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 }

1 comment:

TC said...

Goldsmith is a paid servant of the State and the corporate media, and his impregnable security as an embedded agent of these institutions (conspiracies against the people) should have been recognised and acknowledged long ago by anyone with eyes, ears or other receiving devices.

Now that the trembling pile of Nothing behind the "inauthentic" performing mask has been exposed as the empty pus sac it is, will its perks be threatened?


Meanwhile all the careful shadowboxing of the tentatively incensed envious grappling for a hold on the lower rungs of the academic ladder so far appears to be reducible to... a scramble of the tentatively incensed envious.

Not until the producers of closed-to-the-public "conference" and "members-only" (inside-the-bubble) "list-serv" "critiques" actually begin to walk the walk, that is, straight out the door of the presiding dominant institutions -- which are, after all, the real problem, not their soldier Goldsmith, who merely performs according to their rules -- will any word of objection to the whole system have a chance of ringing true.

Of course, having the door close behind you means saying goodbye to an awful lot of bullshit "career" aspirations, hopes, "dreams" and so on.

That might seem a bad thing in the short run.

The race is long.