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Strictly speaking, “Shia” is the Arabic proper noun denoting the Shi’ite religious practice, a sect of Islam. According to Wikipedia, it is the short form of the historical phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī, meaning “followers,” “faction,” or “party” of Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin Ali, whom the Shia believe to be Muhammad’s successor in the Caliphate. LaBeouf is French for “the” and “ox,” or “beef,” or “a jam session,” but with a gender disagreement: “La” is feminine, whereas “boeuf” is masculine (it is also normally spelled with a ligature between the o and e: “bœuf”).
So, does “Shia LaBeouf” make sense?
Is “Shia LaBeouf” art?
Ask Kenneth Goldsmith.
Who is Kenneth Goldsmith?
“Kenneth Goldsmith (born 1961) is an American poet. He is the founding editor of UbuWeb, teaches Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a Senior Editor of PennSound. He hosted a weekly radio show at WFMU from 1995 until June 2010. He has published ten books of poetry, notably Fidget (2000), Soliloquy (2001) and Day (2003) and Goldsmith’s American trilogy, The Weather (2005), Traffic (2007), and Sports (2008). He is the author of a book of essays,Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in a Digital Age (2011). As editor he published I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews (2004) and is the co-editor of Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (2011). In 2013, he was appointed the Museum of Modern Art‘s first Poet Laureate.”
What is the meaning of all this?
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Editor’s note: This post originally misspelled “LaBeouf” as “LaBoeuf.” It has been corrected.