Fidget

Fidget

by Kenneth Goldsmith
     
 

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Fidget is writer Kenneth Goldsmith's transcription of every movement made by his body during 13 hours on Bloomsday (June 16) 1997. It is a hypnotic work, strangely compelling and disorienting at the same time; you'll never think about your body in the same way again.

Originally commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art as a collaboration

Overview

Fidget is writer Kenneth Goldsmith's transcription of every movement made by his body during 13 hours on Bloomsday (June 16) 1997. It is a hypnotic work, strangely compelling and disorienting at the same time; you'll never think about your body in the same way again.

Originally commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art as a collaboration with vocalist Theo Bleckmann, Fidget attempts to reduce the body to a catalogue of mechanical movements by a strict act of observation. The stress of this rigorous exercise creates a condition of shifting reference points and multiple levels of observation that inevitably undermines the author's objective approach, and the trajectory of the work begins to change.

The text of Fidget is followed by an afterword written by Marjorie Perloff, which both explains the circumstances of the project's creation (including the important role Jack Daniels plays in the latter part of the text) and explores its results.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers familiar with poet and visual artist Goldsmith's No. 111 2.7.93-10.20.96, perhaps the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry, wondered what he might possibly do for an encore. The answer came on June 16, 1997--Bloomsday--when Goldsmith used a dictaphone to note as much of as many of his body's movements as he could, keeping a verbal record of what happened when he walked across his bedroom, shook his head or performed more intimate functions. This volume charts the results in 11 sections, corresponding to Goldsmith's eleven hours awake that day, in clear homage to the hour-by-hour chapters of Joyce's Ulysses--that most bodily of modernist masterpieces. And as in Ulysses, different actions dominate different hours. (Goldsmith's masturbatory episode comes earlier, and more graphically, than Bloom's, taking place between one and two p.m.) Most of the time, the actual prose is not the point: "Facial muscles relax. Back tingles. Chills emerge. Right hand moves to top of head. Fingernail scrapes scalp. Thumb meets each successive fingertip. Rubs," though by nighttime we get lusher, lovelier phrases, like bits of Finnegan's Wake: "Unpegged chip of tongue. Stealing very hard ridge. Very hard skin in its septemberary... Hoo hoo arises. Giggle hits head." A brisk afterword from critic Marjorie Perloff (Poetic License, etc.) examines the links between Goldsmith and Beckett, concluding that Goldsmith "celebrates with perverse charm... the victory of mind over matter, and the inability to convey what we call body language except through language." But, as Perloff notes, the book is not the whole here: Goldsmith's project also inheres in a Java application done with programmer Clem Paulsen, and was interpreted in a vocal-visual performace by Theo Beckmann at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art (both archived at the publisher's Web site). This is another important book from Goldsmith, pointing the way to a rapproachment between poetry and conceptual and performance art--avant-gardists and art lovers of all stripes will want to experience its near-hypnotic pleasures. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781770560642
Publisher:
Coach House Books
Publication date:
01/16/1998
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
250
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Kenneth Goldsmith is the author of No. III 2.7.93-10.20.96 (The Figures. 1997) and 73 Poems, a collaboration with vocalist Joan La Barbara (Permanent Press, 1994, compact disc Lovely Music, 1994) - His visual works have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. Goldsmith is the editor of UbuWeb Visual, Concrete & Sound Poetry (www.ubu.com), a DJ at 91 .1 WFMU in NewYork City, and a music critic at New York Press.

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