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A LIMIT ED ANT HOLOG Y OF ED ITS ANNA GRAY & RYAN WILSON PAULSEN


A Limited Anthology of Edits An annotated reader

Edited and annotated by Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen


© 2010, 2011 by Special Projects Press


I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil. - Truman Capote

Table of Contents Cause of Death? by John Hilliard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Introduction by Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Primary Time by Bas Jan Ader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Excerpts from What is an Editor: Saxe Commins at Work by Saxe and Dorothy Commins. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Multiple Authorship from Art Power by Boris Groys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 The Death of the Author from Image-Music-Text by Roland Barthes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 What is an Author? from Language, Counter-memory, Practice by Michel Foucault. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 The Free Appropriation Writer by Randy Kennedy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Behind the Blue Pencil: Censorship or Creeping Creativity, from On Writing, Editing, and Publishing by Jacques Barzun. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Notes from Moby Dick by Herman Melville. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 The Renaissance and the End of Editing by Gary Taylor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 One Out of A Hundred Novels Makes it to Publication by Marguerite Duras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 Regretfully We are Returning Your...Readers’ Report by Umberto Eco. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 Cover image of Ulysses by James Joyce. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 Cover image of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127 Cover image of The Unabomber Manifesto or Industrial Society and It’s Future by ‘FC’. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 The Uneditor, a conversation between Mark Owens and Randall McLeod from Dot Dot Dot 18. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130 A Game of Chinese Whispers, administered and transcribed by Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 The Text: History, Variants and Emendations from The Norton Critical Edition of Moby Dick by Hershal Parker and Harrison Hayford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 Black from Cabinet Magazine 36 by Paul Le Farge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 On Punctuation, by Gertrude Stein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158 Gertrude Stein’s Punctuation from Gertrude Stein On Punctuation by Kenneth Goldsmith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 How an Editor Makes a Manuscript from The Chicago Manual of Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169 Excerpt from Writing & Illuminating & Lettering by Edward Johnston. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Excerpt from One-Way Street and Other Writings by Walter Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172 Excerpt from Walter Benjamin’s Archive edited by Esther Leslie. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 Excerpt from the journals of Marie Darrieusecq. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .174 Excerpt from the writings of Ernest Hemingway. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .175 Famous writing quotes, from www.bethanyroberts.com, by various authors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176 Note to the Fifteenth Printing from Beyond Sleep by Willem Frederik Hermans. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 . West’s Revisions of Miss Lonleyhearts by Carter A. Daniel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 Variations on I AM A MAN, works by Ernest Withers, Glenn Ligon, and Hank Willis Thomas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194 Reduce/Increase by William Wegman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 The Reincarnation of Saint-ORLAN by Orlan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Rope Piece, One Year Performance by Tehching Hseih and Lina Montano. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Cover image of Edit Yourself by Bruce Ross-Larson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200 Dear W. by Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201 Triumph over Mastery by Mark Tansey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 Various paintings by Jonathan Monk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204 Excerpt from Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205 The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away by Ilya Kabakov . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207


Selection from Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212 Not So Common a reading assignment by Alison Hart. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213 Fax-Back by BANK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215 Excerpts from the series Found Marginalia by Anna Gray & Ryan Wilson Paulsen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217 An Open Letter to Donald Kuspit by Adrian Piper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 May Need Rewrite by Dan Fox. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247 Professional Me by Frances Stark. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 On Reading to Oneself from Habitations of the Word by William H. Gass. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252 Excerpt from The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 266 Lyrics to Sexy Bitch and Sexy Chick by David Guetta and Akon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272 I’m Too Sad to Tell You by Bas Jan Ader. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 274 I Can’t Explain and I Won’t Even Try Stefan Brüggeman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275 Excerpt from The Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 276 The Garden of Forking Paths from Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279 Crossroads by Stephen Slappe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290 Magpie-ism and Obfuscation by Rebecca May Marston. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 292 Day Passing - Peir 52 by Gordon Matta-Clark. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296 The Grime of the Centuries is the Pigment of the Imagination by Kathleen Weil-Garris Brandt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 Excerpts from Porno-graphics by Dan Greenburg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312 Selected CIA documents regarding the Letelier case. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 316 Work from the Cityscape Series by Ed Ruscha. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320 Good-Eye Blinders by Daniel Smith of the Danielson Famile. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 Excerpt from The Days Are Just Packed by Bill Watterson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325 The Catholic Index of Forbidden Books: 37 Censored Authors, from The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace. . . . . 326 Excerpt from 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature by Nicholas J. Karolides, Margaret Bald & Dawn B. Sova. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 328 Everyone’s Allowed a Past... by Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332 Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change by James C. McKinley Jr.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333 Screenshots from the Stop SOPA & PIPA Internet strike. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336 Excerpt from The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339 Excerpt from The Plague of Fantasies by Slavoj Zizek. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 340 Excerpt from Why Did the New York Times Change Their Story... by Nick Greene.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 341 . The Spiral of Art History by Fred Wilson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 342 On Curatorship from Art Power by Boris Groys. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .345 Vase with Coca-Cola Sign by Ai Weiwei. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 349 . Monument to Joe Louis from Defaced Monuments a web collection by Sam Durant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350 Mardi from Alow by Helen Mirra. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353 Being Boring by Kenneth Goldsmith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 366 Excerpts from One-Way Street: An Index in Thirteen Parts by Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 372 How to Make a Dadaist Poem (the method of Tristan Tzara), web tutorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 377 Excerpts from A3 by Pat Boas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 378 Montage is Conflict by Sergei Eisenstein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 380 Re-Writing Freud by Simon Morris. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 385 Excerpt from Alphabet (NYT 01/01/01) by Pat Boas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .388 Lowercase Components by Tauba Auerbach. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .389 Worldview by Emma Kay. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 391 Re-enactment in Contemporary Art by Jennifer Allen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .396 The Task of the Translator by Walter Benjamin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .409 The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 419 Living With Ghosts: From Appropriation to Invocation by Jan Verwoert. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 436 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 451


Hilliard 7


The aesthetic challenge of contemporary art resides in recomposing the montage: art is an editing console that enables us to realize alternative, temporary visions of reality with the same material (everyday life). Thus, contemporary art presents itself as an editing console that manipulates social forms, reorganizes them and incorporates them in original scenarios, deconstructing the script on which their illusory legitimacy was grounded... - Nicolas Bourriaud


This collection brings together a variety of texts and artworks that illuminate or at least dimly reflect on the subject of editing. The act of editing seems at first to be a straightforward, exclusively retrospective, utilitarian act -- confined to the world of writing and publishing, but it can be extended to include much more. It can be the taking apart and putting back together of a clock, the cleaning of an aging fresco, the making of a mix tape, the amendment of a history book, the evolution of a recipe, the creation of an exhibition, the revision of a term paper or the reading of a text. At the heart of our interest is the relevance of editing to art and art-making. As discussions about authorship and curatorship have evolved over the last 50 years, it seems important to discuss editorship as well, looking at analogues between the disciplines of literature and fine art. We have approached the creation of this volume as readers with pencils in hand. As we feel our way, discursively and recursively, through the essays, notes and artworks herein we are laying bare a process of textual interaction, displaying the connective tissues of thought that tie these varied pages together in our minds. In this endeavor, we embrace our position as amateur interpreters, footnoters, propagators of distant material. We don’t claim to explain anything, but we will gladly comment on it. As readers, and as writing artists, whose body of work relies on both an artistic tradition of literate artists and a literary tradition of artistic writers, this text also offers us an opportunity to synthesize the projects we have been producing over the past few years. We find that our work exists between the writings in this volume -- “in the interstice of repetitions and commentaries; it is born and takes shape in the interval between books.”1 To conceive of a text (or to edit a text) is far different from writing it, just as understanding a foreign language is different from being able to speak it. The task of choosing and linking the materials in this anthology was very much like working a complex puzzle in close proximity to a ticking clock. We see that the pieces we chose could continue to grow and be re-arranged. We make no claims that this volume is comprehensive, rather we have carved out a small piece from a very expansive subject. So, as a reader feel free to take apart what we have put together, re-attach, re-draw or re-edit to make the overall picture something closer to your liking. We apologize for any redundancies, typos or misprints, regretfully, we could not afford an editor.

1. Michel Foucault. “Fantasia of the Library.” Language, Counter-memory, Practice. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977).

edit Pronunciation: \e-dət\ Function: transitive verb Etymology: back-formation from editor (1649), which, from its original meaning “publisher” had evolved by 1712 a sense of “person who prepares written matter for publication;” specific sense in newspapers is from 1803. Date: 1791 1 a: to prepare (as literary material) for publication or public presentation b : to assemble (as a moving picture or tape recording) by cutting and rearranging c : to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose <carefully edited the speech> <edit a data file>
2 : to direct the publication of <edits the daily newspaper>
3 : delete —usually used with out edition Pronunciation: \i-di-shən\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle French, from Latin edition-, editio publication, edition, “act of publishing,” from L. editionem (nom. editio) “a bringing forth, producing,” from stem of edere “bring forth, produce,” from ex- “out” + -dere, combined form of dare “to give”. Date: 1551 1 a : the form or version in which a text is published (1570) <a paperback edition> <the German edition> b (1) : the whole number of copies published at one time (2) : a usually special issue of a newspaper (as for a particular day or purpose) <Sunday edition> <international edition> (3) : one of the usually several issues of a newspaper in a single day <city edition> <late edition>
2 a : one of the forms in which something is presented <this year’s edition of the annual charity ball> b : the whole number of articles of one style put out at one time <a limited edition of collectors’ pieces>. “It is awkward to speak of, e.g. ‘The second edition of Campbell’s edition of Plato’s “Theætetus”’; but existing usage affords no satisfactory substitute for this inconvenient mode of expression” [OED]. editorial Pronunciation: \e-də-tor-ē-əl\ Function: adjective Date: 1744 1 : of or relating to an editor or editing <an editorial office>
2 : being or resembling an editorial <an editorial statement>. “newspaper article by an editor” is American English from 1830. Hence, editorialize (1856), is to “introduce opinions into factual accounts.” Introduction 9


Primary Time, by Bas Jan Ader is a silent color video made in 1974. It shows the artist arranging and rearranging a bouquet of red, yellow and blue flowers.

10 Ader


Ader 11


These are the words of Saxe Commins, who was editor-in-chief at Random House from 1933 until his death in 1958. His words, although a bit dated and far-reaching, eloquently articulate many of our initial notions about editing and how the work of the editor correlates to art production. What if we replaced the term ‘editor’ with the words ‘artist,’ ‘curator,’ or ‘art critic’ in these paragraphs? Commins was also known for saying that the work of an editor should be invisible. This seems at once like a good aspiration and a dangerous reality.

See page 339-340.

Commins 13


The words of Saxe Commins, from the previous page, paired with the words of media theorist Boris Groys in this chapter from his book Art Power, serve to foreground our subject matter. We hope that by understanding the role of the contemporary artist and the contemporary curator as well as the that of the literary editor, future correspondences between the two disciplines will become clear without our over-explanation. In this Multiple Authorship, Groys describes a general shift in art since the time of Duchamp. Artists have become less autonomous authors and more authorizers of content, selecting and re-presenting, mediating between the realms of production and reception. This process of selection relates to both the production of art, the process of curating exhibitions and the tasks of the literary editor. It is what convinces us that inquiry into editing in all its forms is worthwhile.

Groys 15


Groys 16


Remember when visual studies sounded like a solution?

Groys 17


The artist Jack Goldstein was protesting against the sanctity of the authorial signature in the 1970s and 80s. He was famous for going through scads of assistants because they all would object to sign his paintings for him. They would paint the paintings, but to add his signature in their own hand seemed like it was going too far.

See An anthropological introduction to YouTube, by Michael Wesch, Presented at the Library of Congress, June 23rd, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU

Groys 18


Groys 19


20 Groys


Groys 21


22 Groys


It seems important to go backwards and acknowledge Roland Barthes and Michel Foucaultâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s contributions to discussions about authorship. But, for those readers who want to bypass this lengthy detour, by all means, skip ahead to page 60 for a more current and less theoretical article on the subject of shared authorship and appropriation.

24 Barthes


Barthes 25


26 Barthes


Barthes 27


28 Barthes


We are not attempting to decipher the texts in this volume. We are instead using them toward our own ends: to explore something that exists outside of any one author’s train of thought. We are not looking for a definitive truth about the relation between editorship, authorship and art production; we are in the words of Barthes ‘ranging over’ an expanse of materials, looking at how they arrange themselves in our minds and what that arrangement can tell us.

Barthes 29


30 Barthes


William H. Gass writes that the author hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t literally died, his â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Aâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; has just been made smaller. It is: as if Zeus were stripped of his thunderbolts and swans, perhaps residing on Olympus still, but now living in a camper and cooking with propane. He is, but he is no longer a god.

See the bottom of page 80.


Foucault 33


34 Foucault


Foucault 35


36 Foucault


We wonder when the author will cease to be a martyr. We live in a time (or maybe it has always been this way) when martyrdom has great appeal - suicide bombers are memorialized on trading cards in the Middle East. In the arts, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been a resurgence in popularity of artists like Tehching Hsieh (see page 197) and Bas Jan Ader (see page 274) who suffered or died for the production of their work. And, the plot of TV shows, like the series Lost, hinge on the sacrifice of the most noble characters.

Foucault 37


See page 212.

38 Foucault


Foucault 39


40 Foucault


Foucault 41


42 Foucault


Foucault 43


44 Foucault


Foucault 45


46 Foucault


See page 127.

Foucault 47


48 Foucault


See page 180 for a comparison.

Foucault 49


50 Foucault


Foucault 51


52 Foucault


Foucault 53


54 Foucault


For more on nonaccidental omissions see pages 7, 274-275 & 279-289.

Foucault 55


56 Foucault


Foucault 57


58 Foucault


What matter who’s speaking, someone said, what matters who’s speaking. -Samuel Beckett

‘Authorship’—in the sense we know today...— was practically unknown before the advent of print technology. Medieval scholars were indifferent to the precise identity of the ‘books’ they studied. In turn, they rarely signed even what was clearly their own. They were a humble service organization. Procuring texts was often a very tedious and time-consuming task. Many small texts were transmitted into volumes miscellaneous content, very much, like ‘jottings’ in a scrapbook, and, in this transmission, authorship was often lost. -Marshall McLuhan,

Beckett 59


Questions about authorship were perhaps more relevant, or edgy, in the 1960s and 70s when Foucault and Barthes were writing. But, even now, over forty years later, in a thoroughly re-mixed and re-mixing culture, when the idea of an authentic text and the concept of a single author are corrupt from the beginning, the discussion is still evolving. Here is a recent article from the New York Times about shared authorship, plagiarism, appropriation and originality in the context of literature.

See page 19.

60 Kennedy


See page 419.

See page 414.

See page 202.

Kennedy 61


It seems like perhaps we live in a time when the role of the editor is more celebrated than the role of the writer. Likewise, the role of the curator is more celebrated than the role of the artist. This seems like a natural progression for a generation who thinks that everything has already been done. Ours is a job of rearranging not making. This also could be why so many art workers are â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;double-dippingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; - that is, doing curatorial work as an artist, or artistic work as a curator.


In relation to the idea of co-authorship, it is important to note how the roles of copy editors and proofreaders have changed along with the roles of authors and artists. This essay about copy editing in American publishing gives evidence to that claim. Developments in technology and a general trend toward egalitarianism (which has been observable in the creative arts since the 1960s) have contributed to the shifting responsibilities of the editor. Almost everyone is a writer (and an artist and a musician) so there is perhaps more need for and (rightfully) more power given to editors. The author of this essay would disagree. He paints a picture where most, if not all, copy editors are ignorant and red-pen crazy. The author is right about one thing: the shift in power from the writer to the editor raises more specific questions about authorship and authenticity, about how authorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; skills are changing, and about balancing accuracy with artistic integrity.

Barzun 63


See also, the PBS documentary Off the Charts, about the song-

poem industry, produced and directed by Jamie Meltzer.

64 Barszun


See page 75.

We like the idea of including one typo, one clever misspelling or grammatical error in everything one writes as a sort of signature: a way of keeping a reader on her toes. And, on the topic of our ‘misplaced regard for science and technology,’ the one that has ‘made the common mind avid for trivial details and fearful of small errors,’ -- a short anecdote seems relevant: one about a local discount art store/picture framing establishment called ‘I’ve been Framed.’ For years, the shop hung a hand-painted sign out front that read ‘Iv’e Been Framed.’ The amount of phone calls the employees received in a single day about the mis-placed apostrophe was both astonishing and annoying. What the shop thought of as a quirky mis-print, a signature of their momand-pop style, turned out to be highly irksome to scores of rabid grammar hounds. (After years of calls, the shop finally took the sign down and replaced it with one sporting the correct apostrophe.) Perhaps, so many people noticed the wrongly ‘apostrophed’ sign because we as city-dwelling Americans have grown suspicious of urban texts. We look to subvert advertisements rather than accept them, even advertisers have begun to subvert their own ads as a way to build allegiances and get more business. The sort of suspicion that is characteristic of a reading editor is actually the mark of an important kind of literacy. The kind of literacy that signals an ability to critically think about a text - its sound, correctness, meaning and design. It’s true that the experience of reading changes based on the task at hand, an editor may read suspiciously, seeing errors that aren’t there, while a food critic reads ravenously looking for juicy descriptions and little extra garnishes, a philosopher reads analytically, looking for flaws in thought, (often ignoring the structure of the sentences,) a feminist reads with an eye for misogyny and so on. Barzun 65


66 Barzun


See page 215.

We kind of love the perturbed voice of this (wrongfully) edited author. He seems like a stick-in-the-mud traditionalist and a believer in singular genius. He seems steadfastly on the side of the writer, lamenting the suggestion that the author has lost any of his authority. How do traditional literary geniuses develop? Certainly not through the reception of their un-revised writing, as it seems this author would have us believe. It is through discourse - through criticism, commentary, analysis and through the work of editors and historians who intimately know and support the texts, publishing subsequent editions through time and throughout the world. The legacy of a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;geniusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is also built upon the popular consumption and digestion of their work. This is same in the art world. It is often less about quality of work and more about who validates it by showing, speaking, and writing about it. Those who control the peripheral language decide what gets historicized. With that in mind, to be a great author, or a great artist, everyone needs an editor.

Barzun 67


68 Barzun


In his series of lectures, Six memos to the next millennium, Italo Calivino attempted to name consistency as an indispensable quality of literature. He wrote five of the six memos, leaving the one about consistency till last. Then, ironically, before he had a chance to finish, he died.

Barzun 69


This essay raises another question, which is: do all readers have imperialistic tendencies?

70 Barzun


This comment about the ‘love of the usual’ reminds us of an article we read recently in Artforum called ‘Of Love Possessed’ co-authored by theorists Michael Hardt and Antoni Negri. They talk about corrupt forms of love naming identitarian love (or love of the familiar) as similarly vulgar and a hindrance to love’s productivity. Love, in their minds, should ideally be love “for the other, the stranger, the farthest.” Their ideas about love’s productivity are a part of their rewriting of the Communist Manifesto for the 21st century. We are a little skeptical of their ideas, but we also realize that love of the same is what things like Nazism are based on.

The deadlock between a copy editor and a writer is mirrored in the conflicts that can potentially arise between an artist and her dealer or curator. Often this friction can come from a distinct difference in artistic vision, but it also can be the result of an incapability of goals, the dealer’s often being monetary and the artist’s being about keeping a fidelity to their own artistic inquiry or statement.

Barzun 71


It seems petty, but we must point out that writers are not the only ones who must submit to be corrected, censored or proof read. There are situations of compromise with every endeavor.

72 Barzun


74 Melville


It was recently brought to our attention that William Faulkner intended The Sound and the Fury to be printed in eight different colors.

Editors do much more than proofread copy. In certain ways editors can act as historians or curators, interpreting and conserving works of literature for future generations. They are expected to know their material, know their authors, and keep informed of the gaps in a text, the errors that have become embedded, the intentions of the author that went unfulfilled and the cultural references that have been forgotten over time. For example, Hershel Parker and Harrison Hayford, the editors of the Norton Critical Edition of Moby Dick are the keepers of Melville’s text. They write, in their introduction to that edition of the book that they have “annotated the text sparingly, most often when a passage presents a problem of identification or recognition that a reader cannot solve with the aid of a desk dictionary...” This is only partially true. While they do a wonderful job of staying silent for pages, they also add superfluous notes that confound a reader such as when they offer minute clarifications (see left) while words like huzzar slip by with no illumination at all. Their footnotes are an interference to reading the text. A forgiving reader we suppose, would recognize the difficulty of annotating and interpreting a classic text in such a way. To attempt to predict what will and will not be elucidated by future readers is a daunting task. It is, in many ways, a vastly different world now than it was when we began writing this very sentence. The same big-hearted reader would perhaps also understand that these notes mark instances where the editors could have overstepped and made small changes to Melville’s original text. We can be happy they didn’t do that because Melville said it better himself. Ambiguous language is more interesting anyway, just as abstraction can be wildly more interesting than realism.

On the subjects of superfluous footnotes, unknown references and the mistakes of proofreaders: It may be asked if it is really worth an author’s while to devise and distribute these delicate markers whose very nature requires that they be not too conspicuous. Who will bother to notice that Pankrat Tzikutin, the shabby old pogromystic (Chapter Thirteen) is Socrates Hemlocker; that “the child is bold” in the allusion of immigration (Chapter Eighteen) is a stock phrase used to test a would-be American citizen’s reading ability; that Linda did not steal the porcelain owlet after all (beginning if Chapter Seven) is James Joyce who wrote Winnipeg Lake (ibid.); and that the last word of the book is not a misprint (as assumed in the past by at least one proof-reader)? Most people will not even mind having missed all this; wellwishers will bring their own symbols and mobiles, and portable radios, to my little party; ironists will point out the fatal fatuity of my explications in this foreword and advise me to have footnotes next time ( footnotes always seem comic to a certain type of mind). In the long run, however, it is only the author’s private satisfaction that counts. I read my books rarely, and then only for the utilitarian purpose of controlling a translation or checking a new edition; but when I do go through them again, what pleases me most is the wayside murmur of this or that hidden theme.

-Vladimir Nabakov From the preface to Bend Sinister Melville / Nabakov 75


This essay, though weighty and far reaching, offers an informative overview of the history and the present recent condition of the discourse of editorial theory. Taylorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s argument that we have somehow reached the end of editing seem as absurd as claims about the end of art. An end implies a beginning, yes, but it also presupposes a belief in the linear forward tilt of Modernism.

Taylor 77


78 Taylor


Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget Shakespeare Made Easy. See page 86.

See page 106, which shows a book by a Biblical literalist.

See The Uneditor, an interview with Randall McLoed, page 130.

Taylor 79


Bennett Simpson, in his article Pushing an Open Door: The Artist as Culture Broker, writes about a similar trend toward theory or knowledge skill and away from material studies and technical knowledge. We agree to a point, but if this really was true to the degree he seems to think, we would be much happier people. In fact, art schools are still very focused on material study and most degree programs are still teaching basic design according to a Bauhaus model.

For images relating to Bauhaus design, see page 89.

See page 31.

80 Taylor


“The influence of an ideology cannot be analyzed in ideological terms. The hidden dynamic of ‘the action of ideas in history’ is to seek their material forms and sequences of transmission.” -Regis Debray from What is Mediology When a wise man points to the moon, the foolish one looks at the pointing finger. - Chinese proverb

All editions are akin to reenactments because “all reenactments presuppose an a missing body.” See Jennifer Allen’s essay on page 396.

Taylor 81


See page 158 & page 255 for more on reading recursively.

82 Taylor


Taylor 83


Building upon the spatial visions of Derrida and Foucault a later edition of this essay, if there was one, would go farther and talk about proximity and intertextuality in relation to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattariâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s concept of the rhizome. Theirs is a theory based on the model of a decentered multitude, where all space would be intertextual space. The idea of proximity would be irrelevant because all texts and all editions would be enacting themselves at once, existing in simultaneous and relative relation.

See the note about Glenn Gould doing Bach on page 382.

84 Taylor


See page 126 for different ideas of the original Joyce.

Taylor 85


The mention of modern spellings in Shakespeare reminds us of an example used by Slavoj Zizek in The Parallax View when he talks about modern translations of great books. He cites John Durband’s Shakespeare Made Easy, which present the words of Shakespeare in colloquial English. Durband tries to formulate directly in every locution, (what he considers to be) the thought expressed in Shakespeare’s metaphorical idiom- “To be or not to be, that is the question” becomes something like: ‘What’s bothering me now is: Shall I kill myself or not?’...One can imagine the translation of the most sublime of Hölderin’s verses into everday German: ‘Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst das Rettende auch’ -- ‘When you’re in deep trouble, don’t despair too quickly, look around carefully, the solution may be just around the corner.’

86 Taylor


See page 178 for WF Hermansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; thoughts on authorial revision.

New historicism relates to the work of Fred Wilson represented on pages 342-343.

Taylor 87


88 Taylor


Theo van Doesburgâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Counter-Composition XVI in Dissonances

Piet Mondrianâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red

This demand is also partially created (or supported) by an academic institution that reinforces the canon by requiring the study of great books as part of a standard education. See page 333.

Similar to the discrepancy in reception between Middleton and Shakespeare is the discrepancy between the fame of painters Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg. Though their painting styles and beliefs were similar and they were good friends, Doesburg never reached the level of fame that Mondrian acquired. They eventually ended their friendship because of disagreements about the value of diagonals in painting and contrasting ideas about space and time. We believe that Theo van Doesburg was a great artist, as great as Mondrian, though he was never as well-received or as widely reproduced.

Taylor 89


90 Taylor


Would Roland Barthes agree that the limits of a work coincide with the limits of a text?

Taylor 91


92 Taylor


This kind of collapse of form and content is reminiscent of the work of Joseph Kosuth. See page 169.

Taylor 93


94 Taylor


Taylor 95


96 Taylor


See page 126.

Taylor 97


This is perhaps the fundamental question for todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s artists.

98 Taylor


We agree. art museums shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have M.C. Escher shows simply because they should be showing the work of someone else.

Taylor 99


100 Taylor


Taylor 101


102 Taylor


And here we are invoking Barthes’ concept of text as discussed in his 1971 essay From Work to Text.

See page 22. The intertextual spaces of the past and the future are both dependant on what becomes text and what gets published as literature in the present. In this interview from 1957, Margeurite Duras gives us a glimpse into the world of a prominent editorial director who determines what manuscripts get published. His experiences illuminate the means of literary production and distribution. There are an incredible amount of stories that get written, but never earn an audience. Similarly, there are thousands of proposals for artistic projects that never get realized. These proposals and texts can often be utopian in nature, (perhaps that’s why they never get made) but they also can tell us a lot about the present conditions of culture. The threat of literary overpopulation, and presumably the cost of publishing books, are what necessitate a need for an editorial director in the first place. They are the ones who keep the balance in the literary ecology, just as spiders or freezing temperatures keep our insect population down. But, changes in media and technology have in some ways allowed the literary insects to proliferate. The “virtual literature” that Duras refers to is aptly - almost predictively named. All the manuscripts that in 1957 wouldn’t have reached publication are the blogs of today or the print-on-demand of tomorrow. We are all for this kind of egalitarianism, but not to the point of allowing the worlds of art and literature to become mediocracies. Everyone writes, but everyone is not a writer. Anyone can be an artist, but everyone is not an artist. Published literature (and art for that matter) as a discourse, a history, a body, needs boundaries, even if they are just there to be broken. See page 136. 104 Duras


See page 325.

Duras 105


Perhaps an example would be The Unabomber Manifesto (see page 128) or The Age of the Universe: What are the Biblical Limits? a book written by, scientist and Biblical literalist, Gorman Gray (one of our grandfathers). The book, which is about the limits of the creationist argument, is full of amazing diagrams and strong language.

106 Duras


This discussion makes us wonder if great works of literature and art are ones that typify a growing trend. Doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it seem like perhaps Kafka was just one of hundreds of people who were writing Kafkaesque novels in 1915? He just happened to be the best or the most convenient or the most extreme, thus he was the one to be historicized.

Duras 107


108 Duras


Duras 109


See the notes on page 65 regarding the editor as a suspicious reader.


This satirical essay by Umberto Eco attempts to read classic works of published literature out of the context of their historical greatness. He treats them as if they are the kind of ‘raw literature’ that Duras’ editorial director wades through everyday. Eco enthusiastically engages and critiques the literary canon by highlighting the importance of context and discourse. He also shows how learning happens through the process humorous recontextualization. Considering a historical work under the rubric of current expectations can be illuminating, just as considering a contemporary work in the context of historical expectations can be. This essay makes us reconsider the disclaimer: ‘but for its time’.

Eco 111


112 Eco


Eco 113


114 Eco


Eco 115


116 Eco


Eco 117


118 Eco


Eco 119


120 Eco


Eco 121


122 Eco


Eco 123


124 Eco


Keeping with the subject of James Joyce, of all the proven classics of literature, the textual history of his Ulysses is one of the most sorted. From the long history of controversy over its obscenity, to Joyce’s own extensive lists of errata and numerous erroneous publications made under opposing editorial stances, it is perhaps the ideal example of the text as ‘corrupt.’ This edition of Ulysses, which touts itself as the most ‘correct’, seems like a parody of itself. (But, maybe that’s just the bad design.) It came under scrutiny by the editor John Kidd who was suspicious of Hans Walter Gabler’s way of patch-working Joyce’s manuscripts and errata to make a copy-text from which to work. Kidd was a believer in the American editorial tradition, which takes the first edition of a work as the copy-text. These conflicts over what constitutes an original edition is what make Ulysses interesting. Especially considering how the publication history of the book, which has been an ongoing quest to arrive at Joyce’s original literary intention, is reflected in the story of Ulysses itself, which corresponds to the epic quest of Odysseus as he attempts to return home.

126 Joyce

A kiss that speaks volumes is seldom a first edition. - Clare Whiting


There are people who believe in accuracy above all else. The publishers of this edition of Huckleberry Finn felt that it was more important for their young readers to know the author’s birth name rather than his chosen pen name. It seems bold to disregard such a conscious choice on the part of a artist (though we do understand from experience that it’s nearly impossible to take a person seriously when they suddenly change their name). That said, as an artistic strategy, name changing and the creation of an artistic persona, (which means in effect editing one’s daily life and personal history to create a more conceptually rigorous, glamorous, or interesting image in the context of one’s work) is interesting. It is a mark of dedication to a discipline. We would never think to produce replicas of The Fountain signed M. Duchamp instead of R. Mutt. When talking to a bookseller in Hartford Connecticut, we realized that the reason the publishers went with Clemens over Twain was mostly likely because the text wasn’t protected under copyright with Clemens as its author. They couldn’t have cheaply produced this edition if they listed Mark Twain as its author. This way they could make a fast buck and still stay within the law. It is interesting to think about how the story of Huck Finn changes when it is attributed to Samuel Clemens rather than to Mark Twain. On another note, we wonder what the process is for copy-editing a book with so much colloquial dialogue. It seems that it would almost require an editor to subscribe to a certain level of illiteracy.

Twain 127


Industrial Society & Its Future was originally published on September 19, 1995 by The New York Times and the Washington Post in hopes that it would stop further bombings by FC, (Freedom Club) or the Unabomber (as the press called Ted Kaczynski.) It was Kaczynski’s brother David who eventually led police to the little cabin in Montana where Kaczynski had cloistered himself, reading voraciously and refining his ideas about the revolution of society. It was here that he had lost all belief in social reform. When David recognized similarities between his brother’s letters and the manifesto printed in the newspaper he decided to alert the authorities. When this text was eventually published in book form, the publishers tagged it The Unabomber Manifesto rather than allowing its original title to take center stage. Most likely because The Unabomber Manifesto has an undeniable marketability that the more dry sounding Industrial Society & Its Future lacks. Also, by titling the book for the author’s crime and not the writing, undermines his ideas and his power as an author. NOTE: We haven’t read this book yet, but it has recently been recommended to us by two very astute people so it might be worth reading. 128 ‘FC’


It seems to us that the change in the title of Industrial Society & Its Future is something Randall McLeod would note. (Though, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s possible that the erroneous title is too quickly remedied by its subtitle for any sustained interest.) McLeod is interested in the materiality of books and the reality behind them. In this interview, originally printed in the periodical Dot Dot Dot, he talks about his work, the notion of un-editing and the use of pseudonyms in writing. He is, as he says, not interested in finding the ultimate truth or the one correct text, but rather in noting the errors and changes between the texts that make up its history. His work seems particularly relevant to art because it is grounded in material culture. It is about the media through which culture is transmitted.

130 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


Kunin / McLeod / Owens 131


See page 150-155 for a record of changes and errors in various editions of Moby Dick.

132 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


Kunin / McLeod / Owens 133


The same intermingling of disciplines allows us the authority to take on writing and research endeavors like this one while still operating under the umbrella of Art.

134 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


See page 127.

Kunin / McLeod / Owens 135


136 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


See page 171.

Kunin / McLeod / Owens 137


138 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


Kunin / McLeod / Owens 139


140 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


Kunin / McLeod / Owens 141


142 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


Kunin / McLeod / Owens 143


We like the idea of making a reader or viewer do a little extra work. As Jennifer Allen writes: â&#x20AC;&#x153;looking is indeed a type of labor.â&#x20AC;? See page 407. For more on difficulty, see pages 161-162.

144 Kunin / McLeod / Owens


Kunin / McLeod / Owens 145


The game Telephone,1 sometimes called Chinese Whispers, Broken Telephone, Whisper Down the Lane, Arab Phone or Gossip, seems like a particularly apt way of representing the problems of translation and transmission. It demonstrates how errors arise inadvertently or at times willfully. On Tuesday April 27th, 2010, we played two rounds of Telephone with a group of 10 people. During the second round, each player wrote down what he or she heard on a slip of paper before whispering the message on to the next player. Thus, a record of the translation was made as the words were spoken and received.

See page 409.

Almost everyone who reads is an editor, since - everyone responds to ideas, has notions of his own...and is tempted to make revisions as he goes along. - Saxe Commins

{

The production of new editions simply contribute to an expanding universe of interminable intertextuality. - Gary Taylor

“Almost everyone who reads this as an editor makes comments and then goes on.”

{

“The new editions contributes to the innerminable. - Gary Taylor” “The new editions contribute to the innerminable. - Gary Taylor” “The new editions contribute to the underminable. - Kerry Taylor” “The new admissions respond to the unobtainable. - Kerri Jerzy” “The new admissions respond to the unobtainable. - Gary Jersey” “The new admissions respond to the carried face, jersy.” “The new admissions respond to the carried jersey.” “The new admission will respond the carried faces formed.”

“The new operation forming will be current (or something like that.)”

1. In the game of Telephone, the first player begins by whispering a phrase into the ear of the player next to him. Then, each player successively whispers what she believes that she heard to the next player. The last player announces the statement to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the re-tellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one uttered by the first.

Gray / Paulsen 147


As we can see from this article on the history and amendments of Moby Dick, even a relatively short history of an untranslated novel has inevitable problems and inconsistencies.

148 Hayford / Parker


Hayford / Parker 149


150 Hayford / Parker


Hayford / Parker 151


152 Hayford / Parker


Hayford / Parker 153


154 Hayford / Parker


Hayford / Parker 155


On the subject of small changes making large differences, (or maybe we should say large deals being made about small changes) this excerpt was taken from an article on the color black by Paul La Farge in issue 36 of Cabinet Magazine. It shows the importance of being conscientious. A comma has great weight.

La Farge 157


On the subject of commas, it seemed appropriate to include Steinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s treatise on punctuation for a couple reasons. One is that punctuation, as shown on the previous page, is quite important to the denotation and connotation of a sentence. It is the smallest unit of language that a literary editor can change, but its augmentation can have huge impacts on the meaning of a text. The other reason, is that to read Gertrude Stein, you must read recursively, always looping back, darting forward, judging distances and taking stock of where you are in order to make sense of what you are reading. This is, we are told, very much like the experience of reading Hebrew where one must read each sentence contextually. We regard reading itself as an act of editing and Steinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s way with language demonstrates this. Reading Stein means that you must reread, change meanings as you go along, and insert your own pauses and accelerations. She will not do it for you. 158 Stein

See page 255.


Stein 159


160 Stein


Stein 161


On the following pages, you will find a project by the poet Kenneth Goldsmith. It is self-explanatory, though we will preface it with a quotation from a lecture he gave in 2004 titled Being Boring the full text of which can be found on pages 366-371. I don’t expect you to even read my books cover to cover. It’s for that reason I like the idea that you can know each of my books in one sentence. For instance, there’s the book of every word I spoke for a week unedited. Or the book of every move my body made over the course of a day, a process so dry and tedious that I had to get drunk halfway though the day in order to make it to the end. Or my most recent book, ‘Day,’ in which I retyped a day’s copy of the New York Times and published it as a 900 page book. Now you know what I do without ever having to have read a word of it.

162 Stein


Goldsmith 163


164 Goldsmith


Goldsmith 165


168 Goldsmith


Goldsmith 167


Like Stein’s writing and Goldsmith’s translation of it, this example sheet from the Chicago Manual of Style is at once what it is and what it says that it is -- form and content are collapsed into one contained and self-reflexive statement. This is like Joseph Kosuth’s five words in orange neon from 1965, which was inspired by Gertrude Stein’s five words in a line.

Chicago Manual of Style 169


This page from Writing & Illuminating & Lettering by Edward Johnston demonstrates the most satisfactory way to correct a written mistake in an illuminated manuscript. In looking at fig. 192 we realize what a different world it is now then it was before the invention of the printing press or the computer. Erasing a mistake with todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s alphabetic technology is as easy as striking a button. The faultiness of our brains is concealed. In contrast, this way of correcting errors is laborious and transparent but almost preferable. There is something nice about acknowledging that every text has errors whether you can identify them or not. If you can identify the errors though, you are less likely to repeat them.

See page 332 for more on transparency in making corrections.

Johnston 171


Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nice to see that even the most composed and respected of authors cross things out and write crookedly. They edit as they go along; thinking through writing. When inspecting their in-progress pages itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard not to be seduced by what seems like an aura of authenticity.

172 Benjamin


From the archive of Walter Benjamin

Benjamin 173


From the journals of Marie Darrieusecq

174 Darrieussecq


From the archive of Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway 175


â&#x20AC;&#x153;And lastly, let us provide in our Constitution for its revision at stated periodsâ&#x20AC;? -Thomas Babington


â&#x20AC;&#x153;The first draft reveals the art, revision reveals the artistâ&#x20AC;? - Michael Lee

Various 177


There is much fan-fare around the concept of the ‘definitive text’ which denies how revision is a never-ending process. The fact that Willem Frederik Hermans felt the need to include this defense at the back of the fifteenth printing of his novel Beyond Sleep speaks loudly about opinions of authorial revision. It seems unfair that editors and curators would be allowed to reinterpret and reproduce the work of writers and artists after their deaths through the creation of anniversary editions, new editions published in conjunction with feature films, critical editions and retrospectives while those same authors aren’t allowed to revise and reinterpret their own work during their lifetimes. It is said that late in life the painter Pierre Bonnard became such a fan of yellow that he would hide a brush and a jar of yellow paint in his coat when he visited the museum. That way he could secretly add strokes of yellow to paintings he had made years before.

See page 312.

178 Hermans


One thing about this specific case of authorial revision, is that it rendered the original version of the novel inaccessible to a fair amount of readers. An English translation of it is unavailable. As it took forty years for Hermans’ work to ‘cross the channel,’ and by that time the fifteenth edition had come out, and there was no reason to translate an earlier edition.

Hermans 179


While giving a lecture about his work, the artist Martin Kersels remarked that every artist talk is essentially a fiction. Every artist will, in a sense, remake, revise or reframe his work, as he talk about it.

180 Daniel / West


Daniel / West 181


The one true criticism in this essay is directed at Westâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s editor rather than at West himself. This indicates to us that not only does Daniel believe West to be nearly infallible as an author, he also reveals his general mistrust of editors. It is unfortunate that in most cases it is not the author who has the ultimate control of their work.

182 Daniel / West


Daniel / West 183


184 Daniel / West


Daniel / West 185


See page 7.

We can edit facts to support any theory we may developed. Daniel claims here that West has eliminated a detail for the sake of economy. We noticed that while he did eliminated the mirror , he replaced it with a bed. The economy Daniel is claiming is not verifiable.

186 Daniel / West


Daniel / West 187


188 Daniel / West


Daniel / West 189


190 Daniel / West


Daniel / West 191


192 Daniel / West


Daniel / West 193


Nathaniel Westâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s various versions of Miss Lonleyhearts remind us of a work by the artist Hank Willis Thomas (see above). Willis Thomas revises the phrase I AM A MAN, which was taken from a protest sign used by sanitation workers during the civil rights movement in Memphis in the 1960s. (See the Ernest Withers photograph at left.) His re-writings riff on the slogan and update it in relation to black history in America. Ultimately, his interventions transform the original text from protest to poetry. The painting on the left is by the artist Glenn Ligon. He has also changed phrase slightly, by stretching it out over three lines, emphasizing the singular â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Aâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the middle. He has also identified all the inconsistencies on his canvas, all the blemishes and spots that litter the white background. With these interventions it is almost as if he is at once asserting and subverting his own manhood, highlighting his individuality by exposing the flaws and mistakes on the surface.

194 Willis Thomas


Ligon 195


196 Wegman


At the left is another version of a man pointing out his flaws. This photograph by William Wegman allows us to move into a conversation about editing one’s identity. Most of us alter our appearance in one way or another according to the culture we live in and our personal preoccupations. We shave our legs or our beards. We attempt to stay thin, pluck our eyebrows, or carve off a bit of nose, hip or tummy. We change our names, airbrush out acne and try to get our stretch marks to go away. Isn’t that all a kind of editing that shouldn’t be overlooked? To the right is an image of the French artist Orlan who’s project The Reincarnation of Saint-ORLAN, which began in 1990, consisted of undergoing a number of surgical procedures to make her look like the subjects of historical artworks. This transgressive work understandably attracted a lot of attention in the art world and is often used in visual culture texts to talk about shifting ideals of beauty in different eras or to illustrate the idea that the postmodern body and the postmodern identity are unfixed. Below that image is a photograph from a one-year performance piece by Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh. They tied themselves together with an eight foot rope, living side-by-side for one year, from 19831984. Hsieh became famous for these oneyear performance pieces, which were often reminiscent of psychological or physical torture techniques. Though this is not what they are about for Hsieh. In his earlier, Cage Piece, which took place in 1978 and 1979. For that project, he confined himself to a 11′6″ × 9′ × 8″ wooden cage. He was allowed nothing to read and no one to talk or listen to. A friend took care of his food and waste. To Hsieh these projects are about “wasting time and freethinking,” he says, and about the connection between art and life. To us, in the context of a discussion about editing, these artists’ work is about taking steps to edit the course of one’s own existence. What is extraordinary about the way they do it though, is that they are thinking and acting outside of their culture, which is a brave thing to do. Their actions are at the same time so of a culture. They speak volumes about our world.

Hsieh / Montano / Orlan 197


Gray / Paulsen 199


200 Ross-Larson


January 19, 2009 Dear W, It has been a long time since we regarded each other face to face, without the mediation (and constant verbal back-stepping) of E. I have missed you. I notice our distance more in E’s absence, and I see that it has gone unaddressed for too long. I feel myself slipping away and I know you see that clearly without the embarrassing over-explanation of a metaphor from me. E has dominated my time and attention. Her cynicism, sharp tongue, and demand for precision have been therapeutic at this strange time in my life. I have begun to be dangerously comfortable with her skepticism and her criticality of the systems of representation, which you and I used to employ so thoughtlessly without her interjection. I am ever-thankful for her input; I have learned a great deal, but lately, I have found myself reduced by her influence. All of a sudden, it seems the only satisfaction I get is from the production of bibliographies, fragmented paratexts, or anchorless footnotes. This is perhaps a sign that I have over-borrowed E’s tools of reference, curation and censorship. Finding them so frequently in hand makes me realize how much we, all three of us, you and E and I, need each other. It would be a mistake for me to continue this habit of neglect, or more exactly, for me to try and sustain a conversation that has grown as asymmetrical as ours has become. I know there would be little without you; there would be no beginnings and that really is the point. E certainly has trouble with beginnings, and I definitely can’t do it on my own. You, on the other hand, have a knack for validating all places where a beginning might be and in the end you seem to accept everything from the most elegant equation of digested thought to the smear of vomited and unpunctuated emotion. I see that the three of us must go forward together in a new and more equal way. First though, I want to tell you some things (that you probably already know) before E has any say about their value, how they should be rearranged or (better yet) erased altogether. Recently, had a dream the ocean died after an over-zealous government decided to ‘just see what happened’ when they threw the moon out of its habitual orbit. The waters turned olive green and clogged with the dispersion of plastic grocery bags, abandoned fishing nets, and never-before-seen creatures, which floated lifelessly to the surface after the incessant circling of the tides had stopped. That I was there as a witness was of some importance I think and it was also important that I was in Cuba. I’m not quite sure what to think about that except that, on another note entirely, I have been trying to overlook an intermittent sense of guilt, at my un-Didion-esque approach to life this past few months. My future-self will wonder what life was like here and there will be nothing to read on the subject. I used to transcribe the littlest details, noting when the greens were over-salted at dinner or when there was an unusual amount of dust on the alarm clock. Anyhow, I haven’t mentioned it to E, but I think there might be a metaphor in our floor, (we have laid a permanent patina of dirt on the unfinished wood in between the throw rugs and the furniture,) maybe when she gets back we can try to polish it up together. Here’s to the future. All my love, Me Gray / Paulsen 201


This idea of editing, or erasing parts of oneself, reminds us of a passage we read a few years ago about not being able to jump over your own shadow if you don’t have one -meaning that our contemporary technology was making it easier to produce objects that don’t show the effects of use. The traces of a living person’s life are not materially recorded on their surfaces. Therefore, you have nothing to assure you of your existence. It was in a book by Baudrillard, or Borges or Benjamin but we haven’t been able to find it again. (Most likely it was Baudrillard. It sound like something he would write.) Anyhow, the Mark Tansey painting at the right, titled Triumph over Mastery, can stand in as an illustration for the idea. We have been noticing a recent trend in the advertisements for sustainable living, which are proliferating around our city. More and more ads talk about erasing one’s (carbon) footprint. For example, near our studio, there was an apartment building being constructed. The sign they had out front to sell the new units, read ‘live without a trace.’ We remarked to each other that they might as well be advertising for suicide. If you erase the indexical signs of yourself: your shadow, your footprint, your material traces, then you would be in effect entirely doing away with your own body. As artists the idea of ‘living without a trace’ is the exact opposite of what we are trying to do. We are, rather, trying to leave something behind that will transmit, be talked about, and most of all be historicized.

See page 333-349 for more on iconoclasm and erasing history.

By materializing my experience I detach it from myself and allow it to survive me. I extract it from its experiential context and thus make it available to others, infinitely usable and appropriable (by whoever possesses the code.) I pass on the intransitive. I virtually make my singularity collective to make a return to the past and to identify me now (then) as having been singular. I give power of attorney to others to live and think vicariously what I lived or thought. And I myself cannot internalize anything but what has been externalized before me, in such a manner that the link from within one person to the inwardness of another who is not yet born will be made via an outwardness, a crafted materiality, a witness to the great relay race of generations. -Regis Debray

202 Tansey


Tansey 203


This is why we love the artist Jonathan Monk: instead of editing himself out, he has edited himself in - in to art history, into a particular artistic discourse, and into the great museums. He wants his work thought about within the context of 1960 & 70s conceptualism and so he cleverly implants his paintings into that history. By doing so, he is also maintaining some control over the display of his work once it leaves his hands - this is control that an artist rarely has, as Daniel Buren explains in his essay The Function of the Studio. Monk bypasses “the compromise of the portable work of art.” His strategy is reminiscent of Walt Whitman’s with the publication of his Leaves of Grass. The book wasn’t getting the reception that he thought it warranted. The public seemed to misunderstand it. And so, he began writing reviews of the book under a pen-name. His reviews asked readers to take a deeper look at the writing, offering them a way in. Whitman controlled the reception of his work by guiding their interpretation so that it fell in line with his own intention for the poems.

See page the notes on page 67.

204 Monk


We will add the words of Jean-Jacques Rousseau on to this train of thought. This passage is from his Confessions, which was published in 1782, four years after his death.

Rousseau 205


Traces! Trevor Paglen, in a project called Last Pictures, is working to make a collection of images that will go into satellite, where they will rest in a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;graveyard orbitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; for who knows how long. They are projected to outlive all earthly traces of humanity.

See page 7.

206 Kabakov

In thinking about the traces we leave behind as we move through the world, (either intentionally or unintentionally) this essay by the artist Ilya Kabakov, which was a part of his project Ten Characters completed in 1988, seems appropriate. Though, at first it may seem a bit to the left of our subject, it deals with additions and subtractions, with the important and the unimportant and how to distinguish between them or not. Kabakovâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plumber avoids making a decision about value altogether. He arranges, labels and accrues the trash of his everyday life rather than throwing any of it away. This decision-making process, which he bypasses, is at the very heart of editing. An editor has a strong sense of what is important and what is unimportant, and they frame their collections, corrections and images accordingly. Even if they choose, like the plumber, to regard everything as important they will choose a frame for all that everything that makes it legible, extraordinary, hopefully more that just a pile of garbage.


Kabakov 207


208 Kabakov


Kabakov 209


210 Kabakov


Kabakov 211


Andy Warhol1 had a similar idea as Kabakov’s plumber if different methodology. To the left are images of his Time Capsules, a collection of cardboard boxes that house a diverse archive of daily papers, receipts, magazines, newspaper clippings, invitations, and other scraps that passed across his desk. The archive was discovered after his death in 1987 and it is now referred to as “his most extensive, complex and personal work.” It has since been catalogued and is even available to view by scholars, art historians and sometimes the general public. Each box represents a composite picture of a particular time in Warhol’s life. The interesting thing is that these cardboard boxes were essentially a dump site. They were Warhol’s recycling bins. He casually writes about them in the book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, saying: What you should do is get a box for a month, and drop everything in it and at the end of the month lock it up. Then date it and send it over to Jersey. You should try to keep track of it, but if you can’t and you lose it, that’s fine, because it’s one less thing to think about, another load off your mind...I started off myself with trucks and the odd pieces of furniture, but then I went around shopping for something better and now I just drop everything into the samesize cardboard boxes. Time Capsules 5, from 1963-1966

It’s interesting that this passage is written as a suggestion. As if anyone could make a Time Capsule, and we suppose that anyone could, but that doesn’t guarantee that it will be interesting. Warhol’s trash, only because Warhol was Warhol, is a historian’s treasure.

1. We should note that Andy Warhol’s original last name was Warhola. He, like so many European immigrants, edited out a letter or two.

212 Warhol


And, speaking of trash, we found this paper discarded at a local university. And, while it does seem to belong in the trash, it seemed too perfect not to include. First of all, it is about Saxe Commins, the editor whose words prefaced our collection, and it is also a great example of bad writing -- writing that brings out the editor in all of us. It is the kind of writing that is hard to resist marking up. Reading it is like listening to someone sing off key. If there were just a few missed notes that would be one thing, you could correct them in your head, but when the whole song is flat you are powerless as a listener to save it

Hart 213


Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to see the flaws in things when they are written down. To the right is a piece by BANK, an artist collective which operated in London in the 1990s. It is from a series of Fax-Backs - press releases that were condescendingly marked-up, graded out of ten, and sent back to their gallery of origin. They are in typical BANK style: antagonistic and satirical making fun of the customs of the art world while at the same time participating in them.

214 BANK


BANK 215


There are different reasons to mark up a text. Let us refer back to the words of Saxe Commins, â&#x20AC;&#x153;an editor is any semi-literate who reads with a pencil in his hand....he has notions of his own about the matter and manner of a book, and is tempted to make revisions as he goes along in accordance with his own background, judgement, prejudices and acumen.â&#x20AC;? There are lines we pull out to ruminate upon, passages we write down in order to remember. There are passages we ignore or skim over because they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fit in with our general understanding of a text. Maginalia is a manifestation of this kind of editorial reading. The marks in a book are the footprints of its reader. Historically, margin notes were the scaffolding upon which an index of the text was built. In medieval times, monks would indicate important parts of a book by drawing a pointing finger in the margin. The locations of all the pointing index fingers would eventually be collected and arranged, making a legend that would aid future readers allowing them to easily find the vital parts of a book. This method shows how the making of any index is a subjective and poetic act. What constitutes the important parts of a text is dependent upon the reader and not just the author. Therefore, a back-of-book index is an index of a reading rather than an index of the book itself. The following 6 pages show selections from an artist project. The large-format xerox prints document found marginalia in a number of books from Dante, Emerson and Wordsworth to more contemporary authors like Grant Kester and Slavoj Zizek. Most of the images are humorous in some way, highlighting the antagonistic, condescending, enthusiastic or overly-adoring attitudes that readers take toward the books they read.

Gray / Paulsen 217


From Danteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Inferno

218 Gray / Paulsen


From Emersonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Collected Essays

Gray / Paulsen 219


From Hofstaderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

220 Gray / Paulsen


From The Collected Poems of William Wordsworth

Gray / Paulsen 221


From Zizekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s How to Read Lacan

222 Gray / Paulsen


From Grant Kesterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Conversation Pieces

Gray / Paulsen 223


From Andy Merrifieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book on Guy DeBord

224 Gray / Paulsen


Margin notes are one way to respond to a text or its author. In this essay, artist Adrian Piper responds directly to the critic Donald Kuspit in the form of an open letter. Her attitude is (justifiably) harsh. Herâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s is a unique position playing both the roles of editor and author in this essay.

226 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 227


228 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 229


230 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 231


232 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 233


234 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 235


236 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 237


238 Piper / Kuspit


We edited out two pages of this article, which showed drawings1 by Adrian Piper. We just really didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like them.

1. One drawing was of Piper exterminating Kuspit depicted as a cockroach and the other was a drawing of Piper being strangled by Kuspitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s words.

Piper / Kuspit 239


240 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 241


242 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 243


246 Piper / Kuspit


Piper / Kuspit 245


Receiving a letter like the one Kuspit received from Piper would make us wary of ever writing again.


Fox 247


See page 9.

248 Fox


Fox 249


See page 274.

Frances Stark is a writer who always seems to be thinking about reading while she writes. This often manifests in expressions of self-doubt. Perhaps, this is a symptom of the age of instant criticism or perhaps itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just her style. This essay, though, is more about the pleasure of reading. It is about reading multiple texts and thinking between them. At this point, we will take a short interlude from the subject of editing and present a few essays about the act of reading and the ways that we experience language.

250 Stark


See page 223.

See page 38 & 212.

See page 277.

Stark 251


Gass 253


254 Gass


Gass

255


See note on page 396.

256 Gass


Gass 257


258 Gass


Gass 259


260 Gass


These various ways of reading, synonymously, analytically, recursively, discursively etc. remind us a story told to us by the artist, writer and curator Julie Ault. She told us how, on the way to a residency she was attending overseas, her luggage, which was filled with the books that she was planning to read during her time there, got lost. One of the few books in the residencyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s library that was in a language she could understand was The Collected Works of Sigmund Freud. Since her books would not be arriving for sometime, if ever, she picked up Freud and began reading and she discovered that she could use that one book to satisfy all of her reading needs. She read it quick and light as if it was a newspaper, she read it for pleasure as if it was a novel, and she read it closely/analytically as if it was just what it was.

Gass

261


262 Gass


Gass 263


264 Gass


This expansion of the act of reading - ‘to read the breeze aloud’- sounds almost too poetic in the context of this essay, but it reminds us of David Abram’s book The Spell of the Sensuous. We have included a selection here that we think reinforces Gass’ idea that we can read the language of the living world to ourselves.


266 Abram


See page 202.

Abram 267


268 Abram


Abram 269


270 Abram


From an excerpt about the animism of the alphabet we jump to an example of editing that calls on a pretty abhorrent use of the alphabet. Here are the lyrics to a pop song and their corresponding radio version. Note how the lyricist’s attempt to not be disrespectful is just a lame way of excusing his obvious disrespectfulness. And how in the edited version of the song the censored words remain extremely easy to elucidate. We are reminded of when we were young and watched Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing on TV. All of the instances where characters said “motherfucker” were over-dubbed with the expression “mickeyfickey.” Really subtle.

They say she low down It’s just a rumor and I don’t believe em They say she needs to slow down The baddest thing around town She’s nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before Nothing you can compare to your neighborhood whore I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful The way that booty movin I can’t take no more Have to stop what I’m doin so I can pull up close I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy bitch A sexy bitch Damn you’se a sexy bitch Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy bitch A sexy bitch Damn you’se a sexy bitch Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy bitch A sexy bitch Damn you’se a sexy bitch Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy bitch A sexy bitch Damn you’se a sexy bitch Damn you’se a sexy bitch

272 Akon / Guetta


They say she low down It’s just a rumor and I don’t believe em They say she needs to slow down The baddest thing around town She’s nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before Nothing you can compare to your neighborhood girl I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful The way that booty movin’ I can’t take no more Have to stop what I’m doin so I can pull her close I’m tryna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy chick A sexy chick Damn you’se a sexy chick Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy chick A sexy chick Damn you’se a sexy chick Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy chick A sexy chick Damn you’se a sexy chick Damn girl Damn you’se a sexy chick A sexy chick Damn you’se a sexy chick Damn you’se a sexy chick

Akon / Guetta 273


The work of Bas Jan Ader has inspired and influenced a new generation of young artists. References to and remakes of his work are popping up all over. This could be because of the romantic qualities of his projects or because of the irresistible gaps in his short history. See the documentary Here is Always Somewhere Else. And, see also page 410 about the idea of translatability.

In this self-portrait taken in 1970, by the Dutch-American Bas Jan Ader, the artist appears in tears. (He offers an excuse for his behavior just as the lyricist of Sexy Bitch does.) The photograph is inscribed with the words I’m too sad to tell you. It is through this title that the piece speaks. The negation of content is the content, and somehow that negation says more than an explanation would. Like Jacques Ranciere’s concept of dissensus, Ader is offering an indirect gaze at his grief, allowing the depth of his sadness to grow in the viewers’ mind. The sense of mystery here is compounded by the narrative of his life and his enigmatic death at sea. The bit of text below is from an essay by Frances Stark called A Craft Too Small about the work of Bas Jan Ader.

274 Ader


This piece by the artist Stefan Brüggemann is different. It makes Ader’s photograph seem generous. Both works offer a negation of content, a willful omission, but this work comes at a viewer with defiance and antagonism while I’m Too Sad to Tell You comes from a softer place. Ader is too crippled by emotion - he can’t say. Brüggemann just won’t say.

Brüggemann 275


276 Wallace


See page 251.

In contrast, we present an excerpt from The Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace in which the characters over-offer descriptions of their tiredness, experimenting with a myriad of ways to say the same thing. Both Wallace’s writing and the artistic examples we presented on the preceding pages speak to a certain kind of ineffability. The gap that exists between words and emotion, between language and the workings of the mind. Is it better to willfully omit an inadequate description or to present the attempt despite its failure? This passage reminds us of being children, roaming through the sounds of words. Fixated on finding the perfect way to say that thing we thought or felt. Stuttering, chirping and chomping through combinations of consonants and vowels, we edited our way toward a more descriptive experience of the world. As we tried things out, we were struck by the seeming infinity of linguistic possibility. But, too soon we all realized the incredible limits of even the most nuanced and complex language. So many things are, as Wallace describes, ‘out of word-range’. Wallace 277


“It’s not the notes you play it’s the notes that you don’t play that make a song.” -Leon Redbone

In The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges, the key to understanding is in the unwritten word, the one that takes great effort not to write.

Borges 279


280 Borges


Borges 281


282 Borges


Borges 283


284 Borges


Borges 285


286 Borges


Borges 287


Some of the most important statements are made tacitly.

288 Borges


Borges 289


Stephen Slappe explores the unfilmed frame, the space of the edit in his video installation Crossroads, from 2009. In the work, four projections play on the walls of a small room. As you stand in the center, you watch a long-haired young man run toward you down a empty country road. As he approaches, the sound of an engine rises and from an adjacent projection a car appears, driving purposefully towards you. As the runner and the driver accelerate, you realize that you are standing at the point where they will eventually collide. But at that exact moment of inevitable collision the car races past, disappearing from the wall to your left and reappearing almost instantaneously at your right. At the same time, the lone runner continues past you, (almost through you) keeping his constant pace as he exits one projection and enters the one across. You turn around to follow his progress. His back bobs and the bottom of his shoes are visible as he runs away, untouched, towards the horizon line. The event is suspended, the edit subverted, it only exists in the viewerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anticipation. Represented here by four video stills arranged in a cross, the experience is less evocative. But, you get the point. The viewing body fills the missing frame. It is what remains unfilmed that is at the heart of the endeavor. 290 Slappe


Slappe 291


Here is one more example of how it can be better to say something by not saying it, than to say something by saying it. This multivocal essay is written by Rebecca May Marston about the work of Ryan Gander.

292 Marston


Marston 293


294 Marston


Marston 295


296 Matta-Clark


Matta-Clark 297


Our approach throughout this book has been to look at how the production of art can be discussed, metaphorically, in terms of editorial theory. In this essay, Brandt invokes the same metaphor in reverse. She explores what art and art history have to offer to editorial theory. In looking at the conservation of the Sistine ceiling, she discusses the ways that editing a literary text differ from editing a historical work of art and in doing so touches on the ways that images differs from words.

Weil-Garris Brandt 299


300 Weil-Garris Brandt


Weil-Garris Brandt 301


302 Weil-Garris Brandt


Weil-Garris Brandt 303


304 Weil-Garris Brandt


Weil-Garris Brandt 305


306 Weil-Garris Brandt


Weil-Garris Brandt 307


308 Weil-Garris Brandt


Weil-Garris Brandt 309


310 Weil-Garris Brandt


Weil-Garris Brandt 311


On the subject of changing historical artworks, Dan Greenburg, author of How to be Jewish Mother, presents his book Porno-graphics: The Shame of our Art Museums. He writes in the prologue about the “devious and immoral hoax that has been perpetrated upon us by artists, art historians and critics.” He argues that the history of painting and sculpture should be purged of nudity and offers in his book a look at an equally appealing alternative imagistic history. The following pages depict clothed and unclothed versions of famous works such as the Venus de Milo, Manet’s Olympia, and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Proportions of the Human Figure. A reader may decide for himself that “great art need not be dirty.” While Greenburg is obviously feigning his vigilante attitude, and making an utterly ridiculous proposal (especially when he suggests that we censor Duchamp’s famously abstracted Nude Descending Staircase,) he brings up some good questions about censorship and representation in the arts. Where is the line between pornography and art? Is censorship ever called for? Are there some things that should remain unrepresentable? Are there more tasteful ways to edit things than others? 312 Greenburg


Greenburg 313


Greenburg also offers an emergency measure since it will take quite a long time to artfully dress all the undressed men and woman who populate the paintings of the Western World. He suggests the more economical black boxes as an alternative to strategically placed flowers and drapery. The black box is familiar. Actually, in a recent publication we produced, we ran into problems when our design included a photograph with some subtle nudity. Turns out that the printer was religious. He did generously offer to run the image with black bars over the breast and thigh that were visible but we declined his offer. The funny thing is that his problem was with the flesh (‘after all it’s only skin’) and not the copyright infringement we were guilty of (also in the publication was an story we didn’t have permission to reproduce.) News programs and tabloid newspapers tend to use a more subtle blur effect rather than the boldness of a block, which tends to make a viewer overly-aware of the intervention of a censor. But, they also tend to cover a subject’s eyes rather than their genitals, with the intention to protect the subject rather than the spectator. While both are forms of editing with the purpose of obscuring the gaze, they are enacted with entirely different intentions.

314 Greenburg


When we asked artist Brad Adkins to direct us in the production of an image for a series of posters we were working on, he sent us a photograph to reproduce (see right.) Whether the Clique Mob is a branch of the Nigerian government, a vigilante group, or just a figment of an email-scamerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s imagination we could never figure out. But, the image is compelling, as is its unknown origins, and it was definitely worth re-enacting.

Adkins / Gray / Paulsen 315


These are de-classifed government documents regarding memos exchanged by United States and South American government officials regarding the assassination of Chilean foreign minister and diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington D.C. in 1976. Our favorite is the first page which is quite beautiful in its total lack of information.

316 Central Intelligence Agency


Central Intelligence Agency

317


318 Central Intelligence Agency


Central Intelligence Agency 319


320 Ruscha


Gray / Paulsen 321


The Danielson Famile are an experimental band from New Jersey. They are as the name implies, a family. The group was formed and is led by Daniel Smith, also known as Brother Daniel. For over fifteen years they have been making music that defies all genres, pulling from everything from The Pixies to Sesame Street. As Danielson has grown in popularity the media seems to be consistently more interested in their anomalous status as Christians rather than their musical prowess. Smith began as a visual artist (the Danielson’s first album was his senior thesis at art school.) He made and marketed the ‘Good Eye Blinders’ to the right. This reworking of a pair of horse blinders is an interesting critique of how non-Christians might see Christians. It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about the blindness of faith or accuse believers (of any religion) of only seeing what their dogma allows them to see. In the climax rap battle in 8-Mile Eminem’s character Rabbit lyrically rips his opponent apart by ripping himself apart, pointing out his own shortcomings rather than his opponent’s. This leaves Rabbit’s opponent confused. He was relying on enumerating Rabbit’s weaknesses himself. Perhaps this is what Smith is doing with the blinders, beating an insulter to the punch and affecting a moment of doubt, enough to let the music slip in.

Note that this is our interpretation of Smith’s ‘Good Eye Blinders.’ It could very well be that he created these with the same sincerity and religious piety present in his music. Thus, the blinders would then be seen as tools to help one stay on the path of righteousness.

322 Danielson


Danielson 323


Brother Danielson

Watterson 325


326 Wallace / Wallachinsky / Wallace


Wallace / Wallachinsky / Wallace 327


328 Karolides / Bald / Sova


Karolides / Bald / Sova 329


If Flaubert had been prepared to allow the insertion of the editor’s text into his own, it would have been much like the famous scene in the film Storytelling by filmmaker Todd Solondz. The film was slated to get a NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America unless a sex scene featuring Selma Blair and Robert Wisdom was cut. Instead of doing away with the scene altogether Solondz superimposed a bright red rectangle over the figures in the scene saying, “for me it’s a great victory to have a big red box, the first red box in any studio feature [...] it’s right in your face: You’re not allowed to see this in our country.”

Is it better to make viewers aware of the process of editing/censoring, or is it better to just allude to a void in content -- to imply a meaning rather than to express it.

See page 274-295.

See page 13.

330 Karolides / Bald / Sova / Solondz


Karolides / Bald / Sova 331


“Everyone’s Allowed a Past They Don’t Care to Mention” is a line from a song called “America” by Bill Callahan. In the summer of 2011 we commissioned this tattoo. A friend (who wishes to remain nameless) was planning to get a long-hated tattoo removed from his arm. We proposed this design instead, claiming that an obvious cover-up is better than a complete erasure. It took some convincing. The tattoo artist we were working with, claimed that it was against his artistic integrity to cover-up, what he considered to be good art, with an image he thought was non-art. It took the history of black painting to convince him. Everyone’s Allowed a Past They Don’t Care to Mention, 2011

332

Gray / Paulsen


March 12, 2010

Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change By James C. McKinley Jr

AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The Texas School Board most likely doesn’t consider their revisions to social studies curricula acts of censorship, but in our minds they certainly could be viewed that way. The problem of history is entangled with the problems of editing.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it. The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states. In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state. Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers. “We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.” Battles over what to put in science and history books have taken place for years in the 20 states where state boards must adopt textbooks, most notably in California and Texas. But rarely in recent history has a group of conservative board members left such a mark on a social studies curriculum. Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.” McKinley 333


“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.” The curriculum standards will now be published in a state register, opening them up for 30 days of public comment. A final vote will be taken in May, but given the Republican dominance of the board, it is unlikely that many changes will be made. The standards, reviewed every decade, serve as a template for textbook publishers, who must come before the board next year with drafts of their books. The board’s makeup will have changed by then because Dr. McLeroy lost in a primary this month to a more moderate Republican, and two others — one Democrat and one conservative Republican — announced they were not seeking re-election. There are seven members of the conservative bloc on the board, but they are often joined by one of the other three Republicans on crucial votes. There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics. The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution. “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.” They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported. “Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.” Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter

334 McKinley


the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism. Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.” The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States. Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.” It was defeated on a party-line vote. After the vote, Ms. Knight said, “The social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agenda.” In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.” “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ” In the field of sociology, another conservative member, Barbara Cargill, won passage of an amendment requiring the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders. “The topic of sociology tends to blame society for everything,” Ms. Cargill said. Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel. Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”) “The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based,” Ms. Dunbar said. McKinley 335


Censorship and revision in the public realm, either in terms of our shared space or in terms of our shared recorded history can mean very different things. Censorship implies a repression or an oppression, but we have also seen it function as a form of protest.

336

Gray / Paulsen


Gray / Paulsen 337


For more on shit read The History of Shit by Dominique LaPorte.

We came across a semi-related passage in another of Kundera’s novels: The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In a section titled ‘The Grand March,’ he writes:

See page 323.

The fact that until recently the word “shit” appeared in print as s--- has nothing to do with moral considerations. You can’t claim that shit is immoral after all! The objection to shit is a metaphysical one...“Kitsch” is a German word born in the middle of the sentimental nineteenth century, and from German it entered all Western Languages. Repeated use, however, has obliterated its original metaphysical meaning: kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.


Above is a famous photograph of Joseph Stalin with Nikolai Yezhov who was water commissar at the time that this image was taken. After he fell from power, and out of Stalinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favor, he was arrested, shot and his image was removed by the censors. The text to the left is the first page from Milan Kunderaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. When we went searching for texts on revisionist history, we quickly realized that all history is revisionist -- all history is a cyclical process of creation, recreation, and partial erasure.

Kundera 339


Part of the trick of revising history is to make the means of erasure invisible, to make it seem as if it has always been written that way. This footnote, excerpted from The Plague of Fantasies by Slavoj Zizek, tells the amazing story of another blatant rewriting of history and the traces that it left behind.

340 Zizek


​ New York Times Why Did the New York Times Change Their Brooklyn Bridge Arrests Story? By Nick Greene Sun., Oct. 2 2011 at 2:34 Comments (53) Categories: New York Times, Nick Greene, Occupy Wall Street, Protest, Things That Make You Go ‘Hmm...’ The above photo of juxtaposed screenshots from the New York Times website has been making the rounds on Facebook, and it shows two very different takes for the same story on yesterday’s Brooklyn Bridge arrests. The screenshot on the left, from 6:59 p.m., appears to reflect what many protesters are saying: The police tricked them into marching on the bridge. At 7:19 p.m., any mention of the police allowing demonstrators onto the bridge was removed from the lede. Why did they make this change? The ease of ‘officially’ rewriting is multiplied on the Internet.

Greene

341


342 Wilson


See page 345.

The artist Fred Wilson also rewrites history with his work, but he is does it through exposure rather than erasure. In his work, he plays the role of a curator while still keeping the power of an artist. By reshuffling and relabeling the objects in a museum, Wilson creates new narratives -- narratives that expose the colonialist roots of the western museum or that highlight particular marginalized histories within a collection. His work points to the limits of cultural institutions to keep and interpret history. It deconstructs traditional ideas of curation, emphasizing the importance of context and raising questions about power, visibility, and iconoclasm in exhibition practices.

Wilson 343


See page 343.

Groys 345


344 Groys


This can be compared to the notion of unediting discussed on pages 79 & 130.

Groys 347


See page 104.

348 Groys


Wei Wei 349


Monument to Joe Louis Detroit, Michigan, United States Date of incident: 02/23/2004 This 8,000 pound, 24 ft. bronze arm and fist was sculpted by Robert Graham in honor of the great boxer Joe Louis. Louis became internationally famous when he defeated Germany’s Max Schmeling to become the heavyweight champion in 1938. As an African American, Louis’ victory became a challenge to Adolf Hitler’s belief in Aryan supremacy. The monument, also known as “the fist”, was unveiled in October 1987 as a gift to the city of Detroit. Public reception of the sculpture was mixed. Some were offended by what they saw as the “violence emblematic of the city of Detroit”. Others saw it as an assertion of black power. On February 23, 2004 the sculpture, particularly the fist, was covered in glossy white paint. At the base of the monument, photos of two white police officers, Fettig and Bowens, who were killed on February 16, 2004 were found signed “Courtesy of Fighting Whities”. The suspected killer of the police officers is black. Two suburban Detroit men, Brett Cashman, 45, and John T. Price, 27, were arrested. They claimed that their actions were not racially motivated. They were jailed for six days and served 21 days on house arrest.

This information is from a web collection of defaced monuments made by the artist Sam Durant. It can be viewed at www. samdurant.com/defaced_monuments/.

350 Durant


Gray / Paulsen 351


This text by artist and poet Helen Mirra, from her book Alow is derived from the novel Mardi by Herman Melville, which was first published in 1849. It appears in her book alongside two other poetic works, one derived from Sergei Eisenstein’s Potemkin and the other from a Buster Keaton film titled The Navigator. Mardi was Melville’s third novel and his first work of fiction. In the preface to the book, he wrote that ‘since his first two books were nonfiction but disbelieved; by the same pattern he hoped that this fiction book would be accepted as fact.’ Mardi philosophically chronicles the narrators’ visits to symbolic places. It shares similar themes with his classic Moby Dick but is much shorter. Using Melville’s existing work, Mirra has isolated portions of the text from each chapter, creating a series of spare sea songs. She also works as a sculptor, so often her language-arts reveal structures in existing texts. In this way her poetry is like an excavation. On the following pages are a number of artist projects that are made by creating subsequent editions and translations of existing works.

352 Mirra


Mirra 353


354 Mirra


Mirra 355


356 Mirra


Mirra 357


358 Mirra


Mirra 359


360 Mirra


Mirra 361


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Mirra 363


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Mirra 365


Kenneth Goldsmith’s work is all about the rigorous conceptual re-making of preexisting material. He is interested in reading and writing as recursive practices and his poetry practice reflects that. This lecture on the perceived boringness and uncreativity of his work was presented in 2004 at The First Seance for Experimental Literature in Los Angeles, and at the Kelly Writer’s House at the University of Pennsylvania.

Being Boring Kenneth Goldsmith I am the most boring writer that has ever lived. If there were an Olympic sport for extreme boredom, I would get a gold medal. My books are impossible to read straight through. In fact, every time I have to proofread them before sending them off to the publisher, I fall asleep repeatedly.You really don’t need to read my books to get the idea of what they’re like; you just need to know the general concept. Over the past ten years, my practice today has boiled down to simply retyping existing texts. I’ve thought about my practice in relation to Borges’s Pierre Menard, but even Menard was more original than I am: he, independent of any knowledge of Don Quixote, reinvented Cervantes’ masterpiece word for word. By contrast, I don’t invent anything. I just keep rewriting the same book. I sympathize with the protagonist of a cartoon claiming to have transferred x amount of megabytes, physically exhausted after a day of downloading. The simple act of moving information from one place to another today constitutes a significant cultural act in and of itself. I think it’s fair to say that most of us spend hours each day shifting content into different containers. Some of us call this writing. In 1969, the conceptual artist Douglas Huebler wrote, “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” I’ve come to embrace Huebler’s ideas, though it might be retooled as, “The world is full of texts, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.” It seems an appropriate response to a new condition in writing today: faced with an unprecedented amount of available text, the problem is not needing to write more of it; instead, we must learn to negotiate the vast quantity that exists. I’ve transformed from a writer into an information manager, adept at the skills of replicating, organizing, mirroring, archiving, hoarding, storing, reprinting, bootlegging, plundering, and transferring. I’ve needed to acquire a whole new skill set: I’ve become a master typist, an exacting cut-and-paster, and an OCR demon. There’s nothing I love more than transcription; I find few things more satisfying than collation. John Cage said, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” He’s right: there’s a certain kind of unboring boredom that’s fascinating, engrossing, transcendent, and downright sexy. And then there’s the other kind of boring: let’s call it boring boring. Boring boring is a client meeting; boring boring is having to endure someone’s self-indulgent poetry reading; boring boring is watching a toddler for an afternoon; boring boring is the seder at Aunt Fanny’s. Boring boring is being somewhere we don’t want to be; boring boring is doing something we don’t want to do.

366 Goldsmith


Unboring boring is a voluntary state; boring boring is a forced one. Unboring boring is the sort of boredom that we surrender ourselves to when, say, we go to see a piece of minimalist music. I recall once having seen a restaging of an early Robert Wilson piece from the 1970s. It took four hours for two people to cross the stage; when they met in the middle, one of them raised their arm and stabbed the other. The actual stabbing itself took a good hour to complete. Because I volunteered to be bored, it was the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen. The 20th century avant-garde liked to embrace boredom as a way of getting around what it considered to be the vapid “excitement” of popular culture. I’ll never forget being at a sound poetry festival with Jackson Mac Low in Miami Beach over a decade ago. Jackson was railing against popular culture, dance music, anything with a beat, anything that reeked of entertainment. I really couldn’t understand what he was talking about. For a younger generation, popular culture is very sophisticated. Everyone in advertising today has a degree in semiotics, setting up a condition whereby artists, seeing the complex ads, go into the studio and make work about the advertising, which feeds subsequent ads, and so on. But later that night, back in the hotel room, I was channel surfing and came across a 1950s Lawrence Welk rerun. It was unbearably stupid, wrapping its boredom in the guise of “entertainment” and suddenly it occurred to me that in his day, Jackson was right. A powerful way to combat such crap was to do the opposite of it, to be purposely boring. By the 60s and 70s in art circles this type of boredom -- boring boring -- was often the norm. I’m glad I wasn’t around to have to sit through all of that stuff. Boredom, it seems, became a forced condition, be it in theatre, music, art, or literature. It’s no wonder people bailed out of boredom in the late 70s and early 80s to go into punk rock or expressionistic painting. After a while, boredom got boring. And then, a few decades later, things changed again: excitement became dull and boring started to look good again. So here we are, ready to be bored once more. But this time, boredom has changed. We’ve embraced unboring boring, modified boredom, boredom with all the boring parts cut out of it. Reality TV, for example, is a new kind of boredom. “An American Family,” broadcast in the early 70s -- strutting its ennui -- was the old boredom; “The Osbournes” -- action-packed boredom -- is the new. There’s no one more tedious than Ozzy Osbourne, but his television presence is the most engagingly constructed tedium that has ever existed. We can’t take our eyes off the guy, stumbling through the dullness of his own life. Our taste for the unboring boring won’t last forever. I assume that someday soon it’ll go back to boring boring once again, though for reasons and conditions I can’t predict at this time. But until then, even though I construct boring works, I wouldn’t Goldsmith 367


dream of forcing you to sit through an extended reading of my work: at least not without a fair warning, giving you an out, a chance for you to edit the dull parts by fast forwarding, leaving the room, or switching me off. I do a weekly radio show that, most weeks, is extremely challenging listening, often veering into boring boring territory (I’ve played shows of two men snoring for three hours, to name one example), but I don’t mind doing this because no one’s forcing you to listen straight through. If you don’t like it, you simply get up, turn it off, and put something else on. In the same vein, as I said before, I don’t expect you to even read my books cover to cover. It’s for that reason I like the idea that you can know each of my books in one sentence. For instance, there’s the book of every word I spoke for a week unedited. Or the book of every move my body made over the course of a day, a process so dry and tedious that I had to get drunk halfway though the day in order to make it to the end. Or my most recent book, Day, in which I retyped a day’s copy of the New York Times and published it as a 900 page book. Now you know what I do without ever having to have read a word of it. Let me go into more detail about Day. I would take a page of the newspaper, start at the upper left hand corner and work my way through, following the articles as they were laid out on the page. If an article, for example, continued on another page, I wouldn’t go there. Instead, I would finish retyping the page I was on in full before proceeding to the next one. I allowed myself no creative liberties with the text. The object of the project was to be as uncreative in the process as possible. It was one of the hardest constraints a writer can muster, particularly on a project of this scale; with every keystroke came the temptation to “fudge,” “cut-and-paste,” and “skew” the mundane language. But to do so would be to foil my exercise.

See page 206.

See page 352.

Everywhere there was a bit of text in the paper, I grabbed it. I made no distinction between editorial and advertising, stock quotes or classified ads. If it could be considered text, I had to have it. Even if there was, say, an ad for a car, I took a magnifying glass and grabbed the text off the license plate. Between retyping and OCR’ing, I finished the book in a year. Far from being boring, it was the most fascinating writing process I’ve ever experienced. It was surprisingly sensual. I was trained as a sculptor and moving the text from one place to another became as physical, and as sexy as, say, carving stone. It became this wild sort of obsession to peel the text off the page of the newspaper and force it into the fluid medium of the digital. I felt like I was taking the newspaper, giving it a good shake, and watching as the letters tumbled off the page into a big pile, transforming the static language that was glued to the page into moveable type. As good as the process was, that’s how good I felt the end result to be. The day I chose to retype, the Friday before Labor Day weekend of 2000, was a slow news

368 Goldsmith


day. Just the regular stuff happened, nothing special. But in spite of that, after it was finished, it became clear that the daily newspaper -- or in this case Day -- is really a great novel, filled with stories of love, jealousy, murder, competition, sex, passion, and so forth. It’s a fantastic thing: the daily newspaper, when translated, amounts to a 900 page book. Every day. And it’s a book that’s written in every city and in every country, only to be instantly discarded in order to write a brand new one, full of fresh stories the next day. After reading the newspaper over breakfast for 20 minutes in the morning, we say we’ve read the paper. Believe me, you’ve never really read the paper. There was something so satisfying about this exercise that I wanted to see what would happen when I applied it to other types of print media. So I went ahead and retyped an issue of Vogue, which yielded fantastically minimal results. Imagine a fashion magazine denuded of its images. What are you left with? In the beginning of a fashion magazine there are dozens of two-page advertising spreads that are all images, containing almost no text. What emerged were exquisite little lines -- almost fashion haikus -- about products, locations, prices, etc. And in the back where there is more text, it was completely different than the New York Times; Vogue is full of juicy gossip and over-the-top language, making for a totally new book. I called that book Month. My next idea was to do a weekly -- obviously called Week -- so I chose to retype an issue of Newsweek, which was, well, as dull as Newsweek itself is. That project definitely fell on the boring side of boring. I got to wondering if I’m simply masochistic, doing these sorts of projects so I decided to do a reality check and try an boring exercise with my generally-bored students. I gave them the simple instructions to retype five pages of their choice and came in the next week, dreading their response to the most dry, dull, assignment I could give them. But much to my surprise, they were charged -- as charged as I was during my retyping of the Times.Their responses were varied and full of revelations: some found it enlightening to become a machine (without ever having known Warhol’s famous dictum “I want to be a machine”). Others said that it was the most intense reading experience they ever had, with many actually embodying the characters they were retyping. Several students became aware that the act of typing or writing is actually an act of performance, involving their whole body in a physically durational act (even down to noticing the cramps in their hands). Some of the students became intensely aware of the text’s formal properties and for the first time in their lives began to think of texts not only as transparent, but opaque objects to be moved around a white space. Others found the task zen-like and amnesia-inducing (without ever having known Satie’s “Memoirs of an Amnesiac” or Duchamp’s desire to live without memory), alternately having the text lose then regain meaning. Out of the class of 18, there was only one girl who didn’t have some sort of a transcendental experience with the mundane act of typing. She was a waitress who took it upon herself to retype her restaurant’s menu in order to learn it better for work. She ended up

The power of a country road is different when one is walking along it from when one is flying over it by airplane. In the same way, the power of a text is different when it is read from when it is copied out. The airplane passenger sees only how the road pushes through the landscape, how it unfolds according to the same laws as the terrain surrounding it. Only he who walks the road on foot learns of the power it commands, and of how, from the very scenery that for the flier is only the unfurled plain, it calls forth distances, belvederes, clearings, prospects at each of its turns like a commander deploying soldiers at a front. - Walter Benjamin See page 396.

Goldsmith 369


hating the task and even hating her job more. It was an object lesson in the difference between voluntary and involuntary boredom. It’s hard to turn the dreary world of work into unboring boredom. The class learned that it’s hard to be bored when creating a work of art. But what about an audience’s reception to such work? I think that there were a handful of artists in the 20th century who intentionally made boring work, but didn’t expect their audiences to fully engage with it in a durational sense. It’s these artists, I feel, who predicted the sort of unboring boredom that we’re so fond of today.

See page 290.

See pages 255-256.

Andy Warhol, for instance, said of his films that the real action wasn’t on the screen. He’s right. Nothing happened in the early Warhol films: a static image of the Empire State Building for eight hours, a man sleeping for six. It is nearly impossible to watch them straight through. Warhol often claimed that his films were better thought about than seen. He also said that the films were catalysts for other types of actions: conversation that took place in the theatre during the screening, the audience walking in and out, and thoughts that happened in the heads of the moviegoers. Warhol conceived of his films as a staging for a performance, in which the audience were the Superstars, not the actors or objects on the screen. Gertrude Stein, too, often set up a situation of skimming, knowing that few were going to be reading her epic works straight through. (How many people have linearly read every word of The Making of Americans? Not too many, I suppose.) The scholar Ulla Dydo, in her magnificent compilation of the writings of Gertrude Stein, remarked that much of Stein’s work was never meant to be read closely at all, rather she was deploying visual means of reading. What appeared to be densely unreadable and repetitive was, in fact, designed to be skimmed, and to delight the eye (in a visual sense) while holding the book. Stein, as usual, was prescient in predicting our reading habits. John Cage, too, proved to be the avant-garde’s Evelyn Wood, boiling down dense modernist works into deconstructed, remixed Cliff Notes; in his “Writing Through Finnegans Wake” he reduced a 628-page tome to a slim 39 pages, and Ezra Pound’s 824-page Cantos to a mere handful of words. *** I’m getting out of the boredom business, friends. I recently embarked upon my latest project, a piece that would completely turn my entire practice on its ear. I wanted to work with extraordinary language, dramatic language; language drenched with emotion. Excitement is what I’m after now. After thinking about what I could do for some months, I hit upon the perfect project. I would redo my New York Times piece, only instead of retyping a “normal” news day, I would retype the issue of the New York Times published on the morning of September 11th, using the exact same method I did for Day.

370 Goldsmith


I’ve now just finished the first section of the paper and I can tell you that it’s doing everything that I want it to. I’ve embarked on an epic unboring boring work. It’s been a highly emotional experience retyping this paper, full of events that never happened: sales that were cancelled, listings for events that were indefinitely postponed, stories deemed to be big news one day were swept off the pages of the paper of record forever, stock prices that took a huge dive the next day, and so forth. I think you get the idea. I love the idea of doing something so exciting in the most boring way possible or vice versa. At a reading I gave recently -- and I do do short readings occasionally -- the other reader came up to me after my reading and said incredulously, “You didn’t write a word of what you read.” I thought for a moment and, sure, in one sense -- the traditional sense -- he was right; but in the expanded field of appropriation, uncreativity, sampling, and language management in which we all habit today, he couldn’t have been more wrong. Each and every word was “written” by me: sometimes mediated by a machine, sometimes transcribed, and sometimes copied; but without my intervention, slight as it may be, these works would never have found their way into the world. When retyping a book, I often stop and ask myself if what I am doing is really writing. As I sit there, in front of the computer screen, punching keys, the answer is invariably yes.

See pages 60-61.

Goldsmith 371


Index of Numbers

These four short indexes are excerpts from a publication we produced in 2008. It presents thirteen different indexes to Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street. Each index approaches the book from a different angle, extracting and cataloguing the text according to recurring topical, sensory, and poetic elements. The indexes are imagistic lists that aim to illuminate the variety of ways readers might navigate and participate with a text according to their own preoccupations. Thus, the ‘Index of Edibles’ speaks to the needs of the reader who is indecisive about dinner. The ‘Index of Metaphors’ could help an unproductive poet, while the ‘Index of Numbers’ plays to the obsessions of an accountant or collector. The ‘Index of Colors’ is for the reader in wintertime; the ‘Index of Places,’ for the traveler who stays at home, and the ‘Index of Names’ might inspire expectant parents, set on giving birth to the next great mystery writer or cosmologist. The ‘Index of Sounds’ reassures a lonely reader with its aural traces, and the ‘Index of Quotations’ offers the person who is perpetually speechless at parties something to say.

372 Gray / Paulsen

one alphabet, 94 and then the other, 88 board, 86 day, 48, 55, 69 evening, 479 fine afternoon, 49 executioner, 87 great collection, 73 hand, 55, 88 leg, 85, 103 limit, beyond which things cannot go, 55 mother, endlessly shaking her head, 87 among ten thousands, 70 occasion, 85 of the epigones, 79 of those that may once have been true but have long since degenerated, 54 on the left, 88 or the other, 100 or two large figures, 93 princely personage, 87 sailor, 101 -self, 83 shop, 86 side, 48 single stroke, 461, 480 seated in the middle, 100 thing, 47, 75, 97 vanishes, 84 -way street, 45 window, 47 two barrel-like containers, 88 cardinals, 87 convicts, 85 different filing systems, 62 elderly English lady visitors, 47 equally diminutive puppets, 85 executioners, 87 foresters, 84 girls whispering in Italian, 95 glass-covered tables, 87 hours, of walking in solitude, 68, 81 of us, 69 or three others, 100 monkeys playing violins, 88 mothers, 87 persons alone, 100 policemen, 85 puppets, 88 sirens with provocative breasts, 84 wings, 88 wrestlers, 80 three cabs, 78

-cornered cell, 78 -dimensional writing, 62 fruit, 84 others, 100 priests, 99 steps, 61 four great grey shades of Mars, 93 pillars, 74 Roman quarters, 81 five, published books, 97 seven, -fold of oneself around another, 83 eight, -hour workday, 97 ten heavy sacks of flour, 72 minutes waiting, 78 -room apartment, 48-49 thirteen, 59, 65, 66, 67, 68 “--stopping at this number, I felt a cruel pleasure,” 67 Theses on a Writer’s Technique, 64 Theses Against Snobs, 65 Theses on a Critic’s Technique, 66 fifteen, 48 twenty centimeters tall, 87 heavy sacks of flour shaken onto the tardy child, 72 twenty-four hours of happiness, 99 hours in jail, 61 twenty-five, centimeters, 87 twenty-seven, 97 twenty-eight, 97 thirty, paces from the water, 86 thirty-six, labeled boxes, 85 forty, years spent building a cathedral, 82 forty-five, years of life, 96 forty-eight, hours exposure is like a caustic solution, 48 one hundred thirteen, 46 one thousand gradations of fire-red, 93 times more exact, 98 years ago, 73 three thousand ladies and gentleman arrested in their beds, 60 years cultural development, 80 four thousand, year-old obelisk, 70 tens of thousands, of passers-by not pausing, 62 hundreds of thousands, dragged into misfortune, 56 millions, born into misfortune, 56


Index of Color

black -est most terrible stroke of fate, 56 -lacquered frames, 93 cloth of the photographer, 95 coal, 86 currants, 72 forest, 50n of the eye sockets, 70 -ish dwarf-town, 86 practice, 94 robe, 87 swan, found only in Australia, 94 blue of cloudless weather, 96 distance, 78, 81 of a forget-me-not, 77 issues of postage stamp, 94 wife, 84 brown of dead matter, 92 issues of postage stamp, 94 copper shields, 73 spent on colored switches, 86 gold bowl, with fruit, 85 of a merchantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s breast-pin, 94 bush, 88 flame, 88 head, 76 in the mouth of the morning, 77 green of the interior jungle, 50 issues of postage stamp, 94 Green, Anna Katherine, 48 grey coal, in relief, 86 foundation, of clay- 86 penumbra, 46 shades of Mars, 93 stone jetty, 83 wall, 86 pink of a cactus bloom, 77 as Carthusian, 77 purple, assemblies, 94 red of the apple market, 86 of a bloodbath, 104 church, 86 edges of a opened book, 67 of a geranium, 77 in gradations of fire, 93 as in Little Red Riding Hood, 85 neon sign, 90 plush curtains, 85 scales, 84 skullcap, 100

veil, concealing the night sky, 59 silver gilded Buddha, 51 rib, 89 sling, 49 of hoarded tinfoil, 74 ultraviolet, rays, 99 white of the bridal bed, 104 clay pipes, 85 of flour, 72 floating ghost, 74 lace-trimmed tulle dress, 92 mounds of the apple market, 86 as in Snow White, 85 -washed corridor of a dream, 47 yellow as in pencils of light, 69 man, 84 -ochre ground, 86

Gray / Paulsen 373


Index of Edibles alcohol, 84 ale, 101 almonds, as groped by the pilfering child, 72 animal-water, spoiled in a dream, 78 apple as a threat to Snow White, 85 cheeks outshining the red church, 86 in the basket of a housewife, 86 -marine, meaning ‘mandarin’ in the language of Stefan Benjamin, son of the author, 53n packed in straw, 86 as the red-and-white mounds of the market, 86 revealed from under a beaker, 88 banquet, enriched by the beggar, 91 beer, drunk by Germans, 64, 101; drunk by sea men, 101 bird, catching a worm, 77 bread rolls, interfering with jam, 72 breakfast, and recounted dreams, 45 butter, responding tenderly to the hand, 72 chestnuts, as a child’s spiky clubs, 74 coffee, carefully poured for the writer while seated at a marble table, 88 corn, forgotten in the field, 60 crumbs, left for the hero, 60 currants, in heaps, 72 dumplings, impaled on Gargantua’s forks, 88 eggs, of Easter, 74 everything edible, in the land of idle luxury, 84 fish used to distinguish location, 101 as silent, ridden by a mute Arion, 73 sold from a hut, 86 flour, in heavy sacks, 72 food, as well-received if divided and distributed, 9 fruit falling seasonally, 52 as an overripe garnish, 79 in three pieces on a golden bowl, 85 snatched from the trees, unripe, 60 grapes, as fallen, 60 honey, inviting the hand of the hungry child, 72 jerky, 89 loaf, revealed from under a beaker, 88 marrow, 101,104 meat, sold at the market, 86 oil, 45 pigeon, 85 preserves, in the darkness of the larder, 72 raisins, 72 rice, yielding to the hand of a juvenile Don Juan, 72 seed, 94 spices, used by a cannibal to season a baby, 67 strawberry jam, unencumbered by bread rolls, 72 stew, of the damned, 85 sugar, or almonds, 72; in sacks, in relief against a market wall, 86 sultanas, 72

374 Gray / Paulsen

toothpaste, handy for the giants of American movies, 89 vinegar, soaking a sponge, 87 water of the Dvina, 86 fetched from the ocean of tears, 79 of the most pacific ocean, 94 as a stream of glass, 88 worms, 77


Index of Sounds alarm signal, 95; for fire, 80 background of insipid sounds, 65 bang, of a bulls-eye, 86 beating, of a drum, 85 booming orchestration, of a carousel, 73 blasting, of the imagination, 75 breathing as drawn, 74, 75, 100 held in while hiding, 74 of holy syllables, 75 in a child’s narration of a story, 72 cacophony, of voices, 65 chiming, of the tower-clocks, 82 clink, of the prison door, 85 clattering, of the teacher’s voice, 72 conversation as collegial, 76 criss-crossed with names, 101 dominated by a man refusing to eat, 91 in snatches, 90 crumbling, of rock, 80 cry for help, 95 induced by a film, 89 loud enough to drive out a demon, 74 of victory, 99 discussion, 90; in confidence, 94-95 echoes, unlocked by a password, 70 howls, from a siren, 102 incessant calling, of the newspaper vendor, 78 jangling, of the alarm signals in the inner world of the true writer, 95 laughter, when waking from a dream, 60 murmurs, of conspiracy, 72; from the chthonic depths of language, 79 music of the carousel, 73 of deathly sad wantonness, 78 as eccentric, 84 for furnished rooms on Sundays, 78-79 that startles truth to the surface, 95 of violins, 88 noise, of thoroughfares, 102 plashing, of women about a well, 81 pounding, of a child’s heart, 74 ringing, of a bell at the shooting range, 85 rolling, of a rock, 79 rustling, of leaves, 52 rhythm, upset by the finest prose sentence, 64; from which the sick will draw strength, 104 scolding, from a much-loved voice, 86 shot, 85; from a gun, 91 shout, of self deliverance when the hiding child is found, 74 shrills, of the telephone, 90 singing, of a gas flame, 49 smouldering, of imagination, 75 sounds, as incomparably genuine, 79 speaking, to a woman one loves, 76

speech, of a priest in a red skullcap, 100; of an audience trapped in a theatre, 57 striking, of a clock, 74, 103 talking, in one’s sleep, 46 thundering, of propellers, 104 ticking, clockwork of a puppet display, 87 traffic, of the railway station, 82; surging thunderously, 70 tumult, absorbing human movement, 81 uproar, startling out truth, 95; of steps in a quiet classroom, 72 utterances, of the shaman, 79 voices, of blood, 79; of spirits, 79

Gray / Paulsen 375


See page 217.

Part of the intrigue of the back-of-book index is the phenomenon of parataxis, which is a fancy word to describe the act and result of placing two things side by side. The arrangement of an index is based on an exterior rather than interior system of organization and this makes for strangely fertile examples of parataxis. This alphabetic arrangement creates unexpected and often poetic pairings of terms and ideas. This point of contact that exists where two different things come together is important when thinking about poetry, (especially Dadaist poetry like that made famous by Tristan Tzara, see right) music, and film.

376 Tzara


Tzara 377


Since the 1920s, Tiffany & Company jewelry ads have occupied the upperright corner of the third page of the New York Times. Until the layout changed in spring 2008, the space next to the ad was filled with an international news photo. This daily juxtaposition (which has not gone unnoticed) resulted in a collection of often horrifying image pairings in what seem like deliberate example of First World excess mocking Third World suffering. Having tried several ways of responding, I finally decided simply to isolate the two images. preserving the spatial relationship between them and letting the silence of white space comment on the obvious. The titles are the actual captions of the jewelry ads. -Pat Boas

378 Boas


Boas 379


Film theory is not our area of expertise, but this Eisenstein writing seems to relate quite nicely to the idea of parataxis. Collision and conflict are integral to thinking about placing two things next to each other. As he writes, â&#x20AC;&#x153;an infinite number of combinations are capable of arising from a collision.â&#x20AC;? So, we can think about the edits in a film, a work of art, or in a thesis paper as points of infinite possibility.

380 Eisenstein


Eisenstein 381


The idea of counterpoint reminds us of Glenn Gould and Bach fugues.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;At this time, it could be said that we no longer hear Bach done by Gould but Glenn Gould in Bach.â&#x20AC;? -Regis Debray

See page 422 for a related passage on parodies standing in for originals .

382 Eisenstein


384

Gray / Paulsen


See page 261 for a note about re-reading Freud.

Re-Writing Freud is a project by the artist Simon Morris, in which the The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud is continually re-written. All 222,704 words from Freud’s text were entered into a computer program, designed by Christine Morris, which randomly selects words one-by-one and thus reconstructs the entire book. Every time the program is restarted a new text is made. The book pictured here is one instantiation of that process, scrupulously typeset according to the dimensions, fonts, chapter divisions and paragraph lengths of the 1976 Penguin paperback edition of Freud’s work, and printed on equivalent paper stocks...By subjecting Freud’s words to a random re-distribution, meaning is turned into non-meaning and the spectator is put to work to make sense of the new poetic juxtapositions. This book asks a reader to truly be an editor.

Freud / Morris 385


Gray / Paulsen / Williams 387


Above is a selection from Pat Boas’ Alphabet (NYT 01/01/01) and to the right is Tauba Auerbach’s drawing, Lowercase Components from 2005. 388 Boas


Auerbach

389


392 Kay


This is a drawing of the world done from memory by the British artist Emma Kay. Kay has done a number of similar projects which explore the effect that human memory has on knowledge. She has rewritten the Bible from memory and Shakespeare from memory. She also completed writing the history of the world from memory, which was published as a book titled Worldview in 1999. In these works, her own editions of some of our most canonical texts, she is inadvertently editing according to her own memory loss, delusions and dreams. Her re-writings are often less interesting in content than their originals but are more compelling in concept.

Kay 393


394 Gray / Paulsen


See Johanna Drucker’s lecture on Theodor Adorno’s aesthetic theory, which was delivered at the School of Visual Arts in New York on January 9th, 2008 as a part of their MFA in Criticism and Writing Critics Lecture Series.

See pages 30-31.

We can think about many of these projects as not only appropriations and reappropriations of existing material but as reenactments of existing works. That would make the essay by Jennifer Allen about reenactment in contemporary art quite relevant. The poetry of Helen Mirra, the alphabet works of Auerbach and Boas, the retypings of Goldsmith, Kay and Morris, the indexes we create - they all reference an absence. They are all performed by the body through a process of tracing and transfer. They exist in a co-dependant relationship with their referents. And, this co-dependency is characteristic of most contemporary art. We live in a time when the idea of an autonomous art object is as corrupt as the idea of the pure original text. Reenactment always presupposes a missing body. Behind every reenactment there is a ‘little death,’ be it the beheading of the king or the passing episode in the life of an individual, grand of insignificant....Although no one really dies in the reenactment, all language becomes an epitaph.

Allen 395


396 Allen


See the words of Regis Debray, on page 202.

Allen 397


This seems especially true in the creation of critical and authoritative editions of literary texts.

See page 255 and William H. Gassâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; description of the flattening of literary history.

398 Allen


Or reader or viewer.

Allen 399


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The idea of the reproduced reenactment brings up the ideas of copyright and intellectual property rights. We like to think that when an reenactment, remix, rewriting, or new edition of something comes out, that it offers less in its borrowed content than it does in its modeling of the possibilities for future re-doings of culture.

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[We] think in terms of production and reception as much as creation, finding as much interest in the reactions of the public as in the direction of [us] the art makers. - Regis Debray

Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell your art school professor about this. How many times have we heard the question: but who is your audience?


This essay by Walter Benjamin, written along with his translations of Charles Baudelaire, offers some beautifully aged ideas about art, poetry, and translation. Every act of translation whether from one language to another or one form to another, is an act of editing. Is a translation different from an original because it is made with itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reception in mind? What makes a bad translation? When something gets lost in translation, where does it go? When something is translated once is it likely to be translated more than once? What are qualities that resist translation?

The differences between communication and transmission are discussed in detail in Regis Debrayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book Transmitting Culture.

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We have Deleuze’s The Fold sitting on our shelf waiting to be read. It has seemed fascinating but not urgent for too long now.

The metaphor of the echo is a beautiful one for thinking about appropriative works of art. One that Jan Verwoert also uses in his essay “Living With Ghosts: From Appropriation to Invocation.”

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For a humorous translation of HĂślderlinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s verses, see page 86.

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The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism By Jonathan Lethem

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. . . . —John Donne LOVE AND THEFT Consider this tale: a cultivated man of middle age looks back on the story of an amour fou, one beginning when, traveling abroad, he takes a room as a lodger. The moment he sees the daughter of the house, he is lost. She is a preteen, whose charms instantly enslave him. Heedless of her age, he becomes intimate with her. In the end she dies, and the narrator—marked by her forever—remains alone. The name of the girl supplies the title of the story: Lolita. The author of the story I’ve described, Heinz von Lichberg, published his tale of Lolita in 1916, forty years before Vladimir Nabokov’s novel. Lichberg later became a prominent journalist in the Nazi era, and his youthful works faded from view. Did Nabokov, who remained in Berlin until 1937, adopt Lichberg’s tale consciously? Or did the earlier tale exist for Nabokov as a hidden, unacknowledged memory? The history of literature is not without examples of this phenomenon, called cryptomnesia. Another hypothesis is that Nabokov, knowing Lichberg’s tale perfectly well, had set himself to that art of quotation that Thomas Mann, himself a master of it, called “higher cribbing.” Literature has always been a crucible in which familiar themes are continually recast. Little of what we admire in Nabokov’s Lolita is to be found in its predecessor; the former is in no way deducible from the latter. Still: did Nabokov consciously borrow and quote? “When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty.” The line comes from Don Siegel’s 1958 film noir, The Lineup, written by Stirling Silliphant. The film still haunts revival houses, likely thanks to Eli Wallach’s blazing portrayal of a sociopathic hit man and to Siegel’s long, sturdy auteurist career. Yet what were those words worth— to Siegel, or Silliphant, or their audience—in 1958? And again: what was the line worth when Bob Dylan heard it (presumably in some Greenwich Village repertory cinema), cleaned it up a little, and inserted it into “Absolutely Sweet Marie”? What are they worth now, to the culture at large? Appropriation has always played a key role in Dylan’s music. The songwriter has grabbed not only from a panoply of vintage Hollywood films but from Shakespeare and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Junichi Saga’s Confessions of a Yakuza. He also nabbed the title of Eric Lott’s study of minstrelsy for his 2001 album Love and Theft. One imagines Dylan liked the general resonance of the title, in which emotional misdemeanors stalk the sweetness of love, as they do so often in Dylan’s songs. Lott’s title is, of course, itself a riff on Leslie Fiedler’s Love and Death in the American Lethem 419


Novel, which famously identifies the literary motif of the interdependence of a white man and a dark man, like Huck and Jim or Ishmael and Queequeg—a series of nested references to Dylan’s own appropriating, minstrel-boy self. Dylan’s art offers a paradox: while it famously urges us not to look back, it also encodes a knowledge of past sources that might otherwise have little home in contemporary culture, like the Civil War poetry of the Confederate bard Henry Timrod, resuscitated in lyrics on Dylan’s newest record, Modern Times. Dylan’s originality and his appropriations are as one. The same might be said of all art. I realized this forcefully when one day I went looking for the John Donne passage quoted above. I know the lines, I confess, not from a college course but from the movie version of 84, Charing Cross Road with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. I checked out 84, Charing Cross Road from the library in the hope of finding the Donne passage, but it wasn’t in the book. It’s alluded to in the play that was adapted from the book, but it isn’t reprinted. So I rented the movie again, and there was the passage, read in voice-over by Anthony Hopkins but without attribution. Unfortunately, the line was also abridged so that, when I finally turned to the Web, I found myself searching for the line “all mankind is of one volume” instead of “all mankind is of one author, and is one volume.” My Internet search was initially no more successful than my library search. I had thought that summoning books from the vasty deep was a matter of a few keystrokes, but when I visited the website of the Yale library, I found that most of its books don’t yet exist as computer text. As a last-ditch effort I searched the seemingly more obscure phrase “every chapter must be so translated.” The passage I wanted finally came to me, as it turns out, not as part of a scholarly library collection but simply because someone who loves Donne had posted it on his homepage. The lines I sought were from Meditation 17 in Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, which happens to be the most famous thing Donne ever wrote, containing as it does the line “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” My search had led me from a movie to a book to a play to a website and back to a book. Then again, those words may be as famous as they are only because Hemingway lifted them for his book title. Literature has been in a plundered, fragmentary state for a long time. When I was thirteen I purchased an anthology of Beat writing. Immediately, and to my very great excitement, I discovered one William S. Burroughs, author of something called Naked Lunch, excerpted there in all its coruscating brilliance. Burroughs was then as radical a literary man as the world had to offer. Nothing, in all my experience of literature since, has ever had as strong an effect on my sense of the sheer possibilities of writing. Later, attempting to understand this impact, I discovered that Burroughs had incorporated snippets of other writers’ texts into his work, an action I knew my teachers would have called plagiarism. Some of these borrowings had been lifted from American science fiction of the Forties and Fifties, adding a secondary shock of recognition for me. By then I knew that this “cut-up method,” as Burroughs called it, was central to whatever he thought he was doing, and that he quite literally believed it to be akin to magic. When he wrote about his process, the hairs on my neck stood up, so palpable was the excitement. Burroughs was interrogating the universe with scissors and a paste pot, and the least imitative of authors was no plagiarist at all. CONTAMINATION ANXIETY In 1941, on his front porch, Muddy Waters recorded a song for the folklorist Alan Lomax. After singing the song, which he told Lomax was entitled “Country Blues,” Waters described how he came to write it. “I made it on about the eighth of October ‘38,” Waters said. “I was fixin’ a puncture on a car. I had been mistreated by a girl. I just felt blue, and the song fell into my mind and it come to me just like that and I started singing.” Then Lomax, who knew of the Robert Johnson recording called “Walkin’ Blues,” asked Waters if there were any other songs that used the same tune. “There’s been some blues played like that,” Waters replied. “This song comes from the cotton field and a boy once put a record out—Robert Johnson. He put it out as named ‘Walkin’ Blues.’ I heard the tune before I heard it on the record. I learned it from Son House.” In nearly one breath, Waters offers five accounts: his own active authorship: he “made it” on a specific date. Then the “passive” explanation: “it come to me just like that.” After Lomax raises the question of influence, Waters, without shame, misgivings, or trepidation, says that he heard a version by Johnson, but that his mentor, Son House, taught it to him. In the middle of that complex genealogy, Waters declares that “this song comes from the cotton field.” 420 Lethem


Blues and jazz musicians have long been enabled by a kind of “open source” culture, in which pre-existing melodic fragments and larger musical frameworks are freely reworked. Technology has only multiplied the possibilities; musicians have gained the power to duplicate sounds literally rather than simply approximate them through allusion. In Seventies Jamaica, King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry deconstructed recorded music, using astonishingly primitive pre-digital hardware, creating what they called “versions.” The recombinant nature of their means of production quickly spread to DJs in New York and London. Today an endless, gloriously impure, and fundamentally social process generates countless hours of music. Visual, sound, and text collage—which for many centuries were relatively fugitive traditions (a cento here, a folk pastiche there)—became explosively central to a series of movements in the twentieth century: futurism, cubism, Dada, musique concrète, situationism, pop art, and appropriationism. In fact, collage, the common denominator in that list, might be called the art form of the twentieth century, never mind the twenty-first. But forget, for the moment, chronologies, schools, or even centuries. As examples accumulate—Igor Stravinsky’s music and Daniel Johnston’s, Francis Bacon’s paintings and Henry Darger’s, the novels of the Oulipo group and of Hannah Crafts (the author who pillaged Dickens’s Bleak House to write The Bondwoman’s Narrative), as well as cherished texts that become troubling to their admirers after the discovery of their “plagiarized” elements, like Richard Condon’s novels or Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermons—it becomes apparent that appropriation, mimicry, quotation, allusion, and sublimated collaboration consist of a kind of sine qua non of the creative act, cutting across all forms and genres in the realm of cultural production. In a courtroom scene from The Simpsons that has since entered into the television canon, an argument over the ownership of the animated characters Itchy and Scratchy rapidly escalates into an existential debate on the very nature of cartoons. “Animation is built on plagiarism!” declares the show’s hot-tempered cartoon-producer-within-a-cartoon, Roger Meyers Jr. “You take away our right to steal ideas, where are they going to come from?” If nostalgic cartoonists had never borrowed from Fritz the Cat, there would be no Ren & Stimpy Show; without the Rankin/Bass and Charlie Brown Christmas specials, there would be no South Park; and without The Flintstones—more or less The Honeymooners in cartoon loincloths—The Simpsons would cease to exist. If those don’t strike you as essential losses, then consider the remarkable series of “plagiarisms” that links Ovid’s “Pyramus and Thisbe” with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, or Shakespeare’s description of Cleopatra, copied nearly verbatim from Plutarch’s life of Mark Antony and also later nicked by T. S. Eliot for The Waste Land. If these are examples of plagiarism, then we want more plagiarism. Most artists are brought to their vocation when their own nascent gifts are awakened by the work of a master. That is to say, most artists are converted to art by art itself. Finding one’s voice isn’t just an emptying and purifying oneself of the words of others but an adopting and embracing of filiations, communities, and discourses. Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos. Any artist knows these truths, no matter how deeply he or she submerges that knowing. What happens when an allusion goes unrecognized? A closer look at The Waste Land may help make this point. The body of Eliot’s poem is a vertiginous mélange of quotation, allusion, and “original” writing. When Eliot alludes to Edmund Spenser’s “Prothalamion” with the line “Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song,” what of readers to whom the poem, never one of Spenser’s most popular, is unfamiliar? (Indeed, the Spenser is now known largely because of Eliot’s use of it.) Two responses are possible: grant the line to Eliot, or later discover the source and understand the line as plagiarism. Eliot evidenced no small anxiety about these matters; the notes he so carefully added to The Waste Land can be read as a symptom of modernism’s contamination anxiety. Taken from this angle, what exactly is postmodernism, except modernism without the anxiety? SURROUNDED BY SIGNS The surrealists believed that objects in the world possess a certain but unspecifiable intensity that had been dulled by everyday use and utility. They meant to reanimate this dormant intensity, to bring their minds once again into close contact with the matter that made up their world. André Breton’s maxim “Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table” is an expression of the belief that simply placing objects in an unexpected context reinvigoLethem 421


rates their mysterious qualities. This “crisis” the surrealists identified was being simultaneously diagnosed by others. Martin Heidegger held that the essence of modernity was found in a certain technological orientation he called “enframing.” This tendency encourages us to see the objects in our world only in terms of how they can serve us or be used by us. The task he identified was to find ways to resituate ourselves vis-à-vis these “objects,” so that we may see them as “things” pulled into relief against the ground of their functionality. Heidegger believed that art had the great potential to reveal the “thingness” of objects. The surrealists understood that photography and cinema could carry out this reanimating process automatically; the process of framing objects in a lens was often enough to create the charge they sought. Describing the effect, Walter Benjamin drew a comparison between the photographic apparatus and Freud’s psychoanalytic methods. Just as Freud’s theories “isolated and made analyzable things which had heretofore floated along unnoticed in the broad stream of perception,” the photographic apparatus focuses on “hidden details of familiar objects,” revealing “entirely new structural formations of the subject.” It’s worth noting, then, that early in the history of photography a series of judicial decisions could well have changed the course of that art: courts were asked whether the photographer, amateur or professional, required permission before he could capture and print an image. Was the photographer stealing from the person or building whose photograph he shot, pirating something of private and certifiable value? Those early decisions went in favor of the pirates. Just as Walt Disney could take inspiration from Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr., the Brothers Grimm, or the existence of real mice, the photographer should be free to capture an image without compensating the source. The world that meets our eye through the lens of a camera was judged to be, with minor exceptions, a sort of public commons, where a cat may look at a king. Novelists may glance at the stuff of the world too, but we sometimes get called to task for it. For those whose ganglia were formed pre-TV, the mimetic deployment of pop-culture icons seems at best an annoying tic and at worst a dangerous vapidity that compromises fiction’s seriousness by dating it out of the Platonic Always, where it ought to reside. In a graduate workshop I briefly passed through, a certain gray eminence tried to convince us that a literary story should always eschew “any feature which serves to date it” because “serious fiction must be Timeless.” When we protested that, in his own wellknown work, characters moved about electrically lit rooms, drove cars, and spoke not Anglo-Saxon but postwar English— and further, that fiction he’d himself ratified as great, such as Dickens, was liberally strewn with innately topical, commercial, and timebound references—he impatiently amended his proscription to those explicit references that would date a story in the “frivolous Now.” When pressed, he said of course he meant the “trendy mass-popular-media” reference. Here, transgenerational discourse broke down. I was born in 1964; I grew up watching Captain Kangaroo, moon landings, zillions of TV ads, the Banana Splits, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I was born with words in my mouth—“Band-Aid,” “Q-tip,” “Xerox”—object-names as fixed and eternal in my logosphere as “taxicab” and “toothbrush.” The world is a home littered with pop-culture products and their emblems. I also came of age swamped by parodies that stood for originals yet mysterious to me—I knew Monkees before Beatles, Belmondo before Bogart, and “remember” the movie Summer of ‘42 from a Mad magazine satire, though I’ve still never seen the film itself. I’m not alone in having been born backward into an incoherent realm of texts, products, and images, the commercial and cultural environment with which we’ve both supplemented and blotted out our natural world. I can no more claim it as “mine” than the sidewalks and forests of the world, yet I do dwell in it, and for me to stand a chance as either artist or citizen, I’d probably better be permitted to name it. Consider Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer: Other people, so I have read, treasure memorable moments in their lives: the time one climbed the Parthenon at sunrise, the summer night one met a lonely girl in Central Park and achieved with her a sweet and natural relationship, as they say in books. I too once met a girl in Central Park, but it is not much to remember. What I remember is the time John Wayne killed three men with a carbine as he was falling to the dusty street in Stagecoach, and the time the kitten found Orson Welles in 422 Lethem


the doorway in The Third Man. Today, when we can eat Tex-Mex with chopsticks while listening to reggae and watching a YouTube rebroadcast of the Berlin Wall’s fall—i.e., when damn near everything presents itself as familiar—it’s not a surprise that some of today’s most ambitious art is going about trying to make the familiar strange. In so doing, in reimagining what human life might truly be like over there across the chasms of illusion, mediation, demographics, marketing, imago, and appearance, artists are paradoxically trying to restore what’s taken for “real” to three whole dimensions, to reconstruct a univocally round world out of disparate streams of flat sights. Whatever charge of tastelessness or trademark violation may be attached to the artistic appropriation of the media environment in which we swim, the alternative—to flinch, or tiptoe away into some ivory tower of irrelevance—is far worse. We’re surrounded by signs; our imperative is to ignore none of them. USEMONOPOLY The idea that culture can be property—intellectual property—is used to justify everything from attempts to force the Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing songs around campfires to the infringement suit brought by the estate of Margaret Mitchell against the publishers of Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone. Corporations like Celera Genomics have filed for patents for human genes, while the Recording Industry Association of America has sued music downloaders for copyright infringement, reaching out-of-court settlements for thousands of dollars with defendants as young as twelve. ASCAP bleeds fees from shop owners who play background music in their stores; students and scholars are shamed from placing texts facedown on photocopy machines. At the same time, copyright is revered by most established writers and artists as a birthright and bulwark, the source of nurture for their infinitely fragile practices in a rapacious world. Plagiarism and piracy, after all, are the monsters we working artists are taught to dread, as they roam the woods surrounding our tiny preserves of regard and remuneration. A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense. In this regard, few of us question the contemporary construction of copyright. It is taken as a law, both in the sense of a universally recognizable moral absolute, like the law against murder, and as naturally inherent in our world, like the law of gravity. In fact, it is neither. Rather, copyright is an ongoing social negotiation, tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation. Thomas Jefferson, for one, considered copyright a necessary evil: he favored providing just enough incentive to create, nothing more, and thereafter allowing ideas to flow freely, as nature intended. His conception of copyright was enshrined in the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” This was a balancing act between creators and society as a whole; second comers might do a much better job than the originator with the original idea. But Jefferson’s vision has not fared well, has in fact been steadily eroded by those who view the culture as a market in which everything of value should be owned by someone or other. The distinctive feature of modern American copyright law is its almost limitless bloating—its expansion in both scope and duration. With no registration requirement, every creative act in a tangible medium is now subject to copyright protection: your email to your child or your child’s finger painting, both are automatically protected. The first Congress to grant copyright gave authors an initial term of fourteen years, which could be renewed for another fourteen if the author still lived. The current term is the life of the author plus seventy years. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that each time Mickey Mouse is about to fall into the public domain, the mouse’s copyright term is extended. Even as the law becomes more restrictive, technology is exposing those restrictions as bizarre and arbitrary. When old laws fixed on reproduction as the compensable (or actionable) unit, it wasn’t because there was anything fundamentally invasive of an author’s rights in the making of a copy. Rather it was because copies were once easy to find and count, so they made Lethem 423


a useful benchmark for deciding when an owner’s rights had been invaded. In the contemporary world, though, the act of “copying” is in no meaningful sense equivalent to an infringement—we make a copy every time we accept an emailed text, or send or forward one—and is impossible anymore to regulate or even describe. At the movies, my entertainment is sometimes lately preceded by a dire trailer, produced by the lobbying group called the Motion Picture Association of America, in which the purchasing of a bootleg copy of a Hollywood film is compared to the theft of a car or a handbag—and, as the bullying supertitles remind us, “You wouldn’t steal a handbag!” This conflation forms an incitement to quit thinking. If I were to tell you that pirating DVDs or downloading music is in no way different from loaning a friend a book, my own arguments would be as ethically bankrupt as the MPAA’s. The truth lies somewhere in the vast gray area between these two overstated positions. For a car or a handbag, once stolen, no longer is available to its owner, while the appropriation of an article of “intellectual property” leaves the original untouched. As Jefferson wrote, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.” Yet industries of cultural capital, who profit not from creating but from distributing, see the sale of culture as a zero-sum game. The piano-roll publishers fear the record companies, who fear the cassette-tape manufacturers, who fear the online vendors, who fear whoever else is next in line to profit most quickly from the intangible and infinitely reproducible fruits of an artist’s labor. It has been the same in every industry and with every technological innovation. Jack Valenti, speaking for the MPAA: “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone.” Thinking clearly sometimes requires unbraiding our language. The word “copyright” may eventually seem as dubious in its embedded purposes as “family values,” “globalization,” and, sure, “intellectual property.” Copyright is a “right” in no absolute sense; it is a government-granted monopoly on the use of creative results. So let’s try calling it that—not a right but a monopoly on use, a “usemonopoly”—and then consider how the rapacious expansion of monopoly rights has always been counter to the public interest, no matter if it is Andrew Carnegie controlling the price of steel or Walt Disney managing the fate of his mouse. Whether the monopolizing beneficiary is a living artist or some artist’s heirs or some corporation’s shareholders, the loser is the community, including living artists who might make splendid use of a healthy public domain. THE BEAUTY OF SECOND USE A few years ago someone brought me a strange gift, purchased at MoMA’s downtown design store: a copy of my own first novel, Gun, With Occasional Music, expertly cut into the contours of a pistol. The object was the work of Robert The, an artist whose specialty is the reincarnation of everyday materials. I regard my first book as an old friend, one who never fails to remind me of the spirit with which I entered into this game of art and commerce—that to be allowed to insert the materials of my imagination onto the shelves of bookstores and into the minds of readers (if only a handful) was a wild privilege. I was paid $6,000 for three years of writing, but at the time I’d have happily published the results for nothing. Now my old friend had come home in a new form, one I was unlikely to have imagined for it myself. The gun-book wasn’t readable, exactly, but I couldn’t take offense at that. The fertile spirit of stray connection this appropriated object conveyed back to me—the strange beauty of its second use—was a reward for being a published writer I could never have fathomed in advance. And the world makes room for both my novel and Robert The’s gun-book. There’s no need to choose between the two. In the first life of creative property, if the creator is lucky, the content is sold. After the commercial life has ended, our tradition supports a second life as well. A newspaper is delivered to a doorstep, and the next day wraps fish or builds an archive. Most books fall out of print after one year, yet even within that period they can be sold in used bookstores and stored in libraries, quoted in reviews, parodied in magazines, described in conversations, and plundered for costumes for kids to wear on Halloween. The demarcation between various possible uses is beautifully graded and hard to define, the more so as artifacts distill into and repercuss through the realm of culture into which they’ve been entered, the more so as they engage 424 Lethem


the receptive minds for whom they were presumably intended. Active reading is an impertinent raid on the literary preserve. Readers are like nomads, poaching their way across fields they do not own—artists are no more able to control the imaginations of their audiences than the culture industry is able to control second uses of its artifacts. In the children’s classic The Velveteen Rabbit, the old Skin Horse offers the Rabbit a lecture on the practice of textual poaching. The value of a new toy lies not it its material qualities (not “having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle”), the Skin Horse explains, but rather in how the toy is used. “Real isn’t how you are made. . . . It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” The Rabbit is fearful, recognizing that consumer goods don’t become “real” without being actively reworked: “Does it hurt?” Reassuring him, the Skin Horse says: “It doesn’t happen all at once. . . . You become. It takes a long time. . . . Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.” Seen from the perspective of the toymaker, the Velveteen Rabbit’s loose joints and missing eyes represent vandalism, signs of misuse and rough treatment; for others, these are marks of its loving use. Artists and their surrogates who fall into the trap of seeking recompense for every possible second use end up attacking their own best audience members for the crime of exalting and enshrining their work. The Recording Industry Association of America prosecuting their own record-buying public makes as little sense as the novelists who bristle at autographing used copies of their books for collectors. And artists, or their heirs, who fall into the trap of attacking the collagists and satirists and digital samplers of their work are attacking the next generation of creators for the crime of being influenced, for the crime of responding with the same mixture of intoxication, resentment, lust, and glee that characterizes all artistic successors. By doing so they make the world smaller, betraying what seems to me the primary motivation for participating in the world of culture in the first place: to make the world larger. SOURCE HYPOCRISY, OR, DISNIAL The Walt Disney Company has drawn an astonishing catalogue from the work of others: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Song of the South, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, and, alas, Treasure Planet, a legacy of cultural sampling that Shakespeare, or De La Soul, could get behind. Yet Disney’s protectorate of lobbyists has policed the resulting cache of cultural materials as vigilantly as if it were Fort Knox—threatening legal action, for instance, against the artist Dennis Oppenheim for the use of Disney characters in a sculpture, and prohibiting the scholar Holly Crawford from using any Disney-related images—including artwork by Lichtenstein, Warhol, Oldenburg, and others—in her monograph Attached to the Mouse: Disney and Contemporary Art. This peculiar and specific act—the enclosure of commonwealth culture for the benefit of a sole or corporate owner—is close kin to what could be called imperial plagiarism, the free use of Third World or “primitive” artworks and styles by more privileged (and better-paid) artists. Think of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, or some of the albums of Paul Simon or David Byrne: even without violating copyright, those creators have sometimes come in for a certain skepticism when the extent of their outsourcing became evident. And, as when Led Zeppelin found themselves sued for back royalties by the bluesman Willie Dixon, the act can occasionally be an expensive one. To live outside the law, you must be honest: perhaps it was this, in part, that spurred David Byrne and Brian Eno to recently launch a “remix” website, where anyone can download easily disassembled versions of two songs from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, an album reliant on vernacular speech sampled from a host of sources. Perhaps it also explains why Bob Dylan has never refused a request for a sample. Kenneth Koch once said, “I’m a writer who likes to be influenced.” It was a charming confession, and a rare one. For so many artists, the act of creativity is intended as a Napoleonic imposition of one’s uniqueness upon the universe—après moi le déluge of copycats! And for every James Joyce or Woody Guthrie or Martin Luther King Jr., or Walt Disney, who gathered a constellation of voices in his work, there may seem to be some corporation or literary estate eager to stopper the bottle: cultural debts flow in, but they don’t flow out. We might call this tendency “source hypocrisy.” Or we could name it after the most pernicious source hypocrites of all time: Disnial. Lethem 425


YOU CAN’T STEAL A GIFT My reader may, understandably, be on the verge of crying, “Communist!” A large, diverse society cannot survive without property; a large, diverse, and modern society cannot flourish without some form of intellectual property. But it takes little reflection to grasp that there is ample value that the term “property” doesn’t capture. And works of art exist simultaneously in two economies, a market economy and a gift economy. The cardinal difference between gift and commodity exchange is that a gift establishes a feeling-bond between two people, whereas the sale of a commodity leaves no necessary connection. I go into a hardware store, pay the man for a hacksaw blade, and walk out. I may never see him again. The disconnectedness is, in fact, a virtue of the commodity mode. We don’t want to be bothered, and if the clerk always wants to chat about the family, I’ll shop elsewhere. I just want a hacksaw blade. But a gift makes a connection. There are many examples, the candy or cigarette offered to a stranger who shares a seat on the plane, the few words that indicate goodwill between passengers on the late-night bus. These tokens establish the simplest bonds of social life, but the model they offer may be extended to the most complicated of unions—marriage, parenthood, mentorship. If a value is placed on these (often essentially unequal) exchanges, they degenerate into something else. Yet one of the more difficult things to comprehend is that the gift economies—like those that sustain open-source software—coexist so naturally with the market. It is precisely this doubleness in art practices that we must identify, ratify, and enshrine in our lives as participants in culture, either as “producers” or “consumers.” Art that matters to us—which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience—is received as a gift is received. Even if we’ve paid a fee at the door of the museum or concert hall, when we are touched by a work of art something comes to us that has nothing to do with the price. The daily commerce of our lives proceeds at its own constant level, but a gift conveys an uncommodifiable surplus of inspiration. The way we treat a thing can change its nature, though. Religions often prohibit the sale of sacred objects, the implication being that their sanctity is lost if they are bought and sold. We consider it unacceptable to sell sex, babies, body organs, legal rights, and votes. The idea that something should never be commodified is generally known as inalienability or unalienability—a concept most famously expressed by Thomas Jefferson in the phrase “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .” A work of art seems to be a hardier breed; it can be sold in the market and still emerge a work of art. But if it is true that in the essential commerce of art a gift is carried by the work from the artist to his audience, if I am right to say that where there is no gift there is no art, then it may be possible to destroy a work of art by converting it into a pure commodity. I don’t maintain that art can’t be bought and sold, but that the gift portion of the work places a constraint upon our merchandising. This is the reason why even a really beautiful, ingenious, powerful ad (of which there are a lot) can never be any kind of real art: an ad has no status as gift; i.e., it’s never really for the person it’s directed at. The power of a gift economy remains difficult for the empiricists of our market culture to understand. In our times, the rhetoric of the market presumes that everything should be and can be appropriately bought, sold, and owned—a tide of alienation lapping daily at the dwindling redoubt of the unalienable. In free-market theory, an intervention to halt propertization is considered “paternalistic,” because it inhibits the free action of the citizen, now reposited as a “potential entrepreneur.” Of course, in the real world, we know that child-rearing, family life, education, socialization, sexuality, political life, and many other basic human activities require insulation from market forces. In fact, paying for many of these things can ruin them. We may be willing to peek at Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire or an eBay auction of the ova of fashion models, but only to reassure ourselves that some things are still beneath our standards of dignity. What’s remarkable about gift economies is that they can flourish in the most unlikely places—in run-down neighborhoods, on the Internet, in scientific communities, and among members of Alcoholics Anonymous. A classic example is commercial blood systems, which generally produce blood supplies of lower safety, purity, and potency than volunteer systems. A gift economy may be superior when it comes to maintaining a group’s commitment to certain extra-market values. 426 Lethem


THE COMMONS Another way of understanding the presence of gift economies—which dwell like ghosts in the commercial machine—is in the sense of a public commons. A commons, of course, is anything like the streets over which we drive, the skies through which we pilot airplanes, or the public parks or beaches on which we dally. A commons belongs to everyone and no one, and its use is controlled only by common consent. A commons describes resources like the body of ancient music drawn on by composers and folk musicians alike, rather than the commodities, like “Happy Birthday to You,” for which ASCAP, 114 years after it was written, continues to collect a fee. Einstein’s theory of relativity is a commons. Writings in the public domain are a commons. Gossip about celebrities is a commons. The silence in a movie theater is a transitory commons, impossibly fragile, treasured by those who crave it, and constructed as a mutual gift by those who compose it. The world of art and culture is a vast commons, one that is salted through with zones of utter commerce yet remains gloriously immune to any overall commodification. The closest resemblance is to the commons of a language: altered by every contributor, expanded by even the most passive user. That a language is a commons doesn’t mean that the community owns it; rather it belongs between people, possessed by no one, not even by society as a whole. Nearly any commons, though, can be encroached upon, partitioned, enclosed. The American commons include tangible assets such as public forests and minerals, intangible wealth such as copyrights and patents, critical infrastructures such as the Internet and government research, and cultural resources such as the broadcast airwaves and public spaces. They include resources we’ve paid for as taxpayers and inherited from previous generations. They’re not just an inventory of marketable assets; they’re social institutions and cultural traditions that define us as Americans and enliven us as human beings. Some invasions of the commons are sanctioned because we can no longer muster a spirited commitment to the public sector. The abuse goes unnoticed because the theft of the commons is seen in glimpses, not in panorama. We may occasionally see a former wetland paved; we may hear about the breakthrough cancer drug that tax dollars helped develop, the rights to which pharmaceutical companies acquired for a song. The larger movement goes too much unremarked. The notion of a commons of cultural materials goes more or less unnamed. Honoring the commons is not a matter of moral exhortation. It is a practical necessity. We in Western society are going through a period of intensifying belief in private ownership, to the detriment of the public good. We have to remain constantly vigilant to prevent raids by those who would selfishly exploit our common heritage for their private gain. Such raids on our natural resources are not examples of enterprise and initiative. They are attempts to take from all the people just for the benefit of a few. UNDISCOVERED PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE Artists and intellectuals despondent over the prospects for originality can take heart from a phenomenon identified about twenty years ago by Don Swanson, a library scientist at the University of Chicago. He called it “undiscovered public knowledge.” Swanson showed that standing problems in medical research may be significantly addressed, perhaps even solved, simply by systematically surveying the scientific literature. Left to its own devices, research tends to become more specialized and abstracted from the real-world problems that motivated it and to which it remains relevant. This suggests that such a problem may be tackled effectively not by commissioning more research but by assuming that most or all of the solution can already be found in various scientific journals, waiting to be assembled by someone willing to read across specialties. Swanson himself did this in the case of Raynaud’s syndrome, a disease that causes the fingers of young women to become numb. His finding is especially striking—perhaps even scandalous—because it happened in the ever-expanding biomedical sciences. Undiscovered public knowledge emboldens us to question the extreme claims to originality made in press releases and publishers’ notices: Is an intellectual or creative offering truly novel, or have we just forgotten a worthy precursor? Does solving certain scientific problems really require massive additional funding, or could a computerized search engine, Lethem 427


creatively deployed, do the same job more quickly and cheaply? Lastly, does our appetite for creative vitality require the violence and exasperation of another avant-garde, with its wearisome killing-the-father imperatives, or might we be better off ratifying the ecstasy of influence—and deepening our willingness to understand the commonality and timelessness of the methods and motifs available to artists? GIVE ALL A few years ago, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced a retrospective of the works of Dariush Mehrjui, then a fresh enthusiasm of mine. Mehrjui is one of Iran’s finest filmmakers, and the only one whose subject was personal relationships among the upper-middle-class intelligentsia. Needless to say, opportunities to view his films were—and remain—rare indeed. I headed uptown for one, an adaptation of J. D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, titled Pari, only to discover at the door of the Walter Reade Theater that the screening had been canceled: its announcement had brought threat of a lawsuit down on the Film Society. True, these were Salinger’s rights under the law. Yet why would he care that some obscure Iranian filmmaker had paid him homage with a meditation on his heroine? Would it have damaged his book or robbed him of some crucial remuneration had the screening been permitted? The fertile spirit of stray connection—one stretching across what is presently seen as the direst of international breaches—had in this case been snuffed out. The cold, undead hand of one of my childhood literary heroes had reached out from its New Hampshire redoubt to arrest my present-day curiosity. A few assertions, then: Any text that has infiltrated the common mind to the extent of Gone With the Wind or Lolita or Ulysses inexorably joins the language of culture. A map-turned-to-landscape, it has moved to a place beyond enclosure or control. The authors and their heirs should consider the subsequent parodies, refractions, quotations, and revisions an honor, or at least the price of a rare success. A corporation that has imposed an inescapable notion—Mickey Mouse, Band-Aid—on the cultural language should pay a similar price. The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors but “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. Contemporary copyright, trademark, and patent law is presently corrupted. The case for perpetual copyright is a denial of the essential gift-aspect of the creative act. Arguments in its favor are as un-American as those for the repeal of the estate tax. Art is sourced. Apprentices graze in the field of culture. Digital sampling is an art method like any other, neutral in itself. Despite hand-wringing at each technological turn—radio, the Internet—the future will be much like the past. Artists will sell some things but also give some things away. Change may be troubling for those who crave less ambiguity, but the life of an artist has never been filled with certainty. The dream of a perfect systematic remuneration is nonsense. I pay rent with the price my words bring when published in glossy magazines and at the same moment offer them for almost nothing to impoverished literary quarterlies, or speak them for free into the air in a radio interview. So what are they worth? What would they be worth if some future Dylan worked them into a song? Should I care to make such a thing impossible? Any text is woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages, which cut across it through and through in a vast stereophony. The citations that go to make up a text are anonymous, untraceable, and yet already read; they are quotations without inverted commas. The kernel, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and 428 Lethem


valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are secondhand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral caliber and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. Neurological study has lately shown that memory, imagination, and consciousness itself is stitched, quilted, pastiched. If we cut-and-paste our selves, might we not forgive it of our artworks? Artists and writers—and our advocates, our guilds and agents—too often subscribe to implicit claims of originality that do injury to these truths. And we too often, as hucksters and bean counters in the tiny enterprises of our selves, act to spite the gift portion of our privileged roles. People live differently who treat a portion of their wealth as a gift. If we devalue and obscure the gift-economy function of our art practices, we turn our works into nothing more than advertisements for themselves. We may console ourselves that our lust for subsidiary rights in virtual perpetuity is some heroic counter to rapacious corporate interests. But the truth is that with artists pulling on one side and corporations pulling on the other, the loser is the collective public imagination from which we were nourished in the first place, and whose existence as the ultimate repository of our offerings makes the work worth doing in the first place. As a novelist, I’m a cork on the ocean of story, a leaf on a windy day. Pretty soon I’ll be blown away. For the moment I’m grateful to be making a living, and so must ask that for a limited time (in the Thomas Jefferson sense) you please respect my small, treasured usemonopolies. Don’t pirate my editions; do plunder my visions. The name of the game is Give All. You, reader, are welcome to my stories. They were never mine in the first place, but I gave them to you. If you have the inclination to pick them up, take them with my blessing. KEY: I IS ANOTHER This key to the preceding essay names the source of every line I stole, warped, and cobbled together as I “wrote” (except, alas, those sources I forgot along the way). First uses of a given author or speaker are highlighted in red. Nearly every sentence I culled I also revised, at least slightly—for necessities of space, in order to produce a more consistent tone, or simply because I felt like it. TITLE The phrase “the ecstasy of influence,” which embeds a rebuking play on Harold Bloom’s “anxiety of influence,” is lifted from spoken remarks by Professor Richard Dienst of Rutgers. LOVE AND THEFT “. . . a cultivated man of middle age . . .” to “. . . hidden, unacknowledged memory?” These lines, with some adjustments for tone, belong to the anonymous editor or assistant who wrote the dust-flap copy of Michael Maar’s The Two Lolitas. Of course, in my own experience, dust-flap copy is often a collaboration between author and editor. Perhaps this was also true for Maar. “The history of literature . . .” to “. . . borrow and quote?” comes from Maar’s book itself. “Appropriation has always . . .” to “. . . Ishmael and Queequeg . . .” This paragraph makes a hash of remarks from an interview with Eric Lott conducted by David McNair and Jayson Whitehead, and incorporates both interviewers’ and interviewee’s observations. (The text-interview form can be seen as a commonly accepted form of multivocal writing. Most interviewers prime their subjects with remarks of their own—leading the witness, so to speak—and gently refine their subjects’ statements in the final printed transcript.) “I realized this . . .” to “. . . for a long time.” The anecdote is cribbed, with an elision to avoid appropriating a dead grandmother, from Jonathan Rosen’s The Talmud and the Internet. I’ve never seen 84, Charing Cross Road, nor searched the Web for a Lethem 429


Donne quote. For me it was through Rosen to Donne, Hemingway, website, et al. “When I was thirteen . . .” to “. . . no plagiarist at all.” This is from William Gibson’s “God’s Little Toys,” in Wired magazine. My own first encounter with William Burroughs, also at age thirteen, was less epiphanic. Having grown up with a painter father who, during family visits to galleries or museums, approvingly noted collage and appropriation techniques in the visual arts (Picasso, Claes Oldenburg, Stuart Davis), I was gratified, but not surprised, to learn that literature could encompass the same methods. CONTAMINATION ANXIETY “In 1941, on his front porch . . .” to “. . . ‘this song comes from the cotton field.’” Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs. “. . . enabled by a kind . . . freely reworked.” Kembrew McLeod, Freedom of Expression. In Owning Culture, McLeod notes that, as he was writing, he happened to be listening to a lot of old country music, and in my casual listening I noticed that six country songs shared exactly the same vocal melody, including Hank Thompson’s “Wild Side of Life,” the Carter Family’s “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes,” Roy Acuff ’s “Great Speckled Bird,” Kitty Wells’s “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” Reno & Smiley’s “I’m Using My Bible for a Roadmap,” and Townes Van Zandt’s “Heavenly Houseboat Blues.” . . . In his extensively researched book, Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Nick Tosches documents that the melody these songs share is both “ancient and British.” There were no recorded lawsuits stemming from these appropriations. . . . “. . . musicians have gained . . . through allusion.” Joanna Demers, Steal This Music. “In Seventies Jamaica . . .” to “. . . hours of music.” Gibson. “Visual, sound, and text collage . . .” to “. . . realm of cultural production.” This plunders, rewrites, and amplifies paragraphs from McLeod’s Owning Culture, except for the line about collage being the art form of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which I heard filmmaker Craig Baldwin say, in defense of sampling, in the trailer for a forthcoming documentary, Copyright Criminals. “In a courtroom scene . . .” to “. . . would cease to exist.” Dave Itzkoff, New York Times. “. . . the remarkable series of ‘plagiarisms’ . . .” to “. . . we want more plagiarism.” Richard Posner, combined from The BeckerPosner Blog and The Atlantic Monthly. “Most artists are brought . . .” to “. . . by art itself.” These words, and many more to follow, come from Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. Above any other book I’ve here plagiarized, I commend The Gift to your attention. “Finding one’s voice . . . filiations, communities, and discourses.” Semanticist George L. Dillon, quoted in Rebecca Moore Howard’s “The New Abolitionism Comes to Plagiarism.” “Inspiration could be . . . act never experienced.” Ned Rorem, found on several “great quotations” sites on the Internet. “Invention, it must be humbly admitted . . . out of chaos.” Mary Shelley, from her introduction to Frankenstein. “What happens . . .” to “. . . contamination anxiety.” Kevin J.H. Dettmar, from “The Illusion of Modernist Allusion and the Politics of Postmodern Plagiarism.”

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SURROUNDED BY SIGNS “The surrealists believed . . .” to the Walter Benjamin quote. Christian Keathley’s Cinephilia and History, or the Wind in the Trees, a book that treats fannish fetishism as the secret at the heart of film scholarship. Keathley notes, for instance, Joseph Cornell’s surrealist-influenced 1936 film Rose Hobart, which simply records “the way in which Cornell himself watched the 1931 Hollywood potboiler East of Borneo, fascinated and distracted as he was by its B-grade star”—the star, of course, being Rose Hobart herself. This, I suppose, makes Cornell a sort of father to computer-enabled fan-creator reworkings of Hollywood product, like the version of George Lucas’s The Phantom Menace from which the noxious Jar Jar Binks character was purged; both incorporate a viewer’s subjective preferences into a revision of a filmmaker’s work. “. . . early in the history of photography” to “. . . without compensating the source.” From Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig, the greatest of public advocates for copyright reform, and the best source if you want to get radicalized in a hurry. “For those whose ganglia . . .” to “. . . discourse broke down.” From David Foster Wallace’s essay “E Unibus Pluram,” reprinted in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I have no idea who Wallace’s “gray eminence” is or was. I inserted the example of Dickens into the paragraph; he strikes me as overlooked in the lineage of authors of “brand-name” fiction. “I was born . . . Mary Tyler Moore Show.” These are the reminiscences of Mark Hosler from Negativland, a collaging musical collective that was sued by U2’s record label for their appropriation of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Although I had to adjust the birth date, Hosler’s cultural menu fits me like a glove. “The world is a home . . . pop-culture products . . .” McLeod. “Today, when we can eat . . .” to “. . . flat sights.” Wallace. “We’re surrounded by signs, ignore none of them.” This phrase, which I unfortunately rendered somewhat leaden with the word “imperative,” comes from Steve Erickson’s novel Our Ecstatic Days. USEMONOPOLY “. . . everything from attempts . . .” to “defendants as young as twelve.” Robert Boynton, The New York Times Magazine, “The Tyranny of Copyright?” “A time is marked . . .” to “. . . what needs no defense.” Lessig, this time from The Future of Ideas. “Thomas Jefferson, for one . . .” to “‘. . . respective Writings and Discoveries.’” Boynton. “. . . second comers might do a much better job than the originator . . .” I found this phrase in Lessig, who is quoting Vaidhyanathan, who himself is characterizing a judgment written by Learned Hand. “But Jefferson’s vision . . . owned by someone or other.” Boynton. “The distinctive feature . . .” to “. . . term is extended.” Lessig, again from The Future of Ideas. “When old laws . . .” to “. . . had been invaded.” Jessica Litman, Digital Copyright. “‘I say to you . . . woman home alone.’” I found the Valenti quote in McLeod. Now fill in the blank: Jack Valenti is to the public domain as ______ is to ________. Lethem 431


THE BEAUTY OF SECOND USE “In the first . . .” to “. . . builds an archive.” Lessig. “Most books . . . one year . . .” Lessig. “Active reading is . . .” to “. . . do not own . . .” This is a mashup of Henry Jenkins, from his Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, and Michel de Certeau, whom Jenkins quotes. “In the children’s classic . . .” to “. . . its loving use.” Jenkins. (Incidentally, have the holders of the copyright to The Velveteen Rabbit had a close look at Toy Story? There could be a lawsuit there.) SOURCE HYPOCRISY, OR, DISNIAL “The Walt Disney Company . . . alas, Treasure Planet . . .” Lessig. “Imperial Plagiarism” is the title of an essay by Marilyn Randall. “. . . spurred David Byrne . . . My Life in the Bush of Ghosts . . .” Chris Dahlen, Pitchfork—though in truth by the time I’d finished, his words were so utterly dissolved within my own that had I been an ordinary cutting-and-pasting journalist it never would have occurred to me to give Dahlen a citation. The effort of preserving another’s distinctive phrases as I worked on this essay was sometimes beyond my capacities; this form of plagiarism was oddly hard work. “Kenneth Koch . . .” to “. . . déluge of copycats!” Emily Nussbaum, The New York Times Book Review. YOU CAN’T STEAL A GIFT “You can’t steal a gift.” Dizzy Gillespie, defending another player who’d been accused of poaching Charlie Parker’s style: “You can’t steal a gift. Bird gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it.’’ “A large, diverse society . . . intellectual property.” Lessig. “And works of art . . . ” to “. . . marriage, parenthood, mentorship.” Hyde. “Yet one . . . so naturally with the market.” David Bollier, Silent Theft. “Art that matters . . .” to “. . . bought and sold.” Hyde. “We consider it unacceptable . . .” to “‘. . . certain unalienable Rights . . .’” Bollier, paraphrasing Margaret Jane Radin’s Contested Commodities. “A work of art . . .” to “. . . constraint upon our merchandising.” Hyde. “This is the reason . . . person it’s directed at.” Wallace. “The power of a gift . . .” to “. . . certain extra-market values.” Bollier, and also the sociologist Warren O. Hagstrom, whom Bollier is paraphrasing. 432 Lethem


THE COMMONS “Einstein’s theory . . .” to “. . . public domain are a commons.” Lessig. “That a language is a commons . . . society as a whole.” Michael Newton, in the London Review of Books, reviewing a book called Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language by Daniel Heller-Roazen. The paraphrases of book reviewers are another covert form of collaborative culture; as an avid reader of reviews, I know much about books I’ve never read. To quote Yann Martel on how he came to be accused of imperial plagiarism in his Booker-winning novel Life of Pi, Ten or so years ago, I read a review by John Updike in the New York Times Review of Books [sic]. It was of a novel by a Brazilian writer, Moacyr Scliar. I forget the title, and John Updike did worse: he clearly thought the book as a whole was forgettable. His review—one of those that makes you suspicious by being mostly descriptive . . . oozed indifference. But one thing about it struck me: the premise. . . . Oh, the wondrous things I could do with this premise. Unfortunately, no one was ever able to locate the Updike review in question. “The American commons . . .” to “. . . for a song.” Bollier. “Honoring the commons . . .” to “. . . practical necessity.” Bollier. “We in Western . . . public good.” John Sulston, Nobel Prize‒winner and co-mapper of the human genome. “We have to remain . . .” to “. . . benefit of a few.” Harry S Truman, at the opening of the Everglades National Park. Although it may seem the height of presumption to rip off a president—I found claiming Truman’s stolid advocacy as my own embarrassing in the extreme—I didn’t rewrite him at all. As the poet Marianne Moore said, “If a thing had been said in the best way, how can you say it better?” Moore confessed her penchant for incorporating lines from others’ work, explaining, “I have not yet been able to outgrow this hybrid method of composition.” UNDISCOVERED PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE “. . . intellectuals despondent . . .” to “. . . quickly and cheaply?” Steve Fuller, The Intellectual. There’s something of Borges in Fuller’s insight here; the notion of a storehouse of knowledge waiting passively to be assembled by future users is suggestive of both “The Library of Babel” and “Kafka and his Precursors.” GIVE ALL “. . . one of Iran’s finest . . .” to “. . . meditation on his heroine?” Amy Taubin, Village Voice, although it was me who was disappointed at the door of the Walter Reade Theater. “The primary objective . . .” to “. . . unfair nor unfortunate.” Sandra Day O’Connor, 1991. “. . . the future will be much like the past” to “. . . give some things away.” Open-source film archivist Rick Prelinger, quoted in McLeod. “Change may be troubling . . . with certainty.” McLeod. “. . . woven entirely . . .” to “. . . without inverted commas.” Roland Barthes. “The kernel, the soul . . .” to “. . . characteristics of phrasing.” Mark Twain, from a consoling letter to Helen Keller, who had Lethem 433


suffered distressing accusations of plagiarism (!). In fact, her work included unconsciously memorized phrases; under Keller’s particular circumstances, her writing could be understood as a kind of allegory of the “constructed” nature of artistic perception. I found the Twain quote in the aforementioned Copyrights and Copywrongs, by Siva Vaidhyanathan. “Old and new . . .” to “. . . we all quote.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. These guys all sound alike! “People live differently . . . wealth as a gift.” Hyde. “. . . I’m a cork . . .” to “. . . blown away.” This is adapted from The Beach Boys song “‘Til I Die,” written by Brian Wilson. My own first adventure with song-lyric permissions came when I tried to have a character in my second novel quote the lyrics “There’s a world where I can go and/Tell my secrets to/In my room/In my room.” After learning the likely expense, at my editor’s suggestion I replaced those with “You take the high road/I’ll take the low road/I’ll be in Scotland before you,” a lyric in the public domain. This capitulation always bugged me, and in the subsequent British publication of the same book I restored the Brian Wilson lyric, without permission. Ocean of Story is the title of a collection of Christina Stead’s short fiction. Saul Bellow, writing to a friend who’d taken offense at Bellow’s fictional use of certain personal facts, said: “The name of the game is Give All. You are welcome to all my facts. You know them, I give them to you. If you have the strength to pick them up, take them with my blessing.” I couldn’t bring myself to retain Bellow’s “strength,” which seemed presumptuous in my new context, though it is surely the more elegant phrase. On the other hand, I was pleased to invite the suggestion that the gifts in question may actually be light and easily lifted. KEY TO THE KEY The notion of a collage text is, of course, not original to me. Walter Benjamin’s incomplete Arcades Project seemingly would have featured extensive interlaced quotations. Other precedents include Graham Rawle’s novel Diary of an Amateur Photographer, its text harvested from photography magazines, and Eduardo Paolozzi’s collage-novel Kex, cobbled from crime novels and newspaper clippings. Closer to home, my efforts owe a great deal to the recent essays of David Shields, in which diverse quotes are made to closely intertwine and reverberate, and to conversations with editor Sean Howe and archivist Pamela Jackson. Last year David Edelstein, in New York magazine, satirized the Kaavya Viswanathan plagiarism case by creating an almost completely plagiarized column denouncing her actions. Edelstein intended to demonstrate, through ironic example, how bricolage such as his own was ipso facto facile and unworthy. Although Viswanathan’s version of “creative copying” was a pitiable one, I differ with Edelstein’s conclusions. The phrase Je est un autre, with its deliberately awkward syntax, belongs to Arthur Rimbaud. It has been translated both as “I is another” and “I is someone else,” as in this excerpt from Rimbaud’s letters: For I is someone else. If brass wakes up a trumpet, it is not its fault. To me this is obvious: I witness the unfolding of my own thought: I watch it, I listen to it: I make a stroke of the bow: the symphony begins to stir in the depths, or springs on to the stage. If the old fools had not discovered only the false significance of the Ego, we should not now be having to sweep away those millions of skeletons which, since time immemorial, have been piling up the fruits of their one-eyed intellects, and claiming to be, themselves, the authors!

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446 Verwoert


Verwoert 447


448 Verwoert


Verwoert 449


(a truly deficient)

Abram, David, 266-270 accuracy, 63-72, 127, Ader, Bas Jan, 10-11, 274-275 Adkins, Brad, 315 Adorno, Theodor, 395 Akon, 272-273 Allen, Jennifer, 396-407 alphabet, 388-389, 266-270, 372-376 appropriation, 44, 60-61, 194-195, 202, 315, 344, 352-365, 394, 414 art and life, 37, 197 art criticism, 13, 204, 226-245 art history, 204, 299-314, 342-348 art school, 80, 250-251, 407 Aryan Supremacy, 67, 71, 350 Auerbach, Tauba, 389 Ault, Julie, 261 authorship as shared, 15-22, 60-61, 71, 163-167, 202, 194-195, 272-273, 292-295, 349, 352-379, 385, 388-393, 395 417 traditional notions of, 18, 25, 47, 67 and literature, 24-59, 61, 253-264 authorial signature, 18, 173-175 authorial revision, 87, 176-179, 180-193, 227-251 Babington, Thomas, 67, 176, Bach, Johann Sebastian, 382 Balzac, Honore de, 24, 30, 108 BANK, 214-215 Barthes, Roland, 24-30, 104 Barzun, Jacques, 63-72 Baudrillard, 202 Bauhaus, 80, 89 Beckett, Samuel, 59 Benjamin, Walter, 172-173, 202, 396, 372 375, 409-417 Beria, Lavrentiy, 340-341 Big Bird, 247 biblical literalism, 104 blogs, 104, 248, Boas, Pat, 378-379, 388 Bonnard, Pierre, 178 boredom, 162, 366-372 Borges, Jorge Luis, 202, 279-289 BrĂźggeman, Stefan, 275 Buren, Daniel, 204 Cage, John, 288, 370 Calvin and Hobbes, 325

Index

Calvino, Italo, 69 censorship, 273, 312-314-320, 326-333, 351 Central Intelligence Agency, 316-319 chess, 90, 178 Christianity, 322, 326-327 Clemens, Samuel, 127 Coca-Cola, 349 co-dependency, 194-195, 274, 352-365, 372-375, 395-396 collaboration, 60, 19, 352-365, Commins, Saxe, 13, 213, 147, 213 compromise, 72, 204 conservation, 75, 299-311 consistency, 69 copy editing, 63-72, 127, 195-196, 214 215 copying, 60-61, 106, 251, 396 counterpoint, 380-382 curation, 15-22, 60-61, 104-124, 206-211, 342-348 curator, roles of, 13, 15-22, 342-348 Danger Mouse, 61 Daniel, Carter A., 180-193 Dante, 218 Darrieussecq, Marie, 174 death, 202-204, 205, 251, 396; of the author, 24-31, 41, 80; and writing, 36 37 Debord, Guy, 224 Debray, Regis, 202, 406-407 DeLillo, Don, 15 Deller, Jeremy, 398 Delueze, Gilles, 84 denial, 322, 323, 338 Derrida, Jacques, 82-84 discourse, 204; control of, 58, 67, 83-85 DJ Spooky, 61 Doesburg, Theo van, 89 double-dipping, 62 Drucker, Johanna, 395 Duchamp, Marcel, 15-16, 314, 127, 314 Durant, Sam, 350 Duras, Margeurite, 104-109 echo, 414, 396-407 Eco, Umberto, 111-124 egalitarianism, 63, 104, 246-249, 397 Eisenstein, Sergei, 352, 380-382, 352 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 61, 219 end, of art, 78; of editing, 77-102

error, 65, 75, 126, 133-145, 147, 148-155, 157, 169, 171, 226-245 Faulkner, William, 75 film, 380-382, 290-291, 330 Flaubert, Gustave, 328-331 footnotes, 340-341; as superfluous, 74-75 form and content, 93, 163-167, 169, 204, 292-295 Foucault, Michel, 9, 24, 33-58, 83-85 Fox, Dan, 246-249 Franzen, Jonathan, 60-61 Freud, Sigmund, 51-53, 56, 132, 261, 385, 398 Gander, Ryan, 292-295 garbage, 206 Gass, Wiliam H., 31, 253-264 ghostwriting, 64, 294 Goldsmith, Kenneth, 162-167, 366-371 Goldstein, Jack, 18 Gould, Glenn, 382 Gray, Gorman, 106 Green, Graham, 61 Greenburg, Dan, 312-314 Groys, Boris, 15-22, 345-348 Guattari, Felix, 84 Guetta, David, 272-273 Hardt, Michael, 71 harshness, 226-245 Hegemann, Helene, 60-61 Hemingway, Ernest, 175 Hermans, Willem Frederik, 178-179 Hilliard, John, 7 Hitler, Adolf, 67 Hofstader, Richard, 220 HĂślderlin, Fredrich, 86, 416 Hsieh, Tehching, 197 humanism, 77-78 identity, 127, 135, 195-201, 212 indexing, 195, 372-376 installation art, 16-18, 294-295 intention, 71, 75, 127, 133 intertextuality, 60-61, 81-87, 147 Joyce, James, 60-61, 123-126, 133, 370 Kabakov, Ilya, 206-211 Kaczynski, Ted, 128 Kay, Emma, 391-393 Keaton, Buster, 352 Kelley, Mike, 407 Kennedy, Randy, 60-61 Kester, Grant, 223


kitsch, 338 Kosuth, Joseph, 169 Kundera, Milan, 338-339 Kuspit, Donald, 226-245 language as animistic, 266-270 as foreign, 9, 123-124, 179 history of, 266-270 and meaning, 68-72, 157, 277 as needlessly changed, 63-72 translation between, 409-417 La Porte, Dominique, 338 Letelier, Orlando, 316-319 Ligon, Glenn, 194-195 loss, 75, 126, 396, 398, 409 Louis, Joe, 350 love, 71 mad libs, 387 Madame Bovary, 328-331 Mallarme, 25 Manet, Edouard, 312 marginalia, 215, 217-224 Marston, Rebecca May, 292-295 martyrdom, 37, 274 Matta-Clark, Gordan, 296-297 McCarthy, Paul, 407 McLeod, Randall, 130-145 mediocracy, 104-105 mediology, 81, 145 Melville, Herman, 74-75, 148-155, 352 Merrifield, Andy, 224 Michealangelo, 299-311 Middleton, Thomas, 89-98 Mirra, Helen, 352365 Modernism, 78, 89, 305, 344 Mondrian, Piet, 89 Monk, Jonathan, 204 Montano, Linda, 197 Morris, Simon, 385 mothing, 75 museum, 20-21, 99, 178, 204, 312 Nabakov, Vladimir, 75 naming, 42, 67-68, 127, 128, 181, 212 Negri, Antoni, 71 New Historicism, 87, 342-343 New York Times, 368-370-371, 378-379, 388, 333-335, 60-61, 128 omission, as willful, 55, 239, 274,-275, 279-291 originality, 60-61, 309, 384 Orlan, 197 overpopulation, 104 parataxis, 376-382, 385, 387 Paulsen, Calder Gray, 384 Piper, Adrian, 226-245 plagiarism, 60-61, 251 plastic surgery, 197

propane, 31 proximity, 81-87 pseudonym, 127, 135, 212 punctuation, 157-167, 178 reader response, 97, 215-251, 352-365 reading and animisim, 264-270 difficulty of, 144, 161-162, 158, 213 experience of, 65, 144, 213, 250-251, 264 great works of literature, 75, 111-124 and forgiveness, 75 and imperialism, 70 recursively, 158, 255-256 as revision, 13, 147 as sport, 253-254 and suspicion, 65, 182 unpublished manuscripts, 104-124 rearrangement, 10, 64, 139-141, 196-197, 260-261, 352-365 reception, 60-61, 90, 204, 406-407 reenactment, 396-407 reflexivity, 93, 163-167, 169, 204, 292-295 Reformation, the, 77-78 remix, 60-61, 163-167, 194-195, 215, 315, 352-365, repetition, 396 reproduction, 309-311, 404-405 revision, 63-72, 87, 176-193, 312-314, 333 335, 337, 340-341 re-writing books, 385, 366-371 ,385 history, 312-314, 333-335, 339-343 Rolling Stones, The, 157 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 205 Ruscha, Ed, 320 satire, 111-124, 214-215, 312-314 scissors, 5, 61, 377 Shakespeare, William, 78-102, 393 shaving, 196-197 shit, 338 Simpson, Bennett, 80 Slappe, Stephen, 290-291 Smith, Daniel, 322-323 Solondz, Todd, 330 spelling, 86, Stark, Frances, 250-251, 274 Stein, Gertrude, 158-167, 169, 254-255, 260-261, 370 Tansey, Mark, 202-203 Taylor, Gary, 77-102, 147 technology, developments of, 63, 79, 104, 137, 247-249 telephone, the game of, 147 Texas, 333 textual scholarship, 77-102, 130-145, Thomas, Hank Willis, 194

Tiravanija, Rikrit, 215 traces, 38-39, 202-204 translation, 147, 148-155, 179, 274, 409 417; and translatability, 274, 410 transmission, 132, 409-412 Twain, Mark, 127 Tzara, Tristan, 377 utopia, 22, 104 Wallace, David Foster, 276-277 Warhol, Andy, 212, 370 Watterson, Bill, 325 Wegman, William, 196-197, 394 Wei Wei, Ai, 349 Weil-Garris Brandt, Kathleen, 299-311 West, Nathaneal, 180-193 Whitman, Walt, 204 Williams, William Carlos, 387 Wilson, Fred, 342-343 Withers, Ernest, 194 Wordsworth, William, 221 writing, and animism, 264-270 in books, 215-224 design of, 137-138 experience of, 172, 178, 366-372 mechanics of, 63-72, 133, 157, 169, 171 for publication, 104-109, 247-251 and self-deprecation, 248, 274 visual studies. 17 Zizek, Slavoj, 86, 222, 340-341 Zeus, 31


A Limited Anthology of Edits  

An annotated reader that aggregates and synthesizes a wide selection of materials concerning the intersections of art, editing, censorship,...

A Limited Anthology of Edits  

An annotated reader that aggregates and synthesizes a wide selection of materials concerning the intersections of art, editing, censorship,...

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