Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Borrowed Post: Heriberto Yépez on Kenneth Goldsmith

Happy Inter________ Poetry Month, and April fools are welcome here. Poems are on the way.

Out of deep interest, however, I am beginning this month's posts by borrowing the following entry directly from poet, translator and activist Guillermo Parra's site, Venepoetics, which I have now linked to at right and which I came across several times before being directed there in linkworthy fashion by coldhearted scientist وداد's post on Juan Sánchez Peláez. At both sites there are blossoms there too numerous to name so I recommend dropping in and wandering in the garden, sitting, staying a while, reflecting, and then dropping in again.

But back to the purloined post (all rights reserved): Parra presents his translation of a statement the poet and activist Heriberto Yépez gave on the recent anthropophagous spectadebacle by Kenneth Goldsmith at Brown.  Scroll down and you'll see a link to an earlier, prescient piece Yépez wrote about Goldsmith, who is a literary hustler of the highest order, have mapped and pursued a trajectory upwards from the local airwaves to a post at Penn. Nice work if you can get it--and he did. At any rate, Yépez is on to him. Keep reading, and you'll see. I'll be posting on the Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo very soon.

But seriously, do check out Parra's site, as well as coldhearted scientist وداد's!


El escándalo del sujeto-concepto: Kenneth Goldsmith / Heriberto Yépez

The Subject-Concept Scandal: Kenneth Goldsmith

On March 13th, the well-known writer Kenneth Goldsmith read a poem titled “The Body of Michael Brown” at Brown University. It was an appropriation of the autopsy report for the African American young man murdered by a police officer in Ferguson in 2014; this lynching has provoked huge protests against persistent racism in the United States. As soon as news of Goldsmith’s poem circulated, the polemic exploded on the Internet.

On his Facebook page Goldsmith justified that the poem gives continuity to his work, based on the appropriation of texts. Then he asked the university to not make the video available.

I’ve already written about my political disagreement with Goldsmith. Now I’d like to make note his conceptual inconsistency.

Goldsmith advocates for an uncreative writing derived from textual appropriation in the era of electronic distribution. But his work is actually a re-creative writing of the manner in which the gravity of reports is destroyed by the neoliberal system.

Goldsmith has transformed into art the kind of appropriations usually conducted by media, corporations and the U.S. government.

A key tactic of this conceptualism is to deny the geopolitics that make this re-creative aesthetic possible; applauded, literally, by the White House.

In the face of the indignation provoked by his re-creation of a report about the cadaver of a victim of racial ultra-violence, Goldsmith tried to allege there were no bad intentions.

This is an inconsistency because Goldsmith himself has insisted for years that his works are derived from concepts removed from the Romantic subject. But by defending himself morally, Goldsmith recurs to the poetic subject he claims to have left behind.

In order for Goldsmith to be consistent with his art he should stop feigning innocence or justifying his re-creations.

If Goldsmith wants to be consistent he should let him himself be completely appropriated by the logic of the U.S. government. He should become a subject-concept ruled by neoliberalism and rigorously embrace the brutality, the looting and the total program of capital.

The legacy of Goldsmith will be to have emptied North American literary experimentalism of any anti-capitalist critique. If he doesn’t want to undermine that legacy, he should take it to its final consequences instead of appealing to personal motivations or retreating into alleged misunderstandings or good intentions.

Goldsmith will make a contribution to the history of poetry if he finishes the job of burying the last remnants of the lyrical I and transforms it into a conceptual-subject predetermined by capital.

Kenneth: you shouldn’t abandon the inner logic of your work. On the contrary, you should allow capitalism to completely appropriate your literary-persona, instead of trying to justify it by means of your moral-persona. You’re a neo-imperial artist. Don’t sabotage that function with a retro-romantic artist’s discourse.

Besides, that literary work and persona already incarnate the desire for beautifying the Capital Concept.

And don’t forget, the crisis will be transnational —or will not be at all.

{ Heriberto Yépez, Archivo Hache, Suplemento Laberinto, Milenio (México D.F.), 21 March 2015 }

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