Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bullshit and Interest: David Kaufmann on Me on Conceptualism

"A year and a half after Archambeau’s article," writes David Kaufmann, referring to "Charmless and Interesting," a piece on conceptual poetry I wrote for Poetry, "can we say that he is still right? I am going to argue that he is, but not in the way it might first seem."

Kaufmann's article, "Bullshit and Interest: Casing Vanessa Place," appeared in Postmodern Culture, and now you can read it on Project Muse, where it is available without a paywall.  He has a lot to say about the kind of appeal conceptual poetry makes, the position in which it places the reader, and he even draws on philosopher Harry Frankfurt to offer a (complex, nuanced) answer to Doug Nufer's famous, or infamous, question about conceptualism: "isn't it just bullshit?"

We've reached a moment when we can look back on the initial burst of pro- and anti- conceptualist polemic and try to assess what it was all about, and Kaufmann's done it more interestingly than anyone else.  I'm glad he's decided my essay still has something to it, even if it's not quite the thing one might expect.