Kenneth Goldsmith: Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now? 2011

With the rise of the Internet, writing is arguably facing its greatest challenge since Gutenberg. What has happened in the past fifteen years has forced writers to conceive of language in ways unthinkable just a short time ago. With an unprecedented onslaught of the sheer quantity of language (often derided as information glut in general culture), the writer faces the challenge of exactly how best to respond. Yet the strategies to respond are embedded in the writing process, which gives us the answers whether or not we’re aware of it.

Why are so many writers now exploring strategies of copying and appropriation? It’s simple: the computer encourages us to mimic its workings. If cutting and pasting were integral to the writing process, we would be mad to imagine that writers wouldn’t explore and exploit those functions in ways that their creators didn’t intend.

Goldsmith, Kenneth. “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” In Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, xvii-xxii. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2011.