Page 1

A Useless Guide to Book Design Are Not Notes

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Are Not Notes

Contents 1. Authorship Means Working Together


2. Words & Pictures: Visual Metalinguistics


3. Cultures Outside the Word


4. The Book as a Post-Industrial Object


5. The Artist’s Book as Ephemera


6. Eric Gill: Erotics & Art


7. Who’s Reading Screens?


8. How to Typeset a Book



Book 1 Authorship Means Working Together

“Authorship� Means Working Together Culture is always produced collectively.

Part One

What Is an Author?


A Useless Guide to Book Design

What does it matter who is speaking?


Authorship Means Working Together

“What is an Author?” Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes famously mark the historical moment when we recognized that interpretation—the intrinsic violence of hermeneutics—cancels the individuality of the author’s voice. The author has no more authority, in other words. Interpretation trumps authority. To describe a designer as an author is to say no more or less than that he or she is an interpreter. It is an apt description of the graphic designer.

Source: Foucault, Michel, and James D. Faubion. Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology. New York: New Press, 1998. 11

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Making art in an age of data saturation means bricolage.


Authorship Means Working Together

On the act of making art in an age of data saturation Tom McCarthy on David Foster Wallace: “The world and reality [is] already essentially formed, the real world’s constituent info generated . . . now a meaningful choice lay in herding, corralling and organizing that torrential flow of information.”

Source: Tom McCarthy, “Book Review: The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace,” New York Times, April 14, 2011. 13

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Form used to follow function. Today form follows concept; form is function. 14

Authorship Means Working Together One very prevalent contemporary approach to the old division between form and content suggests that there is no content. There are ideas; form is an instantiation of a concept, but no longer does form follow function. What was known as “content” has been co-opted as “product”—an abstract variable meant to be managed, not designed. Product, or “content” is meant to be controlled, limited, distributed efficiently, and profited from. A designed object, by way of contrast, is integrated; a thing allowed to follow its own trajectory.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Provisional art emphasizes the flaws that occur in the process of making things. 16

Authorship Means Working Together

Making sense of the Provisional Industrial designer Hella Jongerius emphasizes the making process, especially the little flaws that occur. “Form used to follow function,” she says “form now follows concept.” “I need to be seduced by my own research.” She presents the research as the design. “I confront the beauty of tradition with the beauty of the banal.”

Source: Jongerius, Hella, Louise Schouwenberg, and Lucas Verweij. Hella Jongerius. London: Phaidon Press, 2003. 17

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Designers produce objects that embody seductive concepts and ideas. 18

Authorship Means Working Together The designer’s job used to be to make seductive objects. Now the designer’s job is to make objects that embody seductive concepts and ideas. The cheapest, easiest form of embodying an idea is the visual pun.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Design commissioners are no longer professional experts with noble ideals.


Authorship Means Working Together Karel Martens: “Besides that, commissioners are, in general, no longer professional experts with noble ideals, but cynical managers with only one desire: how to make money as soon as possible. How to get maximum results with means as minimal as possible. No risks or experimenting but proved ‘successful’ design. . . . I see more and more that those in charge of companies big and small, are no longer interested in being a partner in such an adventure. In general people at the top are no longer erudite leaders with responsibilities, other than gaining maximum profits.”

Source: Karel Martens,

Drukwerk. London: Hyphen

Robin Kinross, and Jaap

Press, 2010, pages 194 & 196.

van Triest. Printed Matter = 21

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Oppressive chunks of quotations yield heightened graphicness


Authorship Means Working Together Walter Benjamin’s describes his masterwork, The Arcades Project, as being made up of “oppressive chunks of quotations.” He structures his book this way to give it a “heightened graphicness.”

Benjamin, Walter, and

Belknap Press of Harvard

Howard Eiland. The Arcades

University Press, 2003, p. xii.

Project. Cambridge, MA: The 23

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Critical Cultural Consumption


Authorship Means Working Together

Critical Consumption Designers, artists, and creative professionals of all kinds must be familiar with, and well-versed in all the best and most recent theory, books, poetry, essays, music, motion pictures, and art of every variety. Everything we do should respond to, and drive, the contemporary. Artists and designers have the responsibility to keep cultural artifacts from descending into mere commodities.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Cultural & historical literacy is usually missing from book design. 26

Authorship Means Working Together

What contemporary book cover design should be (but usually isn’t) doing. Tom McCarthy, on the cover design for his novel C: “It strikes you straight away how encyclopaedically visually literate [book designer Peter Mendelsund] is. For example, he makes use of all these Constructivist, and Bauhaus, and generally high-Modernist motifs, but overhauls them and gives them a whole new life in the transformation: it’s the exact visual correlative of what I think contemporary literature should be (but usually isn’t) doing.”

Source: 27

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Artists are turning from imagemaking to writing and performing.


Authorship Means Working Together Dieter Roelstraete: “A growing number of artists are turning away from image-making to writing and performing. It’s symptomatic of a general condition afflicting cultural production in these times of instant image inundation that an ever-growing number of artists are visibly anxious to extricate themselves from.”

Source: “Word Play,” Frieze, May 2011, pages 98–103 29

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Traditional masters’ programs emphasize form over content.


Authorship Means Working Together The School of Visual Arts Designer as Author MFA launched in 1998 as an alternative to traditional masters’ programs that emphasize form over content.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Image production today serves artists more as a cover than as an actual goal. 32

Authorship Means Working Together Boris Groys: “We’re observing a tremendous overproduction of images today. (Artists have increasingly recognized this— and begun to write themselves. The production of images serves them more as a cover than as an actual goal.) The relationship between image and text has changed. Before it seemed important to provide a good commentary for a work. Today it seems important to provide a good illustration for a text.”

Source: Boris Groys, Art Power, MIT Press, 2008, page 118. 33

Part Two

Working Together


A Useless Guide to Book Design

The order of the universe is based on working together: partnership & friendship. 36

Authorship Means Working Together Plato, Gorgias 508a: “Wise men claim that partnership and friendship . . . hold together heaven and earth . . . and that is why they call this universe a world-order.�


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Martin Heidegger: Books are voluminous letters to friends.


Authorship Means Working Together Dieter Roehlstrate: “Martin Heidegger described books as ‘voluminous letters to friends.’ Anyone who has ever ‘made’ a book will immediately grasp the depth of feeling communicated in this admittedly romantic view of the book publishing business.”

Source: Dieter Roelstraete, Dot Dot Dot, Issue No. 12, 2006. 39

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Anonymity is more powerful than celebrity.


Authorship Means Working Together

The End of Expertise Adrian Shaughnessy: “Anyone who sets themseves up as an expert is almost certainly going to be wrong in most things.” More than experts, we need co-workers. Anonymity is more powerful than celebrity.

Source: Graphic Design: A User’s Manual. London: Laurence King, 2009, p. 7. 41

A Useless Guide to Book Design

The aesthetic has become discursive; discourse has become aesthetic.


Authorship Means Working Together Our Literal Speed: “The ‘aesthetic’ has become discursive, ‘discourse’ has become aesthetic.”

Source: Promotional mate-

Events in the Vicinity of Art

rials for Our Literal Speed:

and History (2009). 43

A Useless Guide to Book Design

The weaker an image, the more it transcends technology.


Authorship Means Working Together

Weakness Is Best Boris Groys: “The true goal of the avant-garde should not be seen as innovation, originality—but in the creation of weak, transcendental, reduced images. By the means of reduction, weak images, precisely because of their weakness were supposed to transcend the technological and political transformations of modernity . . . The avant-garde is non-original because it did not want to invent, it wanted to discover the transcendental repetitive images [underlying all images].” “Because avant-garde art is not popular people think it is an elitist art that reflects some kind of elitist taste. I think there is a huge confusion in the appreciation of the avantgarde tradition. The confusion is that the avant-garde art opened the way for a weak gesture, a weak image conceived as an artwork. And because the artists are practicing weak gestures, reproducing weak images, [the avant-garde] has low visibility.”

Source: Groys, Boris. Going Public. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010.


Book 2 The Emblem: Words & Pictures

THE EMBLEM: WORDS & PICTURES Visual Metalinguistics in the Renaissance and Today


PART 1 The Renaissance Emblem


The Emblem


Words & Pictures

Emblems, Hieroglyphs, and Heraldry

DEFINITIONS Emblems, hieroglyphs, and heraldry are images believed to be capable of bypassing the rational mind to be perceived directly by the intellect. The canonical form of an emblem is made up of a pictura and a subscriptia. The picture is often highly ambiguous; the script—made up of a poem and a motto—reveals hidden meaning. The picture is understood to correspond to the body, and the text is the emblem’s soul.* The emblem ire always meant to both reveal and conceal.

* See Alciati, Andrea, and John Francis Moffitt. A Book of Emblems: the Emblematum Liber in Latin and English (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004), 8.


The Emblem

Emblem = Visual Allegory

DEFINITIONS & ORIGINS All Western, European civilization prior to the seventeenth century* has in common a belief in allegory, anagogy, and symbol. Where the modern era depends on the explanatory power of empirical knowledge and reason, the ancient, medieval, and Renaissance eras relied upon symbolism and magic—phantasy.

* Roland Barthes calls this common premodern heritage, a “super-civilization.” Barthes, Roland, The Semiotic Challenge, Barthes, Roland. Berkeley:

University of California Press, 1994; cited in Robin Reybould, Emblemata: Symbolic Literature of the Renaissance (New York: Grolier Club, 2009), 3.


Words & Pictures

Emblem Books

DEFINITIONS & ORIGINS Emblems were present in premodern paintings, stained glass windows, jewelry, and tapestries. Once the printing press was invented, the genre “emblem book” became extremely popular. One of the first, and most imitated, emblem books was Andreas Aciatus’s Emblematum Liber, published in 1531.

Daly, Peter M., The European Emblem: Towards an Index Emblematicus (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1980), 3.


The Emblem

Renaissance Hieroglyphs

MARSILIO FICINO As Marsilio Ficino, the great Renaissance translator of Plotinus puts it: signifying divine things requires not “complex discursive thought about a subject,” but “the simple and steadfast form of it.”*

* Quoted in Horapollo, and George Boas. The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993, p. 28.


Words & Pictures

Renaissance Hieroglyphs

ALBRECHT DÜRER In 1512 the great artist Albrecht Dürer’s friend Willibald Pirckheimer translated the Hieroglyphics of Horapollo. Dürer agreed to illustrate the manuscript.

Hellyer, Marcus. The Scientific Revolution: The Essential Readings. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2003, p. 136.


The Emblem


Words & Pictures

Renaissance Hieroglyphs

DÜRER’S MEL ANCHOLIA Dürer’s famous Melancholia is made up of several emblems and hieroglyphic images in order to portray the way in which the active, rational mind resists direct intellection. This process of resistance is known as melancholia imaginativa.

Strauss, Walter L. The Complete Engravings, Etchings, and Drypoints of Albrecht Dürer. New York: Dover Publications, 1973, p. 166.


The Emblem


Words & Pictures

Renaissance Hieroglyphs

THE ROSE T TA STONE The discovery of the Rosetta Stone put an end to the inspired speculation that hieroglyphs mean things like this: “When [the Egyptians] desire to represent a man of sharp hearing, they draw a goat. For the goat breathes through its nostrils and ears.�*

* Horapollo, and George Boas. The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993, p. 100.


PART 2 The Contemporary Emblem


The Emblem



Words & Pictures

Contemporary Hieroglyphs

JOSEPH BEUYS The great twentieth-century artist Joseph Beuys draws on traditional notions of the magical symbol, the hieroglyph, or the emblem in order to effect change in the world. His chalkboard-drawing actions are a direct reference to theurgic activities of Renaissance magicians and philosophers. He signed his name using variations on the theme of emblematics.

See BrĂźderlin, Markus, Ulrike Groos, Holger Broeker, Aleida Assmann, and Mario Merz. Rudolf Steiner and Contemporary Art. KĂśln: DuMont, 2010, and Steiner,

Rudolf, Walter Kugler, Taja Gut, Martina Maria Sam, and Wolfgang Zumdick. Blackboard Drawings 1919-1924. Forest Row: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003.


The Emblem

Contemporary Hieroglyphs

G.K. CHESTERTON In his “A Defence of Heraldry,” Chesterton describes the advent of modernity as introducing an inverted, unjust democracy. In premodern times, when family crests and emblems were the norm, the common mass of the people were understood as “mean and commonplace” only when compared to the aristocracy. By the beginning of the Victorian era, however, everyone had become mean and commonplace. A person of “any station was represented as being by nature a dingy and trivial person.”

G.K. Chesterton. The Defendant. Second edition, London: R. Brimley Johnson, publishers, 1902.


Words & Pictures

Contemporary Hieroglyphs

GILLES DELEUZE In his several essays on the work of the philosopher Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze manages to revive the idea of pre-linguistic images— intuitive knowledge—for an empirical, nonmythical, and strictly realist era.

See, for example, Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986, p. 5.


The Emblem

Contemporary Emblems

MARSHALL McLUHAN McLuhan points out that the idea of a textual “content” independent of image is a product of “alphabetic technology.” Phonetic writing transmits speech as its “content,” but phonetic writing is not the only available type of writing. Pictographs and ideographs, according to McLuhan, transmit Gestalts.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), 53–54.


Words & Pictures

Contemporary Emblems

RON BURNE T T Modern, Western understandings of the body presuppose a division between the perceived and the perceiver such that the body and its ecological environment are radically separated. As a result, the sensate being experiences its surroundings as an “image.�

See Burnett, Ron. How Images Think. (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2005), 77.


The Emblem


Words & Pictures

Contemporary Emblems

W.J.T. MITCHELL Mitchell tracks Michael Fried’s distinction between (a) Modern art, which is exclusively visual, and (b) an anti-, post-, or “Literalist” art which employs language to contextualize itself. Modern art attempts to assert the visual without a verbal support. Critics and historians are required to step in and situate it verbally. The “Literalist” artist, however, uses language as a constituent part of her visual production.

Mitchell, W. J. T. 1994. Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 216; and Michael Fried, “Art and

Objecthood,” in Fried, Michael. 1998. Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).


The Emblem

Contemporary Emblems

JACQUES R ANCIÈRE Rancière points out that the ancient world knew no fine art, but only arts—as in ways of doing and making. These arts “fit in with the city’s occupations.” The ancient arts were “a way of knowing in what way images’ affects the ethos of individuals and communities.”

Rancière, Jacques, Gabriel Rockhill, and Slavoj Žižek. 2006. The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London: Continuum), 21.


Words & Pictures


The Emblem


Words & Pictures

Contemporary Emblems

CULIANU & BRUNO Magic, according to Ioan P. Culianu is “a science of the imaginary.” Images are used to manipulate people. In our era we may not believe in magic, but advertisers and marketers use ambiguous images—pictura—along with tag line and sales copy subscriptia, in order to manipulate consumers every day. “At its greatest degree of development,” Culianu writes, “reached in the work of Giordano Bruno, magic is a means of control over the individual and the masses based on deep knowledge of personal and collective erotic impulses.”

Culianu, Ioan P. Eros and magic in the Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), xviii. Quoted by David Levi Strauss,

“Magic & Images/ Images & Magic,” The Brooklyn Rail, July– August, 2006.


Book 3 Cultures Outside the Word

Cultures Outside the Word Aesthesis and the Artopetal

Are Not Notes


Cultures Outside the Word


A Useless Guide to Book Design

“Cultures outside the word” is George Steiner’s phrase for the forces ushering in the end of a “classic verbal order.”*

* In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.


Cultures Outside the Word

The question for conservatives like Steiner seems to be: Does the visual extend knowledge? Or does the visual end knowledge?


Part One



Cultures Outside the Word

Aesthetic Knowledge The traditional, aesthetic attitude (or point of view), is the spectator’s attitude.*

* See “Poetics vs. Aesthetics,” in Groys, Boris. Going Public. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

According to Boris Groys, it has been since Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790) that analysis of the visual has been limited to a philosophical tradition and a university discipline—a professional spectator’s pursuit.


Cultures Outside the Word

In order to generate meaning, aesthetic knowledge requires an “interrelated and codependent” system of interpretation. The artist must try to anticipate how the narrowly specialized “expert” will perceive their work.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Aesthetics, in other words, is how professional, highly specialized philosopherspectators approach visual material.


Cultures Outside the Word

Groys prefers to analyze the visual according to the producers’ point of view; a point of view he calls “poetics.”


Part Two



Cultures Outside the Word

From Aesthetics to Aesthesis According to Johanna Drucker, a designed object or work of art is a partial object. Designed objects operate, in other words, as culture. Works of art and design are less about being (what is), than they are about knowing, or interpretation.

* See Drucker, Johanna. SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing. Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 2009.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

The partial object is open-ended, not reductive. It does not reduce meaning and interpretation to an ideology, protocol, orthodoxy, or totalizing system. It opens, instead, toward new meanings.


Cultures Outside the Word

Rather than working within a rational, logical, and mechanistic system, Drucker’s partial object operates within a cognitive, generative, iterative, and probabilistic situation.*

* Drucker, Johanna. SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing. Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 2009, p. 130.


Part Three

The Artopetal


Cultures Outside the Word

The Artopetal According to the philosopher Simon Critchley, a work of art is not an illustration of philosophical, theological, or historical ideas and theories, but is itself a form of reflection, reasoning, argument, and philosophising.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Simon Critchley contrasts the philosofugal— where theory spins out from within to cover art, or smother art’s truth—with the artopetal state, where theory is drawn into the “orbit of the thing.”*

* Critchley, Simon. 2002. “Calm— On Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line.” Film-Philosophy 6 (2002): (no pagination).


Cultures Outside the Word

“It is extremely tempting,” Critchley writes, “to read through [a work of visual art] to some philosophical pre-text or meta-text . . . Nonetheless, to read through the image to some identifiable philosophical master text would be a mistake, for it would be not to read at all.” 103

Part Four

Image Theory


Cultures Outside the Word

Image Theory The visual presents, while the verbal represents. It’s the difference, according to W. J.T. Mitchell,* between discourse about (verbal), and experience of (visual); names (verbal), and things (visual).

* Mitchell, W. J. T. Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994, p. 241.


Book 4 Print Design After Print

The Book as a Post-Industrial Object, or

Print Design After Print

Are Not Notes

Part One

Historical Concerns and Background


A Useless Guide to Book Design

On the line: a Chevrolet plant, Flint Michigan, 1940


Print Design After Print

Linear Logic: Fordism According to Fordist mass production techniques and Taylorist scientific management theory,* the work of production is divided into many small steps. Each worker does one simple task over and over. The assembly line allows many products to be made quickly. Products can be made cheaply, and at greatly increased quantities. Scarcity is reduced. Taste is born.

* The Ford Motor Company may have based its production method on Frederick W. Taylor’s book The Principles of Scientific Management.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Fordist Art Modern (roughly Enlightenment-era, 17th–20th century) art objects were ritualized in the space of the gallery or museum. The white box gave art objects an aura, the sense that they were one-of-akind. Post-religious fetish objects obtained power through their scarcity. A materialistic cult of objects replaced the religious cult. The commercial space capitalized on an inherited tradition of fetishization. Mass-produced objects maintained a trace of pre-modern magical “value.”


Print Design After Print

Post-Fordism The theory of “post-Fordism� is pro-Capitalist, corporate, and cultural. This theory suggests that standardization and scaled-up production and organization will be replaced with smaller producers powered by social networks, flexibility, and diversity. Post-Fordism is often portrayed as the source of a new world order. Smaller entrepreneurs will ostensibly replace large, inflexible corporations.

* Kumar, Krishan. From PostIndustrial to Post-Modern Society: New Theories of the Contemporary World. Blackwell, 2005, p. 75.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

More Post-Fordism The consumer is less interested in inexpensive products and wide variety. So we’ve begun to give them the sense that they are able to participate in the first steps in production and design by using ultra-fast feedback loops. Production has become so efficient that every consumer can customize their own product.


Print Design After Print

“Post-Fordist” Art Efficient production methods and technological reproducibility causes the sense of uniqueness in a work of art to be reduced. Walter Benjamin: What withers in the age of the technological reproducibility of the work of art is the latter’s aura. . . . It might be stated as a general formula that the technology of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the sphere of tradition. By replicating the work many times over, it substitutes a mass existence for a unique existence.*

* Benjamin, Walter. The work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on media. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008, p. 22


A Useless Guide to Book Design

“Fail better.”


Print Design After Print

Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) Beckett’s motto, sometimes summarazed as “No matter, fail again. Fail better,” comes from the short prose meditation he referred to as “Better Worse,” later published as Worstword Ho. The final, published form is: “Try again. Fail again. Better again. Or better worse. Fail worse again. Still worse again.”1 According to the scholar Ruby Cohn, the source for Beckett’s “Better Worse” is Edgar’s speech in King Lear: “The worst is not so long as one can say, / This is the worst.”2


“Worstword Ho,” in Beckett, Samuel. Nohow on: Three Novels. New York: Grove Press, 2004, p. 90.



Cohn, Ruby. A Beckett Canon. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001, p. 375.

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Alvar Aalto, Artek stool (first designed 1933)


Print Design After Print

Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) “I’m seeking for a flexible standardization; the objective is standardization that does not force life into any kind of pattern, but rather, on the contrary, increase its variety.” “The blossoms of the apple tree are all standardized; and yet they are all different. That is how we should learn to build.”*

* Quoted by Rob Giampietro, in “On Design, Distribution, and Circulation” (lecture, School of Visual Arts, Design Criticism MFA Department, October 28, 2008), and in the press release for “Alvar Aalto: The Blossoms on


an Apple Tree,” an exhibition at Tartu University Library, May 14—August 31, 2008, organised with the Alvar Aalto Museum, accessed at: press/08eng _blossoms.htm.

Part Two

Designing the PostIndustrial Book, or the Book as a Digital Artifact 125

A Useless Guide to Book Design

The Book as a Digital Artifact What does a digital object look like? Should a book produced digitally, but retaining its printed objecthood be designed to look the same as a book produced using analogue methods? Many books remain a combination of digital construction, and analogue production. Written using LaTeX (on the command-line of a Linux machine using Vim), for example, edited in Microsoft Word, designed and composed in Adobe InDesign, and only then reinstantiated on an offset lithographic printing press.


Print Design After Print

Designing the Book to Account for its Digital-Print Hybrid Status Printed books are largely digital artifacts. Maybe they should no longer be designed to look as if they were designed and printed using traditional (letterpress and handset) methods.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Information Is Not an Object The new status of the printed book (the codex) is the result of its being unique; it is different from the far more prevalent screen-based text. In the information era, when information is delivered most often by means of the screen, the separate, non-screen-based object is intrinsically weird. It demands real space, and feels like a whole.


Print Design After Print

Maximizing the Weirdness of the Object In the information era, the book designer—the designer of the printed codex—has more in common with an industrial or product designer. She is also a designer who works extensively with textual information. Text that has become an increasingly physical object to be designed. The image has been dematerialized, but objects, nonetheless, remain.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

What Is Design? Do book designers merely decorate, or tidy up the author’s and editor’s content in order to make it more marketable? Or is it the book, the object, the whole thing—not just the “content”—that is being produced?

* Benjamin, Walter. The work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008, p. 22.


Print Design After Print

Design Is Content Katherine Gillieson: “The text of a book is really a combination of verbal, pictorial, and design elements that come together to convey ideas, or ‘content.’ “Content is another aspect of form—book design itself. To refer to ‘content’ in opposition to ‘form’ suggests some essential, Platonic book that exists with no physical reality.”*

* Katherine Gillieson, “Limits of Design—The Book About Books,” in Klanten, Robert, and Matthias Hübner. Fully Booked: Cover Art & Design for Books. Berlin: Gestalten, 2008, p. 29.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Precedents for Weirding the Object The Modernist tradition is largely based on an object, or a thing, tending toward its ideal form. The Modernist object is essentialized, not decorated or embellished. Dada, Surrealism, and Postmodernim were all interested in defamiliarizing objects and forms. For Donald Judd, the object elicits a phenomenological encounter. He described his art as making up “unitary objects”—objects that make their wholeness evident through a sort of Gestalt experience. Judd describes such objects as providing a “multiplicity all at once.”*

* Donald Judd, “Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in Particular,” Artforum 32.10 (Summer 1994), p. 70.


Print Design After Print

Provisional Design and the Object Digital-to-offset morphologies introduce a new level of allusiveness to the high-modern tenet “truth to materials.” Truth-to-materials has perhaps become truth-to-process; truth to formal procedure. The industrial designer Hella Jongerius, for example, emphasizes the flaws that invariably occur in the process of making an object. Her design tends to foreground the “mistakes” involved in the experimental elements of the design process. “I need to be seduced by my own research,” Jongerius says, “I confront the beauty of tradition with the beauty of the banal.”*

* Jongerius, Hella, Louise Schouwenberg, and Lucas Verweij. Hella Jongerius. London: Phaidon Press, 2003.


A Useless Guide to Book Design


Print Design After Print

Provisional Design and the Object, Part Two Emphasizing formal procedure, rather than form itself, gives the object a provisional (as opposed to a precious) character. Successful design was once understood to result in seductive objects. Now the object is designed to embody seductive ideas, or concepts. The cheapest form of such an embodied idea is the visual pun. Visual puns are great, but we can fail better.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Provisional Design and the Object, Part Three Provisional design succeeds when it accounts for the digital, and acknowledges the limitations of print production such as low-resolution images, and excessively standardized typesetting. It is experiemental and process-oriented.


Print Design After Print

Appendix: A Brief Survey of the Industrial Object* 1. 18th, 19th centuries: Functional objects. Early mass production. Industrial Revolutions. 2. 1900–1950: Functional objects are made more useful and desirable by artists. The high point of design. High modernism. 3. 1950–2000: Mass production is highly efficient. Differences are only surface deep; niche exploitation. The high point of marketing and advertising. 4. Today: Mass production is hyper-efficient. Print is being out-niched by digital convenience and easy-access. Print’s returning to its core values: Luxury, craft, exclusivity, complexity, slowness, scholarship.

* Summarized from Gianfranco Zaccai, “Art and Technology: Aesthetics Redefined,” in Discovering Design (University of Chicago Press, 1995).


Book 5 The Artists’ Book as Ephemera

The Artists’ Book as Ephemera, Pamphlet, or Democratic Multiple Are Not Notes

Part One

The Four Types of Artists’ Books*

* Adapted from book artist and professor Bea Nettles. As told to Janelle Rebel, August, 2011.

See notes below for additional source material.


Artists’ Books

The Deluxe Book Closely related to the livre d’artiste, this historically French form makes of the book a luxury object, an objet d’art. The deluxe book often combines lavishly produced visual art with poetry. An example: Jasper Johns and Samuel Beckett, Foirades / Fizzles. London, Paris, and New York: Éditions de Minuit & Petersburg Press, 1976. This example of a deluxe book has been described by one dealer as “ivory wove paper binding with aquatint endpapers, bound in accordion fold around support leaves; publisher’s beige linen solander box with purple tassel lined with colored lithograph.”


A Useless Guide to Book Design

The Fine Press Book This historically British tradition emphasizes fine paper and fine printing, often elaborately letterpressed and etched. Fine art and decorative designs illustrate literary content. Eric Gill’s Canterbury Tales is an example of a fine press book. London: Golden Cockerel Press, 1929–1931. Folio. Four volumes.


Artists’ Books

The Sculptural Bookwork Sculptural bookworks adapt the traditional book (the codex) into a creative three-dimensional form. This variety of artists’ book relies on traditional economies of scarcity and artistic aura. An example of the sculptural bookwork, Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Green Box), was produced in 1934. It’s made up of a box containing collotype reproductions on various papers.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

The Democratic Multiple An artists’ book that emphasizes function, content, or concept over formal concerns has been called a democratic multiple. An example of this type of artists’ book are Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963; Various Small Fires and Milk, 1964; and Real Estate Opportunities, 1970. Los Angeles: Published by the artist.


Part Two

The Artists’ Book as Ephemera, Pamphlet, or Democratic Multiple 149

Artists’ Books

The democratic multiple is a massproduced book conceived and controlled directly by the artist. It has an “avant-garde intent to defy the norms that govern the ordinary book.” It is directed toward producing unconventional content. Betty Bright

Bright, Betty. No Longer Innocent: Book Art in America, 1960 to 1980. New York: Granary Books, 2005.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

A Partial Thesis The artist’s book as democratic multiple has, perhaps, more in common with the tradition of the political pamphlet* than with deluxe, fine press, or sculptural book forms.

* Like, for example, Thomas Paine, Common Sense. London: H.D. Symonds, 1792.


Artists’ Books

Like a pamphlet, the democratic multiple is concerned with criticality (sometimes, but not always, including analysis and agitation). It is less concerned with generating an artistic aura, or preciousness, by means of its formal qualities. An example: Bartana, Yael, Sebastian Chichocki, Galit Eilat, and Hanna WrĂłblewska. A Cookbook for Political Imagination. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2011.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

The political framework of the pamphlet is: “A discursive tradition that elides the distinction between analysis and agitation.” Jonathan Crary

Jonathan Crary, in Kushner, Rachel, et al. “Books: Best of 2009,” Artforum, vol. 40, no. 4, p. 76.


Artists’ Books

Defining Terms (Again) The democratic multiple is an artists’ book that emphasizes function, content, or concept over formal concerns. An example: Ralph Waldo Emerson, An Address: Delivered in the Court-House in Concord, Massachusetts on 1st August, 1844 on the Anniversary of the Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies, Boston: James Munroe and Co., 1844.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

UNESCO’s Definition of a Pamphlet A pamphlet is “a non-periodical printed publication of at least five, but not more than forty-eight pages, exclusive of the cover pages, published in a particular country, and made available to the public.”

Source: United Nations Educa-

International Standardization

tional, Scientific, and Cultural

of Statistics Relating to Book

Organization (UNESCO), “Rec-

Production and Periodicals,”

ommendation concerning the

November 19, 1964.


Part Three

A Final Reason the Democratic Multiple Remains Increasingly Important 157

Artists’ Books

An apparatus is a machine that uses you. Books that are not critical in form and content can tend toward what the philosopher Giorgio Agamben has called an “apparatus.”

Giorgio Angamben, What Is An Apparatus? Stanford, CA Stanford University Press, 2009.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Tools have been given the ability to use their users, neutralizing the potential for agitation and criticism. The result, according to Agamben, is a politically immobile social body.


Artists’ Books

A general theory of industrialization . . . ought to provide a common language for people who want to restrain the power of man’s tools when they tend to overwhelm man and his goals. Ivan Illich


A Useless Guide to Book Design

I have chosen “convivial� as a technical term to designate a modern society of responsibly limited tools. Ivan Illich

Illich, Ivan. Tools for Conviviality. London: Boyars, 1985, pages xxiv and xxvi.


Book 6 Art & the Erotics of Knowledge

ERIC GILL Art and the Erotics of Knowledge

C H A P T ER 1 Eric Gill: the Good and the Bad, the Right and the Reprehensible

Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge



istory rightly condemns Eric Gill for the unforgivable acts he committed in his personal life. It is unfortunate, however, that his worst sins are of a sexual nature because some of his most valuable artistic achievements are concerned with the erotic nature of knowledge. It is entirely possible that many of Gill’s problems were complicated by an over-emphasis on the dualistic approach to the separation of body and mind—flesh and spirit—taught by the Thomist Jacques Maritain. Western, medieval Christianity of the Thomistic and scholastic variety tends to exclude the ecstatic element of intellection which was more integral to the early Greek emphasis on sophia, or wisdom, and the pneumatic.1 As Seyyed Hossein Nasr puts it: “What the prevalent medieval Christian theology did exclude was the ecstatic or ‘rhapsodic intellect’; the ecstasy resulting from intellection was dismissed as a possibilityand disdained religiously along with sexual ecstasy whose spiritual signifigance was left outside of the perspective of the official theology.”2

1. Ecstatic knowledge of the divine is central to the teaching of such fathers as Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nanzianzus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Dionysius the Areopogaite. It was “rediscovered” in the Renaissance by Christian Hermetics,

Kabbalists, and the great Meister Eckhart. St. Paul’s tendency toward the pneumatic is apparent in I Cor. 12:8. See Nasr Seyyed Hossein. Knowledge and the Sacred. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989, p. 17. 2. Nasr, 36.


Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge



s Fiona McCarthy puts it, his “greatest talent, one might say his greatest temptation, [was] to do what he felt like and then find a theory for it. In a way he acted himself into theorizing.”1Art was for Gill the center point between the intellect ual and the erotic. His description of his his first visit to Chartres and his first view of Edward Johnston’s lettering captures the timbre of this erotic intellection: “When I first went [to Chartres] in 1907 . . . I was inebriated with more than a sensual delight; for my sensual delight was, as sensual delight should be: an attraction to the truth.”2 And his description of Edward Johnston’s lettering class: “the first time I saw him writing, and saw the writing that came as he wrote, I had that thrill and tremble of the heart which I can only remember having had when first I touched her body.”3 Such theoretical connections between the erotic and the epistemological are ancient, universal, and even orthodox. Orthodox, and even central, to most religious traditions, but also recognized as very dangerous. The Jewish and Christian traditions maintain, for example, that the Song of Songs must be taught with care because it treats precisely the ecstatic union of the divine with the human. 1. MacCarthy, Fiona. Eric Gill. London: Faber, 1990, pp. 96-7. 2. MacCarthy, p. 77.

3. Gill, Eric. Autobiography. New York: Devin-Adair Company, 1941. Quoted in MacCarthy, Eric Gill, p. 43.


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge

The spiritual and psychological danger, to which Gill seems to have succumbed, is the potential loss of individual identity in the experience of apparent union with God. The ego is felt to have dissolved, and the mystic can mistake his or her own will with the will of the divine.


C H A P T ER 2 Intellectual Ecstasy in Contemporary Culture


Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge



he idea that the acquisition of knowledge can occur without pleasure “flies in the face of everything Darwin and contemporary science says. If it’s not pleasurable, then it’s not knowledge. It’s some kind of academic protocol. I don’t take that seriously.”*

* Hickey, interviewed in Maybach, Chris, et al. Art City: A Ruling Passion. Los Angeles, CA: Twelve Films, distributed by Facets Multimedia, 2002.


Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge



The distinctive feature of art is that it gives rise “not to conceptual knowledge (which is the distinctive feature of discursive or scientific knowlege—e.g., philosophy, sociology, psychology, history) but to something like an excitation, a phenomenon of commitment, judgment in a state of thralldom or captivation. Which is to say that the knowledge we gain through art is an experience of the form or style of knowing someting, rather than a knowledge of something (like a fact or a moral judgment) in itself.”*

* Sontag, Susan. Against Interpretation, and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007, p. 14.


C H A P T ER 3 Intellectual Ecstasy in Traditional Cultures

Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge

T H E “ M AG I C ” A RT S O F M E M O RY & I M AG I N AT I O N


ccording to the historian Ioan Couliano, scientists, alchemists, and magicians in the Renaissance understood their art to be “a means of control over the individual and the masses based on deep knowledge of personal and collective erotic impulses.”* Contemporary practitioners of such arts include public relations specialists, propagandists, politicians, censors, publicists, and of course, advertisers. Magic, Couliano writes, is a science of the imaginary and the mnemonic:“eroticism applied, directed, and aroused by its performer.”

* Culianu, Ioan P. Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987, p. xviii.


Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge



ccording to Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, the popular use of pictures in Persian and Islamic—especially Sufi— cultures can be summarized: “representations of gardens and flowers stimulate the vegetative, those of war and the chase the animal, and erotic paintings the spiritual principles of man’s constitution. This last category is supported by the familiar theme of love in the poetry of Rumi: “What is love?” Rumi writes, “Thou shalt know when thou becomest me.” And “whether love be from this side or from that [profane or sacred], in the end it leads up yonder.”


Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge



bn Arabi’s idealized love for Makin-al-Din’s daughter Nezam (sometimes translated Harmony) inspired much of his bestknown religious poetry. Intellectual, spiritually intuited, perception of beauty is equated with physical, sensory perception.1 Indeed, ecstatic intellection makes up half of the perennial conflict between legal (nominalist) and mystical-erotic (Sufic) interpretations of Islam.2 ... Opposite: Allegory of Heavenly and Earthly Drunkenness, ca. 1529, by the Persian, Safavid artist Sultan Muhammad (active ca. 1505– 1550). College of Saint Rose Image Collection, partially owned by Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Arthur Sackler Museum, Harvard University 1988.

1. Culianu, Ioan P. Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987, pp. 17–19.

2. See, for example, Knysh, Alexander D. Ibn ‘Arabi in the Later Islamic Tradition:The Making of a Polemical Image in Medieval Islam. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 1999, p. 277.


Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge

INTELLEC TUAL ECSTASY IN THE PL ATONIC TR ADITION Eros is sometimes said to be the son of Hermes, messanger of the gods. Erotic longing is understood to be emblematic of the human condition—separate and distant from the divine.1 Platonic love is chaste, of course, because it uses physical love as no more than a symbol for the way in which the human heart is captured, stolen, or struck down by a desire for the divine—often represented by an idealized, beautiful woman. Divine love overwhelms pragmatic concerns, and causes the human subject to seek nothing but mystical union with the divine. Central to Giordano Bruno’s idea of the eroici furori (the “heroic frenzy”) is the idea that contemplation leads to a blindness, death, or insanity caused by the divine “influx,” the gaze of the beloved, or the “furor of the kiss.”2

1. Compare to Plato, Symposium 203–04, and 211c–212b, and Needleman, Jacob. The Heart of Philosophy. New York: Knopf, 1982, pp. 16–17. 2. See Gatti, Hilary. Essays on Giordano Bruno. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton


University Press, 2011, pp. 116–124, and León-Jones, Karen Silvia de. Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah: Prophets, Magicians, and Rabbis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska press, 2004, p. 154.

Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge

Shiva under a Banyan tree with Parvati and their children on Mount Kailash, Pahari, c. 1800


Art and the Erotics of Knowledge



ntoxication is central to much of the earliest Hindu literature. The Vedas are largely about the ritualized offering of Soma— the juice of a sacred, “fiery” plant—to the gods. The intoxicant derives from heaven, and is offered back to the gods in a completed circuit of ecstatic union. The results of drinking soma juice is described as the feeling of a great expansiveness. Wendy Doniger, the contemporary scholar of Hindu traditions, descibes soma intoxication as both a political agenda—the goal being freedom—and “a subjective experience of exhiliration and ecstasy.”1 Devotion to Siva—including Shaivite mythology and symbolism—are based upon a belief in the nearness of love and death, ecstasy and asceticism.The god is portrayed as both a “filthy madman and a handsome dancer. Women love in in either form.”2

1. Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.

2. Doniger, Wendy. Siva, the Erotic Ascetic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981, p. 243.


Eric Gill, Art, and the Erotics of Knowledge

Eric Gill, The Soul and the Bridegroom, 1927. Wood engraving on paper, 79 x 51 mm. Tate Britain.

19 0

Art and the Erotics of Knowledge



he symbolism of mystical union with the divine in most traditional civiliations is based on a simple symmetry. The self, an egoistic illusion of independent separation, must be transcended by means of pain and death, or ecstasy and love. This egoistic separation, or independence, is opposed by its opposite: the divine described as an essential, metaphysical unity­. Monotheisms all revel in God’s Oneness, and Platonism posits a reality based upon a self-contained unity, the Good. Hindu symbolism, similarly, revolves around the spiritual circuitry of an open-ended ecstatic knowledge and bhaktic love on the human level, opposed by the unified, Upanishadic Brahman: “It knew, indeed, itself, that ‘I am Brahman,’ thereby it became the All.” *

* Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10, quoted in Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish, and Roger Lipsey. Metaphysics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977, p. 182n.


Book 7 Who’s Reading Screens? Which Self?

Who’s Reading Screens? Which Self?

Contents part 1 The Basic Human Need for the Sublime

part 2 St. Ambrose and the Invention of Silent Reading

part 3 Empirical Superstitions

part 4 The Book as a Magical Object


Part 1

The Basic Human Need for the Sublime

Who’s Reading Screens?


Which Self?

In 1972, Bas Jan Ader spent two weeks publicly reading “The Boy who fell over Niagra Falls,” a story from Reader’s Digest. The performance took place at the Art & Project Gallery in Amsterdam.1


ccording to Jan Verwoert, Arthur Cravan and Bas Jan Ader are renegade romantics. Both isolate what Immanuel Kant ac-

knowledges as “the blind spot of modern enlightenment in the one urge that critical reason and empirical sciences can never satisfy nor contain: namely, the ‘desire for metaphysics’ inherent to human existence.”2

1. See Ader, Bas Jan. Bas Jan Ader: the Boy Who Fell Over Niagara Falls. Amsterdam: Galerie Paul Andreisse, 1992.


Who’s Reading Screens?

As Kant puts it in Critique of Pure Reason, For human reason, without being moved merely by the idle desire for extent and variety of knowledge, proceeds impetuously, driven on by an inward need, to question such as cannot be answered by any empirical employment of reason, or by principles thence derived.3

2. Verwoert, Jan. Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous. London: Afterall Books, 2006. 3. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith, London: Macmillan, 1929, p. 56. Cited in Verwoert, Bas Jan Ader, page 44.


Which Self?

Part 2

Saint Ambrose and the Invention of Silent Reading


Who’s Reading Screens?


Which Self?

In the 4th century, silent reading was unheard of. Reading always meant a public performance.


rom Augustine’s Confessions: “Now, as he [Ambrose] read, his eyes glanced over the pages and his heart searched out the sense, but his voice and tongue were silent. Often when we came to his room — for no one was forbidden to enter, nor was it his custom that the arrival of visitors should be announced to him — we would see him thus reading to himself. After we had sat

1. Augustine and William Watts. St. Augustine’s Confessions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1912, Book vi, Chapter III, pp. 273–274.


Who’s Reading Screens?

for a long time in silence — for who would dare interrupt one so intent? — we would then depart, realizing that he was unwilling to be distracted in the little time he could gain for the recruiting of his mind, free from the clamor of other men’s business.” Ambrose was one of the first to read silently. It’s possible that his willingness to individualize the experience of reading had to do with his Neoplatonism. The non-rational, philosophical variety of intuitive intellection prescribed by Neoplatonism can be summarized like this: To know reality one must separate as far as possible the soul from the body, but having done so one must not remain on that height in literal isolation, but descend again into the cave to play a part in the life of the world, for which one is thus, and thus only, truly qualified. 2

2. A. K. Coomaraswamy, “Letter to S.E., 1941,” in Lipsey, ed., Coomaraswamy 3: His Life and Work. Princeton University Press, 1977, p. 206


Which Self?

Part 3

Empirical Superstitions


Who’s Reading Screens?


Which Self?

Modernism allows for two notions of the self. The conscious, mainstream, given self, of which reason is the essential element. And an unconscious, marginal, performative agency. This second self can only be known partially, through experimentation. 1


n 1992, Mike Kelley said: “The currently embarrassing aspects of primitive or religious art-

works — their supposed magical qualities, confusions about whether they’re alive or dead, and so on — are still at play somehow in modernist works, though modernism tried hard to repress that.”2

1. Compare to: Pickering, Andrew. “Brains, Selves, and Spirituality in the History of Cybernetics.” Templeton Research Lecture, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Arizona State University, April 25, 2008. 2. Kelley, Mike and John C. Welchman, ed. Foul Perfection: Essays and Criticism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.


Who’s Reading Screens?

The idea that the self is exclusively reasonable constitutes the central superstition of modernism. This superstition is acted out in professional and academic disciplines whenever they exclude the possibility that human agents act according to motivations that are non-rational, and largely unknowable. Charles Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradise and Walter Benjamin’s On Hashish demonstrate that both suspected the self might be opaque to the given, rational mind known to the Enlightenment.3

3. Charles Baudelaire, translated by Stacy Diamond. Artificial Paradises. New York: Citadel Press, 1996 (first French edition, 1860), and Walter Benjamin. On Hashish. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006 (written between 1927 and 1934; published posthumously).


Which Self?

Part 4

The Book as a Magical Object


Who’s Reading Screens?


Which Self?

Collections of books allow old, obsolete images and ideas to interact, advertise, and establish new bonds.“Extinct or conquered forms”leading an “uderground existence” can be reactivated. “Knowledge is transformed into culture.” 1


orge Luis Borges suggests that all books could be contained in a single volume. Such a book

would contain “an infinite number of infinitely thin leaves. The handling of this silky vade mecum would not be convenient: each apparent page would unfold into other analogous ones; the in-

conceivable middle page would have no reverse.”2

1. Bauerle-Willert, Dorothée, “On the Warburg Humanities Library,” in Bieri, Susanne, Bibliotheken bauen: Tradition und Vision = Building for Books. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2001, p. 253. 2. Borges, Jorge Luis, Collected Fictions. New York: Viking, 1998, p. 118, note 4.


Who’s Reading Screens?

Aby Warburg describes his famous Mnemosyne displays as pages of an “endless book of variable sequence.” These “images and words help [to] overcome the tragic tension between instinctive magic and discursive logic.” 3 Warburg’s displays are organized according to a complex, intuitive system of sympathetic association, or “good-neighborliness.” In such a collection, “memory is desire, and desire is knowledge.”4

1. Quoted in Manguel, Alberto. The Library at Night (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 209. 2. Manguel, 209.


Book 8 How to Typeset a Book

How to Typeset a Book Are Not Notes

Part 1

Useful Procedures


How to Typeset a Book

Useful Typesetting Procedures* 1. Create a folder, include all RTF (text and captions) files, and InDesign file. 2. Create a backup folder. 3. Make sure the InDesign file has two layers: one to send to printer, and one for in-house editing. In-house layer includes the words “blank page” on blank pages. Also includes occasional notes, and initials on text page master. This second, in-house layer is deleted or hidden before sending to the printer. 4. Use this InDesign file-naming protocol: “i–ooo_ 1–000_Author.indd” (change roman/numerals as you procede and backup). 5. Make sure all style sheets are created and ready to apply.


These procedures are based on notes taken during several training ses-

sions with the typesetter and compositor Barbara Evans. 221

A Useless Guide to Book Design

Useful Procedures, continued 6. Place captions (from file usually named “captions. rtf”) in first page of InDesign file (make sure working layer, not in-house layer, is selected). a. apply paragraph style: <Captions> b. delete “normal” style at bottom of paragraph styles list (it came in with Word formatting when “captions.rtf” file contents were placed) 7. Place all copy into one text box. String together all .RTF files (usually separated into chapters) into one text box. Use “command/Y” or “Edit > Edit in Story Editor” to open side window showing everything in text box, even when text box’s contents are invisible in the file window. 8. Once all copy is imported, apply <TXT> style to all text 9. Resolve any missing fonts


How to Typeset a Book

Useful Procedures, continued 10. Run “TextCleanUp” or “FindChangeByList.jsx” script (InDesign: Window > Automation > Scripts). When set-up, installed, and run this script will: 1. Check hyphenation according to InDesign dictionary. Edit ID dictionary per specs before running script. 2. Find: ^p^p (double paragraph break/returns), Change to: ^p (single paragraph return) 3. Find: accent grave, Change to: single open quote 4. Find: underscore followed by double closed quote, Change to: underscore followed by double open quote 5. Find: ellipses (#.#.#.#), Change to: non-breaking ellipses (#.^s.^s.#) 11. Manually Find/Change all -- to em dashes. 12. Use “Find Format” (magnifying glass icon to the right of the box) in the Find/Change window to change superscripts to lining figures (not old-style figures).


Part 2

Creating Useful Problems


How to Typeset a Book

Creating Useful Problems Boris Groys: “The machine of media coverage does not need any individual artistic intervention or artistic decision in order to be put into motion. Indeed, contemporary mass media has emerged as by far the largest and most powerful machine for producing images—vastly more extensive and effective than the contemporary art system.”*


Boris Groys, Art Power. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. 227

A Useless Guide to Book Design

The Bookâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Form Creates Meaning: 1 In a simpler era, the typesetting and visual layout of a book required transparency. Today, however, the crystal goblet has been broken.* Meaning is created as much by designers as it is by editors, marketers, salespeople, printers, production specialists, and publishers.


See Warde, Beatrice. The Crystal Goblet: Sixteen Essays on Typography. Cleveland, OH: World Publishing, 1961. 228

How to Typeset a Book

The Book’s Form Creates Meaning: 2 Designers today rarely have time to understand what they are designing. A totalizing standardization—a one-size-fits-all template, or format­— is frequently applied. Against this trend, we might remember that the only rule for a book designer is to: “know the text. On that depends everything else.”*


Richard Hendel, “Is the Crystal Goblet Broken?” in On Book Design, p. 29.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

The Book’s Form Creates Meaning: 3 Intentional, partial obfuscation of a book’s “content” is one strategy for opposing non-design. Non-design subtracts meaning from book design through excessive automation or standardization.


How to Typeset a Book

The Value of Weak Design A weak design (as opposed to non-design, resulting from total standardization) allows for a book’s form to participate in the avant-garde tradition of “non-original weakness.” The historical avant-garde’s intent was to “transcend the technological and political transformations of modernity.”*


Boris Groys, Art Power. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. 231

Part 3

The Goal Is to Weird the Object Note: the next three or four pages repeat material already presented on pages 122 and 123, above.


How to Typeset a Book

Information Is Not an Object The current status of the printed bookâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the codexâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; is different from the far more prevalent screen-based text. When information is delivered by means of the screen, the non-screen-based object is intrinsically weird. The traditional codex demands real space, and feels like a whole.


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Maximizing the Weirdness of an Object In the information era the book designerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the designer of the printed codexâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;has much in common with an industrial or product designer. But she is also a designer who works extensively with textual information. Text has become an increasingly physical object to be designed. The image has been dematerialized, but the object remains.


How to Typeset a Book

Precedents for Weirding the Object The Modernist tradition is largely based on an object, or a thing, tending toward its ideal form. The Modernist object is essentialized, not decorated or embellished. Dada, Surrealism, and Minimalism defamiliarize objects and forms. For Donald Judd, the object elicits a phenomenological encounter. He described his art as making up “unitary objects”—objects that make their wholeness evident through a sort of Gestalt experience. Judd describes such objects as providing a “multiplicity all at once.”*


Donald Judd, “Some Aspects of Color in General and Red and Black in

Particular,” Artforum 32.10 (Summer 1994), p. 70.



Specifying Type


How to Typeset a Book

Elements to Be Formally Specified General Elements 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Trim size (in inches) Head margin (in inches) Inside margin (in inches) Text width (in picas) Typeface used Lines per page Figures (old style or lining) Folios Text Elements

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Text Text following Line space Ornament Text subhead 1 Text subhead 2 Subhead epigraph


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Text Elements, contâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

Subhead epigraph source Text subhead 3 Dialogue extract Prose extract title Prose extract Poetry extract title Poetry extract Bulleted list Numbered list Unnumbered list Extract list Display Elements

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Part number Part title Part opening text Part subhead 1 Part subhead 2 Part subhead 3 Chapter number Chapter title


How to Typeset a Book

Display Elements, contâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Chapter subtitle Chapter author Chapter translator Chapter epigraph Chapter epigraph source Chapter opener text Frontmatter Elements

1. 2. 3. 4.

Book half title Series notice Title page: no subtitle Title page: with subtitle

5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Copyright Dedication Book epigraph Epigraph source Frontmatter title Contents Abbreviations list


A Useless Guide to Book Design

Backmatter Elements 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.

Backmatter title Appendix title Appendix subhead 1 Appendix subhead 2 Appendix subhead 3 Appendix extract Appendix list Footnote text Notes Notes subhead Notes subhead 2 Notes extract Notes poem extract Notes table Bibliography Bibliography subhead Bibliography subhead 2 Index Author note Contributors Series list Colophon


How to Typeset a Book

Art Program 1. Captions 2. Art program notes


A Useless Guide to Book Design

1st print-on-demand edition, December 2013. Are Not Books & Publications Wheaton, Illinois 60187 Are Not Notes are artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; books published by Are Not Books & Publicationsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a group of artists who work in close collaboration. As artists and designers, not authorities, we are intellectually curious and thoroughly critical, but with no aspiration or pretense to anything like expertise or authority. Indeed, our goal is to remain anonymous, and to acquire no reputation. This print-on-demand edition was not copyedited or proofread. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected in subsequent editions. 246

Are Not Notes on Book Design A Useless Guide

A Useless Guide to Book Design  

Are Not Notes, © 2013, Are Not Books & Publications

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