The Ideal Lecture (In memory of David Antin)

Kenneth Goldsmith's “The Ideal Lecture” is a transcript of a talk from 2017 given at The Louvre auditorium. The lecture was part of FIAC”s programme. In the words of Goldsmith: “I loaded the talk into a teleprompter program on my laptop. The linebreaks in the piece are a result of the way the teleprompter program broke them up in order to facilitate the reading of the work. Although I have never written lineated verse, I love the idea that a computer lineated the verse for me. This lecture, then, reads an awful lot like the way I talk, but it is truly nothing like the way I talk.”

In his talk, Goldsmith discusses topics like poetry’s performative aspects, the materiality of language and others. However, it is intriguing to note the relation of the content to the medium. In the beginning, Goldsmith mentions the “ideal lecture” as one performed in most authentically by the lecturer’s ideal self. I believe this is at the core of why the author transcribed the talk into a book. By doing so, Goldsmith disposes of the physical performance of the body and hands over the agency to the reader, who becomes the “performing” one.

The verse-like layout of the text introduces an extra level of imposed performativity, which was not the author’s initial intention but a quirk of the technological interpretation of the writing.

The book is a quick 60-page read containing ideas embedded into the Goldsmith's artistic work and investigations. For me, that first encounter with the author was an introduction to his thoughts on literature, materiality and appropriation. However, the book is an artistic piece that imposes questions on the performativity of lecturing and the re-appropriation of ideas in speech- and text-based mediums.