ModPo is winding down with 9.3, causing me to ponder Kenneth Goldsmith’s works. Goldsmith, who joined ModPo discussion board earlier in the week, responded to one student with this ‘uncreative writing’ link. He champions “uncreative’ writing, which to me, seems that creativity resides in the concept, not the writing.

Why, really, do we think there is still a ‘masterpiece’ to be written, one different from one already written? This, of course, is a simplified examination of the argument that is presented regarding repurposing language. I do believe that a new story line awaits (to an extent) but I also believe that every story written reads in overlap. What I feel K.G. is trying to encourage is an outright declaration of overlap, use what has already been produced. If only it could be that simple.

I just finished the LARB article, “Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities” which happens to fit into this discourse quite well. Stephen Marche creates his argument (which frankly I ‘read’, but really didn’t pay attention until I got to the bit about Borges) which can be summed by his last line summation, “Insight remains handmade”. This made me smile as I’m so tired that I read it first as ready-made — (I was skimming), merging the r of ‘remains’ with ‘made’ and filling in the blanks. Reader participation at its finest (well not really, but we are going to roll with this to circle back to the Borges bit).

Marche uses the example of Borges’s “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” a short story about fictional writer Pierre Menard who writes, “Quixote” which is the Exact copy of “Don Quixote”. It is a critique of why Menard’s work is so much different from Cervantes, yet the text are the Exact same. Borges is pushing the point of context and reader participation ( a very Po-Mo concept).

Hmm…but what does That have to do with This?

Marche’s battle cry is against digitization of literature: “Literature cannot meaningfully be treated as data. The problem is essential rather than superficial: literature is not data. Literature is the opposite of data.”

This brings us Back to ModPo… 9.3, where there is another manifesto that treats literature as data: yes, they are just words that can be reworked and reused.

What do we lose in This? Is there a danger in turning our Classics over to a digital database. Do we fear the machine spewing out an algorithm that is culling meaning from, well, more data. Marche would say we lose the humanness – the mushiness. Goldsmith would say we gain ‘uncreative genius’. (Well, I think that is what he would say…I have yet to read the book.)

Yet, despite this there is Tracie Morris performing “Afrika”. Morris uses just one, One line, turning into a thousand stories with just her voice. Perhaps some would argue that this is different because of her concept. Meh, I let it ride, I let it sing us home because it helps to remind that ‘humanness’ can be found even in a line of text culled out of context.  ~



Harriet’s blog reminded us that another ModPo poet celebrated a birthday on the 15th. Ted Berrigan would have been 78. A link to his transcription of a Naropa talk, Incredible Machines, inspired me to honor his day with a meso, that ended up being quite meta. Read it here.. It spine: TED BERRIGAN, FULLTIME POET




3 thoughts on “Killing Don Quixote: mechanized windmills churning pages

  1. IHere is my thought of the moment, subject to endless rethinking and revision: f literature is mere data, it is nothing. If we are not making meaning, we are not human. The trick in it all is how we do it, and what I hesitantly begin to realize is the multitude of methods for making meaning.

    • Nicely stated, Susan! Btw, very much enjoyed seeing you in the live broadcast. How wonderful it must have been!!

  2. Pingback: NO-COMFORT ZONE: MODPO WEEK 10, THE FINAL WEEK? | Quillfyre

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