Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kenneth Goldsmith In The New Yorker, "Something Borrowed"

People hate this guy. I think he's a treasure. Long live Marcel Duchamp!

Goldsmith’s book “New York: Capital of the 20th Century,” which will be published this month, is a portrait of New York City. It is based on “The Arcades Project,” Walter Benjamin’s portrait of nineteenth-century Paris, assembled mainly during the nineteen-thirties. Benjamin relies heavily on passages taken from other writers. “New York” is half a million words long. Goldsmith spent ten years in libraries copying sentences, which he organized into two categories, concrete and abstract. Concrete subjects include Times Square and the World’s Fairs of 1939 and 1964. Abstract subjects include “grid” and “loneliness.” Baudelaire is the protagonist of Benjamin’s book, in the sense that he seemed to typify the period. Robert Mapplethorpe is the protagonist of “New York.” Whereas Benjamin wrote commentaries on the passages he copied, Goldsmith did not add a word of his own to “New York.”

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