BWPWAP Paper with Kenneth Goldsmith: On Uncreative Writing
Uncreative Writing with Kenneth Goldsmith in Conversation with Florian Cramer
With so much language available in the digital age, does anyone really need to write more? Why not just process what exists? This is the position of the uncreative, embodied by Kenneth Goldsmith as one of the most important figures of conceptual writing: Writing driven by the perception of language as matter that can be endlessly repurposed. The uncreative writing paradigm asks if techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering and intensive programming can inspire the reinvention of writing. The Internet and the digital environment present writers with new challenges and opportunities to reconceive creativity, authorship and their relationship to language. Confronted with an unprecedented quantity of texts and language, writers have the opportunity to move beyond the creation of new texts and manage, parse, appropriate and reconstruct those that already exist.
Examining a wide range of texts and techniques, including the use of Google searches to create poetry, appropriation of courtroom testimony, and the possibility of robo-poetics, Goldsmith joins this recent work to practices that date back to the early twentieth century. Writers and artists such as Walter Benjamin, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Andy Warhol embodied an ethos in which the construction or conception of a text was just as important as the resultant text itself. By extending this tradition into the digital realm, uncreative writing offers new ways of thinking about identity and the making of meaning.