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Re: Final Bookways issue

>At 11:07 10/31/95, Gillian Boal wrote:
>>>How are we going to resolve this conflict: downloading one's own library
>>and having the real thing as a collector's item?
>and Robert Goff wrote:
>There will always be artists and craftspeople for whom electronic
>publishing falls just short of satisfactory.  At least, I really hope so.

This gets at idealism in the making of books. In my mind, there is no ideal,
so one thing that happens in the reading of even the most imaginatively made
books (in whatever fine press or artist's book or xerox or electronic mode)
is that the imagination of the reader wonders why such and such was done,
what else could have been. At least I hope this happens.

One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is how most fine press books
function as monument, memento -- that they refer to "the idea of the well
made book," which is generally an idea locked in some cumulative past, as
much as they explore the possibility of the text at hand, or contemporary
artistic possibilities. And in an attempt to honor a literary work (if
that's what they choose to present) they sort of put it up on a pedestal,
taking it, in some ways, far away from being a reading experience. And it's
difficult to escape this situation. It goes back at least to Gutenberg, who
despite ushering in (in some ways) our current Age of Information, printed
works which pointed backward, to a fine manuscript book tradition. And
William Morris was certainly consciously attempting to create a new Golden
Age, with specific past models in mind. In working on a current book
project, I found a part of the challenge was to not make a monument or
memento, rather to make art which remained an experience in and of itself.
My hope is that electronic books, or hypertext, online publishing projects,
or whatever they come to be called, will not always be compared to the
technology of the printed book, rather will be allowed to become something
else, something we're barely (if at all) able to glimpse right now. And I
hope this happens side by side with the continuing development of the
printed book.

One exciting thing I see happening right now is that hypertext works are
taking what can happen with imaginative typography, print explorations of
visual space, layerings of papers (transparent, translucent, and otherwise),
and attempting to make such things happen electronically. I also know at
least one person who teaches such acts who asks his students, among othe
projects, to make hypertext works (one which allow a reader to choose from
threads of possibilities) entirely out of non-electronic means and
materials. I see no reason for the areas of electronic media and print media
to be competitors rather than collaborators.

Charles Alexander
Chax Press
P.O. Box 19178
Minneapolis, MN  55419-0178
612-721-6063 (phone & fax)

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