Subject: (n) 1. a person or thing that is being discussed or dealt with or that gives rise to something. What is the subject of this sentence? 2. a thinking or feeling entity; the conscious mind or ego. The relationship between the producing subject and the receiving subject. (adj) (subject to) 1. likely or prone to be affected by (something bad). The subject of my desire. 2. dependent or conditional upon. Subject to this discourse. 3. under the control or authority or of. Subject to this discourse. (v) (usually subject someone/thing to) 1. cause or force to undergo. Subject to this discourse. 2. bring under one’s own control or jurisdiction, typically be force. Subject to this desire.



From Clifton Meador, “Afterword” to the essay “I (heart) DIY CMYK (an homage),” JAB: The Journal of Artists’ Books #25 (Spring 2009): 23:

[…] where four-color printing has an authority or ubiquity unlike any other medium, learning to take control of that medium and produce work that challenges the transparency of the medium can be seen as a radical gesture. […] When artists produce work that decodes the transparency of a medium, everyone becomes aware of how the illusion is created. Instead of the glamour, innuendo, and the false promises of advertising, we see smears of magenta, cyan, and yellow ink expensively and carefully arranged on a piece of industrially manufactured paper. And once we understand how the magic trick is created, we are less likely to believe the lie. […]

Print media has been killed by digital media in the same way that photography killed painting many years ago. Finally, we can get to sleep. Finally, we can get to work.



From Andrew Joron’s incredible essay “The Emergency,” found in The Cry at Zero (Denver: Counterpath Press, 2007) 7-9:

“[…] Within the complex system of language, a word’s meaning is ‘edged’—and chaotically conditioned—by the meanings of all other words. Communication attempts to crystallize this chaos by establishing fixed relations between the meanings of particular words. But such language-crystals melt and reform constantly in response to their (subjectively mediated) surroundings. (Complex systems are typically open systems to which rigid concepts of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ do not apply. Such openness allows them to extremely sensitive to changes in the environment.) In this process, communication proves susceptible to structural failure. The abyssal turbulence of language as a whole, always brimming beneath the surface of stabilized meaning, can initiate a spontaneous phase transition that accelerates words far beyond equilibrium, toward the condition of poetry.

Poetry is the self-organized criticality of the cry.

(The concept of ‘self-organized criticality’ can be illustrated by pouring a quantity of sand onto a tabletop: the fallen particles will build up into a conical pile. This shape is the product of self-organization, for the pile maintains itself around a critical vertex, a balance-point between order and chaos. Once this critical point is reached, the effect of a single particle’s impact on the pile can no longer be predicted. One particle may cause a chain reaction of cascades upon impact, while another may rest where it falls. Not only have the system’s elements spontaneously organized themselves in response to an influx of energy, but the system as a whole has ‘tuned’ itself toward a state of criticality, where single events have the widest possible range of effects.)

A poem tunes itself toward a state of criticality, a condition of language in which single words have the widest possible range of effects. […]”



Read: (v) 1. look at and comprehend the meaning of (written or printed matter) by interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed. I wasn’t able to read while I was underwater. 2. to mentally project a meaningful text over the surfaces of things, places, and/or people. You are so easy to read. 3. to construct a meaning from (an object). Only he was able to read the sacred tablets. 4. An active method of information retrieval. I could not stand up to the constant reading and rereading. 5. a method of information retrieval that gives the receiver control over the temporal object, as opposed to listening or viewing, where the receiver must adjust themselves to the pace of the object. This dictatorial attention.



Stable Signification: the state in which an object achieves or is ascribed a single, set meaning, thus rendering it almost useless in a dynamic system. Usually stable signification is just an illusion and is easily dispelled with time and patience. Belief in an object’s state of being a stable signifier will often lead to the degradation of its form to a style, while simultaneously allowing its fixed meaning to be assigned a commodity value. Objects can only be bought and sold (intellectually, aesthetically, commercially) if quantified. Quantification and stabilization can be counteracted with the steady pressure of the precise science of softness, disruption, and imprecision.



Legible: (adj) (of handwriting or print) clear enough to read. The printing of this book could be more legible.

Legibility: (n) (of an object's discursive affect) a component or series of components in an object which can be read. A legibility is not necessarily bound to any intention of an object’s producer, but can stand separate as the shape of an object’s path (through the reception of individual reading subjects and/or through the culture at large) is traced. A legibility is ongoing and is constantly activated—it only exists in the reading-movement of the object. The printing of this book could not be more legible.



Acceptance of Futility: 1. a condition in which objects can be made. Usually derived from the practice of logical problem solving as a means to create more problems. Can be positive or negative, personal or social. 2. A reason to, or not to, “get out of bed” in the “morning.”

Hopeful(ly): a condition characterized by the belief that “things will change for the better.” Often placed in opposition to the acceptance of futility, although some believe that the two conditions are actually the same thing, represented in two different ways.



Object: (n) 1. Some thing that is made, or some thing that can be manipulated, but not necessarily both. Also, some thing that may or may not mean something. I object. 2. A series of effects clustered around or emanating from a single theme. These two objects are connected. 3. A purpose, goal, or focus. What is the object of this sentence? 4. Any thing (usually not living) that is not oneself. The object of my desire. 5. A formerly living thing. The abject object. 6. A living thing reduced to a series of effects or its base materiality. The object of my desire.



Publishing Genius has released a new book, MLKNG SCKLS, by Justin Sirois. They are holding a contest related to it as well.

A friend sent me a link to Jen Bervin’s website.

Another friend, James Tucker, has just started a blog.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how next year will be year 10 of the NewLights Press, and about how if I want to do something significant to mark that fact, I should start planning now. But what to do? A reading? An exhibition? Both? Perhaps. Or how about an entire year of sustained, high energy publishing activity? How about 6 chapbooks, one every 2 months? (My first idea was to do 12, one per month, but I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to do much else.) And by chapbooks I mean artists’ books too, but (hopefully) not by me…



Zines have a special place in my heart. I first learned to screenprint, run a Vandercook, and bind books in class about making zines. Our textbook was A Secret Location on the Lower East Side by Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips. At the end of that semester, when the first book was done, the NewLights Press was founded. My life changed. I had found it.

Registration is now open for this year’s San Francisco Zine Fest, which is taking place on August 22nd and 23rd at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. Click here for the official website, including full registration information.

I am on the organizing committee this year, and it is my personal Zine Fest Mission to get more artists’ books and independent literary publishers tabling there. So if you’re an artist book/independent literary publisher, you should get a table. Why? Mainly because it’s fun. I really love doing shows like these (the Zine Fest will be my fourth this year); it’s just great to sit at the table and show people your work. Some get really excited about it. Some even buy some of it.

The second reason: it’s cheap. $90 for a full table, $45 for a half. You can’t beat that price. What have you got to lose? Find a friend and share a table.

Although the event is called the Zine Fest and zines/comix are the primary focus, there will be other kinds of work at the show: printmaking, other art stuff, DIY craft, etc. And I think the show and the people involved benefit from seeing a wide range of work. So come on out and share your books, ideas, and enthusiasm with the larger publishing community.



Facing the terror of the blank, white screen this morning, I thought of the following passage from the “Preface” of Gilles Deleuze’s Difference & Repetition (trans. by Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994) xxi:
[…] How else can one write but of those things which one doesn’t know, or knows badly? It is precisely there that we imagine having something to say. We write only at the frontiers of our knowledge, at the border which separates our knowledge from our ignorance and transforms the one into the other. Only in this manner are we resolved to write. […]
And I think about the necessity of writing and I wonder who this blog, who these books are for. Is this for you, reader, my haphazard electronic shadow? Is this for me, the writer? The I, the me, is not in here. This is not my voice.

This is an object in the ghost world. It is external. Once can see its shape, its flaws.

Form is necessary. Necessary but not static. A channel through time. A translucent window. A perpetually repeating moment of coalescence. But neither of us are here, nor should we want to be, nor should we want us to be. Simply the here and we look on coldly.

We are united in the gaze at this spinning. It is nice to see you again, but neither of us is here. Just this spinning, the void, ever dilating. Nice to see you again.

I am motivated by a strong desire to write, to make books. I have nothing to express, nothing to say. This is not my voice. This is a desire to make external, to see, manipulate, and understand. This is a desire for, a rage for, a reptilian interest in, the reptilian function of thought. This is a desire to see what this can do.

It snakes.

Ghosts of Old Sam. All that fall. Not my voice.

It snakes. The fingerprints on the window.



The Minnesota Center for Book Arts has announced the five finalists for the inaugural MCBA prize. You can view the list of winners and images of all the entries here:


Congratulations to all of the winners!