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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age
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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  240 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of literature, including word processing, databasing, identity ciphering, and intensive programming, inspire the reinvention of writing? The Internet and the digital environment present writers with new challenges and opportunities to reconceive creativity, authorship, and their relationship to language. Confront ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Columbia University Press (first published July 15th 2011)
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Gerard Brown
May 10, 2013 Gerard Brown rated it really liked it
I preferred Goldsmith's book to Marcus Boon's In Praise of Copying. I am now eager to read Marge Perloff's Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century. I'm still partial to Hillel Schwartz's overwhelming The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles, but I appreciated Goldsmith's connecting interesting writing ideas to the visual arts in his book, and enjoyed a number of his case studies. At the end of the day, I think we become ourselves through copying i ...more
Derek Fenner
Nov 20, 2011 Derek Fenner rated it really liked it
But the callow merlin found it very difficult to enlist his liberty in the cause for which he had chosen obscurity. Self-hooded---caged, most of the time, by his own will---through starving for prey and dreaming of empyreal conquest, he brooded over the unending desire that diverted his imagination to visions urged upon it by the foremost pules of his body. Or else he lay pinioned by the demon of sloth who slipped in through the open door when he was all prepared for an annunciation muse to rewa ...more
Philip Cherny
Two words in response to this text: “NO DUH!” This text is way behind the times. After Barthes killed the (already long-dead) author, after Borges swarmed aspiring academics and writers in an labyrinthine sea of infinite information, after Duchamp turned art into readymades and then Levine appropriated those readymades, blah, blah, blah...this book seems to rub in my face what I already know. To make matters worse, the author blames it on the Internet, as if this hackneyed conception of the “end ...more
Diego Mora
Sep 12, 2015 Diego Mora rated it it was amazing
Kenneth Goldsmith explica su clase en la U de Pennsilvania: trabajan siempre con la laptop abierta conectada a Second Life y todos los trabajos son plagios y/o copias de otros. A partir de ahí, cada estudiante debe defender esta copia como suya. Lo que Goldsmith demostró es que es imposible que no aparezca la voz del plagiarista: “the suppresion osself-expression is imposible”. Y justifica así la escritura no-creativa: “If it’s a matter of simply cutting and pasting the entire Internet into a Mi ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
I expected to brush up against some ideas here, as Goldsmith is sort of advocating conceptual writing as the next necessary frontier of literature (luckily not at the exclusion of extant forms). With this kind of "uncreative writing" he says “We move from assuming a readership to embracing a thinkership." The work mentioned as examples are very much thinkpieces, as opposed to what a large part of the “canon” can be considered as thinkandfeelpieces. Part of my hesitance to accept uncreative writi ...more
Tara Brabazon
Nov 07, 2014 Tara Brabazon rated it really liked it
I despise textbooks. For me, they capture the anti-intellectual 'dumbed down' imperative of higher education. Generic, standardized, low-level 'knowledge' masquerading as scholarship. But Kenneth Goldsmith's _Uncreative Writing_ is the only book I would use to 'teach' writing. Indeed, if I was teaching writing, I would demand that students read this book _before_ entering the course.

Goldsmith understands digitization, the internet, the proliferation of information, plagiarism, remixing and appro
Feb 17, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I've been teaching an article that served as a precursor to this monograph for years and am impressed with the overall impetus behind both. Specifically, Goldsmith argues that literary arts might benefit from copying and manipulating prose in the same way that visual and music artists have for quite some time. Goldsmith is driven to make this argument by something slightly different than what makes others advocates for such appropriation. That is, he doesn't fall into the Jonathan Lethem school ...more
Mark Noack
Check out Conrad Aiken's "Inscriptions in Sundry Places," just as a jumping off point, to begin to get an idea of how not-revolutionary the basic ideas in this text are in literary terms. The revolutionary aspect is, of course, that now, with our modern information glut, anyone can sit at home & produce massive texts of such banality that they cannot be read! Machines are writing for other machines! (so what?)

It is not that this text does not contain good ideas or that appropriation cannot
Dec 10, 2011 amelia added it
this book was full of typos and subject-verb disagreements. but other than those distractions, the book was fascinating.
Golosina Caníbal
May 01, 2016 Golosina Caníbal rated it it was amazing
Goldsmith me genera una contradicción lectora muy particular: no sé si es un genio profético o es un ladri snob. Algunas de sus ideas retoman postulados ya vistos, ya leídos de Duchamp, Warhol o el concretismo; sin embargo, Goldsmith tiene la astucia de traspolar esos planteos a la escritura y a la literatura. Cuando apunta que la incidencia de Internet sobre la escritura es solo comparable con la de la fotografía en la pintura, estoy casi totalmente de acuerdo. Y esa incidencia y sus consecuenc ...more
Mills College Library
808.00285 G6242 2011
Nicolás Rivas
Jul 13, 2014 Nicolás Rivas rated it liked it
Mostly, a finely selected collection and brief critiques of new writing techniques. The thoughts and ideas that try to stitch all together are old and many times repeated, and come mostly from the visual arts. In that sense the book feels uncomplete, failing to provide a maniphest for the new kind of writing being born in the data age; the last chapter is definitely not enough. It is anyway entertaining, interesting, and even sometimes provides hints to deeper ideas that writing so desperately n ...more
Jun 08, 2012 Matt rated it liked it
I think I liked this one more than David Shield's _Reality Hunger_, which has a kind of similar focus-- or at least Shield's book embodies some of Goldsmith's ideas here. But I'm not especially convinced by either writer-thinker.

In essence, Goldsmith wants to reconfigure the way we think about writing, to make "literature" mimic what he takes to be the way language is used in a digital space. This is and isn't interesting, I think.

To make his point, Goldsmith has two basic strategies: first, he
David Glenn Dixon
Goldsmith is brisk, entertaining, and almost completely unconvincing. He never tackles a thorny issue when he can give it a glancing blow. The book feels speed-written (assuming here an authorial analogue to Evelyn Wood). Behind all his insistent rhetoric, Goldsmith seems to understand that what he most desires--a remaking of literature as sweeping as the redefinition of visual art in the 1960s--is beyond his grasp. And even digitized cutting and pasting can't give it to him. (That we still call ...more
Fluffy Singler
Aug 31, 2014 Fluffy Singler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I don't know that I agree with everything Goldsmith says, but his ideas are provocative and there is much here of worth to writers and writing teachers. There are controversial things to discuss and also to try with composition classes as well as creative writing. This is a charming and useful book.
Anthony Roberts
Feb 22, 2015 Anthony Roberts rated it did not like it
To encourage a writer to cease to be creative.
To remove the soul from writing and call it modern. To penalize thought and reward a lack of it. To add the "but you're always creative!" As some sort of epiphany at the end.
This isn't art. This is near beer. This is aspertame. This is sex without orgasm.
Charlie Manis
Jan 10, 2015 Charlie Manis rated it it was ok
Meh. Heard it was controversial in the creative writing community, but found its claims to be pretty tepid.
Renata Ferreira
May 16, 2014 Renata Ferreira rated it liked it
O escritor parece que pensa mais rápido do que escreve. Cheio de errinhos de tipografia, mas bem legal, diferente.
E Walburg
It was all right, with some decent commentary on certain conceptual and contemporary art theory, as well as including some interesting comparisons between the art and literary world. However, I just couldn't get over this great aura of nihilism from the book (not at all intended by the author). Perhaps I was just reading the nihilism into the text. Interesting read for a college english class, if tempered with a good professor and engaging class discussion. Otherwise it just sort of made me shru ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Finlay rated it it was ok
Whatever. Wanted to like this, but it had no substance, and the author got off on the wrong foot with me by not understanding what a binary file is. Still, there were a few interesting references like Sol LeWitt's wall drawings.
Aug 11, 2012 Sandi rated it liked it
I like this book only because it gives a very quotable voice to postmodern ideas I love to argue against, replete with blatant logical contradictions. It does have a really good amount of examples of modern/postmodern "uncreative" art, so it is a useful jumping-off point to further research of these artists and art forms. However, I have to agree with many of the other reviewers: the typos are very noticeable. Would Goldsmith care? Probably not.
Jun 16, 2013 Brooks rated it really liked it
Context versus content, Goldsmith is arguing strongly in favor of context. Writers don't need to be original, writing can be art when it is framed the right way (pun intended).

I like reading about literary movements, so I enjoyed this. Maybe not a lot here for someone who is already familiar with ideas like flarf, but having it in one place and getting to spend some time with these ideas was worth it for me.
Adrian Deans
Apr 24, 2012 Adrian Deans rated it it was ok
You're kidding Goldsmith!

Seriously, I do not believe that these are his real opinions. He's just trying to be provocative to make a name for himself. And on top of all that the book breaks all his own rules, far too original and cogently argued to be considered uncreative by his own standards.

And what's with all the typos? I've seen less typos in self-published stuff!
Lesley Battler
Oct 05, 2012 Lesley Battler rated it really liked it
Shelves: keeper
Goldsmith challenges writers to rethink their concepts of creativity and authorship in today's digital environment.I especially appreciated the clarity, humour and accessibility of his style. This book inspired me to try some of the techniques so engagingly described.
Feb 16, 2012 Dennis rated it it was amazing
You should get this. Don't think it is outdated, as it is FRESH! Kenny G includes his own strategies he used with students. Overall, I would never knock a work of uncreative genius!
Mar 16, 2015 Tracy rated it really liked it
I started this a few years ago when I first began thinking about writing as an experiment. It's a strong introduction that plants seeds to be used to find really interesting art.
Jul 13, 2012 Tara rated it really liked it
Provocative essays about curating, collating, and manipulating language and texts—and about how such work is a new form of authorship.
Apr 07, 2013 Will rated it liked it
About a fourth of it was really exciting and the rest completely unconvincing, but all of it was thought provoking.
Anterobot Garcia
Jul 02, 2012 Anterobot Garcia rated it really liked it
A surprisingly fun text - I plan to integrate many of these ideas within my courses.
Mugren Al-Ohaly
Jul 29, 2015 Mugren Al-Ohaly rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Some parts were interesting. However, the rest sounded like gibberish.
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