In Praise of Being Dumb

Being smart is highly overrated, according to Kenneth Goldsmith, the Museum of Modern Art's first poet laureate. Goldsmith, who considers himself a very dumb writer, likes to copy past artists. 

What's the Latest Development?


Being smart is highly overrated, according to Kenneth Goldsmith, the Museum of Modern Art's first poet laureate. Goldsmith, who considers himself a very dumb writer, says he is content to repackage the content of the ages instead of coming up with something original. "Dumb favors re—recontextualization, reframing, redoing, remixing, recycling—rather than having to go through the effort of creating something from scratch. Dumb embraces the messiness of contradiction and revels in the beauty of the ridiculously obvious. ... Since dumb has nothing to lose, dumb owes nothing to anyone, and in that way it is free."

What's the Big Idea?

In an attempt to reorient contemporary values, Goldsmith redefines our common conceptions of smart and dumb, as well as the relative importance which society attaches to them. "There is dumb dumb and there is smart dumb," said Goldsmith. "There is also smart smart. Dumb dumb is plain dumb and smart smart is plain smart. Smart dumb rejects both smart smart and dumb dumb, choosing instead to walk a tightrope between the two. Smart dumb is incisive and precise. In order to be smart dumb, you have to be really smart, but not in the smart smart way."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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