and Romanticism over at Digital Emunction. As I stated in the comments stream of Johannes' post on the subject, I was surprised by the following attempt to equate "productive artist genius type" with "fighter against capitalism":
"If I were more hip than I am, I might say that the division of labor between the artist and artisan is unthinkable outside capitalism, which deploys the same split to divide a population of collars into white and blue."
The idea of Artist-as-genius is not only a product of Romanticism, but also early-modern capitalism, hand in hand with the genesis of copyright law. If I'm not mistaken, the whole Fluxus ethos, langpo's penchant for collaboration, and various "shared identity" projects undertaken by movements such as neoism, or John Cage, Jackson Mac Low et al working in aleatory writing, in the latter half of last century were all deliberate attempts to undermine such ideas. There is, of course room to dispute the levels of success of these various projects - Kent rightly states that it is "hard to see how two or five legal Author names on a text instead of one is really much of an "undermining" of anything". However I do think that these arguments, to a greater or lesser degree (especially around the origins of copyright) still stand.
However another thing that's been bugging me about Bobby's piece is the argument he sets out about the Idea vs. Execution:
"But there’s something else in there, too, isn’t there? The kind of equivocation Rasula describes isn’t just about resisting completion, à la Kafka or Beckett or Language poetry. As I put it to John in an email, Rasula’s equivocation also seems like a Trojan horse for the Andy Warhol/Factory kind of of artmaking, whose directest [sic] and purest terminus in writing is Kenny Goldsmith’s uncreativity. Once you insist that the idea matters more than the execution, you’re not talking about art, you’re talking about outsourcing.
"[...] What does matter is matter: which is to say that art is different from thinking not in its madeness (which is also a quality of thought) but in its thingness, its essential contact with non-neuronal matter.
"[...] The real equivocators in Rasula’s schematic aren’t Valéry or Joyce, they’re Koons and Hirst, purveyors of the $100 million idea that someone else can go worry about putting together, just like an iPhone or Subaru."
The problem with this is, that if one hold these views about (visual) art - and extrapolates them into literature (through Kenny Goldsmith, et al.) then this brings up very complex issues surrounding the distribution/dissemination of literary works, namely through the most popular mode, the book. (this being said the criticism of Warhol, Koons and Hirst doesn't hold water, as it would require, "Once you insist that the idea matters more than the execution", that the execution of their works is poor - and this is a wholly different matter than that of concept versus craft).
Who produces the book? And, in regard to said argument, what is the difference between, say, Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons and a Subaru?
What is really at question here is where the (literary) work exists, and how one conceptualizes the text-as-object's existence; as part of a book-object (a la Joanna Drucker's work at Granary, or Alan Loney's various presses), or as a matrix of signifiers the vehicle for which is secondary.
I'm not going to draw any conclusions as yet, but these are interesting, and important, issues.There's a host of good material out there on these issues. If I may recommenced any, they would be A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections about the Book & Writing Edited by Steven Clay and Jerome Rothenberg (Granary), and the Collected essays of Alan Loney, Reading Saying Making, which I suspect is out of print.