W.S. Di Piero and “qualia”


"who we are becoming"

W.S. Di Piero‘s “Only in Things” begins:

Some days, who can stare at swathes of sky,
leafage and bad-complected whale-gray streets,
tailpipes and smokestacks orating sepia exhaust,
or the smaller enthusiasms of pistil and mailbox key,
and not weep for the world’s darks on lights, lights on darks…

Who does not weep for the world?  David Bespiel wonders how experience affects a poet’s imagination over at the Oregonian:

Di Piero says that “qualia” is at the center of human experience. Qualia? (Don’t move. I already looked it up.) A philosophical term, qualia, according the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a peer-reviewed academic resource, is pronounced kowl-ay and are the “subjective or qualitative properties of experiences. What it feels like, experientially, to see a red rose is different from what it feels like to see a yellow rose. Likewise for hearing a musical note played by a piano and hearing the same musical note played by a tuba. The qualia of these experiences are what give each of them its characteristic ‘feel’ and also what distinguish them from one another.” So these perceptions that Di Piero says “we feel in our stomachs” aren’t literal or literary. They are dynamic and nameless. And they inspire a poet’s imagination into awe and into language. The qualia “make us who we are becoming.”

He concludes, “By making artful poems and being alert to qualia, a poet learns to become aware of his or her inner life.” Read the whole thing here.

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One Response to “W.S. Di Piero and “qualia””

  1. Max Taylor Says:

    It’s the singular of qualia, i.e., quale that has the pronunciation you indicate. Great word, agreed.