601 Readings | 3 Ratings

100 Questions

for Kenneth Goldsmith and Seth Abramson

How do you define “creativity”? Who or what qualifies as an “institution”? Why do you wear hats? Which Borges wrote, “The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges”?

How did you get your job? How much of what you’ve written is an “appropriation”? Where do you buy your clothes? How is what you’re doing now “uncreative”? What percentage of your oeuvre is “uncreative”? Why don’t you engage strangers who disagree with you? Are your friends nice to strangers? Why do you embarrass yourself in public?

Is your clothing a manifestation of an authentic eccentricity, or an attempt to draw attention? Do you ever question your ambitions? Why do you seem so confident? How much of all you are is a performance? How do you reconcile multiple personas? Do you prefer the sacred or the bawdy? Will you still be espousing the same principles and laboring under the same convictions five years from now? Is someone using you? What do you think of museums, theory, and museum theory? What’s your typing speed? How did you come up with the ideas behind your signature works? Why are you so threatened by the values and decisions of others? 

Are you just sitting around and reading a newspaper when inspiration hits? How do you define “concept”? What’s the difference between a “concept” and a “process”? In what way is what you write not self-expressive? Who is Spencer Pratt, and does Spencer Pratt know who you are? You say your work is reflective of our culture, but isn’t it really all about you? Why does it seem like your friends think just as you do? What makes you so special? Why are you so arrogant? Why am I me and no one else, and why are you you and no one else? How do I know I’m not someone else, and how do you know you’re not someone else? Do you only pay attention to news that implicates you by name? What is “state-of-the-art”? And what is the Art of the State? Why don’t you live where I do? What could “metamodernism” mean to you?

Why do you always try to bring the efforts of others under the umbrella of your own ambitions? How do you feel when others reference you in an attempt to establish their own identities? Are you only paying attention to these questions because they’re posited as Art? What happens to our bodies when they die? Where do you get your ideas? If authorship is dead, why put your name on anything? Who is Kenneth Goldsmith? What’s the difference between me asking these questions of you, and me asking them of Keith Richards? If you weren’t you, who would you be? Where can I get some good food around here? Why are there people like that guy? Who is he? And why? Do you ever feel guilty accepting money for what you do? How would you outline the role of beauty in contemporary literary Art? Does your personal detritus qualify as Art? Why aren’t you buying what I’m selling? Does it matter to you that I don’t know who you are? Why do you care so much about how you’re perceived? Where are my keys? 

Why are you so invested in establishing the difficulty of what you do? Why are you so adamant about wanting your peers to return to the values and methodologies of the past? Boxers or briefs? Would you instinctively reject any extension of your work for which you were not primarily responsible? How much of what you say is said for rhetorical effect, and how much is the product of knowledge and belief? Why won’t you answer questions unless they’re asked to you by a critic or organization you already know and admire? Why don’t you acknowledge the full weight of your debt to the past? Will you retire to your corner when it’s time? Who is Seth Abramson? Do your smaller and minor works eclipse your larger and more ambitious ones? How much of your energy do you devote to crafting a public persona? Why is so much of what I love already dead? Why does it so often happen that I don’t know who someone is until someone tells me? Does my poetics make me look fat? If you were my mirror, what type of frame would you prefer? Is your manner of speech affected?     

Do you deserve what you have? Are your methods the most conscientious and efficacious, given your aims? Should we focus on the shape of our mistakes, or the force of their approach? Do you believe your method of writing to be the only legitimate one, given our current climate?  Have you ever copied someone else’s work and thought to yourself, “This is much easier than creating my own”? Do you love dead things? Why do I feel scared when I see a white cat dead under the wheel of a dark car? Who or what does your presence in the culture exclude or marginalize, and what responsibility do you bear for that?  Am I more or less important than Art? Would you still do what you do and say what you say if everyone else were doing and saying it too? Do you enjoy being disliked? Do you like Miley Cyrus?

Have you become the sort of force you once rebelled against? What’s your agenda? Will you know when it’s time to recede from view? What do you think of Ernst Jandl? What do you think of Taylor Swift? What do you think of Kanye West? Why did the poet cross the road? Are you afraid to die?

Why do you so enjoy being questioned? Why are you so resentful? Why should I care about you? In what way is green Super Juice like a writing desk?

Posted 11/23/13
Statement of Concept: "100 Questions" considers whether or not the questions we wish to pose to public figures are or can ever be much different from those questions--or types of questions--we can and should habitually direct toward ourselves and other persons of intelligence and conscience. The author put out a call on Facebook and Twitter for users to contribute questions they'd like to ask poet, editor, and University of Pennsylvania faculty member Kenneth Goldsmith. These questions, some of which have been edited, amended, or adapted by the author following their receipt, comprise the entirety of "100 Questions." Besides those developed by the author, the questions (or adaptations of questions) appearing in "100 Questions" were posed by the following thirty-three individuals (presented here in alphabetical order by last name): Joel Allegretti, Rosetta Ballew-Jennings, Clayton Banes, Margo Berdeshevsky, David Blumenshine, Devon Branca, Debra Di Blasi, Jon Cone, Donald Dunbar, Matthew Dunckel, Logan Fry, John Gallaher, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Thomas Graves, Matthew Guenette, Rauan Klassnik, Bill Lantry, Gokhan Ludd, Douglas Lumen, Matt Mauch, Sarah Kai Neal, Martina Reisz Newberry, Anne Marie Nguyen, Ruben Quesada, Joni Rodgers, Sarah Sarai, Surazeus Simon Seamount, Mikey Swanberg, Wolfram Swets, Nico Vassilakis, Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, Max Winter, and Corey Zeller.
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