Thursday, February 16, 2006

You can't escape meaning

Paragraphs on Conceptual Writing
Kenneth Goldsmith



"I will refer to the kind of writing in which I am involved as conceptual writing. In conceptual writing the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an author uses a conceptual form of writing, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the text. This kind of writing is not theoretical or illustrative of theories; it is intuitive, it is involved with all types of mental processes and it is purposeless. It is usually free from the dependence on the skill of the writer as a craftsman. It is the objective of the author who is concerned with conceptual writing to make her work mentally interesting to the reader, and therefore usually she would want it to become emotionally dry. There is no reason to suppose, however, that the conceptual writer is out to bore the reader. It is only the expectation of an emotional kick, to which one conditioned to Romantic literature is accustomed, that would deter the reader from perceiving this writing.

Conceptual writing is not necessarily logical. The logic of a piece or series of pieces is a device that is used at times, only to be ruined. Logic may be used to camouflage the real intent of the writer, to lull the reader into the belief that she understands the work, or to infer a paradoxical situation (such as logic vs. illogic). Some ideas are logical in conception and illogical perceptually. The ideas need not be complex. Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple. Successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable. In terms of ideas the writer is free even to surprise herself. Ideas are discovered by intuition. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realization with which the writer is concerned. Once given physical reality by the writer the work is open to the perception of all, including the author. (I use the word perception to mean the apprehension of the sense data, the objective understanding of the idea, and simultaneously a subjective interpretation of both). The work of literature can be perceived only after it is completed."

(...)

P. S. Depois de ler os textos de Kenneth Goldsmith o tédio que nasce da leitura de muitos outros textos deixa de ser culpa do leitor, passa a ser consequência da ingenuidade, imaturidade e incapacidade dos autores. Os textos e as experiências de Kenneth Goldsmith não inviabilizam a escrita de textos que procuram (ou perseguem) um sentido particular, controlado. O que acontece é que o grau de exigência em relação a outros textos - os que se escrevem procurando criar de maneira controlada o sentido - se torna muitíssimo mais elevado. As consequências e os ensinamentos de experiências como as de K. Goldsmith são incalculáveis, excitantes, surpreendentes. A questão do sentido na literatura exige novas reflexões e confirma-se a sua íntima dependência do conceito de "desfamiliarização" usado pelos formalistas russos. Por outro lado, tornam-se mais compreensíveis, depois do contacto com os textos de Goldsmith, as experiências e a prática de outras artes (da música, das artes visuais). Se não se pode escapar ao sentido, se ele surge e seduz mesmo em textos não premeditamente organizados em obediência a uma vontade que crê saber de antemão o que procura e aonde quer chegar, as intuições dos surrealistas e dos dadaístas foram apenas um estado ainda inocente e uma intuição ainda muito juvenil de potencialidades de que só agora se toma mais seriamente conscência.