Thoughts on Kenneth Goldsmith

poetry / writing
Kenny-Goldsmith1

KG in pepto suit.

KG is an interesting figure.  The Web is full of pro/con on this guy, and I’m not sure what to make of his influence. My sense is he likes being thought of as a charlatan by the “poetry community” (whatever that is).  I’m okay with literary charlatans–because all creative people are essentially confidence men/women. There’s nothing really world-saving and/or intrinsically moral about Art.  Nihilists are very good artists.  In fact, a good majority of artists are nihilists.

It’s all about showmanship–what I can convince you of through artifice & slight of hand. I get KG is trying to convince us he’s being uncreative by producing unreadable books. He’s all concept, all brain. No feeling. There’s not a lyrical bone in his body, he avers. I’ll admit I learned of conceptual writing through KG.  That’s not so bad. In fact, I don’t think he cares if we have ambivalent feelings toward him. He radiates ambivalence, after all.

That pose he champions (the ironic hipster fucking up the certainties/verities of the stuffed shirts) doesn’t play well with serious people at all.  KG takes nothing seriously, hence his wily embrace of any and all criticism.  If you want to be entertained, Google some of the articles/commentary/blogging about KG and his uncreative stunts.  But, you see, that’s the point. He wants to piss you off, and you fell for it.  And now, who looks like a stuffed shirt? That, in a nutshell, is why KG exists, and why people like him will flourish in any age.

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