Against Conceptual Poetry is the third volume of Silliman’s Universe long-poem project, its 45th degree according to the title page, and its 45.4th degree according to its LC cataloguing data. So possibly another .6 degrees of this section are yet to come. The title appears to be a play on the title of conceptual poets Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith’s 2011 anthology Against Expression. The text carries many of the marks of a conceptual poem, and could be read as a kind of parody.
It’s a transcript, chopped into mostly Silliman-like six-word lines, of a 3-hour 12-minute interview that Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Novell and Google, Jared Cohen, once an advisor to U.S. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, Scott Malcomson, once foreign editor of The New York Times, and Lisa Shields, vice president of the US think tank The Council on Foreign Relations, conducted in Britain with Julian Assange in 2011 as part of research for Schmidt and Cohen’s 2013 book The Digital Age. Created in Britain by Americans who are speaking with an Australian who is in flight from sex charges in Sweden and who operates the globally fugitive website Wikileaks in an attempt to be a political benefactor to global humanity, the text offers the first solid basis for the Bookthug claim that Silliman's Universe is a work of “globalization” literature. In the background as one reads is always the struggle of the US to drag Assange from his global perch and into the range of American national power.
Is Against Conceptual Poetry a conceptual poem? Certainly it is primarily a concept. From a literary/aesthetic perspective, once one has identified the concept – much like in Goldsmith’s The Weather – one may have no need to read further. Some conceptual poems – Peter Jaeger’s The Persons and Rapid Eye Movement come to mind – raise a