5.07.2010

Note to Flarf, Conceptualism & All (from Kenneth Burke)



"Do not get me wrong. I am pleading for no 'retreat' to anything. No literary Buchmanism, no off-by-itself, no back-to. Let our enlistments remain as they are. I am asking simply that the temper of our enlistment undergo a change of emphasis. That the norm of our tone cease to be the insulting tone that 'talks down' to people. Nor would it be a presumptuous tone, that laid claim to uplift them. But rather a tone that would plead with us all, with the writer-to and well as the written-to. In it there must also be disdain, for those who have been giving the final insult to democracy, as they contrive to suggest that one almost has a moral obligation to write trivially and superficially, as though one could only show a proper love for mankind by plying the citizenry with flimsy items, 'to be used once and thrown away.'"
- Kenneth Burke, "Semantic and Poetic Meaning", from The Philosophy of Literary Form (1941)