Monday, May 13, 2013

Good Luck. (WTF?)




Thinking of possible routes to the writing of geist today, I am struct by several examples, most of which are from the past, but which give rise to certain illuminations of the preset. Today's standard and operational conceits would seemingly be first of all clever translations of geist itself. It can easily be surmised, and then used as a linkage in other perceptions, that geist is now object, as in object oriented programming. In writing, there is no ghost without the machine, otherwise, the nose simply sniffs itself. But, what is someone like Kenneth Goldsmith really saying when he entreats us to enter into what can only be called a 'spiritual dialogue' with the mechanical vestiges of historical language traces, to pursue the copying of pre-existing texts as some kind of new surrogative of the new in literature? In fact, the closest perceptual practice I could think of which mimics the practice Mr. Goldsmith is promoting, is a version of realist, or plein air, painting, and yet, nowhere in the avant-garde is the practice of writing being explicitly rethought as not only part of painting, but rethinking all of media as geistobjekt, or pre-affective zones of possible neuroplastic meditation vectors. But let's not get that far yet. Let's take some time to infect ourselves with the pluroma of the ghost in the machine, the ghost-machine, the ghost manufacturing machine, and machinic ghosts. And in fact, let's join Kenneth in his vision, and see what he sees for a moment. In a way, reading Kenneth Goldsmith's daily tweets is like reading the translations of Balzac in Ben Kafka's _The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork_ (Zone Books, 2012). "In Paris, nearly all bureaus resemble one another," Balzac writes. "In whichever ministry you wander into, for some small favor or for the rectification of some minor wrong, you will find dark corridors, poorly lighted stairwells, doors with incomprehensible signs." The air is unbreathable because the chimney is blocked. The wallpaper is solid green or solid brown. Empty bottles and scraps of food are strewn about. Occasionally a bureau would have to be moved from one building to another (or files from one server to another). "Of all the relocations in Paris, the most grotesque are those of administrations. Even the genius of Hoffman, that bard of the impossible, never invented anything so fantastical." Take note here of a "fantastical grotesque" associated with "the machinery of writing". As the carriages pass with the furnishings, "the boxes yawn open leaving a tail of dust in the streets. Tables with their four legs in the air, overturned chairs, the unbelievable utensils with which France is administered - all have a terrifying physiognomy." This section sounds, or reminds one more specifically of Goldsmith's project, and perhaps he is correct, after a fashion. It does seems as if Goldsmith is seeing 'expressive literature' as something very akin to 'a tail of dust', or "a tale of dust," but the box that is yawning is himself I suppose, but, also, as a box, he is displaying that literature as curator, as he states here:

"The database is the new literary metric. Curating is the new authorship."

 "Curation trumps content."

 "The new reading is not reading."

 "Let us judge our literature by the machines we build, not by the products they make."

Notice the curious "we" in this last statement. Is Mr. Goldsmith not making writing products? I think in fact he is. Is he writing articles like this? [See article] No he is not. He is not actively investigating the inscriptive technologies of our current Zeitgeist, at least not publicly, and he is certainly not inventing any sort of laser that can write onto the surface of the moon, nor even involved in something as advanced as Christian Bok's genomic poetry? What he is doing is "curating" the same writing practices which he calls expressive as versions of what he calls "uncreative". There is nothing in the world, no geist or machine, or anything which isn't creative after some determination. And think about it. Any language which uses standard words, and or standard grammatical usages is already a curation, and a machine, hence, the long unavoidable post-structuralist musing about "Who speaks language, the language or us?" Our very 'expressive' selves could be presented as "curations" as well as "machines".. So, is this then a critique of Goldsmith? Nothing so vulgar, but I will say, that what Goldsmith most closely resembles is an Avant-Garde version of Stephen Colbert. He is an "Anti-writing" writer.. Okay. it's a good shtick. We all remember the Anti-Poets. But if "Expression" is the grotesque bureaucratic milieu from which Mr. Goldsmith is feigning escape from, what is the real milieu he inhabits? He himself will tell you, and quite plainly:

"For poetry, there is no life outside the academy."

Now to a person like me, who is neither in the academy, nor especially from the academy, but who is moreover from a world closer to the ASML press release, I find this statement rather paradoxical.
If we are actually dissolving boundaries, rethinking expression's borders etc., would not the logical step be an inclusion of social vectors outside the academy? Of writers who took alternate paths in their writing practices, ones not especially involved in pedagogics, but in certain technological vectors associated with the machinics of contemporary inscription?

But perhaps I am wrong, or perhaps, Kenneth Goldsmith is simply another generation of "Oppressors" within the regime of "Expression" masquerading as his own opposite. It does seem as if his own field of identification leaves him somewhat cold:

"Choosing to be a poet is like choosing to have cancer."

After all these pronouncements, and he is still a "poet"?

Really what this makes me think of is marketing, and the process by which human actors garner fame and 'success' in their careers. Nowhere in Pound's dictum "Make it new." does it say "Make it truthful." And at this level of the arts, Art and Sophistry are basically the same animal, and that animal is also something called "subjectivity" or even "truth"..

So, here I am, though, and I have no idea whose dungeon I'm in really. Most likely my own, but let's say there are a few contingencies which have their day as gaolers. It's to those gaolers, or that gaoler, that I recreate the vatic, or even phatic experiment of looking for messages of Zeitgeist in anagrams as best remembered in that anonymous anagram written by some bored 19th century Parisian government clerk: "un Corse la finira" as found in "Revolution francais" (sic). In Kenneth Goldsmith I find:

Ghosted Elm Nth Ink

Ghosted as "Faked" specie of non-particular Expression (Expression)..

In other words, Ghost-writing old wood and calling it new wood, still requires some sort of framing.

That's what uncreative writing is, and that is what the content of most writing, and most thought for that matter. It is a framing procedure. A contextualisation. A sophism of one mark referring to another mark in a very specific manner. A mannered perception masquerading as conception, or is there any difference. Your perception is my disease?

For me, there are more poignant memories of the vicissitudes of writing, the vicissitudes of the combined milieus of writing, expression, and experience.

Take for instance, that "we" have a letter from Puvis de Chavannes to Charles Ephussi's dog, Carmen, a letter that could never be read by its purported or intended reader, and then compare that to this:

"The new reading is not reading."

The old reading was not reading.
and also, the Old reading

was a dog.

Isn't it just possible, that there have been notional, and sweet defections among the categories of the arts for centuries, and that those defections foreground the phatic oddity of being's relationality with all representations. Isn't it just possible that all human media are the wryly self-involved shells of complexity's only game, ie the self-naming game, narcissism as foolish system (narren-system), fuelish, foulish, vilish, fetish, feelish, ghoulish, rulish, rubbish, nebbish.. whatever..

A painter writes to a critic / collector's dog who is named after the fictional character from an opera. That's clever enough. One needn't make a career out of writing out the word blindness, and have it refer to the words themselve. We all know writing can't read. Or can it?

[canned laughter]

This is the original and much more interesting version of what I would consider a 'conceptual' writing. By placing Mr. Goldsmith so prominently within the history of contemporary writing practices, the powers that be, have in effect, given away the content of their collective idea about writing.

Writing cannot change history. Writing is impotent. There is too much writing. And writing is too Democratized. We who have made academic careers out of writing chose a poor path. Anyone can write because the ethos of writing is an invented one. The Emperor of Writing wears no clothes. Good taste, and Meaning, are utterly subjective. And we are utterly dejected for the most part. Why has this happened to writing?

Instead of letting "us" in, the rabble, the non-academic writers, the true eccentrics, and true creatives, they have decided to erect a sign which says, "Nothing here to see. Writing is dead. Just go copy something, anything. It's all the same."

Which is true, but for all the wrong reasons.

Writing is dead as a CATEGORY
because it can also be called PAINTING
or SCULPTURE
or PERFORMANCE
or ECOLOGY
or ECONOMY
for that matter..

What really has happened is that the FETISH of cultural programming
has had its intended effect.

The prisoners who went in thinking they would understand the secret are now debased.
And those of us who stayed outside, are refreshed, or refleshed (also debased), by secret method,
but we are no longer wanted, or wounded. We are Armadillos, yeti cheese armadillos.

Unsanctioned scholarship has no home in the world of writing, even though by its own decrees, Writing itself is a failure and a waste of time, except as a re-enactment of Impressionist painting, the "painting" being the private experience, or "Impression" of the "writer"..

Text and Landscape are one. Yes, we already knew that, Academy.

What we are saying, is that "Complexity is self-involved, and media of any kind is part of that self-involvement." How you translate that information is your "business"..

It is obvious that there are both individual and institutional versions of self-involvement.
So what?
It's not the end of the world.
Good Luck.
What is the meaning of luck, when the age of our planet
is what it is?
We're all lucky, or unlucky.
But what the fuck is this, really?
That is sort of what art, or philosophy or literature is asking,
in whatever form they take.
Media is sort of the backbone of the [WTF?] industrial complex
in case you haven't noticed.

Academy...

Where the fuck is the V?
I see no V in Napoleon's Anagram machine...

I have no idea what to think about anything any more, other than like Balzac, I might think something like, "Perhaps everything is made of equal parts of nature and conception. Perhaps nature is completely conceptual, even when it isn't."