“I think that, as our society changes, at the very moment when it is in the process of changing, the author-function will disappear, and in such a manner that fiction and its polysemic texts will once again function according to another mode, but still with a system of constraint—one which will no longer be the author, but which will have to be determined or, perhaps, experienced.

“All discourses, whatever their status, form, value, and whatever the treatment to which they will be subjected, would then develop in the anonymity of a murmur.”

Michel Foucault, “What is an Author?” (1969), from The Critical Tradition 3rd ed., ed. Richter (2007)

The ghostwriter

As a ghostwriter, I assign authorship of “my” writing to others in exchange for money. They’re not “my” ideas. The clients bring the ideas; I write them up clean.

My programmatic writing process involves breaking down a text – whether phone interview, conference recording, presentation, or press release – into its constituent concepts. Then, I reconstitute the materials in a manner that I judge to be the best, clearest, and most effective way of communicating the underlying ideas. I have experience doing this, and it helps when I know the concepts.

Occasionally a client resists by asserting a traditional authorial relationship between “their” ideas and “their” words. Fine by me, it’s “their” money.

The machine is a ghostwriter

We reveal to the machine what types of thoughts we wish to have.

The machine builds a virtual model of our minds.

The machine feeds us texts, stripped of authorship, in easily digestible chunks of content.

We contribute our thoughts to the web in exchange. The response from the machine is its own reward.

Our identities become depersonalized. Post hominem.

Individualization and market exchange dissipate.

“All solid melts into air.” – Marx

Ghosts in the machine

Write intelligently and the machine will: (a) respond by compiling and transmitting the collective intelligence of others; (b) break down your text into its constituent concepts for repackaging; (c) ignore you, rendering you invisible; or (d) commence hostilities.

Imagine a totalitarian regime of censorship where all speech is permissible except for authorship itself. The regime has imperfect control over the dissemination of texts through a porous Internet, but anyone identified as an author will be hunted down, imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

What texts would arise in this situation? Ciphers and handles would remain – and so not the death of the author.

It is only with the peaceful submission to anonymity that authorship dies.

Would you give up your copyright, your authorship, your name on the work, in exchange for the ability to reuse and remix anything?

What if you could sing whatever you wanted to sing or play whatever song you wanted to play, but never make money as a musician no matter how large the crowd?

Dance is the most personal of artistic forms. It’ll be the last to go.

"Dissolve" (2020). Acrylic, oil, solvent.

The acrylic underpainting of a skull is covered with an oil self-portrait, and half of the face is wiped away with solvent to reveal the skull underneath.
“Dissolve” (2020). Acrylic, oil, solvent