A Book of Absolute Whiteness

Ulises Carrión, “The New Art of Making Books,” Kontexts no. 6-7, 1975

The most beautiful and perfect book in the world is a book with only blank pages, in the same way that the most complete language is that which lies beyond all that the words of a man can say. Every book of the new art is searching after that book of absolute whiteness, in the same way that every poem searches for silence.

A Garden Shed

Elizabeth Day, “Sadie Jones: ‘You Imagine a Cathedral and on the Page it’s a Garden Shed’,” The Observer 1 April 2012

“I’m never happy with what I’ve written,” she says. “You imagine, before you start, there’s a cathedral, and the moment it starts on the page, it’s a garden shed. And then you just try to make it the best shed you can.”

Hollowed Out Letters

Doug Beube, Reunification: The Grand Design, 1996 (altered book, 9 x 11 x 4 in.)

Using the original title, ‘The Grand Design,’ by Franz Josef Strauss, portions of the book’s printed matter are excised by drilling out all the words one at a time, a process that displaces the text’s narrative content of unifying both Germany and Europe. Overlapping pages of hollowed out letters with frayed edges remain as ghostly shadows of the text’s former shape. Since the obliterated words can no longer be read, the book becomes a memory of a memory. What we see in place of the original text is a mysterious, fragmented calligraphy of broken words. Each page is a palindrome and palimpsest, a white veil through which the underlying page is glimpsed. When a page is turned the veil remains. A visual — rather than a linear — read is necessary to understand the meta-language created by this altered syntax of disparate letters and empty spaces.

Just as the black ink has been erased and ripped away from the white paper of pages of the book, leaving a veil of frayed edges, when a nation is ethnically cleansed in order to create one homogeneous society, devoid of specific racial groups, the fabric of a nation is forever torn and lost, but never forgotten (via).


MG: Talking of our generation — I mean ours (we’re exactly the same age) — a real symptom of it, as this conversation is so aptly demonstrating, is that we keep referencing theory when we talk about our work. More than that: theory informs the making of it.
TMCC: But that’s always the case, even for people who claim not to ‘have’ theory. ‘Not’ having theory just means having crap theory, i.e. adhering to a humanism that has erased all traces of its own constructedness.”
Tom McCarthy and Margarita Gluzberg, “Circuits and Loops,” BOMBlog 4 May 2012

Slowly Reduced to Embers

From the first smouldering taper to the elegant lanterns whose light reverberated around eighteenth-century courtyards and from the mild radiance of those lanterns to the unearthly glow of the sodium lamps that line the Belgian motorways, it has all been combustion. Combustion is the hidden principle behind every artefact we create. The making of a fish-hook, manufacture of a china cup, or production of a television programme, all depend on the same process of combustion. Like our bodies and like our desires, the machines we have devised are possessed of a heart which is slowly reduced to embers.
W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

A Non-Writing Writer

Franz Kafka, letter to Max Brod, 5 July 1922

Writing sustains me. But wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that it sustains this kind of life? Which does not, of course, mean that my life is any better when I don’t write. On the contrary, at such times it is far worse, wholly unbearable, and inevitably ends in madness. This is, of course, only on the assumption that I am a writer even when I don’t write — which is indeed the case; and a non-writing writer is, in fact, a monster courting insanity.