Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You ARE A Switch

Kenneth Goldsmith on uncreative genius, recreativity, etc etc, in a piece for the New Yorker about the death of the poetic versus a boom in poetry (of a sort):

"In the past decade, writers have been culling the Internet for material, making books that are more focussed on collecting than on reading. These ways of writing—word processing, databasing, recycling, appropriating, intentionally plagiarizing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, to name just a few—have traditionally been considered outside the scope of literary practice....

"Canadian media scholar Darren Wershler.... has been making some unexpected connections between meme culture and contemporary poetry....  Wershler calls these activities “conceptualism in the wild,” referring to the aspect of nineteen-sixties conceptual art that concerned reframing, and thereby redefining, the idea of artistic genius (think of Duchamp’s urinal). Conceptual projects of the period were generated by a kind of pre-Internet O.C.D., such as Sol LeWitt’s exhaustive photographic documentation of every object, nook, and cranny in his Manhattan loft... Today’s conceptualists in the wild make those guys look tame. It’s not uncommon to see blogs that recount someone’s every sneeze since 2007, or of a man who shoots exactly one second of video every day and strings the clips together in time-lapsed mashups... a woman who documents every morsel of food that she puts into her mouth....

But it's not just poetry without the poetic.... it's writing without a reader:

"Like much conceptual poetry, the book was designed more to ignite discussion than to actually be read....  Quality is beside the point—this type of content is about the quantity of language that surrounds us, and about how difficult it is to render meaning from such excesses. ...

"It’s not clear who, if anyone, actually reads these works

"...  the poet Tan Lin...  has said that “the best sentences should lose information at a relatively constant rate. There should be no ecstatic moments of recognition … the most boring and long-winded writings encourage a kind of effortless non-understanding, a language in which reading itself seems perfectly...  redundant.” 

A kind of undeath of poetry, a mestatising of text, or a meta-statising... a swarming glut of emptiness

"In an essay on the Poetry Foundation’s Web site called “Poetry is Dead, I Killed it,” Vanessa Place says that the poet today resembles a zombie more than an inspired bard, gathering and shovelling hoards of inert linguistic matter into programs, flipping switches, and letting it rip, producing poetry on the scale of WikiLeaks cables. Imagine the writer as a meme machine, writing works with the intention for them to ripple rapidly across networks only to evaporate just as quickly as they appeared. Imagine a poetry that is vast, instantaneous, horizontal, globally distributed, paper thin, and, ultimately, disposable"

Not just poetry without the poetic, but poetry without the Poet.... writing with the Writer evacuated as much as possible from the process and the product...

1 comment:

  1. Just came across this bit from Nietzsche about the necessity of self-defense from overload:

    Another form of prudence and self defence consists in trying to react as seldom as possible and to keep one’s self aloof from those circumstances and conditions wherein one would be condemned as it were to suspend one’s "freedom” and one’s initiative and become a mere reacting medium. As an example of this I point to the dealing with books. The scholar who in truth does little else than handle books—a philologist at a modest assessment may handle about two hundred a day—ultimately forgets entirely and completely the capacity of thinking for himself. When he does not have a book between his fingers he cannot think. When he thinks he is responding to a stimulus (a thought he has read)—finally all he does is to react. The scholar exhausts his whole strength in saying either "yes” or "no” to matter which has already been thought out or in criticizing it—he is no longer capable of thought on his own account. In him the instinct of self-defence has become weak otherwise he would defend himself against books. The scholar is a decadent. With my own eyes I have seen gifted, richly endowed and free-spirited natures already "read to ruins” at thirty and mere matches that have to be struck if they are to give out flames—or "thoughts”. Early in the morning, at the break of day, in all the fullness and dawn of one’s strength, to read a book—this I call vicious!

    From "Why I Am So Clever".