Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century by Marjorie Perloff
What is the place of individual genius in a world of superfluous information - a world where, as Walter Benjamin predicted more than seventy years ago, everyone is likely to…
Unoriginal Genius synopsis
What is the place of individual genius in a world of superfluous information - a world where, as Walter Benjamin predicted more than seventy years ago, everyone is likely to be composed? For poets in such a climate, Asala begins to get a seat behind what can be done with the words of others - framing, citation, recycling, and in some other way mediating the words and sentences available, and sometimes the full texts. Marjorie Perlov explores here this exciting development in contemporary poetry: embracing "non-original" writing.
Paradoxically, she says, such colonialism-based poetry is often more accessible, and to a certain extent, more 'personal' than the poetry of the 1980s and 1990s. Perlov follows this poet of "non-original genius" through his exemplary work, Benjamin's encyclopedic passages, a book made up largely of citations.
The two movements are now understood as precursors of such hybrid ceremonial texts as Charles Bernstein's "Shadowtime" and Susan Howe's documentary "The Midnight." Perlov sees the new compromise as a language: for example, in French-Norwegian Caroline Bergval in English and Japanese in Yoko Tawada in German. The "non-original genius" concludes with Kenneth Goldsmith's conceptual discussion of "Traffic" - a "pure" radio version of the weekend traffic reports.
In these and many other cases, Perlov shows us "poetry by other means" of creativity, intelligence and complexity.
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