If you search on references to Ron Silliman in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (Northwestern University Press, 2011), you find the following: table of contents, pg. xv, Ron Silliman, 531, from Sunset Debris, 28; In the opening to Great Expectations: A Novel (New York: Grove, 1983), Kathy Acker appropriates, deforms, summarizes, and rewrites passages from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Pierre Guyotat’s Eden, Eden, Eden to solve the equation plagiarism + pornography = autobiography. For the formulation of this equivalence, see Ron Silliman‘s “E-Mail Interview” (Quarry West 34 : 13). 53; as is the entirety of Ron Silliman‘s “Sunset Debris.” In an interview with Tom Beckett, Silliman explains that “every sentence is supposed to remind the reader of his or her inability to respond” (The Difficulties 2, no. 2 , 45). But the work has in fact provoked rather than stifled response. In the Tapeworm Foundry, Daren Wershler proposes that one “write a poem answering in order of occurrence all of the questions posed by ron silliman in sunset debris.” Following a pioneering attempt by Michael Waltuch and Alan Davies’s poem “?s to .s”, which set out to answer all of the interrogatives in Silliman‘s related Chinese Notebook, several poets have taken up Wershler’s challenge, including Arielle Brousse (in Tapeworm: A Collaborative Exhibition [Philadelphia: Kelly Writers House, 2008]) and Christian Bök in Busted Sirens (in Interval(le)s 2.2–3.1 [2008–9]: 142–47. 117; Christian Bök composed Busted Sirens by feeding the questions from Ron Silliman‘s “Sunset Debris” to the XML-dialect software agent Alicebot (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity Robot). 222; Robert Fitterman here performs a grammatical analysis of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, eliminating all sentences that do not begin with the first person singular pronoun. The result reads very much like Ron Silliman‘s “Berkeley” (This 5 [Winter 1974]: n.p.) 415; Little and much / Low and high / Rotten and fresh. —Ron Silliman 418; Other examples of homophonic translation include Ron Silliman‘s rendition of Rilke’s Duino Elegies as “Do We Know Ella Cheese?” (Roof 5, 1978) 531; John Cage claimed that he often found questions more interesting than answers. Ron Silliman, echoing Cage’s sentiment, constructed an entire section of his book The Age of Huts (New York: Roof, 1986) from nearly forty pages of questions. Ranging from the personal to the found to the absurd, Silliman‘s gesture serves to displace the authorial figure, as well as any notion of a stabilized, centered text. Instead, what we get is a glimpse twenty years ahead into the age of electronic writing and information management, where language is material to be collected and collated, consumed and manipulated, for its own sake. 593; Ron Silliman. “Sunset Debris” (excerpt) from Age of Huts (compleat). Copyright 2007 University of California Press. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.
Against Conceptual Poetry
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(image: Susan Bee, detail from The Slap (2012, 24” x 20”, oil and enamel on canvas))