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Christine98 Profile
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uncreative writing


"The prominent literary critic Marjorie Perloff has recently begun using the term "unoriginal genius" to describe this tendency emerging in literature. Her idea is that, because of changes brought on by technology and the Internet, our notion of the genius—a romantic, isolated figure—is outdated. An updated notion of genius would have to center around one's mastery of information and its dissemination. Perloff has coined another term, "moving information," to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process. She posits that today's writer resembles more a programmer than a tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, and maintaining a writing machine."

http://chronicle.com/article/Uncreative-Writing/128908/
Sep/18/2011, 2:59 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
libramoon Profile
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"writers are exploring ways of writing that have been thought, traditionally, to be outside the scope of literary practice: word processing, databasing, recycling, appropriation, intentional plagiarism, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, to name just a few."

Sounds like what's been going on in music. Of course the massive interest in current technology is manipulated by the artist, as cultural archetypes are. I see a lot of mixed media -- videos with expressive language and movement interplayed with cgi or other visuals. It's all happening. Then there's "air poetry" -- framing of heard conversation, or tweets. Artists explore.

Yet art is not just about form. Often its function is psychological more than social or economic. The felt need to express will often find the most direct conveyance, whatever that is perceived to be.
Sep/18/2011, 3:13 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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I think, and open to correction, what Perloff is saying is what McLuhan said back in the 60s: media is the message. If so, her idea itself is both unoriginal and recycled. Proving her point, actually. Libra also has a point. What Perloff is after has been going on in pop music for a long time, easily 20 years. It is called hip hop.

The older I get the more I heed neuron transmitted signals coming from the lizard, reptilean portion of my brain seated just above my spinal cortex. Perhaps theorists and critics should do the same.

And who determined the Romantic type is out dated or that genius, by definition, is tortured? I must have deleted that email mistaking it as spam.

Tere
Sep/18/2011, 4:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: uncreative writing


Good point, Libra, "artists explore."
 
Just saw a thing about the Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei. In addition to being awe struck by his courage, I was impressed by how he incorporates all things political and practical into his art. (His father was a famous poet and dissident too.) He's a prodigious user of social networking...not that he's an example of what the article describes, just your comment triggered that association.

Chris


Sep/18/2011, 4:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Katlin Profile
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A companion piece to the one you posted, Chris:

"Towards a conceptual lyric: From content to context" by Marjorie Perloff

https://jacket2.org/article/towards-conceptual-lyric

(Sorry it's not clickable!)
Sep/21/2011, 3:34 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: uncreative writing


Thanks Kat, I look forward to reading this.

Chris
Sep/21/2011, 4:46 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
libramoon Profile
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Re: uncreative writing


http://artspire5.eventbrite.com/

How to Free Your Work
Presented by Nina Paley

Free culture is a growing understanding among artists and audiences that people shouldn't have to ask permission to copy, share, and use each others' work. Producing and sharing their content openly can drastically increase audiences and lower publicity costs, allowing artists to make more money. But how, exactly, is free culture practiced? In this workshop, filmmaker, animator, cartoonist and artist Nina Paley will explain the theory and practice of free culture, beginning with the real-world example of her feature film Sita Sings the Blues. We'll explore how to choose an open license, demystifying the many Creative Commons and other licenses available; how to make it easier for fans to support you; how to upload files to archive.org; how to do less work on your own and enable your fans to do more; and how to use unlimited content to sell your stuff.

Participants may bring files of their own work (on hard drive or flash drive or laptop) to share with the world at the workshop.
Sep/21/2011, 5:24 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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In this workshop, filmmaker, animator, cartoonist and artist Nina Paley will explain the theory and practice of free culture, beginning with the real-world example of her feature film Sita Sings the Blues.

Chris posted a link to Sita Sings the Blues a while back, and it was wonderful. Chris, is that thread still around? I tried to find it but couldn't.
Sep/22/2011, 8:02 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: uncreative writing


I did mention it in an earlier thread. Here's the link:

http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/

There's also an interview with Nina Paley at bloggingheads.tv In the archives somewhere, hopefully.

Libra, have you read The Gift by Lewis Hyde? It might interest you,

Chris

Last edited by Christine98, Sep/22/2011, 9:29 am
Sep/22/2011, 8:44 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
libramoon Profile
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Thanks, Chris.

Nina is a "friend" on G+.
Sep/23/2011, 2:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Christine98 Profile
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Wonderful!

Chris
Sep/23/2011, 3:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Katlin Profile
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The debate goes on:

"There’s a minor hullabaloo a’brewing over at the Harvard Crimson, following the publication of an op-ed piece (“In Someone Else’s Words”) by student Isabel Kaplan. In it, Kaplan dismisses “unoriginal poetry” and “uncreative writing” — as practiced by Kenneth Goldsmith and others of the conceptual ilk — as mere plagiarism. Further, she argues that this kind of academically-sanctioned theft is On The March! And that books like critic Marjorie Perloff‘s recently published “Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century,” only legitimate the dangerous nonsense."

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2011/10/uncreative-fuss-at-the-harvard-crimson/
Oct/17/2011, 8:30 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Okay. This is going to sound snarky, real snarky. I am not trying to be snarky. I read the article Kat linked us to, the one by Perloff. Towards a Conceptual Lyric Rather, I read as much as I could before my impatience got the better of me. What I know about the essay form I got from Montaigne, its inventor. As said elsewhere, treat the essay as if it is an Indiana Jones adventure. Get in, grab the covenant or the jewel, get out. Show the prize to the sun. Then either go get laid, get drunk, get something to eat, or just walk away. But, then, unlike someone like Perloff or Goldsmith I don't write for a living. I write to live. Her essay is a classic example of bad writing committed to in order to fill the white blankness of page or screen. In other words, she is a terrible essayist.

I start off pissed with her use of teenagers to illustrate a point. She takes these adolescents to task for approaching poetry as a means of self-expression. Presumably, by extension, she means to say that all poetry, viewed as self-expression, is bad poetry. Somebody please correct me if I am wrong, but that is how it reads to me. And I want to scream out: what teenager does not treat poetic expression as self-expression? It comes with the turf. And it is absolutely appropriate to the age cast. I know I did. It was either that or kill myself. But any poet, starting out in her teens, goes onto other things. Goes on to ideas, conceptions, abstractions, perceptions, biases, slants, and to the world made up and flesh and dream and nightmare, all in tandem. I find her use of teenagers committing to poetry in bad taste. It simply rubs me the wrong way.

Then she goes on to quote the arch Symbolist poet, Stephen Mallarme, approvingly. He is supposed to have said to Degas that poetry is not made with ideas but with words. I am mighty fond of Mallarme. My familiarity with his poetry is more than slight. But if that is what he said genius here is either wrong or has been taken out of context. There is not one poem of his that does not look to make textual, I want to say corporeal, an idea. Or a feeling. Or, and what was the greatest prize for him, a dream. His means were simple, simple but damn hard to follow, suggestion through image. Images are not only words. Images are ideas represented.

At this juncture I want to scream out what the Car Talk boys frequently say: Doesn't anybody screen these calls? But there is more.

So what exactly is uncreative writing about? If I understand correctly it is about copying down the writings of others. The purpose of which I think is to either discover or reinvent context. Okay. Fair enough. But what artist does not learn through copying? What poet, painter, composer does not learn through strict imitation of the masters? When I was a young man I filled pages, page after page, hours at a time, with copying down what I was reading. That is how I learned. Speaking of Degas, radical innovator that he was, he was adamant about studying and copying the painting masters. Robert Graves tells the story, and I cannot prove him right, that ancient Welsh poets were not allowed to work in original verse for, I think, something like seven years. They were required to copy out, or recite, the established canon. Still, maybe I am missing the point.

And what is this nonsense about how poetry should be context not content? John Crowe Ransom said it best. What distinguishes poetry from prose is texture. Texture is what marks off poetry, since, "it is intended to correct the exaggerations of 'logic' in poetry that cause the colorful local details to disappear into the grayness of systemitized abstraction." This to me is still a far more radical approach to poetry than anything I find in both Perloff's and Goldsmith's aesthetic thinking. Give me texture, what is per force contentual, put me there. And when through texture you put me there I get context. How much simpler does it get? If anything I fault contemporary poetry for its complete lack of texture. Call it local color and get me the hell out of these writing workshops become homogenized, from coast to coast. The grayness of systemitized abstractions indeed.

Now for the core of my spleen. Perloff in her article complains about how poetry is dismissed, treated as something nonessential, something you grow up leaving for more purposive occupations, like criminal justice. Here I have two reactions. First, there is something strictly obscene about the setting from which Perloff draws her article. There is Goldsmith workshopping teenagers in his poetic and prosodic notions. There is no other word for it. The scene is obscene. And I want to scream out: LEAVE THE CHILDREN ALONE YOU BASTARDS. Let them be what they are supposed to be at that age. Teenagers experiencing the kind of brain growth putting them in neuron torsions. Then let them go out, live, fight, love, hate, lose, win, come to terms with the blues. Then and only then, after they have a leg to stand on, after they have reason to challenge your notions and assumptions about what makes for good poetry, then workshop them. That picture in the article absolutely rankles. My other reaction is this. Well, of course you must leave poetry at times for something more purposive. How do you come to poetry anyway if you have nothing to say? And you cannot have anything to say unless you've lived, and mostly lost in the process. Without experience, real experience, the kind that puts the poet in danger, where is the gravitas in the verse? I submit there is none. Got a third reaction. If poetry has become dismissed I blame the Perloffs and the Goldsmiths and all the others who fundamentally misunderstand the nature of poetry, its whereabouts, its provenence, whatever you want to call it. Poetry is not, never has been, never will be, fundamentally an intellectual activity. Houseman had it right. It is a production of the whole body, not of the brain alone. Try to make it so and it gets dismissed in the same way the ugly duckling on the pond, that elegant swan, gets dismissed.

My words are strong. Hope I do not offend. I could go after Perloff for her sense of what is lyrical too. Another fundamental misunderstanding. The best, most inclusive definition of the lyrical voice stems from the scholastic, Thomas of Aquinas. It is the I/Thou address. Always has been. Always will be.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Oct/17/2011, 2:03 pm
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Terreson Profile
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Something just occurred to me I think not ungermaine to my gripe with all this conceptual poetry stuff leading to, what?, context over content, or whatever.

Jung said a big thing about, what he called, the genius of ancient Greek Civilization. He said it was built on, flourished because of, a kind of polar duality between Eros and Logos. Love and Word. Word a Greek name for Law. Logos would become a big word for the early Christians, initially working in ancient Greek language, and it came to mean the Word of God or His Law. I think Jung was right, but it doesn't actually matter much.

What might matter more is the further insight. Ancient Greek Civ flourished because of a tendancy, or instinct, primal I think, possibly tribal, even racial, to objectify, therefore manage, experience. All of experience. They did not conceptualize, they objectified experience. Love, life, and death. They objectified it all. It is there in the literature. And in the painting. And in the sculpture. Sappho objectified love through the goddess she worshipped, Aphrodite. Homer objectified all the gods in his portrait of Achille's shield. Even Plato, first Ideal philosopher and a poet in his youth before Socrates seduced him, objectified what he called a realm of Ideas. Objectified the soul too along the way.

It's the word, concept, that bothers me the most, or to what strange disembodied purpose it is presently put to. Concept. Conception. To conceive as in to meet sperm cell to egg and start up a new body and so make an object. The whole of this conceptual poetry program strikes me as disingenuous. And disembodied. But then I am still rereading Homer and finding more poetry of thought than I am finding in many of my contemporaries.

Something funny occurs to me. To my left there are the Perloffs. To my right there are the Harold Blooms. In both camps I squirm like a crazy poet fearing his own poetic death.

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul,
I wanna to get lost in your rock and roll
and drift away


Bill Withers said that. It is how I feel about the pincer movement always closing in on poetry from both flanks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p88Rh3C_rQ

Mr. Goldsmith and Ms Perloff, poetry always gets the last word. Always.

Signed, a gadfly.

Terreson
Oct/17/2011, 4:52 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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