“I’m attempting a reproduction more than an expression.”

by craigepplin

(Title taken from Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H., translated by Idra Novey.)

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back in Portland, roughly settled in and about to begin teaching at PSU. I have two classes on the docket this term: a survey of twentieth-century lit in Spanish America and an upper-division/grad class on poetry. I’m looking forward to both of them.

I’ve been reading more than writing since the move. This article in the most recent e-flux has me thinking about the data cloud and infinite replicability. This is obviously a well known feature of digital files, never more obvious than when we share music or films across the net. The mass dissemination of files is premised on their replicability. As the author points out, however, the cloud works to concentrate this dissemination in several large fiefdoms. And concentration obviously makes surveillance easier. In short, the oft-noted proliferation of identities and locations that is facilitated by digital technologies is counteracted by the cloud.

What I’m primarily working out right now is how to square the social imaginary of the cloud, in which we all participate every time we access our files on remote servers, with the longstanding desire in western aesthetics to enact works of art based on removing the artist from the creative process. This used to be primarily based on mechanical processes (with Duchamp as the most obvious case), but today’s uncreative writers (and artists), to use Kenneth Goldsmith’s term, are enmeshed in a different productive ecology. I’m thinking primarily about poets who use computer algorithms to create poems, but also more traditional sorts of writers like Mario Bellatin or Pablo Katchadjian, whose works bear witness to the broad influence of digital technologies in all realms of culture.

Scattered thoughts, in short, but I wanted to put them out there.