Content and interpretation

Kenneth Goldsmith’s lecture on Uncreative Writing, 2014

“It’s crucial to know that language is loaded with expression and emotion and it doesn’t take much to draw that out […] Writer’s are working with loaded material”

“contemporary writing is the evacuation of content […] the future of writing is the managing of emptiness”


 

Susan Sontag’s essay Against Interpretation, 1964

“The fact is, all Western consciousness of and reflection upon art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It is through this theory that art as such – above and beyond given works of art – becomes problematic, in need of defense. And it is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content,” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.”

“[…] In fact, a great deal of today’s art may be understood as motivated by a flight from interpretation. To avoid interpretation, art may become parody. Or it may become abstract. Or it may become (“merely”) decorative. Or it may become non-art.”

“I am speaking mainly of the situation in America, of course. Interpretation runs rampant here in those arts with a feeble and negligible avant-garde: fiction and the drama. Most American novelists and playwrights are really either journalists or gentlemen sociologists and psychologists. They are writing the literary equivalent of program music. And so rudimentary, uninspired, and stagnant has been the sense of what might be done with form in fiction and drama that even when the content isn’t simply information, news, it is still peculiarly visible, handier, more exposed. To the extent that novels and plays (inAmerica), unlike poetry and painting and music, don’t reflect any interesting concern with changes in their form, these arts remain prone to assault by interpretation.”


The escape from art having to justify itself, to have content.

 

 

 

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