Reading Goldsmith’s Against Expression
That can’t be his real name, can it? Gold-smith? A name suggesting a tradesman crafting luxury goods for a cultural elite?
It’s hard to fault the anthology’s contents—Ballard, Burroughs, Beckett, Acker, I wouldn’t want to hang out with anyone’s who’s not into this stuff. At the same time, it’s absurd to act as if they’re writing some sort of formalist work that’s chiefly concerned with aesthetics. Burroughs makes cut-ups because he hates mass culture and wants to symbolically dice it up (and for a lot of other reasons, but y’know…). Ditto with Acker, at least judging from what I’ve read of her. And Ballard is intensely political. Judging them on purely formal properties is to deny their works’ main dimension.
But it’s the economic dimension that I’m interested in, because Goldsmith is interested in it but won’t name it outright, and because it’s a problem for a lot of conceptual art. The economic dimension is the dimension in modern gallery art, and artists often hide it or box it in because if you think about it they start looking really bad.
Goldsmith’s says: “With the rise of the Web, writing has met its photography.” That is, writing has to adjust itself to “the new environment of textual abundance,” just as painting had to adjust itself to pictorial abundance. But this “abundance”—it’s an economic metaphor, no? The market has been flooded with words. People are even giving away their words for free. So for writing to keep its economic value, it has to adjust itself.
That’s the thrust of Goldsmith’s argument, for me, one which never appears outright but seems at the same time unmistakable. Of course, writers make very little money right now, and successful artists make ridiculous amounts. On the other hand, writing has a cultural accessibility I doubt “fine art” will ever achieve. Moving writing into the realm of art is a move that valorizes it, makes it more expensive.
(I hope at this point it’s pretty obvious how the economics of the whole “printing the internet” thing shake out.)
11:00 pm • 5 September 2013 • 1 note
“Honesty without talent might be said to be incomplete honesty … The full truth is unattainable to naivety, and the completely honest artist is not pure in heart.”
— Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture
8:41 pm • 15 March 2013
“It is addressed to another you, not the placeholder self that you that you often mistake yourself for.”
— Mark Fisher, on The Pop Group, Don’t Sell Your Dreams
12:38 am • 9 March 2013
“Nothing will fit if we assume a place for it. To attempt to classify writing before one has had the experience of its activity will be to misplace it altogether. What can be said is something itself particular—to senses of form, to the literal nature of living in a given place, to a world momently informed by what energies inhabit it.”
— Robert Creeley, Introduction to The New Writing in the USA
10:54 pm • 8 March 2013 • 4 notes
“There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.”
— Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control”
9:41 pm • 8 March 2013 • 1 note
“…by corrosives, which in Hell are salutory and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid.”
— William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
11:50 pm • 24 February 2013 • 2 notes
Bodenlosigkeit, the total absence of firm ground in reality.
9:32 pm • 22 February 2013
"…so is the sea the natural element for industry…for the ties of the soil and the limited circles of civil life with its pleasures and desires, it substitutes the element of fluidity, danger and destruction.”
(Hegel, Philosophy of Right)
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. ”
(Melville, Moby Dick)
"Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay”
(Cowper, “The Castaway”)
12:53 am • 22 February 2013
“After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don’t you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?”
— Frank O’Hara, “As Planned”
12:44 am • 22 February 2013 • 68 notes
That funnel web seems to me an apt figure of the world.
It exhibits beauty, ingenuity, intricacy. Imagine it in the early morning jewelled with dewdrops, and each of these at sunny moments a spark of light or a section of rainbow. Woven, too, as no man could weave it, fine and flexible, frail and tenacious.
Yet are its beauties of brilliancy and colour no real part of it. The dew evaporates, the tints and sparkle vanish, the tenacity remains, and at the bottom of all lurks a spider.
— Christina Rossetti
1:07 am • 21 February 2013