Blog Post 12.5: There Was No Blog Post 12

Hi all,

Nice job at the Tang yesterday. Tomorrow we turn to the question of literary rewriting with the work of Kenneth Goldsmith — as I mentioned, we’re only reading a selection of what’s in the packet: an excerpt from his work Day, the introduction to his book Uncreative Writing, two pieces from Seven American Deaths and Disasters, and Brian Droitcour’s article on him.


As you’ll see when you start reading Goldsmith’s work, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to specific passage quotation. So for this blog post, you should post three generative questions about this material by class time tomorrow — open-ended things that will help us to engage and interrogate what Goldsmith is doing, and to set it in the context of the rest of our course material. While you don’t need to quote or cite directly in your questions, they should be closely and specifically informed by the readings and the issues they raise. See you tomorrow!

12 thoughts on “Blog Post 12.5: There Was No Blog Post 12”

  1. Goldsmith says that literature is in a rut but is vague with regards to what products of literature are so lacking. What kind of works do you think he is referring to, and do you think he is correct in his prognosis?
    Part of the transcribed World Trade Center coverage was from TV reports. In what ways did that section feel different when transcribed as plain text than the coverage of JFK’s death, which was a radio report?
    Droitcour writes how Goldsmith’s works are actually “two works”, one being performance and one being the text severed from its performance. How can the same piece create two different works of art?


  2. What value is gained or lost by borrowing emotions for events such as tragedies in giving literature meaning?
    At what point does the collection of “found words,” for lack of better term, become an expression of the appropriator’s artistic intention? By plagiarizing entirely? By creating collision from two or more works?
    How do we reconcile Goldsmith’s identification of literature as in a rut with his deliberate retreads of artists such as Warhol, Duchamp, and Prince?


  3. Other than the obvious difference in forms, how is works like Goldsmith’s any different from a documentary? Does the meaning change since it is read rather than seen and heard? Would there be different meaning to the text if it was a summary of the events that are being described, rather than a written transcription of the events as they unfolded over other mediums?


  4. Can you tell a piece’s original medium through the text, and what aspects either reveal or hide audio or visual features that may be lost in the text?

    How does use of JFK’s assassination in so many different pieces of appropriation art we look at serve as a reflexive commentary on these forms of art?

    Does Goldsmiths’ transcriptions of the 9/11 attacks seem to take advantage or make personal gain of the tragedy, just as he was attributed to doing while reading Michael Brown’s autopsy, and what are the differences between the contexts and ways in which he chose these two pieces that might indicate the extent to which they are perceived as insensitive?


  5. 1. In an appropriative text, do citations take away from the art form?
    2. How do the works Goldsmith discusses in “Uncreative Writing” differ from collages like those of Shields?
    3. Does reinventing significant real-life tragedies do something good for the people who were involved in that event?


  6. 1) Is transcription of a public radio station really plagiarism?
    2) What is the significance of the change in medium from newspaper/radio to book?
    3) How does Goldsmith’s reading of Mike Brown compare to Dana Schutz Emmett Till painting? Was it equally inappropriate?


  7. 1. Would you equate Goldsmith’s reading of the autopsy of Mike Brown as poetry with the Dana Schutz painting of Emmett Till that we discussed earlier in the semester? How are the issues of race, art, and ownership that we raised in class similar here? How are they different?

    2. What does Goldsmith’s work accomplish socially, both with its takedown of literary convention and its political subject-matter?

    3. Can we apply Goldsmith’s own harsh criticisms of literature to his work? How so?


  8. 1. What is important about taking skill out of the picture when reading Goldsmith’s uncreative writing? What are we left with?

    2. Goldsmith calls his practice “uncreative writing,” but is uncreative the right word to use? Is there a creative way in which his theories of retyping and reframing conceptually open up more creative possibilities?

    3. Goldsmith talks about the “thicket of information” he wants to make his way through (Goldsmith 1). How does one possibly make their way through the entire quantity of texts on the internet? We talked in class about how the internet is an expanding ocean of an archive and that there is no way to go through it all, so is Goldsmith talking about sifting through the texts in a conceptual way?


  9. 1. What is the public response to works like “Seven American Deaths and Disasters” and “Uncreative Writing?”
    2. Why/how do these authors utilize tragedy in their works, and what emotional response(s) does that stir?
    3. Where do these pieces fit into everything else we’ve read this semester? Is this appropriation as we know it, or something beyond the scope of that?


  10. 1. What, specifically, is the inherent creative element in Goldsmith’s work?
    2. From what archive is Goldsmith drawing from–what kind of archive does he create?
    3. How can people categorize collage or appropriative work as the field is ever changing?


  11. 1. Is it necessary for Goldsmith to insert “author’s” notes at the end of his work (as seen at the end of Seven American Deaths and Disasters)? What happens if he were to omit these notes?
    2. Is Goldsmith’s reading of Michael Brown’s autopsy different from Dana Schultz’s painting of Emmet Till? If so, how?
    3. Is recognizing the source material necessary to understanding Goldsmith’s work?


  12. 1. Does the culture of the art define the rule book? (e.g. Musicians’ feelings on sampling, vs. writers’ feelings on copying.)
    2. What does Goldsmith say about the materiality of ideas that other artists we’ve studied do not?
    3. At this point of artistic creation, is there anything original anymore?


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