked argument about my character (my brother loves to provoke arguments about my character). That is, he pointed out to me that Jordan must have meant provocative in the stronger sense only, and that I was being persnickety in order to be pedantic. In fact, I simply thought Jordan was missing something...in fact, I was missing what Jonathan (and my brother) pointed out. The point is: I'm just a little dim sometimes.


If your boyfriend is really talking to himself (and not to get attention) then, yes, I'd call that a non-provocative utterance.

Laura Carter said...

I have a secret fear (not so secret anymore, though) that I am a provocateuse. Confirm? Deny?

Steven D. Schroeder said...

I answered "Okay" when someone asked me "How are you?" and had them jump all over me because "I didn't answer as if things were okay." I'm just sayin'.

Tony said...


Were you talking to my ex-girlfriend by chance?

john marc said...

This is a difficult topic.

It would depend on what the speaker means, their attitude?
Is everything we say provocative.

I was in a loving relationship, I can write a poem about how I loved them, and even speak in the gentlest terms. Somebody else, that isn't in a relationship, migth read that poem and feel provoked.

I can tell you about how wonderful the lights look above a bay, but somebody stuck in a dreary job in a polluted area, might be provoked by the tone, even if, in the immediate, the words were "positive."

However, one would do other than fault the writer of the poem, if they were really just trying to say something nice, instead of agitating somebody that felt grouchy about love.


Almost all of the volumes of american poetry on the shelves have at least a few "provocative" poems. If you think about it even the, on the surface, idyllic american poets with the pastel color scheme going (bishop etc.) have a aggro...there is a slighted agitated edge. It almost seems characteristic of the mod..to post mod sensiblity. There's a crankiness.

As much as one admires the skill, and understands the lack of sentimental "phoniness"
the more positive early american writing (pre-lost generation), cavalier french and wistful asian haiku,
can be really refreshing, though nobody would want to reconstruct some of the negative social barriers back then.

Maybe the new sincerity will look at some of the more positive aspects of "non-crank" vibes, along with sincerity?

john marc said...

Whoa, pardon the typos. Was just up late last night, and would hope to do other than provoke!

uh, ? on the first sentence...

might read..

probably more in there..sorry! (could pass the spelling exam if had to)..

Steven D. Schroeder said...

No, but it was a female...