Hoax’s and authorship In a recent correspondence between Kent Johnson and Brian Kim Steffens (among others) about Conceptual Literature the issue of authorship viz-a-viz Yasusada came up, for me unexpectedly. I have always maintained support for Johnson, even though the implication could be that he is the author, and Yasusada (who doesn’t exist) because of the various challenges it presents to the areas of authenticity and the unified literary persona. I should unpack these ideas a bit before going on. It is assumed in literature that the art object is an expression of, or is in some way related to, the authenticity of feeling or intellection on the part of the artist. Of course, in the 20th Century people like Duchamps & MacLow attempted to remove themselves from the production of art objects, though certainly failed in removing themselves from the ‘signified’ piece. That is, Duchamp ‘made’ the Standard Stoppages without taking part in their making (though people debate this), but we still know the piece as his and not “No Man’s” (No Man is still a very powerful image and theme). With the cult of personality being all pervasive, even in these post-Pollack days, the Duchamp is A Duchamp. The authenticity of the piece is never doubted. If you see the Standard Stoppages at the Tate in London, the friendly placard will inform you of Duchamp’s intentions, so too in other exhibits will you learn about his alter-ego Rose Selavy. In the case of a hoax, if ‘hoax’ can be used even if authenticity is never uncovered, we have a different ‘take’ on the same idea. The artist has given up hope of removing him/herself from the production of the work since, as we know, it is impossible, and instead has taken his/herself out of the reception of the work. This is a very important move in my opinion. In the case of Yasusada, moreover, the whole façade goes further than former models in actually subverting culturally held beliefs in relation to authorship and also to the cultural “other”. (I might add at this point that this particular hoax has induced in me a certain amount of shadenfreude, a pleasure that for some is guilty, especially from Ron Silliman’s initial response to Yasusada. Now that Mr. Silliman has his own blog, presumably scared off the POETICS List since his early misguided Leninist war mongering after the World Trade Center fell, I can get regular doses of this less acceptable pleasure.) Well, the lunch break is over, so I’ll have to continue this Monday.. It’s back to Noise and Loy for the weekend.

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