Saturday, July 17, 2010
Jenny Boully: [one love affair]*
[The Book as a Living System] : Thoughts on Jenny Boully
I have only lifted the cover of her book of poetry/open text titled [one love affair]* and I am already in love with the concept of Jenny Boully. But, this isn't about Jenny Boully, rather my/our strange love of books as living objects, the idea of things as entities, worlds, unto themselves, and the way a book lives its own life, loves and hates and holds and rejects its readers, regardless of their particular creeds.
I think about the book I want to make within the context of a publishing industry itching to catch up with the music industry digital sounds and words with gadgets like the I pad, Kindle, E books... Words dangle there in the outer realms of unnamed space, intangible, tangled, untouchable. What is a book if it isn't a physical object? If a book is only text and not the white space, the color, smell, touch of its page, art of its jacket, what is the thing that is the book, what then homes "book"? Here, I pause and think, Art Objects!, the book must live in a home, the book must exist as an object (its own physical entity taking up real space) or it will lose its essence, its soul, its body, and we understand in this world of the twenty-first century that the erasure of the “body” and the loss of home equates to the destruction of the spirit and the soul, whatever that means to each one of us.
Last semester I sat in a lecture on the new digital age of publishing; I remember little from this lecture except for the odor of winter sweat and body, the dry heat, the gray sunlight through thrifty blinds, and this sentence on the handout: Make shorter paragraphs, people want a quick read.
As a sometimes researcher, I understand the convenience of the I pad when it comes to portability, isn't it easier to carry all that info, pages marked and highlighted ready to be cut and pasted, in one thin screen? Yes.
What do you lose? What happens to information? To art? To the text? The book is a work of art.
I spent a week water color painting images from old science books, each little drawing of amoeba, bone, bird, tree, shell was done by hand in these books. Someone carefully scribed the images. As I copied them with my own eye, I began to feel a certain magic. The birds are not real birds, but the imagined images of stasis; like a book, life is not real life, but imagined stasis, the cavern of reflection and recollection, the home of the imagination, and thus of magic. All good things come from what I am here calling “magic” it is the realm of the pretend, the imagined, the possible. We dream of utopias, not because we want to create utopias (though we try) but because unless we pause and throw all the known pieces of the world to the wind, let them scatter across counties, countries, continents, and look again at what might be possible, we are unable to image _________. We are unable to see beyond. The old bird sketches, skeletal system sketches, drawings of life systems brought me closer to this imagined world of science, where stasis on the page makes the idea of things possible. Where the idea of things can be represented and thus known, not as they actually are, we cannot know this, but as we imagine, as all knowledge occurs.
I want to make a book. To write it, yes, but "to make" is equally important. I need it to occupy real space, to live its own life like a child put out into the world as a physical being. To love its readers as it chooses. To find its own life journey through cities, countries, languages. To find an untimely dumpster death only to be resurrected by some dirty kid trying to make life her own way, to get sold to a book dealer, and bought by an old man who holds the book tenderly, falling to sleep with the book on his chest, waking to her pages crinkled by his body in the morning. Smiling.
The "living system of the book" or the book as [living system]*, refers to the home, the body, and the life of the book. Asks what space means in terms of art, and whether writing and making books exist together, whether the book desires or requires a home, a body, a physical life of its own.