I thought it might be edifying to post my explanation of the formal constraints that Fourier Series operates under:
The most obvious and visible formal constraint is not a constraint at all, but a mode of visual arrangement: the non-prose lyrics in the book (excepting the concluding section, "The Impeached Image, Wilderness") are all arranged in a quadrant or floating plus sign. However other constraints do apply:It seems somehow appropriate that the gentlemen for whom the contest is named, Edwin Fitzpatrick and Pontius O'Dinn, are entirely fictional. They are fictional and ought to have been real; Fourier was real and may also simultaneously have been fictional.
- Based as it is upon the passional theories of Charles Fourier, the book contains a section for each grouping of passions invented by Fourier: "The Five Senses" or Luxurism, "The Affective Passions," or Groupism, and "The Mechanizing Passions," or Seriism.
- Each of the twelve passions (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, ambition, friendship, love/celadony, familism, cabalism [the passion for minute division and conspiracies], flitting/butterfly [the passion for constantly changing activities], composite [the passion for combining stimuli]) plus the thirteenth passion, unityism (the feeling of oneness between the individual and multitude) has a poem or poem grouping assigned to it.
- The Fourier series (not the mathematical procedure that goes by this name) is a way of arranging people for maximum efficiency and pleasure (two seemingly disparate values that Fourier believed would become one in his new harmonious society). The minimum number needed for a series would be seven people: three would be the central "pivot" and they would be flanked by two two-person "wings." Fourier’s idea was to foster healthy competition within the series while ensuring that no one group could have hegemony over the other. Therefore the lyrics arranged in the quadrants of the book are seven lines each (with one exception). Furthermore there are never more than three lyrics to a quadrant: a foursquare totality is never achieved.
- Fourier posited that the possible combinations of the above passions resulted in 810 psychological types. There are therefore 810 lines to the lyrics in the quadrants.
As you will see from reading the book, the constraints I’ve imposed are as thematic as they are textual.