So another weekend spent thinking and re-evaluating the activities of the NewLights Press, re-evaluating the NewLights Press in general (and of course now these thoughts are always twinned with The Press at Colorado College). Thinking after CODEX. Reading the Robert Creeley-fest on the Mimeo Mimeo blog, and the “I-have-to-get-to-work” snake twisting in my stomach after I see and read about all of those books. Reading about art & economics in the Temporary Services Art Work paper. Re-reading and thinking about the “Return of the Democratic Multiple?” posts I had been doing, which I intend to continue, which are related, important somehow, in all of this. Reading submissions. Daydreaming. Figuring out a schedule. Cutting. Printing. Cleaning up. And sleeping.
The work of this press is so backed up that sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. Little by little, progress is being made. Broadsides are being cut, and soon books will be printed. I look in the IDE(A/O)LOG(Y/UE) and I see that DeCollage was begun three years ago. Other projects have been “on hold” for almost two. What happened? Where have I been?
2 weeks ago I had to declare an official moratorium on “outside” projects—projects that are not actual production of NewLights pieces. I’ve already had to turn down a few things that I would have really liked to do, that would have been good & fun to do, but hey, right now I need a few less things to do.
I want to make it clear that I am not complaining, or lamenting—I am, in many ways, thankful to be so busy. But I have not finished anything in a long time, the projects drag on, and it’s my fault. I know that I have been working, but what have I been doing? Just where is the Big Idea? Was there one to begin with?
CODEX makes me think. A fair like that, with so much work, so much good work, mostly geared towards a high-end market and library collections, is a strange place for the NewLights Press to be. I think, maybe. (That and there was nothing new to sell besides DeCollage, which is expensive and I can't sell expensive books yet.) But is it about selling? It feels that way in the thick of it. But is it really about selling? I wonder about the fine press world (all literally & beautifully laid out and mapped at that fair) and I wonder about the idea of “reception,” about democratic multiples, un-democratic multiples, and un-multiplied multiples. I wonder about accessibility, both economic and aesthetic/conceptual. What kind of accessibility, economic or aesthetic/conceptual, or both, qualifies a piece as “democratic?” I wonder about legibility, and if that is different from accessibility. I wonder if there’s anything to get excited about. I love fine press books. Why don’t I make them? Or do I, just badly? Or differently? What the hell kind of a press is NewLights anyway? Literary? Artists’ books? Academic? Private? Fine? Does it matter?
Usually I can push these questions to the background, and just do the work, thinking & feeling my way through the projects, letting the Press define its own parameters, project by project, as we go. But sometimes, like now, the questions bubble and clamor, and I need to ask them out loud. Usually things are fine and I am excited to get to work everyday. Sometimes a dark and vast Fear emerges and undermines that excitement. Fear is our ultimate enemy as we feel our way through this darkness, through this blinding light. Sometimes I forget that the space between us is so great. Sometimes I forget that we always move together. Often I forget that as an artist I should always act confident and sure of myself & my work. Honesty has always been my problem. So here’s the honest assessment of how and what the NewLights Press is doing: I’m struggling. I love it. I’m terrified. I love it. I can’t wait. I have to wait. I’m guilty. There’s so much work to do. Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.