Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Conceptual Poetry Feature—Issue 41, May 2014)

Sueyeun Juliette Lee
Shock and Blah: Offensive Postures in “Conceptual” Poetry and the Traumatic Stuplime

Some “conceptual” poetry is elegantly unreadable, such as Kenneth Goldsmith’s Day or Lawrence Giffin’s Ex Tempore. These works invite you to skim through them—or in Giffin’s case, scroll. The way they invite readerly disinterest challenges our expectations of poetry. If you are offended by these texts, it’s perhaps because the conceit behind them seems too pat or they are not generating “original” language in the way we are trained to expect from poetry, etc etc. In these cases, it is the conceit—more than the content of the work—that “offends.” There’s other “conceptual” work, however, that offends because of its content. Also reliant on found language or repetitiveness, these texts explore violence and cultural trauma, but in ways that challenge how we imagine a poetics of witness ought to operate.

What licenses the offensiveness of this mode of “conceptual” writing relies on the ways that Reznikoff’s Testimony and Holocaust projects have been reclaimed as “conceptual.” Both works are elegant and “unreadable” in the ways they invoke strong emotional responses. As transcriptions, they also efface Reznikoff as the author. Taken together, these strategies—of invoking powerful feelings while diminishing the author—model a righteous poetics of witness. I use righteous to indicate how we can rest in our assurance of Reznikoff’s intentions, which seem so clear to us, especially with Holocaust—to attest to genocidal violence. We can see how a righteous poetics of witness operates in the reception of And Everyone Single One Was Someone. Conceived by Rabbi Phil Chernofsky, And Everyone Single One Was Someone repeats the word “Jew” over six million times—filling over 1200 pages—representing all the victims of the holocaust. Described as “gimmicky” but also “brutal” and “meaningful,” its intention to witness is never questioned. In an interview with Jerusalem World News, Chernofsky’s publisher Greenfield stated,

The minute I saw [the manuscript] I said, ‘I don’t care what we do with it, I don’t care if we don’t make any money out of it, we must publish this. […] Being the son of a Holocaust survivor who went through Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, I decided it had to be put out there, no matter what.

I am interested in sussing out the responses that Reznikoff’s work elicits in me, and how I see similar triggers being exploited in a vocal, institutionally ascendant, but perhaps ultimately “minor” vein of “conceptual” writing today. I write “minor” because I think the actual volume of work that could fall under this “conceptual” banner is incredibly more racially, socioeconomically, and geographically diverse than the way it is imagined now. The type of work I plan to discuss is writing that currently centers the term “conceptual” and troubles our expectations for a righteous poetics of witness, making it offensive to many readers. And what is “offensive” about it? It makes use of cultural trauma for purposes that are either not perfectly intelligible (some other purpose than witness), or in ways that are legible but disagreeable to the broader community (provocation, self-promotion).

I am not going to cite a bunch of critical theorists. I will cite Sianne Ngai’s work on the “stuplime,” because I think it is a great characterization that approaches what I see happening in these texts. The issue of offensive “conceptual” writing poses a central question regarding cultural trauma and poetic license, which I would like to explore.

Reznikoff’s Testimony projects and his later Holocaust draw together his legal background and interest in language. By collecting together and re-casting court transcriptions, Reznikoff is able to present an incredible portrait of humanity. In Testimony, he captures the plain speech of men and women embedded in a historical moment. He also captures the range of activities that outline our understanding of criminality and in/justice. This is particularly heightened in Holocaust, which presents—in radically unadorned court language—the horrors of the holocaust by similarly re-presenting survivor testimonies.

There’s an awesome terror in Reznikoff’s work in how it invites us to encounter this language in an art context. As a reader, I am simultaneously fascinated by the simple beauty of the language—its “plainness”—and punctured by the brutality of what is actually being described. I’m horrified and titillated by how inhumanly we can treat each other. At the same time, this level of heightened sensitivity transforms into numbness. I leave the book on the floor. I come back to it. I skim around again. After dipping in and out, I feel that I sufficiently “know” what the book is about, and am horrified that I can feel this sense of “knowing.” The book goes back on my bookshelf. I eat some cherries and write this down.

In her book length analysis of minor affects, Ugly Feelings, Sianne Ngai argues that “ugly feelings”—which include envy, irritation, and boredom—emerge out of the “obstructed agency” that constitutes contemporary subjectivity in a post-Fordist, late capitalist, globalized economy. These feelings are “more likely to produce political and aesthetic ambiguities” (20) than the culturally esteemed greater passions—namely rage, love, or terror—that have been well considered by aesthetic theorists from Aristotle to the Romantics. For Ngai, it is precisely because these ugly feelings produce ambiguities that they warrant our interest.

Ngai notes that “the morally degraded and seeming unjustifiable status of these feelings tends to produce an unpleasurable feeling about the feeling” (10). She describes this as a reflexive affect, usually shame or guilt. The ugly feelings of her study, then, promote a particular “meta-response” which leads to ironic dissociation between the subject and her emotions. She believes that the meta-emotional aspect of these ugly feelings can potentially lead us to a space of rupture from the dominant psychological paradigms of the day.

Ngai further argues that these ugly feelings share an anti-cathartic tendency. Where they end and begin are hard to describe, for they overtake us by small degrees. An ugly feeling also invites us to be steeped in it for a long duration—perhaps infinitely. When does boredom begin, for example? Rage, terror, and other great passions are harder to maintain. They also lend themselves to explosive activity, which can incite transformation. Ugly feelings, on the other hand, invite us to feel and remain the same—only less comfortably so.

Boredom fits the hallmarks of Ngai’s framework as an ugly feeling. Its “ugliness” as a feeling emerges from its ambivalence and anti-cathartic possibilities. As an “experience without qualities,” boredom is decidedly amoral. Unlike “the morally degraded” status of envy, irritation, or anxiety, boredom does not signify that the subject is in any way “in the wrong” or “not right” about their feelings. It’s an ambiguous, self-conscious state of uncomfortable experience that characterizes a vast portion of postmodern experience. As Tyrone Williams helpfully reminded me, this boredom is “a product of a subject’s interpellation at a specific moment in history (e.g., for us, characterized by information overload) encountering residues of a previous era.”1

For Ngai, boredom lends itself to an experience she describes as “stuplimity,” an aesthetic encounter she opposes to Kant’s sublime.

While Kant’s sublime involves a confrontation with the natural and infinite, the unusual synthesis of excitation and fatigue I call ‘stuplimity’ is a response to encounters with vast but bounded artificial systems, permutation and combination, and taxonomic classification. (36)

Where Kant’s sublime invites us to experience a profound terror that preludes transcendence, stuplimity leads to “cosmic exhaustion rather than terror” (36). It “reveals the limits of our ability to comprehend a vastly extended form as a totality, as does Kant’s mathematical sublime, yet not through an encounter with the infinite but with finite bits and scraps of material in repetition” (271). By being barraged with repetitious phrases and statements, as in Gertrude Stein’s, Samuel Beckett’s, or even Kenneth Goldsmith’s work, stuplimity is “simultaneously astonishing and deliberately fatiguing” (261). The reader encounters a massive amount of material that surprises in its flatness, resulting in an “aesthetic experience in which astonishment is paradoxically united with boredom” (271).

To return to my encounters with Reznikoff’s work, I see a strong echo of the stuplime. What I experience isn’t boredom, but it’s certainly something like it. I am shocked and fatigued by the writing, and this drives me into a space where as a reader, I simply shut down. My attention turns off. Holocaust invokes a repetitiousness of experience: though discrete events are parlayed, the emotional responses they invite are the same—which leads to my eventual disaffection and exhaustion.

I would therefore describe the particular response invoked by Holocaust as a traumatic stuplime. The exhaustion I experience is profoundly troubling for how it accesses my deepest sense of injustice. His materials are steeped in cultural violences, transforming them into an aestheticized encounter that anesthetizes me. I grow distant to the profound trauma these survivors experienced. Unlike the openness that Ngai’s original conception of the stuplime can invoke, my sense of fatigue invokes a false sense of closure—that I can somehow recognize the totality of this violence because it has been rendered to me repetitiously. Furthermore, by understanding the mechanics of the art work—the concept and process holding it together—I am perhaps lulled into believing I similarly “understand” the holocaust. With the traumatic stuplime, my exhaustion allows me to emerge with a sense of conceptual mastery.

By actively addressing cultural horror and violence, the traumatic stuplime invites a whole host of political critique that the “stuplime” on its own doesn’t always necessitate. In this light, the traumatic stuplime proposes to make good on Ngai’s suggestion that ugly feelings can be liberatory. However, my notion and experience of the “traumatic stuplime” suggests an affective trap. Furthermore, what I see actually happening—and what I hope we can frankly explore—is an interesting dilemma for how the traumatic stuplime has served to propel key writers into institutional legibility...perhaps on the very back of its trap.

I particularly see this at work in what makes a lot of “conceptual” poetry so offensive to so many readers. I see this in Vanessa Place’s Statement of Facts and some of the work I’ve heard her read that utilizes a similar approach. I’m likewise interested in Kenneth Goldsmith’s newest book, Seven American Deaths and Disasters, and his high profile as a “conceptual” writer. Both of these projects are transcriptions. Both center on trauma—sexual assaults and news reports around national disasters—and re-present the language of these events in an art context.

I’ve had many discussions with friends and fellow writers (many of whom are writers of difference2) who are troubled by Vanessa Place’s work, or are just tired of the conversations surrounding Kenneth Goldsmith. None would question their intelligence—what I’ve noticed is that debates center around their personas. I’ve been shocked by the disdain I’ve felt ooze out of some individuals in a room when Vanessa Place responds or makes a comment. Personally, I’ve noticed her responses are thoughtful and attentive to what was stated. In fact, in the handful of discussions I’ve had about her work, most folks have been primarily troubled with her affectation as a reader and public speaker—her lack of affect, to be exact. She speaks in a well-modulated, unhurried voice with analytical precision. When reading, she drops her pages carelessly once she’s finished with them. She paces rhythmically. She dresses in black.

Complaints about Kenneth Goldsmith—fair or not—seem to be more about his skyrocketing visibility as “the” conceptual poet. He read at the White House, is the poet laureate at the Museum of Modern Art, and appeared on the Colbert Report to promote his newest book. Where Place comes off as aloof, Goldsmith is carefree and dandyish. On the Colbert Report, he was decked out in a bright pink suit, different colored socks, a straw hat, and a massive beard. He spoke sweetly and slowly in a mellifluous voice. He was also incredibly articulate and had a well-practiced explanation of his work.

Both of these writers’ recent work invokes numerous readings. One of which, and which I am interested in, invokes the traumatic stuplime. Their powerful personas intervene in our expectations that such traumas will be handled with a righteous poetics of witness. By utilizing a transcriptive approach, their writing ostensibly effaces their presence as authors, but their performances demand that we pay attention to them, which creates ambiguity around how we should receive the work. What is the intention? rears its head. Our general expectations for the sort of “witness” these works offer is subverted by the way their personas as authors intervenes in the reception of the writing, as indicated by the outrage or debate these works inspire. Their provocations are then read cynically, which is exacerbated by their authors’ notoriety / acclaim.

Regarding offensiveness and the traumatic stuplime—this is a strategy I see increasingly being utilized by younger “conceptual” poets. For example, consider some of the work published by the TROLL THREAD collective. I mention them for their unique institutional legibility. All of the editors are doctoral candidates from SUNY-Buffalo, which has a reputation for being a spawning ground of the avant-garde in US poetry. They were also invited by Goldsmith to read at the MOMA—perhaps illustrating how coterie shapes what tends to be considered “conceptual” writing, which often occludes other authors from consideration. Though TROLL THREAD produces and publishes a diverse range of smart, challenging work, many of their publications align with what currently centers “conceptual” writing—proceduralism, repetitiveness, and in a few key instances, traumatic language.

Jeremiah Rush Bowen’s Nazi and Faggot (published via the Troll Thread collective) collects together comment threads that use either “nazi” or “faggot.” What emerges is a ridiculous “debate” that demonstrates the paroxysms of stupidity populating the internet as troll speech. Both of these works are quite clever for their simplicity in critique. However, their reception is rather complex. Folks cringe in horror or are drawn to them. I’ve been at various book fairs and seen how these titles almost always sell out. Buyers clearly take pleasure in these books. They giggle over them and read lines to each other aloud. But I have to wonder—is the joke on them?

Joey Yearous-Algozin’s various iterations in The Lazarous Project also utilizes the traumatic stuplime—in a more nuanced fashion, but no less provocatively. His 9/11 project oscillates between journalistic descriptions of the 9/11 attacks, interwoven with an alphabetical list of all the deceased, which includes the terrorists (whom he had to manually type in, rather than just using a search cut and paste). Importantly, the dead are not just listed. They begin to move.

The body of David J. Williams begins to move.

The body of David Lucian Williams begins to move.

The body of Debbie L. Williams begins to move.

Clearly, we cannot “write” these people back into life. And gratefully, Yearous-Algozin doesn’t seek to ventriloquize through them. However, he has no qualms with animating them. Unlike Lazarus, they decidedly do not live again. As stated over and over and over again, it is their bodies that begin to move. This is both poignant and alarming. They are rendered to us as what they have culturally come to stand for—dead bodies that are reanimated towards various ends. Their actual being and identities are effaced to us, even when individually named.3 I personally read this work as a piercing commentary of post-9/11 rhetoric. However, I also can’t imagine how a family member of one of the deceased might respond were they to encounter this text.

I’m fascinated by the politics that emerge out of these reanimations—these meditations and exhausting re-presentations that make use of cultural trauma. The work makes an intriguing contribution. But by dwelling in the wake of the outrage they create, their ambiguity (what was the intention? is a common question) becomes an affective conundrum... They are “easy” to read in that the compositional process organizing the work is easy to grasp. But what to do with this simplicity when tethered to such culturally explosive materials? Therein lies my fascination. Would this work acquire the same interest if it didn’t invoke or ride upon trauma’s wake? I can’t help but see how these provocations—these offensive gestures—can be seen as cynical means for drawing attention to work that might otherwise not spawn much debate. Who cares? And why?

Stephen Colbert offered a surprisingly resonant response to Goldsmith’s new book during the interview.

All these things, these seven different events—we know what’s happening when we read this. These people—who are just living their lives, thinking it’s an ordinary day—don’t know it’s coming. When I read this, I feel like I’m some sort of time traveling aesthete who is coming in to sample other people’s shock and tragedy. I’m tasting their disbelief and the way it’s changing them forever. I am tasting them while I read it. And it feels vampiric. Are you giving us a feast of other people’s blood?

I’ve reflected on Colbert’s response quite a bit. Granted, Colbert’s character is a caricature who expresses himself in hyperbolic terms—but his success lies in the way that these exaggerations still manage to resonate truthfully with his viewers. Where does this “vampiric” sensibility come from? Goldsmith is re-presenting the news accounts that once populated and already previously dominated the American psyche. One could argue that he’s simply offering a mirror to us for the ways that the media is exploitative of these events—many of which I would classify as cultural traumas, especially the assassinations of the Kennedys, the Columbine shooting, and 9/11—in the way they are portrayed to us. As an American subject, Goldsmith certainly has the license to make use of these material—the same as “any” of us. And yet “it feels vampiric.” This response is of course contextual. By reading these materials in an arts framework, their dynamics of course shift. And there are cues to the way the work is presented which heightens their ambiguity.

For example, Colbert’s remarks may have had something to do with Goldsmith’s pink suit. Ambivalence about Goldsmith’s intentions are often strongly tied to his persona. He is dealing with several cultural touchstones in recent American history—his selection of these events points to a certain carefulness in his approach. A quick but important side note: he avoids events rooted in racialized narratives or communities—Martin Luther King Jr.’s and Malcolm X’s assassinations are left untouched. This in itself begs the question if an “American death” or an “American disaster” requires “white” victims. Furthermore, by titling his text after Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series, Goldsmith invites us to place his work into an art historical discussion that further intervenes in readerly expectations of witness. This is meta-meta art, his work signals to us. Yes, there are bodies that have fallen to the ground and some communities that have been destroyed, but we are invited to attend to the art aspects—to find a space outside our feelings, perhaps, in order to address the broader experience Goldsmith seeks to offer to us. The implication is that to really “get” the work, we must consider it abstractly.

The primary critiques of offensive “conceptual” writing that I’ve heard are that writers influenced by a post-Reznikoff poetics are making use of traumatic events and traumatized communities that they themselves don’t participate in.4 These authors’ legible social location and relationship to the events in their work invoke this provocative ambiguity. In Goldsmith’s case, perhaps it was hard for Colbert to imagine that this writer cares about these national tragedies with something more than the sort of disaffected, abstracted curiosity that defines a dandy. If the author is above having feelings, then their texts potentially implicate the emotional responses of their readers. There seems to be a great joke being played, and the audience even sometimes laughs. But as readers and listeners, are we really in on it? Can we be?

I think this ambiguity regarding “the joke” of conceptual poetry is what has rankled so many readers in the contemporary writing community. The supposed “joke” lies in its use of procedures or systematized parameters of composition which imply a “stupid”5 virtuosic control over the text. It has also come to define what gets framed as “conceptual,” which is increasingly synonymous with writing that invokes the stuplime, such that writers who aren’t interested in this mode are left out of the equation. I’ve noticed that these “left out” writers are predominantly writers of difference: Craig Santos Perez, Myung Mi Kim, and Dawn Lundy Martin all utilize systematic or procedurally based approaches.6

To highlight this, I’d like to discuss Douglas Kearney’s work. Manifesting rich layers of historical violence, the typographic play of his writing requires us to literally stand on our heads or flip the script if we are to fully engage with it or accurately see it: the symbolic effort of turning “The Chitlin Circuit” in circles is not lost on me. And yet, he’s rarely discussed in the conversations when I hear “conceptual” poetry debated. I’ve also heard strong critiques of his work—primarily of the way he performs it. I was privy to a discussion among other writers after Douglas had read in New York City. One audience member was distressed and made uncomfortable by the vehemence of Douglas’s reading style. Douglas seemed too “aggro,” or aggressive, in a way that was discomfiting. I wondered at this. I’ve never felt Douglas to be an “aggressive” reader. Loud? Certainly. But I’ve heard louder readers. My ear drums literally trembled when Dorothea Lasky read poems in her kitchen. It was clear to me that a loud black male was being read one way: aggressively. Contrast this with another event: I witnessed M. Nourbese Philip read from Zong!. The latter half of that text becomes illegible—it fragments across the page. In her performance of it, she choked. She swallowed her own tongue. She suffocated herself. She was applauded as brave, for offering a powerfully moving performance—which she certainly did. But why is her performance lauded and Douglas’s critiqued? Perhaps performing silence, dismemberment, and cultural destruction is more welcomed than performing outrage. Perhaps it depends on whose body is performing. And for whom.

To return to my main consideration—if there’s a tendency for authors recognized as “conceptualists” to invoke the traumatic stuplime, why might that be the case? I personally think it has to do with precisely the “trap” I mentioned before. “Conceptual” approaches invite a sense of mastery over the work that allows the author to seemingly remain unaffected by its content. These proceduralist approaches intervene in how we experience the writing: they invite our appreciation of the work’s “stupid” virtuosity, suggesting that if we are offended, it’s because we just aren’t sophisticated. This easy profundity allows the author to remain unaffected, outside of the writing and in control.

I hope the racialized lines that get drawn around “conceptual” writing are made evident by this equation. “Whiteness” doesn’t have to care—it doesn’t have to have a body or a history, etc. Writers of difference ought to care whereas “conceptual” writers don’t have to. They get to remain unaffected.7 Whiteness allows them to be read as dwelling in abstraction and play which writers of difference aren’t typically afforded unless they clamor for it. If Goldsmith had elected to cover events that had overtly racialized overtones, such as lynchings, the dynamics of the traumatic stuplime would have been more evident. Regardless, he felt licensed to write about “American” events, and licensed to claim a Warholian gesture and be acknowledged for it. Though things are shifting, I do not yet see many writers of difference being acknowledged or recognized for getting to operate at this level of abstraction. We still predominantly read them from an embodied standpoint. There are one or two outliers—as always for minoritized artists, whose acceptance than signals the dominant culture’s openness...but only for one or two.

I think that the traumatic stuplime’s affective “trap” explains some of the institutional interest in upholding this notion of “conceptualist” writing. It shocks and blahs. It provokes, but the author’s seeming relationship to the subject of the work means we can ultimately enjoy our titillation and disinterest. As Colbert said it, we get to feast on a banquet of others’ blood. I recall, again, the giggles of buyers reading Faggot aloud.

I’m still not sure how I feel about this trap. On the one hand, it clearly resonates. It could make a compelling statement about the gauche, gaudy gorgeousness of contemporary life, and how this writing reflects its vacuity. The “writers” emerge highly implicated. However, the “trap” I’ve described reflects a more cynical view. Regardless how one feels about “conceptualism,” it provokes strong debate about what constitutes poetry. Post-Reznikoff works are self conscious about the fact that they will offend—but I’m not convinced all parties are clear on precisely how the work is accomplishing this. I think some practitioners are more clear about this than others.8 The traumatic stuplime’s relatively easy replicability contributes to this. I could cut and paste Asian cunts all day, even laying some on their side, or re-fashion them into sonnets and spawn a lot of debate. I don’t think I would know quite what I was doing, but I’d be doing it very loudly.

I recognize that my framing of this dilemma in terms of “caring” and seeming to have a “personal stake” may seem ridiculous for those interested in the avant-garde. I argue, however, that the avant-garde has always immensely cared, and has always immensely had a personal stake in what it produces. To erase these considerations from the debate is to efface the true promise of the avant-garde—to license us full access to ourselves.

But this affective distinction I’m offering up between “conceptual” writing and writing under any other name is of course porous and contextual. For example, I heard Erin Morrill read a new piece in progress, “I miscarried because 400 ppm for the first time in three million years,” which repetitiously explores all the reasons “her” body rejected a fetus.

because of the artificial sunscreen

because of the pesticidal residues

because after the dilation and curettage nothing was left inside me

because artificial insemination hadn’t taken place yet

because the ultrasound revealed the yolk sac to be empty

Composed as a list which includes some diaristic prose, each line begins “because.” The recurring miscarriage—real or not—haunts the piece. It had impressive charge. This piece was doubly charged by the fact that when I heard Morrill present it, she could not stand. She confessed to us that she’d had an emergency procedure. Of what nature was not disclosed. She was clearly wan and uncomfortable. The piece therefore felt incredibly personal and dire as she read it. Her body and her suffering electrified the work differently than if she were in good health or had read nonchalantly. I discovered later that it was also in fact a transcription. A transcription of her google searches and thoughts as she grappled with her physical condition.

Procedural? Repetitious? Ceonceptual? Yes, and yes and—by my account—yes. But offensive? In this case, I’d have to say no. But I’ve also never had a miscarriage. Perhaps this piece might have triggered a different response in someone else. For me, her small preface and the fact of her physical presence made me care differently. There wasn’t any air of an unaffected or “stupid” virtuosity in her reading. And because of this, it didn’t offend me. Offense is highly contextual, clearly. It clearly relates to our bodies—how they are read, and how we read them to each other.

I hope that this elicits some reconsideration of the “shock and blah” banner that has come to define “conceptual” writing, which has already been hyper theorized. I want to understand it and what it says more broadly about what we are all doing. More importantly, I hope that my thoughts regarding provocative gestures like offensiveness and utilizing trauma can push us to think more precisely about what these texts propose for us. I still don’t fully understand them. I puzzle over them. I (don’t) read and “enjoy” them. I question my pleasure. I think this query and conversation can lead me somewhere good. Let’s go there together.


I want to offer my many many thanks to co-thinkers and responders, Jen Hofer, Tyrone Williams, Brian Teare, Douglas Kearney, and Brian Kim Stefans, who offered some comments on an initial draft of this paper. Their feedback sharpened it, but whatever fallacies, errors, or thin thinking that remains is fully mine.


1from a personal correspondence.
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2I use that term to describe all writers whom occupy non-socially dominant positions based on gender, sexuality, race, and class.
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3A lot could be said by applying Ngai’s stuplime to an analysis of memorials—which are unique aesthetic encounters—such as Maya Lin’s Vietnam War memorial, in conversation with what I see Yearous-Algozin’s piece doing.
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4We could also describe these impulses as post-Stein, post-Cage, or post-Warhol tendencies, for sure—but I’m addressing myself to the way that traumatic language is being explored as a post-Reznikoff poetics.
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5I’m using this term the way Kenneth Goldsmith did during his Colbert interview, when he stated, “art is stupid.” I believe he meant to indicate a stunning simplicity that opens into immense insights. However, what his statement ignores is how this “stupidity” is authorized by a rich cultural cache.
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6Myung Mi Kim was surprisingly not included in the anthology I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing By Women.
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7I’m oversimplifying by grouping these authors together on racial lines, which I recognize is problematic. There are plenty of different vectors you can draw through them. Also, I recognize it’s unfair of me to declare the authors I’ve discussed “don’t care” about their work. However, the “offensive” aspects of their work are tied precisely to the way it is read as being “careless,” meaning impervious to the offense it causes. There are plenty of writers who could go under a “conceptual” banner and complicate it wonderfully. Tao Lin, Janice Lee, Stephen Leong, Urayoan Noel, Douglas Kearney, Jen Hofer, CA Conrad, Rob Halpern, Lee Ann Brown, etc etc.
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8I first wrote this piece, back in the summer of 2013. There have been an increasing number of “offensive” “conceptual” types of works floating around the internet now (I won’t bother to name them and further their notoriety) that were mostly composed by younger, straight white males, which precisely illustrate these issues regarding the unconsidered use of the traumatic stuplime.
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