Q: Much of your work suspends or refuses the privilege to any one reading. Can you speak about this tendency against the exclusive, and whether or not this choice is aesthetic, political, personal or any combination of the three? This approach to writing/readership as an extension of Barthes concept of the “death of the author” has accumulated quite a history and tradition in its own right. Some suggest, therefore, that it can no longer be considered avant-garde. Speculate about the whether or not this is so, or whether or not it is important. How do you see the evolution of this “tradition” as it might be surfacing today? Annie Guthrie
Kenneth Goldsmith: Each generation must determine for itself what it means to kill the author. My generation is faced with the unique task of killing the author by means of textual excess. Today, because of technology, there is an unprecedented amount of language; so much, it seems to me, that the writer’s job is not to create more language, but rather to engage in the management of this mass of existing language: How you find your way through this heap of language will distinguish you as a writer from me. The simple act of moving information from one place to another today constitutes a significant cultural act in and of itself. I think it’s fair to say that most of us spend hours each day shifting content into different containers. Some of us call this writing.
Read answers from Bök, Bernstein, Howe, Dwarkin, and Swenson here.