Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

Stephen Burt writes:

‘The suppression of self-expression is impossible,’ Goldsmith admits, since ‘even … retyping a few pages’ can represent and generate emotion. Curiosity is an emotion: so are boredom and frustration, and the desire to invent something so new that no category can hold it; so are the desires to confuse, puzzle or delight. If we can’t find personality or emotion, character or plot anywhere within a text we tend to turn to the implied creator, the artist who stands behind it, and we do so more insistently (the last fifty years suggest) if we find only the ‘uncreative’ within the work. Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes are (among other things) symptoms and representations of the power accrued by the proper noun ‘Andy Warhol’. Goldsmith’s books seem to seek that sort of celebrity: they aren’t just representations but demonstrations of the way Goldsmith authorises, or publicises, his work.

(LRB 10 May 2012)

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