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Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, 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. Confront Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, 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 amount 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. In addition to explaining his concept of uncreative writing, which is also the name of his popular course at the University of Pennsylvania, Goldsmith reads the work of writers who have taken up this challenge. Examining a wide range of texts and techniques, including the use of Google searches to create poetry, the 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.


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Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, 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. Confront Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, 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 amount 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. In addition to explaining his concept of uncreative writing, which is also the name of his popular course at the University of Pennsylvania, Goldsmith reads the work of writers who have taken up this challenge. Examining a wide range of texts and techniques, including the use of Google searches to create poetry, the 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.

30 review for Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

  1. 4 out of 5

    Philip Cherny

    Two words in response to this text: “NO DUH!” This text is way behind the times. After Barthes killed the (already long-dead) author, after Borges swarmed aspiring academics and writers in an labyrinthine sea of infinite information, after Duchamp turned art into readymades and then Levine appropriated those readymades, blah, blah, blah...this book seems to rub in my face what I already know. To make matters worse, the author blames it on the Internet, as if this hackneyed conception of the “end Two words in response to this text: “NO DUH!” This text is way behind the times. After Barthes killed the (already long-dead) author, after Borges swarmed aspiring academics and writers in an labyrinthine sea of infinite information, after Duchamp turned art into readymades and then Levine appropriated those readymades, blah, blah, blah...this book seems to rub in my face what I already know. To make matters worse, the author blames it on the Internet, as if this hackneyed conception of the “end” of originality is completely new, thanks to the Internet, and then paints it as if authors have not yet realized that the Internet is revolutionary (not true at all). Enough already! I get it. We don’t need more books telling us the same thing over again. Much less do we need to use the adjective “uncreative” as a descriptor for this purportedly “new” way of thinking and writing (it’s just a different kind of creativity—praising it as “uncreative” only makes it look radical and anger those who hold “creativity” in high esteem). Maybe the author is just living his practice of writing without aspiring for originality, by writing about a topic that is completely unoriginal? Good for him, please let’s move on. Professors, I urge you not to assign this book unless you’re teaching a Freshmen or Sophomore-level writing class.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gerard Brown

    I preferred Goldsmith's book to Marcus Boon's In Praise of Copying. I am now eager to read Marge Perloff's Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century. I'm still partial to Hillel Schwartz's overwhelming The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles, but I appreciated Goldsmith's connecting interesting writing ideas to the visual arts in his book, and enjoyed a number of his case studies. At the end of the day, I think we become ourselves through copying i I preferred Goldsmith's book to Marcus Boon's In Praise of Copying. I am now eager to read Marge Perloff's Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century. I'm still partial to Hillel Schwartz's overwhelming The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles, but I appreciated Goldsmith's connecting interesting writing ideas to the visual arts in his book, and enjoyed a number of his case studies. At the end of the day, I think we become ourselves through copying in a way, and Goldsmith makes a case for this idea form time to time in the book, but some times seems a little smug. While we may be up to our eyeballs in existing writing, that doesn't preclude the possibility that new writing could (or should) happen...I quibble; well worth your time...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Valentina Salvatierra

    Goldsmith proposes that the literature of the digital age should not really be written to be read, but rather not read, just thought about. Perhaps he intended this book to function as an illustration - and that's why it has so many spelling and editing mistakes! Structurally, the book seems to be constantly confusing, I don't know if deliberately or not, three distinct levels of analysis: prediction, prescription, and description. When Goldsmith announces "the future of literature will be increa Goldsmith proposes that the literature of the digital age should not really be written to be read, but rather not read, just thought about. Perhaps he intended this book to function as an illustration - and that's why it has so many spelling and editing mistakes! Structurally, the book seems to be constantly confusing, I don't know if deliberately or not, three distinct levels of analysis: prediction, prescription, and description. When Goldsmith announces "the future of literature will be increasingly mechanical" (p. 158) he seems to operate on the level of prediction, what he believes will be, based on his assessment of technological advances. Of course, he conveniently ignores advances like e-readers or the Gutenberg project which have made traditional literary forms more accessible than ever before. But he often strikes a prescriptive, even imperative, tone instead, for example when he urges writers to adopt the ethos of conceptual visual art to avoid writer's block. At this level, there is scant justification for why a writer who is happy to go on struggling to pen readable novels or poems should shift instead to writing unreadable, even "asemic" literature composed of lines or blanks. Finally, at the level of description, Goldsmith explains various projects of "uncreative writing", "illegibility", and texts made to be "parsed" or thought about rather than read linearly - of which there are certainly examples, as this book shows. In this third level, I suppose the book is a useful documentation of such projects, including Modernist experiments such as Stein's poetry all the way to contemporary expressions like a dude trying to get bacteria to write poems through their gene sequence. The problem persists, however, that a lot of these expressions are highly marginal, unappealing to anyone who isn't a conceptual artist or po-mo academic, and in that sense simply don't seem very valuable or worthwhile to me. Crucially, just because technology enables certain forms of text-creation does not mean, in any way, that contemporary writers or readers should or will embrace these innovations as literature - and Goldsmith does not do enough to bridge this divide between the descriptive and prescriptive/predictive parts of his argument. The type of shoddy argumentation in this book might become clearer with an example. Goldsmith recognizes the lack of interest in this type of work: he mentions the low website traffic that Simon Morris's re-typing of Kerouac garnered (p. 155). Curiously, he uses this indifferent reception as an argument in favor of it as a work of art, because it is "functionless and aestheticized". This is faulty reasoning, implicitly assuming that the lack of function of an object makes it an artistic object. Anything useless, in that view, is a work of art: the bike I bought but never use is an 'aesthetic object', by this conception. Certainly, the condition of something as "art" is often associated with the fact that it does not fulfil a strictly utilitarian function: reading a novel brings me emotional enjoyment and reflection, but it's unlikely to increase my productivity at work. However, this does not mean that anything useless is therefore a work of art, as Goldsmith's association is implying. While some of Goldsmith's examples of "unoriginal genius" are, paradoxically, creative - the lawyer who publishes her legal briefs as poetry, for example - most of them would not make for enjoyable reading, as he himself admits. No one wants to read Soliloquy, a text composed of 600 pages of every word Goldsmith spoke for a week, and yet Goldsmith is for some reason saying these sort of exercises are worthwhile, worth at least thinking about if not reading. I never understood why. He says that writing "must" account for the constant shifts in the link between language and image, the new slipperiness of language (p. 71), for example - but never explains why. And so I found myself, throughout the whole book, asking simply WHY. And I never did get that answer. The closest thing to it was the idea that all these experimental texts raised certain questions about certain aspects of language, but this feels like empty acrobatics to me. I suppose it's fine that these manifestations exist, I'm not saying "burn these meaningless texts!" - they just don't seem very interesting or justified to me, personally, as good literature. The only reason I'm giving this 2 stars instead of 1 is that at least it made me think, feel enraged, and realize that perhaps I'm a highly conservative person in the eyes of some people. I don't consider myself intellectually conservative about literature - I like my Kindle, I embrace the possibility of downloading cheap or free digital texts that I would have trouble accessing physically, I like new forms of literature outside the boundaries of the usual respectable canon. And yet, the proposals of this book for "uncreative writing" as the way literature should respond to technological advances and the accompanying excess of information, text, and language seemed completely ridiculous to me. Am I really to believe that a re-typing, on a blog, of Jack Kerouac's On The Road is somehow a literary accomplishment, something worth discussing? Am I really to believe that the future of literature lies in NOT-reading, in inane re-typings of an entire edition of the New York Times, in just "thinking about" a completely unreadable scrawling of lines as an "interesting concept"? If you want to persuade me of these things, you will need very good arguments for it. Which this book does not offer. Perhaps this review just reveals that I'm too conservative for this kind of literature. I like literature that pushes boundaries, sure, but I like it to do so in a way that is meaningful, readable, with content. I want literature to enrich language and resist its dehumanization, rather than assuming that because new technologies have made it over-abundant and often machine-generated, we just have to meekly accept that language has become debased.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Yuri Tacconi

    Extremely dense and full of inspiration. At the same time, it feels challenging but also way too complex for an ignorant on the subject. It sure changed my way to view writing but I'll need some time to reflect upon the choices it offers. Extremely dense and full of inspiration. At the same time, it feels challenging but also way too complex for an ignorant on the subject. It sure changed my way to view writing but I'll need some time to reflect upon the choices it offers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Derek Fenner

    But the callow merlin found it very difficult to enlist his liberty in the cause for which he had chosen obscurity. Self-hooded---caged, most of the time, by his own will---through starving for prey and dreaming of empyreal conquest, he brooded over the unending desire that diverted his imagination to visions urged upon it by the foremost pules of his body. Or else he lay pinioned by the demon of sloth who slipped in through the open door when he was all prepared for an annunciation muse to rewa But the callow merlin found it very difficult to enlist his liberty in the cause for which he had chosen obscurity. Self-hooded---caged, most of the time, by his own will---through starving for prey and dreaming of empyreal conquest, he brooded over the unending desire that diverted his imagination to visions urged upon it by the foremost pules of his body. Or else he lay pinioned by the demon of sloth who slipped in through the open door when he was all prepared for an annunciation muse to reward him for chastity. Stagnant air filled the birdy tubes of his bones and the inert hollows of his breast. He strove for the motive to breathe deeply and slowly, to exhale every last atom of blood-carbon before admitting pure air to the channels of ventilation that fed his spiritual fire, the scarcely smoldering combustion that nothing seemed to set ablaze. By devious experiments he found annoying mystery and despair in the pursuit of intellectual beauty. By devious experiments he found annoying mystery and despair in the pursuit of intellectual beauty. He strove for the motive to breathe deeply and slowly, to exhale every last atom of blood-carbon before admitting pure air to the channels of ventilation that fed his spiritual fire, the scarcely smoldering combustion that nothing seemed to set ablaze. Stagnant air filled the birdy tubes of his bones and the inert hollows of his breast. Or else he lay pinioned by the demon of sloth who slipped in through the open door when he was all prepared for an annunciation muse to reward him for chastity.Self-hooded---caged, most of the time, by his own will---through starving for prey and dreaming of empyreal conquest, he brooded over the unending desire that diverted his imagination to visions urged upon it by the foremost pules of his body. But the callow merlin found it very difficult to enlist his liberty in the cause for which he had chosen obscurity.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    808.00285 G6242 2011

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Noack

    Check out Conrad Aiken's "Inscriptions in Sundry Places," just as a jumping off point, to begin to get an idea of how not-revolutionary the basic ideas in this text are in literary terms. The revolutionary aspect is, of course, that now, with our modern information glut, anyone can sit at home & produce massive texts of such banality that they cannot be read! Machines are writing for other machines! (so what?) It is not that this text does not contain good ideas or that appropriation cannot be e Check out Conrad Aiken's "Inscriptions in Sundry Places," just as a jumping off point, to begin to get an idea of how not-revolutionary the basic ideas in this text are in literary terms. The revolutionary aspect is, of course, that now, with our modern information glut, anyone can sit at home & produce massive texts of such banality that they cannot be read! Machines are writing for other machines! (so what?) It is not that this text does not contain good ideas or that appropriation cannot be employed in myriad literary/art projects to produce beautiful & creative (or socio-political) results; or that systematic approaches for doing just that cannot be gleaned from this book. It is not even that there is not a place, in terms of socio-political theory/discussion, for the type of writing Goldsmith advocates, but its place is exactly that. Unfortunately, you will need to prepare yourself to tolerate Goldsmith's apparent reactionary approach to language, as well as his odd readings of the work of other writers (interpretation is always subjective) to support his program of anti-intellectual non-creativity & his supposition that this is the future of writing. Manifestos come & go as mainstream writing plods along in willful ignorance; & the reality is that most poets loosely associated with "a" conceptual movement have simply added these ideas to their repertoire of tools to be accessed creatively & moved on; so why am I so irritated by Goldsmith? His books are barely noticed & his ideas are nearly unknown outside academia. My problem is that I think that Goldsmith is essentially right: that creativity is dying (that art & literature particularly are floundering & becoming more banal) & that this is the direction in which we are headed – into a controlled anti-intellectual stasis which Goldsmith is naively promoting. Control in a "Democratic" society depends on language. One uses language to divide the opposition, to teach the populace their opinions & then to enable individuals to pressure peers toward conformity. There are a number of methods used: nationalism/patriotism, propaganda, control of information outlets etc. – & since the age of television, entertainment/information glut. If you can keep a population distracted & entertained, you can control simply by filling time with innocuous activity. Is it too much to hope that rather than promoting the dumbing-down of language & creativity, high profile professors might encourage education & intellectual development? I read this book in the hope that I was misinterpreting Goldsmith– that he was not literally promoting non-creativity, & frankly, I'm still not entirely sure. Most of his examples do not support the advocation of the kind of extreme non-creative stenography found in much of his own writing. Maybe he isn't serious. Maybe Goldsmith's entire project is meant to provoke exactly this sort of thinking- to personify all that is wrong with the dumbing down of language & education. But my take on this book is that he is serious, & irresponsibly promoting a reactionary, reductionist approach to language.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tara Brabazon

    I despise textbooks. For me, they capture the anti-intellectual 'dumbed down' imperative of higher education. Generic, standardized, low-level 'knowledge' masquerading as scholarship. But Kenneth Goldsmith's _Uncreative Writing_ is the only book I would use to 'teach' writing. Indeed, if I was teaching writing, I would demand that students read this book _before_ entering the course. Goldsmith understands digitization, the internet, the proliferation of information, plagiarism, remixing and appro I despise textbooks. For me, they capture the anti-intellectual 'dumbed down' imperative of higher education. Generic, standardized, low-level 'knowledge' masquerading as scholarship. But Kenneth Goldsmith's _Uncreative Writing_ is the only book I would use to 'teach' writing. Indeed, if I was teaching writing, I would demand that students read this book _before_ entering the course. Goldsmith understands digitization, the internet, the proliferation of information, plagiarism, remixing and appropriation. He explores the impact of these terms, platforms, concepts and practices on writing. While Goldsmith's rendering of 'quality writing' in the early stages of the book does not capture the consequences of post-poststructuralism, this book offers a proliferation of ideas and strategies for those of us who think about writing. While the latter stages of this small book are repetitive, there are enough ideas here to satisfy the most demanding reader.

  9. 4 out of 5

    amelia

    this book was full of typos and subject-verb disagreements. but other than those distractions, the book was fascinating.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    It is my opinion that meaning is forged not in the creation or originality of work, but in the emotional response it forms within the reader. So maybe “uncreative writing” is the way to go for some, sometimes it opens up the arena and allows for rules to be broken and the hybridity and evolution of literature to go on. Maybe it isn’t. But meaning, above all else, cannot be derived from form alone. For more visit: www.ampspoetry.com It is my opinion that meaning is forged not in the creation or originality of work, but in the emotional response it forms within the reader. So maybe “uncreative writing” is the way to go for some, sometimes it opens up the arena and allows for rules to be broken and the hybridity and evolution of literature to go on. Maybe it isn’t. But meaning, above all else, cannot be derived from form alone. For more visit: www.ampspoetry.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danny

    A bit dated but has some really liberating idea for those trying to begin or expand their writing practice. I don't really like a lot of the experimental literature he cites in the book but I think the exercises he recommends are interesting and helpful. Does a good job exploring (and contracting) the space between consuming words, and putting your own together. A bit dated but has some really liberating idea for those trying to begin or expand their writing practice. I don't really like a lot of the experimental literature he cites in the book but I think the exercises he recommends are interesting and helpful. Does a good job exploring (and contracting) the space between consuming words, and putting your own together.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stella Ottewill

    Made me rethink writing, reading, literature, language, creativity… it'll break your eye open. Made me rethink writing, reading, literature, language, creativity… it'll break your eye open.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aya

    That was a very interesting take on writing. i highly recommend this book

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Makes excellent points Theoretical more than practical. Interesting and valid discussions. I would like to have seen examples and more specifics. An interesting read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I think I liked this one more than David Shield's _Reality Hunger_, which has a kind of similar focus-- or at least Shield's book embodies some of Goldsmith's ideas here. But I'm not especially convinced by either writer-thinker. In essence, Goldsmith wants to reconfigure the way we think about writing, to make "literature" mimic what he takes to be the way language is used in a digital space. This is and isn't interesting, I think. To make his point, Goldsmith has two basic strategies: first, he I think I liked this one more than David Shield's _Reality Hunger_, which has a kind of similar focus-- or at least Shield's book embodies some of Goldsmith's ideas here. But I'm not especially convinced by either writer-thinker. In essence, Goldsmith wants to reconfigure the way we think about writing, to make "literature" mimic what he takes to be the way language is used in a digital space. This is and isn't interesting, I think. To make his point, Goldsmith has two basic strategies: first, he wants us to understand language in a digital context, that is, to see that language is already digital, and to understand how that changes it. I think he's got some intriguing ideas here, and in those chapters where he talks about tech, though he's also way off-- there have long been several registers of language-- expressive, instrumental, etc-- and his idea essentially flattens all language to that instrumental plane. Really, I don't think Goldsmith is being completely sincere about this claim; it's a think piece, essentially, and it's a provocative and interesting one, even if I don;t quite buy it. His other tactic, which makes up the middle sections of his book, feels to me more fundamentally flawed, which is the notion that we can and should compare the verbal arts to the visual arts, and see the way we are lagging behind-- hell, Goldsmith seems to be saying, if we just catch up with the visual arts, we'll be fine. There are lots of reasons why this seem silly to me-- among them the INCREASED importance of verbal elements in the visual arts in the time Goldsmith talks about, which at least suggest that visual artists seeing something in the verbal realm worthy of emulation. So, I found this all a bit silly. And really, I like a lot of this conceptual art, too, but I'm not sure that's the only kind of art I like, or want to see. It might be true that a lot of what passes for literature today, even literature I find challenging and enjoy, grows out of modernist ideas-- but I'm not sure that this "rootedness" in past modes makes it bad art, anymore than all conceptual art is good because it's conceptual. Really, it's not quite worth arguing the point-- Goldsmith makes a comparison that is maybe interesting as a starting point, but which really seems less tied to his core ideas; I think I might be interested in hearing Goldsmith write about conceptual art, but I don't think he does a very good job persuading me that what he sees in conceptual art has any bearing on how people do or should write. Still, these are a whole lot of smart, funny, and self-aware little essays. For what it is-- a conceptual manifesto-- this is tremendously readable stuff. I've heard Goldsmith on the radio, and he's an entertaining pitch man. There's a lot of specificity, detail, and interest in this book, and the chapter on Uncreative Writing in the Classroom is very good. I just don't think it should start a movement or anything.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yigru Zeltil

    Full of typos and, not unlike "Against Expression", marred by faulty argumentation and contradictions, "Uncreative Writing" is rich in examples and the topics of "uncreativity", plagiarism, detournement and so on are explored well enough. Goldsmith also discusses here some of his experiences with students who had picked his "uncreative writing" course. Once you read this and maybe also try to go through the same exercises... you'll either love or hate these approaches. But you'll arrive at concl Full of typos and, not unlike "Against Expression", marred by faulty argumentation and contradictions, "Uncreative Writing" is rich in examples and the topics of "uncreativity", plagiarism, detournement and so on are explored well enough. Goldsmith also discusses here some of his experiences with students who had picked his "uncreative writing" course. Once you read this and maybe also try to go through the same exercises... you'll either love or hate these approaches. But you'll arrive at conclusions with definitely better understanding. It is questionable what Goldsmith terms by "success" or "failure" in conceptual writing - probably one just have to not take things for granted while going for "precision". That on some pages he invokes identity politics, emotion or ecology and on other pages he simply praises outright theft (while the book itself contains a proper copyright section), exploitation or being downright transgressive is, again, all part of the bundle... As idealist as one would like to be, there are many points here to keep in mind. Towards the end of the book, Christian Bök's words on his Xenotext experiment and the transhumanist necessity of considering the perpetuation of poetry through considering non-human readership. Or, in other words, "if poetry already lacks any meaningful readership among our own anthropoid population, what have we to lose by writing poetry for a robotic culture that must inevitably succeed our own? If we want to commit an act of poetic innovation in an era of formal exhaustion, we may have to consider this heretofore unimagined, but nevertheless prohibited, option: writing poetry for inhuman readers, who do not yet exist, because such aliens, clones, or robots have not yet evolved to read it." Considering the reading skills (and especially reading expectations) of many people nowadays or, more likely, at any given time, it sounds like complex writing such as that of Joyce or of Bök himself will be definitely more popular among the non-human population. But for every RACTER story (of arguable success) there is a Tay story (of unintended effects...). So there you go...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Diego Mora

    Kenneth Goldsmith explica su clase en la U de Pennsilvania: trabajan siempre con la laptop abierta conectada a Second Life y todos los trabajos son plagios y/o copias de otros. A partir de ahí, cada estudiante debe defender esta copia como suya. Lo que Goldsmith demostró es que es imposible que no aparezca la voz del plagiarista: “the suppresion osself-expression is imposible”. Y justifica así la escritura no-creativa: “If it’s a matter of simply cutting and pasting the entire Internet into a Mi Kenneth Goldsmith explica su clase en la U de Pennsilvania: trabajan siempre con la laptop abierta conectada a Second Life y todos los trabajos son plagios y/o copias de otros. A partir de ahí, cada estudiante debe defender esta copia como suya. Lo que Goldsmith demostró es que es imposible que no aparezca la voz del plagiarista: “the suppresion osself-expression is imposible”. Y justifica así la escritura no-creativa: “If it’s a matter of simply cutting and pasting the entire Internet into a Microsoft Word document, then what becomes is what you–the author– decides to choose. Success lies in knowing what to include and–more important– what to leave out. If all language can be transformed into poetry by merely reframing–an exciting possibility– then she who reframes words in the most charged and convincing way will be judged the best” (22). Literary works might function the same way that memes do today on the Web, spreading like wildfire for a short period, often unsigned and unauthored, only to be supplanted by the next ripple (23). With the rise of the Web, writing has met its photography. By that, I mean, writing has encountered a situation similar to what happened to painting with the invention of photography, a technology so much better at replicating reality that, in order to survive, painting had to alter its course radically (27). If painting reacted to photography by going abstract, it seems unlikely that writing is doing the same in relation with Internet (28). What we take to be graphics, sounds and motion in our screen world is merely a thin skin under which resides miles and miles of language (29). Instead, a conventional glance at the piece reveals a nonsensical collection of letters and symbols, literally a code that might be deciphered into something sensible (30).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I've been teaching an article that served as a precursor to this monograph for years and am impressed with the overall impetus behind both. Specifically, Goldsmith argues that literary arts might benefit from copying and manipulating prose in the same way that visual and music artists have for quite some time. Goldsmith is driven to make this argument by something slightly different than what makes others advocates for such appropriation. That is, he doesn't fall into the Jonathan Lethem school I've been teaching an article that served as a precursor to this monograph for years and am impressed with the overall impetus behind both. Specifically, Goldsmith argues that literary arts might benefit from copying and manipulating prose in the same way that visual and music artists have for quite some time. Goldsmith is driven to make this argument by something slightly different than what makes others advocates for such appropriation. That is, he doesn't fall into the Jonathan Lethem school of embracing our influences. Rather, he imagines that copying and reappropriation would get literature out of a rut of sorts, as well as lend itself to the types of information management projects that our digital skill sets demand. The book builds on the ideas of the article, most productively by historically situating many more contemporary practices and discussing the aims of his own uncreative writing course at greater length. And, while it falls short of fully considering how the benefits of copying might pertain to writing outside the creative realm, he does gesture toward some interesting questions that are worthy of contemplation both in and outside classrooms.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I expected to brush up against some ideas here, as Goldsmith is sort of advocating conceptual writing as the next necessary frontier of literature (luckily not at the exclusion of extant forms). With this kind of "uncreative writing" he says “We move from assuming a readership to embracing a thinkership." The work mentioned as examples are very much thinkpieces, as opposed to what a large part of the “canon” can be considered as thinkandfeelpieces. Part of my hesitance to accept uncreative writi I expected to brush up against some ideas here, as Goldsmith is sort of advocating conceptual writing as the next necessary frontier of literature (luckily not at the exclusion of extant forms). With this kind of "uncreative writing" he says “We move from assuming a readership to embracing a thinkership." The work mentioned as examples are very much thinkpieces, as opposed to what a large part of the “canon” can be considered as thinkandfeelpieces. Part of my hesitance to accept uncreative writing has to do with my interest in emotional excavation, in putting words to feelings, in communicating these to a broader audience and thereby promoting identification and understanding. But these pieces, while thought-provoking, feel so empty of humanity. Many simply retype word-for-word previously existing texts (call it plagiarism or call it appropriation). Goldsmith uses the phrase “meatspace” to talk about the real physical world, the non-hyperreal—I realize I want the meat. That being said, Kenneth Goldsmith wears some crazy suits "in the meatspace."

  20. 5 out of 5

    David Glenn Dixon

    Goldsmith is brisk, entertaining, and almost completely unconvincing. He never tackles a thorny issue when he can give it a glancing blow. The book feels speed-written (assuming here an authorial analogue to Evelyn Wood). Behind all his insistent rhetoric, Goldsmith seems to understand that what he most desires--a remaking of literature as sweeping as the redefinition of visual art in the 1960s--is beyond his grasp. And even digitized cutting and pasting can't give it to him. (That we still call Goldsmith is brisk, entertaining, and almost completely unconvincing. He never tackles a thorny issue when he can give it a glancing blow. The book feels speed-written (assuming here an authorial analogue to Evelyn Wood). Behind all his insistent rhetoric, Goldsmith seems to understand that what he most desires--a remaking of literature as sweeping as the redefinition of visual art in the 1960s--is beyond his grasp. And even digitized cutting and pasting can't give it to him. (That we still call it "cutting and pasting" should signal its not-newness.) Fine, there are some juicy ideas to be cherry-picked; surer minds than his will have at them. But the countless tiny errors set us on a revealing path: Is he pointedly fucking with us? No. Is he putting on a blog-slack insouciance? No. Is he really not that good? Yup--that's the keeper. Ultimately it's hard to credit a program to upend language by a writer who cares so little for it to begin with.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicolás Rivas

    Mostly, a finely selected collection and brief critiques of new writing techniques. The thoughts and ideas that try to stitch all together are old and many times repeated, and come mostly from the visual arts. In that sense the book feels uncomplete, failing to provide a maniphest for the new kind of writing being born in the data age; the last chapter is definitely not enough. It is anyway entertaining, interesting, and even sometimes provides hints to deeper ideas that writing so desperately n Mostly, a finely selected collection and brief critiques of new writing techniques. The thoughts and ideas that try to stitch all together are old and many times repeated, and come mostly from the visual arts. In that sense the book feels uncomplete, failing to provide a maniphest for the new kind of writing being born in the data age; the last chapter is definitely not enough. It is anyway entertaining, interesting, and even sometimes provides hints to deeper ideas that writing so desperately needs today.

  22. 5 out of 5

    E Walburg

    It was all right, with some decent commentary on certain conceptual and contemporary art theory, as well as including some interesting comparisons between the art and literary world. However, I just couldn't get over this great aura of nihilism from the book (not at all intended by the author). Perhaps I was just reading the nihilism into the text. Interesting read for a college english class, if tempered with a good professor and engaging class discussion. Otherwise it just sort of made me shru It was all right, with some decent commentary on certain conceptual and contemporary art theory, as well as including some interesting comparisons between the art and literary world. However, I just couldn't get over this great aura of nihilism from the book (not at all intended by the author). Perhaps I was just reading the nihilism into the text. Interesting read for a college english class, if tempered with a good professor and engaging class discussion. Otherwise it just sort of made me shrug as a contemporary creator.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    I like this book only because it gives a very quotable voice to postmodern ideas I love to argue against, replete with blatant logical contradictions. It does have a really good amount of examples of modern/postmodern "uncreative" art, so it is a useful jumping-off point to further research of these artists and art forms. However, I have to agree with many of the other reviewers: the typos are very noticeable. Would Goldsmith care? Probably not. I like this book only because it gives a very quotable voice to postmodern ideas I love to argue against, replete with blatant logical contradictions. It does have a really good amount of examples of modern/postmodern "uncreative" art, so it is a useful jumping-off point to further research of these artists and art forms. However, I have to agree with many of the other reviewers: the typos are very noticeable. Would Goldsmith care? Probably not.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brooks

    Context versus content, Goldsmith is arguing strongly in favor of context. Writers don't need to be original, writing can be art when it is framed the right way (pun intended). I like reading about literary movements, so I enjoyed this. Maybe not a lot here for someone who is already familiar with ideas like flarf, but having it in one place and getting to spend some time with these ideas was worth it for me. Context versus content, Goldsmith is arguing strongly in favor of context. Writers don't need to be original, writing can be art when it is framed the right way (pun intended). I like reading about literary movements, so I enjoyed this. Maybe not a lot here for someone who is already familiar with ideas like flarf, but having it in one place and getting to spend some time with these ideas was worth it for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Deans

    You're kidding Goldsmith! Seriously, I do not believe that these are his real opinions. He's just trying to be provocative to make a name for himself. And on top of all that the book breaks all his own rules, far too original and cogently argued to be considered uncreative by his own standards. And what's with all the typos? I've seen less typos in self-published stuff! You're kidding Goldsmith! Seriously, I do not believe that these are his real opinions. He's just trying to be provocative to make a name for himself. And on top of all that the book breaks all his own rules, far too original and cogently argued to be considered uncreative by his own standards. And what's with all the typos? I've seen less typos in self-published stuff!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fluffy Singler

    I don't know that I agree with everything Goldsmith says, but his ideas are provocative and there is much here of worth to writers and writing teachers. There are controversial things to discuss and also to try with composition classes as well as creative writing. This is a charming and useful book. I don't know that I agree with everything Goldsmith says, but his ideas are provocative and there is much here of worth to writers and writing teachers. There are controversial things to discuss and also to try with composition classes as well as creative writing. This is a charming and useful book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    Crap. To encourage a writer to cease to be creative. To remove the soul from writing and call it modern. To penalize thought and reward a lack of it. To add the "but you're always creative!" As some sort of epiphany at the end. This isn't art. This is near beer. This is aspertame. This is sex without orgasm. Crap. To encourage a writer to cease to be creative. To remove the soul from writing and call it modern. To penalize thought and reward a lack of it. To add the "but you're always creative!" As some sort of epiphany at the end. This isn't art. This is near beer. This is aspertame. This is sex without orgasm.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lesley Battler

    Goldsmith challenges writers to rethink their concepts of creativity and authorship in today's digital environment.I especially appreciated the clarity, humour and accessibility of his style. This book inspired me to try some of the techniques so engagingly described. Goldsmith challenges writers to rethink their concepts of creativity and authorship in today's digital environment.I especially appreciated the clarity, humour and accessibility of his style. This book inspired me to try some of the techniques so engagingly described.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Finlay

    Whatever. Wanted to like this, but it had no substance, and the author got off on the wrong foot with me by not understanding what a binary file is. Still, there were a few interesting references like Sol LeWitt's wall drawings. Whatever. Wanted to like this, but it had no substance, and the author got off on the wrong foot with me by not understanding what a binary file is. Still, there were a few interesting references like Sol LeWitt's wall drawings.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    You should get this. Don't think it is outdated, as it is FRESH! Kenny G includes his own strategies he used with students. Overall, I would never knock a work of uncreative genius! You should get this. Don't think it is outdated, as it is FRESH! Kenny G includes his own strategies he used with students. Overall, I would never knock a work of uncreative genius!

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