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Re: [BKARTS] Book or Sculpture?



-----Original Message-----
From: Book_Arts-L [mailto:BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of
Michael Andrews

**Not meaning to argue, but to engage in discourse with the object of
discovery:

Michael Andrews wrote:
A book is not a book if meaningful text cannot be read.
That is the definitive use of a book.

**But what about picture books? I crack up at the "story" in Mercer Meyer's
boy, dog, frog books and yet there is not a word of text in them. Ditto for
thousands of other books. Now I will admit that my *personal* concept of
"book" is something that conveys a message of some sort. It might be an
historical text, it might be a series of images that produce "story" in my
mind, it might be something that conveys an impression of an emotional state
or revelation. And I'll agree that my personal sense of "book" is something
that has some sort of movement. And yet there are static artist's books
that, while you can't turn a page, still manage to give the impression of
movement (i.e., some kind of progression or change).

Michael Andrews wrote:
It is further confusing to contemplate whatever it is that impels
someone to redefine an obvious piece of sculpture as a book.

**Just as a side-note: I was at Powell's bookstore in Portland (Oregon)
yesterday and there is a wonderful pillar at one outside corner of the store
that is sculpted to represent a stack of books. The titles appear (on one
side or another - the books are arranged so that spines appear on all four
sides) and are in their original languages - Psalms in Hebrew, One Thousand
and One Nights (or One Thousand Nights and a Night, depending on your
translation) in Arabic, etc. A large sign inside the store translates the
titles. While that pillar represents books, and even has "text" (titles) it
is clearly a sculpture, not a book - it's "message" is that it's a sculpture
about books. I don't think anyone would try to call it a book.

Michael Andrews wrote:
Or is it simply a failure to attract any
positive feedback from the sculpture market that
they feel impelled to invade the dying book market,
and thereby erode that market even further
by preying on and confusing the weakened intellects
of those who do not understand
that books are objects that require
attention and that least denominator of discursive reasoning,
they require reading?

Oops, that's a complex sentence
so I am sure the point is lost there.

**That sort of denigrating remark in an effort to put off discourse is
self-defeating. As a professional bookseller and one-time professional
writer, I have a passion for books and for text. I DEMANDED that my mother
teach me to read when I was two years old, and have read voraciously since -
in every subject imaginable with the intention of being as broad in
perspective and open to ideas and concepts as possible, and without
cultural/political (in the broadest sense) prejudices. So I find it
difficult to deny someone their definition of a book (or anything else)
simply because it does not meet the criteria of my definition. There are
those who would deny "outsider" art, mental patient art, children's' art,
the title of "art," and there are those who find it truly artful because
(some of it) lacks the self-conscious pretentiousness of "fine" art and is a
direct expression of the individual's personal view of the world. (Grass is
not always green, skies are not always blue, flowers are not always pretty,
etc.) Not being a critic, I'm willing to let it appeal to my senses as art
and if it doesn't, leave it for those who do find it appealing.

Michael Andrews wrote:
Oh well, who needs all these pesky words and thoughts anyway?
For that matter this culture has already excluded actual books,
so why fret?

**Mercy, I hope not. I sell books every day - all over the world, to all
kinds of individuals and institutions, for all kinds of reasons. I'm banking
(literally) on continued interest in books no matter how many electronic
gizmos come along, no matter what happens to the world economy. There is
comfort in books, comfort in old books, not to mention the intellectual and
practical resource that they provide. I suspect that there are, among many
of those dedicated readers, many to whom "artists books" are not really
books....they are works of art or objects of curiosity, but these people
have to ask, are they *really* books?

**I'm reminded of a time when I was working in a new bookstore. A woman came
in looking for romance novels, and started asking me about various titles
and authors. I had to keep saying, "I haven't read it." She finally glared
at me accusingly and said, "Well! You don't read much, do you?" - her
assumption being, I suppose, that if you didn't read romance novels you
weren't a reader. Perspective....it's a funny thing.

Regards,
Lee

Lee Kirk
Cats are composed of Matter, Anti-Matter, and It Doesn't Matter

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