Sunday 9 November 2014


Kenneth Goldsmith stands in front of 10 tons of printed paper from his exhibition “Printing Out the Internet” at a Mexico City art space in 2013. (Janet Jarman/For The Washington Post) Via The Washington Post.

So, Kenneth Goldsmith, author of one of Uncreative Writing, one the books that basically made my MA dissertation, is now offering a course in the University of Pennsylvania called Wasting time on the Internet, a course where "distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting is mandatory."

I honestly think this is a long-overdue experiment, but of course, I am an active advocate of wasting time on the Internet, of procrastinating and making it meaningfully, and that is what this space is all about. Of course, opinions vary and I've read all sorts of articles of lovers and haters, this is logical because Kenny G is very well known for being a professional radio provocateur, for his controversial point of view on writing, creativity, appropriation and plagiarism in the digital era, and of course, for trying to print out the Internet. Also when it comes to wasting time on the Internet, everyone has an expert opinion, right? But, are we?

Emma Brockes points out in The Guardian (E.T.P. 3') that "the question of whether the huge, distracting influence of online time-wasting has a good, bad or irrelevant impact on our creative output is so new that there aren’t any definitive answers, yet. But it is starting to be studied."

The purpose of the course, Goldsmith said to The Washington Post (E.T.P. 5'), "is to have the students write something good at the end of the course, as a result of all that forced distraction. Goldsmith says he hopes the distraction will place his students “into a digital or electronic twilight,” similar to the state of consciousness between dreaming and waking that was so prized by the Surrealists."

"Students will be required to stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs. To bolster our practice, we’ll explore the long history of the recuperation of boredom and time-wasting through critical texts about affect theory, ASMR, situationism and everyday life by thinkers such as Guy Debord, Mary Kelly Erving Goffman, Betty Friedan, Raymond Williams, John Cage, Georges Perec, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefevbre, Trin Minh-ha, Stuart Hall, Sianne Ngai, Siegfried Kracauer and others." Reads the description of the course in UPenn website.

You can read more about it in Motherboard (E.T.P. 4') and Dazed Digital (E.T.P. 3') and/or read more about Goldsmith's work in Monoskop.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. Credit Jack English/Weinstein Company. Via The New York Times.

The Riddle Who Unlocked the Enigma. Charles McGrath on "The Imitation Game", the new movie inspired on Alan Turing's life that will open Nov. 28. "Turing, a British mathematician, is now widely credited with helping to develop the theoretical underpinnings for  modern computing. He was also a war hero of sorts,  largely responsible for cracking the notoriously difficult Enigma code, which the Germans used for virtually all their military communication in World War II. Churchill believed that his was the single biggest contribution to Allied victory.  

But Turing, obsessed with ciphers all his life, was himself a puzzle and a bundle of contradictions.  He was famously eccentric and antisocial, more at home with numbers than with people. He was also forthrightly gay at a time when homosexual activity was illegal in Britain, and in 1952, he was convicted on charges of indecency.  Instead of prison, he chose to be chemically castrated, and two years later, at the age of 41, miserable over the changes the hormones had wreaked in him, he bit into an apple laced with cyanide.  His death was almost certainly a suicide, possibly even a re-enactment of a scene in his favorite movie, "Snow White" though his mother insisted that he was just sloppy with chemicals, and to this day there are conspiracy theorists who believe that he was assassinated by MI6, fearful that he was a security risk." As the producer of the movie said, definitely a story that needed to be told. Read the full article in The New York Times. E.T.P. 7'

Image via LRB.

Ben Jackson via the London Review of Books tells the story of what happened the night Proust met Joyce? "In one of his recently published letters to his wife, Véra, Nabokov gives yet another version of the legendary encounter between Joyce and Proust in 1922. The various accounts of the meeting (many of them collected in Richard Ellmann’s Life of Joyce) disagree on almost everything, though it probably happened at a party given by the writer Sydney Schiff to celebrate the opening of Stravinsky’s Renard in Paris on 18 May. According to one version of the story, Joyce arrived drunk and poorly dressed; Proust, draped in furs, opened the door." Read full article in London Review of Books. E.T.P. 3'

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