author: Davis Schneiderman

name: Steev

average rating: 3.83

book published: 2013

rating: 5

read at: 2013/12/20

date added: 2015/12/20

shelves: art, fun, novels

My high rating for this book is for its high concept, and I'm biased since it's a concept (appropriation, plagiarism, recycled culture, there are many terms one could use) that I've been involved with, both in my own artistic practice and as a subject of study and documentation.
[full disclosure: Another source of bias is that a review copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher]

With this slim volume, Schneiderman pushes at an envelope of that concept of artistic appropriation. In it, he reprints excerpts from across the history of literature and philosophy, making the book feel a bit like a freshman Western Civ course or somesuch. However, his twist, his "value add" as they say, is that for each pre-existing work, he changes the byline to his own. It's an open act of "piracy" or, if you're more generous, "creative borrowing," but also an exercise in artistic curation.

The author of the forward mentions that Schneiderman told him that it's not necessary to actually read the book, because of its conceptual nature, and this is true. There's literally nothing new. It's enough to be paging through it and pondering why he may have chosen each selection, enjoying the cognitive buzz of seeing a different author name slapped onto each masterpiece. It's an avant-garde work in the truest sense, because this book is about showing other artists where the extremes are, not actually providing a cultural product for "civilians" to consume. That will come later, when someone else synthesizes Schneiderman's one-liner, perhaps with some related ideas from David Shields' "Reality Hunger" and some hard-won storytelling skills, to write a novel or memoir that is a tapestry of source material but that still somehow entertains and inspires, in a deeper, more personal and more complicated way than this art world gesture. Until then, we have this stepping stone to admire.