Figure 11.09.03
Sol Lewitt, Floor Structure Black, 1965, painted wood, 18.5” x 18” x 82”.

Terms, movements, ideologies:
[…] demonstrated that “language was not a neutral vehicle…but had a materiality of its own and that this materiality was always charged with significations.” [1] Importantly, for Brecht, Barthes, and many writers and artists to follow, the anti-neutrality of language led to an emphasis of artifice (for Brecht, the lights, set, and material of the theatre, for later Barthes, the Text) always charged with political significations (against the woozy seamless instrumentality of Nazi rhetoric, for example). From this Brechtian formalism, we can derive Barthes’s famous dictum: “a little formalism turns one away from History, but a lot brings one back to it.” […]

Figure 11.09.04
Page spread of Donald Judd, “Specific Objects,” Arts Yearbook, Vol. 8, 1965, 80-1.

[…] ostranenie The Russian term can be translated as “making strange” or “defamiliarization,” and is an important feature of the poetics of RUSSIAN FORMALISM. It is especially associated with Viktor SHKLOVSKY (1917, 1925).

Ostranenie denotes the poetic use of devices such as disrupted metrical patterns, long descriptive passages, METAPHORS and other figures of RHETORIC to produce a semantic shift which makes the habitual appear strangely unfamiliar, rather as though it were being perceived for the first time. The distortion of form produced by the poetic device destabilizes the relationship between the perceiving subject and the object of perception, slowing down the act of perception and making it more difficult. It thus serves the poetic function of promoting seeing, as opposed to recognizing something that is already familiar and known. […]

Although […] making strange is intimately bound up with the poetics of formalism and FUTURISM, it is not difficult to relate it to BRECHT’s ALIENATION-EFFECT or to the analysis of mythologies undertaken by BARTHES in the 1950s. In all three cases, there is an implicit contrast between the AVANT-GARDE or experimental work of art which challenges received perceptions by forcing the reader or viewer to perceive its formality or artificiality, and the conventional work in which the formal devices are concealed in such a way as to make it appear natural and ahistorical. […] [2]
Towards a concerted effort of deferred action. We move back so that we can move forward (or at least to the side a little bit, for some air, for some space to breathe, some room to think amidst all this racket).

1. Yves-Alain Bois, “Formalism and Structuralism,” Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, ed. Hal Foster, Yves-Alain Bois, Benjamin Buchloh, and Rosalind Krauss (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2004), 33. This looks like a great book. Thank you, Danny.

2. David Macey, Dictionary of Critical Theory, (London: Penguin Books, 2001), 284-5.



All things are pierced. All things are permeable. We collapse. We turn outward.
[…] The first editorial line of Form launches the arc of argumentation that the magazine will follow over its robust three year run. This compact credo resonates unidentified among the three editors: geometric architect Philip Steadman, translator and concrete poet Stephen Bann, and avant-garde historian Mike Weaver. In italics, the trajectory of the magazine is then repeated in every subsequent issue:

“The aims of Form are to publish and provoke discussion of the relations of form to structure in the work of art, and of correspondences between the arts.” [1]

[…] Distinct from the pell-mell variety of articles in the common periodical, Form stands as a coherent whole, a meta-magazine, an argument through commentary, arrangement, and citation: exploring the relations of form to structure in the periodical work of print. […]
No thing is ever simple.

The cuttings above become an editorial challenge. Suddenly the periodical is no longer just a collection of work that the editors think is “good,” perhaps loosely arranged around a subject or theme, but the magazine becomes a specific, sustained investigation, developing in time, in a single issue and over a series of issues. What are the necessary/essential (or better yet potential) qualities of a magazine?

We collapse. We turn outward.

[Second Idea, Related & Released: This is also a potential model for a rigorous curatorial practice. (What is the difference between editing and curating? Is it simply a matter of the objects arranged (textual or physical) or the final outcome (magazine or exhibition)? Where, or what, is the exhibition catalog?)]

Some sort of fog, or cloud, grinds against our eyes. The implications remain uncertain. A feeling of dread pervades.

[1] Editorial Note, Form, no. 1 (1966): 3.



Different readings of the same text yield different results. These multiple readings overlap, connect to new things, and connect to each other. They cluster and disperse. Time moves, time is re-covered in the reading and remembering subject. All that fall from Monday + thinking through images differently + the text continues to render = a new reading opens out, the living reading expands. Deferred action. The trauma of the text.

[…] this inherent medium, the flow of renegade bodies in the “mimeo revolution.” […]

The phrase “renegade bodies” makes this all sound a lot sexier than it usually does. The pleasure of the text. Where and how does the reader’s desire intersect with the “renegade body?” What are you looking at, reader?

[…] the only way to approach Language poetry is via a close reading of the periodical—its formal characteristics and structural cohesion, how it relates texts in space-time, and the questions of distribution and editorial vision proper to the space of the little magazine. […]
form + content + production + reception
[…] From this it follows that the spectator space will become part of the film space. The separation of the “projection surface” is abolished. The spectator will no longer observe the film, like a theatrical presentation, but will participate in it optically and acoustically. […] [1]

1. Theodore van Doesburg, “Film as Pure Form,’ trans. Standish Lawder, Form, no. 1 (1966): 7-8. Quoted in Danny Snelson's Mimeo Mimeo essay.



I spent this past weekend reading Daniel Scott Snelson’s contribution to Mimeo Mimeo #3. It’s a really interesting article, and, like all good essays, it spurred my thoughts on its subject (“little magazines”) in new directions, particularly about what I can and will do with the NewLights journal-to-be Et Al. I would like to spend the next few posts here (during this blissfully short, gorgeous, holiday week) dwelling on and in sections of Danny’s essay. The goal is not to perform a close, critical reading, but to use collage, notes, and hyperlinks to elaborate on the ideas that I have found compelling.

BUT FIRST, a brief description of the overall essay:
[…] In Simultaneously Agitated in All Directions, Daniel Scott Snelson discusses the relationship between structuralism and the poetries of the mimeo era by presenting a detailed analysis of Form (a Cambridge-UK magazine published in 1966) and Alcheringa (a journal published by Boston University in 1975), two exemplary gatherings that brilliantly illuminate the historical, material and social circumstances under which theory informed art (and vice-versa) in the early works of some of today’s most celebrated experimental writers.
Any day now, any minute now, the NewLights Press will be starting a new journal, a journal that will hopefully deconstruct and expand the idea of what a journal is or can be. Some ideas on the operating table: how it operates as a decentered, nomadic community. How it arranges, orders, and materializes a variety of texts, suturing together a sort textual-mechanical monstrosity. How it identifies and authorizes its contributors. How it is disseminated, dissipated, and continuously rebuilt among its readers.

The problem is, I have no idea how one is supposed to edit a journal. Oh well, I guess I’ll make it up, conjure it, carefully. I can already feel the water in my lungs.

First Idea, Random: change the title of Et Al to TIME MAGAZINE.
[…] the most accurate and concise definition of a Language poetry “group” is the consistent roster of writers who published each other in a relatively closed economy of independently produced magazines—This, Hills, Tottel’s, 100 Posters, Sun & Moon, La-Bas, Roof, Joglars, Tuumba Press, and later, critical journals like L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Open Letter, and Temblor—these publications wrote, carried, and delivered the definition of the Language movement. The poetics of Language cannot be extracted from this inherent medium, this flow of renegade bodies in the “mimeo-revolution.” More precisely: the only way to approach Language poetry is via a close reading of the periodical—its formal characteristics and structural cohesion, how it relates texts in space-time, and the questions of distribution and editorial vision proper to the space of the little magazine. […]



to use on occasions just like this one.

[The above face is Placard Condensed.]

That should be relatively simple, right?




Figure 11.09.02
The manuscript. An auratic object in the age of endless, disembodied reproduction?

I received the manuscript for What You Will in physical form, not as a digital file. This is unusual nowadays, and my first thought was to ask Kyle (the author, Kyle Schlesinger) to send me the files. But as I was asking for the digital copy, I realized that maybe I didn’t want or need them, that retyping the poems would give me a (productive) chance to get to know them a lot better.

From Karl Young, “Notation and the Art of Reading,” A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections about the Book & Writing, Steven Clay and Jerome Rothenberg, eds. (New York: Granary Books, 2000), 40:
[…] A certain aura would have surrounded a manuscript fascicle of Donne’s poems coming into a reader’s hands in 1620. […] He would first read through them quietly, perhaps silently. He would try to get a general sense of the poem, then concentrate on details. He would probably commit some of them to memory, and might make copies of some or all of them. Copying was a form of reading in those days: a way of becoming one with the text, of tracing its graphic form, much the way art students have copied paintings and drawings as part of their apprenticeship. In 17th century Europe there were still monks who copied scripture as a form of prayer: they spoke the words as they wrote, touched the sacred energy of the script, and created more copies that could be used to save other souls. Transcribing also aided memorization. […]
[I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about the relationship(s) between scribing/copying, writing, and reading. Those thoughts may play a role in the development of this book. At the very least, it will spawn some blog posts.]

So I retyped all of the poems. While I was doing it, I noticed new things, important things that had not come to my attention yet. I paid more attention to structure, to punctuation, to capitalization, to spelling (Kyle uses some purposely misspelled words in these poems), and to all of those “physical” factors that go into determining the manuscript of the poems.

[It occurs to me in writing this that this is the same sort of relationship with the text that setting type by hand fosters. The advantage to the initial retyping is that it happens earlier in the process, before any design decisions have been made. I’ve been considering setting this book by hand anyway. But we shall see, as my access to type is very limited these days.]



The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press was produced in a theoretically unlimited edition. 250 copies were made in the first printing. I figured that it would take awhile to sell 250. But as the year draws to a close, the numbers are dwindling, and it’s time to start to thinking about the second installment.

[The Manifesto was important for NewLights from a production standpoint in the sense that it was the first book produced in such a way as to make letterpress printing it in a large edition just as economically feasible as digitally printing it. And now that I have the films & plates already, all I need to buy is the new paper.]

The plan from the beginning was to reprint the Manifesto when it ran out. This goes against the general NewLights policy of NO REPRINTS, so for the first time the idea of the reprint has to be considered. And of course we can never leave anything alone. A simple reprint? Why not force that work to do more work?

This problem is particularly important for this book because of the idea that keeping the same manifesto, reprinting it over and over again, will keep the press locked into the same theoretical framework. And this is important because the Manifesto itself is about resisting such ossification. A specific example: the NewLights mission statement is printed at the end of the Manifesto, but I’ve been thinking about rewriting the mission statement. So how does a new mission statement fit into a second, or third, or fourth, or n printing? How can a book like this sustain the idea of an infinite amount of printings?

Many books are revised from printing to printing, from edition to edition. So why can’t the Manifesto function in a similar way? Why not make The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press perpetually new? Make the book the living, growing, changing, dynamic object that this very text describes. Actualize, damn it.



The new issue, #3, of the journal Mimeo Mimeo is out now, and I am particularly excited about it (for reasons explained below). Here's the official description:

Mimeo Mimeo #3

Autumn 2009

Mimeo Mimeo
is a forum for critical and cultural perspectives on artists’ books, typography and the mimeograph revolution. This periodical features essays, interviews, artifacts, and reflections on the graphic, material and textual conditions of contemporary poetry and language arts.

We are especially pleased with this issue, our first devoted to the work of a single author. In Simultaneously Agitated in All Directions, Daniel Scott Snelson discusses the relationship between structuralism and the poetries of the mimeo era by presenting a detailed analysis of Form (a Cambridge-UK magazine published in 1966) and Alcheringa (a journal published by Boston University in 1975), two exemplary gatherings that brilliantly illuminate the historical, material and social circumstances under which theory informed art (and vice-versa) in the early works of some of today’s most celebrated experimental writers.

This issue includes a special insert, The Infernal Method, written, designed and printed by Aaron Cohick (NewLights Press).

Reserve your copy today by sending $10 (plus $3 for shipping in the US, $5 for shipping to Canada or $10 for shipping overseas) to: Kyle Schlesinger | UHV A&S | 3007 N. Ben Wilson | Victoria, TX | 77901-5731.

Using Paypal, direct payment to kyleschlesinger [at] gmail [dot] com.
Also available from Small Press Distribution

And check out our recently restored blog: http://mimeomimeo.blogspot.com/

Paypal orders can also be placed via the Mimeo Mimeo blog.

Jed Birmingham

Kyle Schlesinger
Mimeo Mimeo eds.

You can view the NewLights insert, The Infernal Method, here.


This is an essay about legibility, about legibility in printing. This is an essay that seeks to examine the notion of legibility, of readability, and to open it out onto a productive way of thinking through process in printing.

This is an essay about printing, about “good” printing and about “bad” printing, about how printing can articulate and make legible different modes of reading.

This is an essay about reading, about how things are read, how printing affects reading, and about multiple threads of reading in a multiply legible text.

This is an essay about writing, about writing for maximum and multiple legibilities.

This is an essay about writing-printing-reading as a single cluster of interconnected activities connecting and opening out onto other clusters of other activities.

This is an essay that attempts multiple legibilities, that is aware of itself as an act of writing-printing-reading as a single cluster of interconnected activities connecting and opening out onto other clusters of other activities.

Text/object by NewLights Press: Aaron Cohick, et al.
12 pages, no cover, saddle stapled, 7” x 5.5”
Letterpress printed on newsprint, with additional elements added by hand
Edition of 350
Released as part of Issue #3 of Mimeo Mimeo. Available here.



Figure 11.09.01
The first page of notes/brainstorming for
What You Will.

What You Will is a book of poems by Kyle Schlesinger. It is scheduled for release in February 2010.

One of the first things that I do when planning a book is make a bunch of notes and sketches, just to get some ideas down. You can see in the image above that there are sketches for a general page layout, for the main title spread, and some vague ideas about some new ligatures for the title type.

These poems pose an interesting visual problem in that they are very long and narrow. Does one make the pages long and narrow to accommodate the poems, or make them short and squarish to provide contrast? The sketches here show an idea for wider pages.

The final book always changes from these initial ideas. The point is to let them grow and develop, and to learn something new along the way. But you have to jump in somewhere.



Lettering & Type: Creating Letters and Designing Typefaces, by Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals (the gentlemen of Post Typography), Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2009. As one might guess from the title, it’s a book about type. But it’s not just another book about type, it’s an accessible book about designing and drawing letters and type, which is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I’m working my way through it right now. It will have some bearing on the next book….



Soon, soon there will be a new feature, called PRODUCTION IS RECEPTION, running on this blog. This new feature (which grows out of the documentation of the new NewLights broadsides) will demonstrate, explain, and comment upon the various steps of the various processes that go into producing books. I have a few hopes for this new feature:

A) That it will show and make accessible (and thus demystify) steps and processes that usually remain hidden.

B) That it will help to generate ideas and discussion for other producers of book-text-objects.

C) That it will help me and the readers of this blog connect the manifold activities of making to larger practices and ideas, allowing us to elaborate an investigation and critique of the modes of production of meaning(art?)-objects, and of how those modes are rendered and inscribed in the final form and distribution of the object(s) in question.

D) That it will give practical “how-to” oriented tips and techniques (an ongoing demo).

E) That it will be interesting, entertaining, and maybe even educational.

F) That these posts will not explain away or close off the process, but that they will break open, occupy, and explode it. Everything generative, always.

This feature will be starting up soon, as I finish off one piece and begin another, a series of an-Others from here on out.

And speaking of process, here is a really fun bookmaking process stop-motion animation made by Abigail Uhteg about her recent project at the Women’s Studio Workshop:


By Adam Robinson, the proprietor of Publishing Genius Press. It’s on pre-sale now, over at the Narrow House.