Killing the language?
The August 4 entry on the blog, “A Poetic Matter,” is called “On Metaphor,” and takes Kenneth Goldsmith to task, as follows:
[Owen] Barfield asserts that language needs poetry because through poetry language and meaning grow. I agree with Barfield. The point? If we keep theorizing about poetry (langpo, flarf, conecptualism, quietude, blah, blah, blah) we lose sight of meaning. Now, to someone like Goldsmith, meaning doesn’t even mean anymore so why try. But I think it’s a cop out. I wonder if this is why there is such a disconnect between the p-a crowd and everybody else. To say there is no meaning but in words is ludicrous as Barfield points out, because words and meaning depend on experience. So I would say this whole idea of poetry existing only through theories leads to a dead language, where people like Goldsmith dwell. Take the experience out of poetry, and you’re left with flarf and other regurgitations rather than humanity and a growth of language.
A reader replied:
KG does not dwell in dead language even if he thinks he wants to, or pretends to want to. His way of being boring is very exciting, actually. As is flarf. As are many other … I don’t think you need worry about “dead language” because there’s no such thing. It’s not even possible.
To which the blogger replied:
I don’t think KG dwells in dead language, but rather that purposely avoiding meaning can kill language. And I wouldn’t say that flarf is boring at all — I’ve read many examples that I thought were truly engaging and exciting. Language builds meaning, but not without some sort of experience.
For the record (it hardly needs to be noted), Goldsmith never says language is without meaning, nor does he want it to be. On the contrary, language is so always already meaningful that attempts at original writing are unnecessary. The ambient language — words in the world — is plentifully sufficient.