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e-flux conversations

English and All That

Last year, Triple Canopy published Alix Rule and David Levine’s “International Art English.” As a broad critique of globalized artspeak semantics, the essay has since sparked many debates around the exaggerated claims and imprecise promotional language of contemporary art. In this issue of e-flux journal, Martha Rosler and Hito Steyerl each respond to Rule and Levine’s essay.


If one examines Lacanist obscurity, one is faced with a choice: either reject capitalist Marxism or conclude that the significance of the poet is social comment. However, if neodialectic cultural theory holds, we have to choose between subdialectic narrative and capitalist deappropriation. Marx suggests the use of the precultural paradigm of discourse to challenge class divisions.

In 1974, Thomas Pynchon sent Irwin Corey to Lincoln Center to accept the National Book Award citation for Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow. Corey was a nationally known comic monologist billed as Professor Irwin Corey, the World’s Greatest Expert. He regularly delighted corporate audiences with double-talk speeches couched in the linguistic codes of their own fields of expertise. He was usually billed as an entertainer, but in “experiments” in which he was unleashed on unsuspecting audiences as a keynoter at professional conferences, he consistently gained high ratings from listeners, who did not grasp that he was retailing double-talk rather than presenting a well-crafted argument in their own field.

Read the full article here.