October 17, 2011

WTF is Conceptual Writing?

I was asked to explain what I meant by "conceptual writing" and WTF I was doing to/with Bhanu Kapil's Schizophrene and Laura Goldstein's Facts of Life.
Note 1. Vanessa Place visited Naropa this summer. Her homework assignments for her one-week workshop: Bring in five typed pages. Copy a text verbatim. No editing. This assignment was given out four times. This is “pure conceptualism.” That week, she also gave a talk on Echo: "All that matters is the echo." This is an act of radical mimesis. One is curating the encounter.
Note 2. Kenneth Goldsmith, in "Conceptual Poetics 'Journal' Dispatch," writes that conceptual writing “obstinately makes no claims on originality. On the contrary, it employs intentionally self and ego effacing tactics using uncreativity, unoriginality, illegibility, appropriation, plagiarism, fraud, theft, and falsification as its precepts….Language as material, language as process…” Read more here.
Note 3. It is the idea, not the object: Robert Rauschenberg erased a Willem de Kooning painting; de Kooning said of the erasure: “I want it to be something I’ll miss.” What do you miss of Kapil’s and Goldstein’s work when you read my “book reviews”? What does the mere act of the erasure say about reviews? About writing? Illegibility? Failure? What do you hear in this echo of the work? What do you notice about the materiality of language? How does the process reveal itself?
Robert Rauschenberg's "Erased de Kooning Drawing"

Note 4. My “reviews” are impure conceptualist gestures or "post-conceptual" writings. I have edited. Not just erased. Or: not just copied. Therefore, my ego; my decisions; my ear; my notions of paragraph, sentence, syntax, fragment, lyric are present: even if the language is “not mine.” I have intervened/interfered in the mimetic act. Now, no longer so radical. See note 1.
Note 5. Who owns language.