Kenny Goldsmith VS (not really) Dale Smith (Jacket 38)
KG: I really have trouble with poethics. In fact, I think one of the most beautiful, free and expansive ideas about art is that it — unlike just about everything else in our culture — doesn’t have to partake in an ethical discourse. As a matter of fact, if it wants to, it can take an unethical stance and test what it means to be that without having to endure the consequences of real world investigations. I find this to be enormously powerful and liberating and worth fighting for. Where else can this exist in our culture?
DS: This reminds me of something Robert Duncan said in correspondence with Denise Levertov over the Vietnam War. They both opposed that war, but Levertov was an activist and tried to write poetry that would support her activism. She wanted change. Improvement. Etc. Duncan argued instead that such a use of poetry-as-activism became merely a kind of propaganda that participated within a discourse of power. In response to her being a poethics pusher, he famously stated: “The poet’s role is not to oppose evil, but to imagine it.” So, yeah, anything goes, in that sense. I’m right there with you.