What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

—Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California

This weekend I was flying home from Cleveland, looked down at my New Yorker, and had a mini-revelation:

shopping for images

Underlining. Highlighting. Circling. When we read interactively, when we “alter” texts, we’re isolating little bits of writing that speak to us. Fire our imaginations. Illuminate something.

It’s the same thing when we hyperlink: we’re pointing to something that speaks to us.

And it’s the same thing when I make a blackout poem.

When the CIA redacts a document:

redacted cia document

It’s the same practice done in the opposite spirit: they’re isolating text that speaks to no one!

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