Goldsmith’s “Uncreative Writing” Class

Kenneth Goldsmith’s “Uncreative Writing” class is extremely intriguing to me because it manages to be both highly unconventional, yet also highly pragmatic. As I do not consider myself to be a creative person in general, this class is perfect for me because I do not have to wrestle with any of the struggles I regularly face during the writing process. This means that I will have not have to grapple with a lack of ideas or ambiguity on the best way to express those ideas that I have such a hard time coming up with.

Instead, the legwork for this class is in the actual research for sources. There is in fact an element of creativity in this “uncreative” writing class. This class requires its students to be resourceful in not only the search for sources, but also in the selection and compilation of those sources. Students must be able to effectively extract and combine certain parts of existing works and then merge that selection with other completely different works in a harmonious way.

Thinking about this process is actually somewhat extraordinary. In traditional writing, the writer designs a work from that ground up with a specific vision. He is able to adjust the trajectory of his work in any way he sees fit. On the other hand, in the “uncreative” process, the writer still has a vision but must first fragment existing visions and trajectories, and then combine them using a very minimal amount of glue. The end result is one’s personal vision made from the vision of others.

As I already mentioned, I could not agree more that this class is the ultimate literary expression of modernity and innovation. In the world we live in today, we are constantly being flooded with ideas and information from a wide variety of mediums. Traditionally, we temporarily acquire such ideas and information and then maybe reflect on it. Ultimately, though, we usually end up discarding this new knowledge. Goldsmith’s class allows young people to repurpose this information that would otherwise go to waste. This is similar to the concept of recycling. When one recycles a can, the can is not simply discarded and wasted, but its strong core properties allow it to reborn into something new. The recycling of both existing literary works and cans represents maximum efficiency as you reutilize an existing resource multiple times instead of creating new resources to fulfill the same quantity of functions.

Another appeal of Goldsmith’s class is that is just so different to anything I have done before. Throughout my educational life, I have always been forced to create my own ideas. I have been creative too much and for too long to the point where I can honestly say that I am a little sick of it. Using the ideas of other people is both refreshing and rewarding. As with most things, an update to a traditional practice is can be sacrilegious and progressive at the same time. Still, I am willing to forego the respect of creating your own work for the efficiency of repurposing somebody else’s.

One thought on “Goldsmith’s “Uncreative Writing” Class

  1. Your take on “Uncreative Writing” was quite interesting to read. I agree with your assessment that “uncreative” is actually inherently creative due to the organizational skill required to write in that fashion. Your post is well structured and easy to follow, making your claims flow in a logical progression that adds to the piece as a whole. The comparison you make between piecing together parts of other’s ideas and recycling, in my mind, is the strongest part of your post. It is a very unique take on the uncreative writing concept that really helps put it in perspective to an audience who may not be too familiar with it before reading this post. Overall very well done. This post would be easy for almost any audience to understand and internalize.


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