Bucky’s Ventilated Prose
Though the preparation for that mid-nineteen-thirties presentation had been developed under the close observation of the corporation’s Director of Research, my final written presentation of it was declared by the Director to be incomprehensible. Disgruntled, I re-read it carefully and returned to the Director saying, “Please listen to this,” and proceeded to read in spontaneously metered “doses” from my manuscript. As I read I also watched for expressions of comprehension on the Director’s face. The Director pondered each verbal dose, and when his face signalled “that is clear” I would intuitively measure out the next portion. Finally, the Director said, “Why don’t you write it that way?” I said, “I am reading directly and without skipping from my original text”; so the Director said, “It just doesn’t read that way.” The explanation was that the intuitive doses did not correspond to conventional syntax.
When the re-written report was submitted, the Director said, “This is lucid, but it is poetry, and I cannot possibly hand it to the President of the Corporation for submission to the Board of Directors.” I insisted that it was obviously not poetry, since both he and I knew how I had chopped up a conventional prose report. The Director said, “I am having two poets for dinner tonight and I will take this to them and see what they say.” He returned the next day and said, “It’s too bad — it’s poetry.”