& tomorrow it’s off to the CA, for the College Book Art Association conference. Below is an excerpt from the talk I’ll be giving with Mr. Kyle Schlesinger:
Reading is an experience that unfolds in time—the letters build up into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into a text. That text is at once continuous and fractured. We see it as a line, moving relentlessly from the beginning to the end, but that line is precarious—shot through with cracks, fissures, breaks, white space. The line is an accumulation of fragments. The line is an accumulation of voids. The largest gaps occur in the transition from page to page, through the gutter or around the fore-edge. These are the crucial non-spaces of reading, when the technology of the book rushes up to meet our attention, when our conception of time asserts its artificiality; yet we, as readers, steadfastly ignore it. The lines of text and the blocks of the pages divide and spatialize time—sometimes arbitrarily, always artificially. Artificially because we don’t read like that, we don’t experience books in the way that the things themselves like to imply—in a straight line of perfectly divisible units in strict sequence. The text does not pass by our fixed viewpoint like the frames of a film. We read, we stop reading, we get distracted, we pet the cat, we back up, we start again, we read, we start to fall asleep, it’s a little warm in here, we read, we stop, we read, did you remember to?..., we flip to the end of the chapter to look at an endnote, we read, we stop, a word or phrase reminds us of something, we read, it’s time to eat, we grab a bookmark and wedge it into the space of the gutter, we close the book and now it’s all fore-edge again, now we’re back at the beginning. We walk away. We come back hours later. We walk away. We come back days later. We walk away. We come back years later. The text does not change, but it’s a different book every time we pick it up.