Notes On Conceptualisms, by Vanessa Place & Robert Fitterman: Reviewed by Christopher Higgs

conceptualisms-cover1Notes On Conceptualisms
By Vanessa Place & Robert Fitterman
Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009
80 pages, perfect-bound
ISBN: 978-1-933254-46-3

Erasure/Remix/Review by Christopher Higgs

There was some question as to whether or not erasure strategies would fit under the rubric of conceptual writing, whether or not conceptual writing might best be defined by the expectations of the readership or thinkership, by failure, shape, or add/subtract.

Is appropriation a problem?

The goal of conceptual writing is failure. Radical mimesis is original sin.

Words are objects—allegorical writing is conceptual writing—with no aesthetic or ethical distinctions. Walter Benjamin. Paul de Mann. Idea/Symbol.

Fiction meaning poetry meaning history meaning the future state of having been.


The distinction is between pre-texts and post-texts. “Impure” conceptualism or post-conceptualism might invite “impure” or post-conceptualism. Narrativity, unutterability. Broken promise, textual excess, micro, macro, post-production, hybrid, segregation. More than/rather than.

Leibniz, Lacan, Hal Foster.

There are end-points to any spectrum.

The baroque thinkership. Failure. Result, repeat. Failure. Allegory, allegorical, adorable, Walter Benjamin. Walter Benjamin. Appropriation and montage. Conceptual writing. Adorno and Horkheimer. Pure conceptualism negates consumption/generation.

Note: failure.
Note: failure.

Christine Buci-Glucksmann. Stephen Heath. Again, Badiou speaks. The skull is the heart. Craig Owen. Sherrie Levine. Kenneth Goldsmith. Fidelity problem, or the failure of fidelity. Richard Prince. Eirin Moure. Jen Bervin. Shakespeare. Duchampean.

Note that there is no escape from this regime, which will banalize and commodify any mass attempt at subversion.

Slavoj Žižek. Sianne Ngai. Lucille Ball. Charlie Chaplin. Duck Soup. Capitalism.

To have one’s cake and vomit it up. Re-enacting the purge is very American. Allegorical content/Allegorical gesture. The promise of fetish.

Narrative is the (image) of prose; sentiment is the (image) of poetry. The (image).

Mallarmé. Render the object/subject closed/open. Multiple readings, multiple meanings, equivalencies, Kant (this is Beauty) this is sentimental, this is allegorical, this is, this is, this is The Sobject.

The brain is a piece of body meat.

Craig Dworkin. Christine Werthheim. Simon Critchley.

Maturity or immaturity? Fidelity or infidelity? Faithfulness or faithlessness? Nevermore or nevertheless?

The Woman, the figure of The Woman, abstracted and idiosyncratic – a physic or metaphysic? – inclusive/accessible, elite/rarified, both generative and receptive?

Collage, pastiche, procedure, constraint, performance, citation, book object/page object.

The Sobject.

Pound, Berrigan, Ashbery = emergent/dominant/extent. Ironize/lionize, Rauschenberg, Picasso.

Sampling is status-neutral but ontologically dense. Sometimes typing, sometimes grammar, sometimes the Cagean cage, the narrative container; silence, prevalence, absorption, capitalist absorption, Gary Sullivan, Charles Bernstein, “official verse”, Institutional Critique, Alexander Alberro, Dirk Rowentree; the reading, the course, the blurb, the course, the reading, the blurb, the project, the manifesto, the blurb, the scene, the scene, the scene, the now.

Transparency is self-refuting.
Thesis: a connective connectivity (see: Wittgenstein/Rancière).

Proposition: the readymade.
Proof: Heimrad Backer’s transcript (the Nazi exterminations, a laudatory review of a laudatory Hitler, forthcoming Dalkey Archive, 2010).
Guilt and subsequent textual silence.
Compare: Charles Reznikoff’s Holocaust.

Appropriated testimony, lyric form.

Fidelity to fidelity. Infidelity to infidelity.
This is the difference between negative and positive space. The Final Solution. The Inkblot Records. The postcard-placard effect of history.
Compare: Fitterman’s Sprawl: Place’s Dies.
This is the difference between:
word/wound: language kills pure conceptualism, impure conceptualism;
word/wound: the screaming Sobject, the possibility of possibility;
this is the difference between ethics/aesthetics/(politics)/citation/(baroque/broken);
this is the difference between failure/Glorious Failure!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: