Sunday, October 27, 2013

Excerpt from Uncreative Writing by Kenneth Goldsmith

Andy Warhol is perhaps the single most important figure for uncreative writing.  Warhol's entire oeuvre was based on the idea of uncreativity: the seemingly effortless production of mechanical paintings and unwatchable films where literally nothing happens.  In terms of literary output, too, Warhol pushed the envelope by having other people write his books for him, yet the covers bore his name as author.  He invented new genres of literature: a novel was the mere transcription of dozens of cassette tapes, spelling errors, stumbles, and stutters left exactly as they were mistyped.  His Diaries, an enormous tome, were spoken over the phone to an assistant and transcribed, charting the minute, yet mostly mundane, movements of one person's life.  In Perloffian terms, Andy Warhol was an unoriginal genius, one who was able to create a profoundly original body of work by isolating, reframing, recycling, regurgitating, and endlessly reproducing ideas and images that weren't his, yet, by the time he was finished with them, they were completely Warholian.  By mastering the manipulation of information (the media, his own image, or his superstar coterie, to name a few), Warhol understood that he could master culture.  Warhol reminds us that to be the originator of something widely memed can match being the originator of the trigger event.  These regestures - such as reblogging and retweeting - have become cultural rites of cachet in and of themselves.  Sorting and filtering - moving information - has become a site of cultural capital.  Filtering is taste.  And good taste rules the day: Warhol's exquisite sensibility, combined with his finely tuned taste, challenged the locus of artistic production from creator to mediator.


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