For Expression: Uncreative Writing, Affect and Critique
One of the strongest attacks on Uncreative Writing was launched by Calvin Bedient in his 2013 article, “Against Conceptualism.” This chapter looks at Bedient’s brief against neo-Conceptualism and the ‘pataphysical work of writers such as Christian Bök. Bedient’s argument is based on a set of dichotomies (head versus heart; thought versus emotion) that do not bear up well under scrutiny. More interesting, however, is his claim that poetry has to own up to its melancholy to be properly critical. Underlying this claim is Bedient’s Kristevan defense of poetry as therapeutic. By reading Robert Fitterman’s No, Wait. Yep. Definitely Still Hate Myself against its appropriated sources and against its pretext, James Schuyler’s “The Morning of the Poem,” this chapter shows that Uncreative Writing does not necessarily avoid emotion nor does it avoid subjectivity. Rather—and here a detour through Adorno’s account of the dialectic of subjectivity and expression proves fruitful—it takes subjectivity as a theme in order to launch a powerful, aesthetically grating critique of contemporary society.