Object-Books and Exposed Writings: New Textual and Literary Landscapes in Latin America and Spain

Objetos-livro e escrituras expostas: novas paisagens textuais e literárias na América Latina e Espanha

RAFAEL CLIMENT-ESPINO About the author

ABSTRACT

In this essay I explore new ways of literary transmission edited in formats other than the codex in Latin America and Spain. My study also analyzes what Armando Petrucci called exposed writings. Taking as departing point a review of the concept of book, I will scrutinize several object-books to offer an analysis of literary materials edited in non-codex supports. This essay also proposes a clear distinction between book-object and object-book. Since the object-books I analyze convey literary texts, a main aim of my research is to vindicate the inclusion of these new materialities of literature into the field of literary studies, an area that historically has omitted non-codex formats considering them non-serious literature or literary diversions.

KEYWORDS:
Print culture; Material culture; Materiality of literature; Textual materiality; Book-object; Object-book

RESUMO

Neste ensaio, exploro novas linhas de transmissão literária editadas principalmente em formatos distintos do códice em América Latina e Espanha, incluindo o que Armando Petrucci chamou de escrituras expostas. Tomando como ponto de partida uma revisão do conceito de livro, examinarei com minúcia vários objetos-livro para oferecer uma análise de materiais editados em formatos distintos do códice. Este ensaio propõe fazer uma clara distinção entre livro-objeto e objeto-livro. Como os objetos-livro analisados transmitem textos literários, um dos principais objetivos de minha pesquisa é justificar a inclusão dessas novas materialidades da literatura no campo dos estudos literários, uma área que historicamente tem omitido os formatos fora do códice, considerando-os divertimentos literários.

PALAVRAS-CHAVE:
Cultura escrita; Cultura material Materialidade da literatura; Materialidade do texto; Livro-objeto; Objeto-livro

INTRODUCTION2 2 Part of this research was published in Spanish in the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. It can be found in the references section under Climent-Espino (2018).

In everyday language, when talking about books, we refer to a specific format, that of the codex, the traditional book shape that we are so used to. Nevertheless, this is only one possible textual support among many others. For practical reasons of knowledge transmission, the rise of the codex led gradually to the disappearance of an important variety of textual materials and homogenized the possibilities of dissemination by relegating a great variety of textual transmitters to extinction.3 3 I will follow David D. Hall (1996) and Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose (2007) on topics related to the history of the book.

In the Greco-Roman period there was an important variety of textual supports, mainly rolls and scrolls, but also inscriptions of wishes on vases, jugs and pitchers have been widely discovered.4 4 An important work on this issue is A History of Writing edited by Anne-Marie Christin (2002). Curse tablets -or tabellae defixionum- were also found during that period.5 5 The works by María del A. López Jimeno (1991, 1999) on tabellae defixionum are extremely valuable. They were small tablets with a written curse on them used to ask the gods or spirits to perform an action on a person, or otherwise compel the victim of the curse. Typically, curse tablets are thin sheets of lead with text in small letters engraved on them. They were often rolled, folded, or pierced with nails and placed beneath the ground: either buried in graves or tombs, thrown into wells or pools, or nailed to the temple walls. Tablets were also used for love spells and, when used in this manner they were placed inside the home of the intended object of desire. These writing practices involved the agency of the writer to call on spirits to perform an action and, at the same time, brought magical connotations to the act of writing. Other texts as oracle bone inscription is one of the oldest systemized form of Chinese writing found, these words are recorded by carving characters onto animal bones or turtles’ shells.6 6 A general overview on writing and reading practices on an important plethora of material supports can be found in The Book of Codes by Paul Lunde (2009). It is interesting to note that nowadays some book-artists are returning to the practice of writing on stones, so updating the old writing practice of petroglyphs.

A variety of material supports and a diversity of written objects are in the genesis of print culture. Somehow, with the object-book, I will explain this concept in detail in the following pages, writing goes back to the heterogeneity of its origins. Object-books can be thought of as a return to the diversity of formats abandoned by the emergence and generalization of the codex.7 7 On the transition from roll to codex, I find illuminating the study by Guglielmo Cavallo (1995). In fact, the history of writing and even the history of the book takes as a starting point the first inscribed objects.8 8 Cardona (1999); Eliot; Rose, op. cit.; Lunde, op. cit. Roger Chartier asserts that “Folium, a leaf, only took on the new meaning of the leaf of a book in the fourth century CE -by which time the codex was rapidly becoming the dominant material support for pagan texts, as it had been for Christians from the beginning of the second century, if not earlier”.9 9 Chartier (2013, p. 194). In a similar vein, Ana María Gómez-Bravo, when analyzing textual transmission in 15th century Spain, argues that: “one of the problems that derives from the acceptance of the primacy of the book over the centuries is that other material supports are destroyed or left unstudied and, therefore, rendered invisible”.10 10 Gómez-Bravo (2013, p. 6). The preeminence of the codex was detrimental to other scriptural supports that disappeared gradually. Nowadays, in the 21st century that context has drastically changed and for such a prominent scholar as Anthony Grafton in his Codex in Crisis, the codex is now threatened by the massive digitalization of books and the new writing and reading practices that the Internet offers.11 11 On how digitalization is threatening the codex see Grafton (2008, p. 41-58), and Finkelstein (2005, p. 118-132).

The concept of book has varied substantially throughout history,12 12 Eliot; Rose, op. cit.; Chartier (2013). and there is some consensus that book production, specifically codex production, is closely related to the efficient transmission of knowledge and ideas at least in the early stages of its history.13 13 Cf. Grafton; Williams (2006); Grafton; Shelford; Siraisi (1992); Greetham (1995). The codex prevailed for practical issues of information transmission but, until achieving the codex format, there were hesitations on which supports to use. Recently, another prominent scholar in the history of books, Roger Chartier, devoted an entire article to answer the basic question of ‘what is a book?’.14 14 Cf. Chartier (2013). In order to answer it, Chartier chooses to define what is not a book. This question remains problematic and is relevant within the field of textual studies. Chartier clarifies that, for instance, rolls, scrolls and other written objects that are not codices are books. To simplify Chartier’s argument, he supports the idea that sometimes just the intentionality of binding different parts together could be a book.

BOOK-OBJECT VERSUS OBJECT-BOOK

Book-object retains the codex format and clearly refers to its characteristics by transforming them. The obsession of many artists to create within the limits of the codex format or having the codex as raw material has been called bookism -librismo- by the Italian artist and poet Mirella Bentivoglio.15 15 Cf. Bentivoglio (1985, 1990); Silveira (2001, p. 214). In opposition to book-object, the term object-book has been proposed for creations that avoid the codex format and prioritize any object as a textual transmitter.16 16 On the concept of non-book, see the studies by Mirella Bentivoglio (1985) and Jessica Prinz (1991). Flora Süssekind (2004, p. 442-443) suggests the possibility that object-books be framed within the concept of non-book, which would also be within the tag of artist book. Both book-objects and object-books would be within the most comprehensive field of artist books. In this essay, I analyze objects converted into original books that incorporate literary text to show how writing enables new possibilities to use the object, and how the object enhances connotations and new reading possibilities and interpretations of the text that it transmits. This union, or sometimes friction, between object and writing creates a synergy that offers the reader a highly unique literary object, this is a new and original materiality of literature. I risk to assert that with object-books, writing is released from the restriction of paper and codex formatting. Object-books propose a more playful handling of the text by rejecting the compositional elements of the codex and exploring writing and reading possibilities offered by different objects.17 17 On the importance of play as cultural element, see Huizinga (1980). The plasticity of objects proposes a non-linear, multidirectional and dynamic reading. Further, in some cases, object-books turn reading into a performative act by demanding from the reader a constant manipulation of the object. As I will show, writing in object-books modifies the uses of the object forcing the reader to reshape her/his reading practices. In fact, “The ‘material’ study of text (writing support, graphic and typographic techniques, etc.) can be combined with all the possibilities of philosophical, literary, and sociological approaches to better grasp the multiple dimensions of the written word”.18 18 Cf. Pantin; Theis (2017).

There are two essential ideas that underline my research. The first is that a written text requires materiality -whatever this may be. There is no written text without materiality, and therefore a text is always an object. A second important idea is that the materiality of the text determines the reading or, in other words, that the same text will be understood differently if presented to readers on different material supports. So, the materiality where a text is written and how it is presented to readers matters in order to understand its meaning. It is in this vein that Roger Chartier asserts that “When the ‘same’ text is apprehended through very different mechanisms of representation, it is no longer the same”.19 19 Chartier (1995, p. 2). To illustrate this idea, let’s think about a short and common text -“I love you”- on three different material supports. Firstly, imagine a huge street graffiti where “I love you” has been written. Here, the readers face a public writing and public reading, the person who wrote it probably wants any passer-by to know about this love, or the message may be for anonymous readers, and the writer wants everyone to feel loved so as to create a better atmosphere, a better day, etc. For a second example, imagine an intimate handwritten note in a small paper where, again, “I love you” has been written. This note places the reader in a pretty different situation, now it is a space of intimacy, where sender and recipient -or writer and reader- know each other. Probably the note was left in a bedside table within an envelope, or in the kitchen with a fresh brew of coffee. Finally, let’s imagine again the same text, “I love you”, written in a bullet. In this case, the materiality where the text is written makes the reader questioning on the intentionality of the text and its friction with the object that conveys it. Because of the object, love and hate seem to be at the same level. The reader or recipient faces a threat. The textual support, the bullet and its uses, can completely change the meaning of the text. So, these examples show that is relevant to reflect on textual supports in order to fully understand the meaning of a text.

In order to understand who the pioneers of the object-books are, we must observe some innovations of the French poetry at the end of the XIX century. It was Stéphane Mallarmé, with his poem Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (1897), who first revolutionized the concept of the page by combining the graphic and textual, thus innovating in two decisive factors for a new understanding of the page.20 20 Cf. Mallarmé (1993). Firstly, the spacing of writing by leaving blank spaces around certain words acts as silences, which he incorporates as a central part of the reading. Secondly, the use of a typographic diversity implies a variety of intonations and contrasts within the poem. Mallarmé breaks for the first time the spatial homogeneity of the page showing a plurality of unexpected and surprising nuances. But, above all, he is a pioneer in granting meaning to blank spaces, an unexplored resource that creates tension between the readable and the visible. Mallarmé will be followed by aesthetic experiments such as Guillaume Apollinaire’s calligrams and some avant-garde movements such as Dadaism, Futurism and Surrealism that will innovate the page.21 21 Though calligrams were revitalized by Apollinarie at the beginning of the 20th century, they have a long tradition that would take us at least to 300 BCE with the Egg by Simmias of Rhodes. Marcel Duchamp’s readymades can also be considered as precursor of this new object art.22 22 Surrealism and the Book by Renée R. Hubert (1988) is a fascinating study on the role that book and print art played in the avant-garde movements, specifically in surrealism. For a review of Duchamp’s work, see Calvin Tomkins (1966).

Originally, the page designated the waxed surface on a tablet on which it was written, and also the leaves of the papyrus and parchment scrolls. The page must be considered as a minimum unit of construction of the book, and it can assume autonomy with respect to the entire work becoming an object-page. A page can be defined as: “A surface or frame containing a written text (alone or associated with other elements) that can be viewed globally or scanned by the eye in such a way that, during reading, all the elements in the frame are likely to interact”.23 23 Cf. Pantin; Theis (op. cit.). Historically, the concept of the page also came to mean strictly the pages of the codex. I will show how in the object-books that I discuss the object can take the page limit to unexpected spaces that will provide new meanings.

Academic literary criticism faces the problem of incorporating object-books into literary studies programs. The researcher who wants to incorporate these creations into her/his research must “transfer” a legitimacy to these works that would not be necessary when studying writers published in codex format. Formats outside the codex arouse suspicions for critics regarding their claim, as is evident by the obvious omission of these works within the literary studies field. Object-books have been much better received by academics and critics in the field of visual arts.24 24 Cf. Bentivoglio (1985, 1990); Castleman (1994); Drucker (1995); Rodríguez Núñez (2008); Silveira (2001).

It is worthy to reflect briefly on the reasons why so little attention has been paid from literary studies to the object-book in the Hispanic and Latin American cultural context. A first idea is that when thinking about the object-book as a specific variety of the artist’s book, its authors are considered artists and not strictly writers. These creators are dissonant authors within the literary landscape and are relegated to a secondary or tertiary level of interest. The Hispanic and Latin American literary panorama is still very homogeneous, though there has been a significant increase in publications of small publishers, and self-publishing is also an opportunity for artists/writers who use the Internet to show their creations.

It is necessary to incorporate the study of object-books into literary studies programs, which have mostly excluded any formats other than the codex. There are indeed many formats and objects that convey literary expressions to readers. The question arises of how to address the work of these authors, and how to understand the relationship between object and text. The approach to this type of work must be done by analyzing its specific characteristics, as they usually take root not specifically in the history of the codex, but rather in the history of objects. I will show how the history and uses of the objects enhance potential meanings of the text. In his Forms and Meanings, Roger Chartier asserts that “If we want to understand the appropriations and interpretations of a text in their full historicity we need to identify the effect, in terms of meaning, that its material form produced”.25 25 Chartier (1995, p. 2). By writing on new supports or objects, object-books are perceived with strangeness by the reader, there is a defamiliarization in the transmitter of the writing.26 26 I refer to strangeness or defamiliarization as used by Russian formalists, mainly by Viktor Shklovsky (1990, p. 1-14). I refer to defamiliarization as the artistic technique of presenting to audience common things in a strange way in order to enhance perception of the familiar.

But what are the minimum units of object-books: their materiality, their textuality? What are the possible reading itineraries? The structure of the object? The text? One of the most important Mexican conceptual and book artists, Ulises Carrión, tried to shed light on these questions.27 27 Cf. Carrión (2012). He stated in his The New Art of Making Books that there are many wrong assumptions about the creation of books to assert that: “A writer, contrary to the popular opinion, does not write books. A writer writes texts”.28 28 Ibid. p. 37. He understands the book in its full materiality: “A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived as different moments. A book is also a sequence of moments”.29 29 Ibid., p. 37. Object literature presents a destabilizing discourse in relation to the traditional writing/ reading practices created by the codex. There are some precedents in Latin America of object literature that are worth mentioning, the first one is related to Brazilian concrete poetry, I am talking about the famous Poemóbiles by the Brazilian poet Augusto de Campos and the Spanish poet Julio Plaza.30 30 Cf. Campos; Plaza (2010); Campos; Pignatari; Campos (1975). Poemóbiles is a kind of origami book and, though these poems lie within the limits of the codex format, they also challenge the codex as a mechanical artifact.31 31 To explore the codex as artifact, see Structure of the Visual Book by Keith Smith (1984). Object literature has its emergence along with object art in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century.32 32 Marchán Fiz (1990, p. 163-171). Though there is no interdependence between writing and books -there are books without writing, and writing without books-, usually in the codex the primacy of the text is unquestionable. Object literature presents object and text at the same level of importance, in these creations the textuality of the object and the materiality of the text cannot be separated. Critics must pay attention to the semiotic load of the written artifact since the characteristics of the object will determine the reading of the book.

There are expectations about the function of objects -a shoe, a pencil, a bottle-, that are part of an aprioristic understanding that will condition the reading of the text that the object conveys. In turn, writing invites reflection on the immanent attributes of the object. The object-book is a three-dimensional object that the reader manipulates, but the text transmitted through it separates the object from its initial function: now it is a readable object, it has been given a new use based on an innovative writing practice. When conveying a literary text, the object becomes a literary object whose reading is governed by its own geography. A precise interpretation of the object-book cannot be made without studying it as technology or artifact. Objects place readers mentally in very specific contexts or semantic fields, there are references in our memory that are activated to know how to use them. Textual content can be presented to emphasize its uses, to subvert them or make a parody of them.

Henceforward, I analyze several examples of object-books, among them a picnic box-book from Argentina, a matchbox-book from Spain, and a house-book from Cuba, all of them have been turned into original object-books. Their authors have abandoned not only the codex, but also the ubiquitous paper as privileged material for textual transmission.33 33 Paper before Print by Jonathan M. Bloom (2001) is a fascinating work on the importance of paper as material support of writing. For these artists, writing is another element, but not a priority, within artistic creation. The following examples explore possible forms of perception of the text based on the physical relationship between reader and object-books.

GRAPHOPHAGY: EATING WRITING, DIGESTING TEXTS

When a writer or artist chooses or creates an object to write on, she/he is also seeking to enhance possible interpretations, and in some cases to propose a performance to the reader. Within the range of book-objects there are some consecrated formats such as the roll, the accordion, the case, the envelope, the folder, or the box. Poetry to Eat - La poesía da para comer - (see Figure 1) is a picnic box that contains edible wafers written by the Argentinian poet Sebastián Fiorilli.34 34 Cf. Fiorilli (2012). Each wafer offers texts on one side and illustrations in reference to the text on the other. The book is presented as a picnic basket, it includes a white and red checkered tablecloth, a blue plastic fork and:

24 edible wafers written and illustrated. Each card is printed with sugar ink, its consumption is suitable for all types of readers. The poems have an expiration date of two years. Poetry is not the host, but consume it preferably in communion with your neighbor.35 35 Ibid. Unless otherwise indicated translations from Spanish and Portuguese are my own. In the original: “24 obleas comestibles escritas e ilustradas. Cada tarjeta está impresa en azúcar y su consumición es apta para todo tipo de lectores. Los poemas tienen una caducidad de 2 años, a no ser que usted se los coma antes. La poesía no es la hostia, consúmala preferentemente en comunión con su prójimo”.

Figure 1
La poesía da para comer. Picture: Michael L. Darough.

These 24 page-wafers are numbered and divided into five blocks that follow an order indicated in the lower right portion of the wafer, so they are not completely autonomous pages. This object-book is also an example of ephemeral art and transitory writing.36 36 Cardona (1999, p. 52). The wafer, a thin sheet of unleavened bread, is made to be eaten. If the reading process is to mentally digest and meditate in order to understand, this book suggests to physically eat the book: chew it, taste it, swallow it, convert it into an assimilable substance for the organism. The title, Poetry to Eat, suggests ingestion and poetic digestion, the wafer invites the reader to consume it, perhaps in communion. Known as graphophagy, the practice of textual ingestion or consumption has ancient roots, and also an important tradition within the field of object-books.37 37 Ibid., p. 170-174. Giorgio Cardona38 38 Ibid. describes graphophagy as a non-linguistic use of texts, and as an old practice considered therapeutic.39 39 In relation with this therapeutic component, Climent-Espino (2019) has analyzed several books offered to readers with formats of medicines. Cardona offers detailed descriptions of old religious practices in relation to graphophagy, like the one called “written water” among Jews and Muslims.40 40 There are documentary evidences of this practice of graphophagy in relation to medicine in medieval times as documented in Pensado Figueiras (2018, p. 43, 49). Cardona describes how even today water is used to clean tablets with Koranic verses, or even macerate pieces of paper with Koranic verses and, after the ink dissolves in water, this water is then drunk by believers.41 41 Cardona (1999, p. 171-172).

It is probably not by chance that in Poetry to Eat, the pages are wafers, which links this practice to communion. In order to use a codex, usually sight and touch are needed. In this object-book, Sebastián Fiorilli proposes that the reader taste it.42 42 Fiorilli, op. cit. Now the pleasure of the text can be twofold, mental and physical. Text and illustrations are ready to be read and ingested. Note that by offering poetry as food, a poetic influence in the physical and mental realm is intended, there is an intention to poetize those who eat it. By leaving the limits of the codex, we find new original writing and reading practices which are not exempt from a history of affiliations within print culture and literature history. These non-linguistic uses of texts are somehow connected to the writings found in many vases and pitchers in the Greco-Roman world, also objects to eat and drink.

There are numerous links between books and food in the context of the artist’s book. A precedent that must be mentioned is Dieter Roth’s Literature Sausages (1964):43 43 “Between 1961 and 1970 Roth created about fifty ‘literature sausages.’ To make each sausage Roth followed a traditional recipe, but with one crucial twist: where the recipe called for ground pork, veal, or beef, he substituted a ground-up book or magazine. Roth mixed the ground-up pages with fat, gelatin, water, and spices before stuffing them into sausage casings. The source materials include work by authors and periodicals that the artist either envied or despised; they run the gamut from lowbrow illustrated tabloids to well-regarded contemporary German novels to the works of Karl Marx and the influential nineteenth-century philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Roth turned literature into a metaphorical object for intellectual consumption and physical subsistence” (DIETER…, 2020).

Roth’s experiments with books include pages that can be shuffled and reordered, miniature volumes, and his most radical effort, his Literature Sausages, each of which consists of a sausage made in accordance with a traditional recipe calling for ingredients such as salt, garlic, and fennel, but with one critical substitution: a minced printed publication in place of meat. The mixture was stuffed into a sausage casing, and the resulting object playfully proposes to viewers and readers another means by which information may be ingested and digested. Each Literature Sausage (Literaturwurst in German) is unique-different in shape and size and containing a different book, magazine, or newspaper.44 44 Cf. Roberts et al. (2019).

Dieter Roth described the process as follows: “From time to time I take books I can’t stand or from authors I want to annoy and make sausages: c. 40 cm long, 8 cm thick, [they] should end up as an edition of 50, titled on the outside, signed, numbered”.45 45 Cf. Brussel (2017); Silveira (2001, p. 224-226). Though Roth’s intent was clearly derogatory and provocative, I found particularly interesting that he even typed up recipes for those books. This is another example of book destruction to create a written “edible” product.

Another precedent of Poetry to Eat is the bread-book performance by the Brazilian artist Paulo Bruscky46 46 Cf. Bruscky (1974). who, in Como ler, invited visitors in a bakery to coffee and to eat printed bread.47 47 Como ler can be translated as “How to read” or as “I eat reading”. Note that como in Portuguese can be translated as ‘how’ but it is also the first person singular present indicative of comer, to eat. This kind of performance is obviously full of humor and irony.48 48 Silveira (2001, p. 211-213). All these artistic productions link with anthropological practices in relation to writing. What I am wanting to show is that any written practice, even those that we deem the craziest, always have closer precedents in the history or the anthropology of writing.

In Poetry to Eat, the physical relationship between the reader and the read object is unavoidable for reading. After a first moment of strangeness, the reading is enhanced by the uses and forms of the object. Poetry to Eat is an edible book, a textualized meal that moves away from the codex in its claim to interrogate the possibilities of the text as part of its intentionality. Both sides of a wafer are shown in this slide (see Figure 2), the text states: “Close the eyes / bite my sadness / build me a mess when you touch me / please / I don’t ask for anything else.”49 49 Fiorilli, op. cit., p. 1-3. In the original: “Cierra los ojos / muérdeme la pena / constrúyeme un desastre cuando me toques / por favor / no te pido otra cosa”.

Figure 2
La poesía da para comer. Picture: Michael L. Darough.

The illustration on the right “illuminates” the text on the left, this is another type of artist’s book: the illustrated book. As we can see, the command “bite” as well as this “soup of tears and sadness” connects both text and image, as well as the main intention of this object-book: to be eaten. In addition, the illustration links body -eyes-, writing -pena/sadness- and food -dish of tears. So, by reading text and image in parallel the interpretation of the text is enriched by the fact that it is written on an edible wafer, also a page. If, as Giorgio Cardona argues, graphophagy has therapeutic purposes, perhaps eating of this wafer will mitigate the sadness in the reader.50 50 Cardona (1991, p. 170-174).

SELF-DESTRUCTIVE LITERATURE: MATCHBOX-BOOKS

Cabezas rascan paredes (Poemas para prender en plena calle) -Heads Scratching Walls (Poems to Light on the Street)- by Julio Fernández Peláez is an object-book made in a matchbox with long matches (see Figure 3).51 51 Cf. Fernández Peláez (2012). The box, cover and back cover of the book, is a container of 36 handwritten matches or pages that make up the book. On the back cover it is reported that: “Heads Scratching Walls is a book of poetry written in matches / and it is also a matchbox that contains a book of poems”,52 52 Ibid. therefore, a book that serves as an object and object that is a book. Each one of the 36 matches are materiality that conveys writing.

Figure 3
Cabezas rascan paredes. Picture: Michael L. Darough.

In the cases I analyze here, authors feel the need to clarify to readers that they are creating books. The artist has full control over his creative process, he is the author and editor of the book. The technique used in Heads Scratching Walls is pretty simple: texts handwritten with blue ink on the wooden stick of each match, and a print run of 50 copies -which means a total of 18 hundred written matches and 72 hundred written sides. The thoroughness required to write on such a narrow and irregular material is extreme, which is somehow reminiscent of the care and skills of scribes in the past. The use of calligraphy is significant and remarkable, it implies a return to old writing practices -such as those of scribes and copyists- and a clear rejection of the industrial production of books. Nowadays, the increase of textual digitalization is detrimental to personal calligraphy. The presence of calligraphy in this book works as a way to resist the omnipresence of typography (see Figure 4). In the current cultural context where electronic texts and digital writing have almost been imposed in the name of productivity, the use of calligraphy proposes a return to the craftsmanship of the book. In addition, it can be read as a claim of the hand as an indispensable instrument of thought, a defense of writing without the intermediation of the machine.

Figure 4
Cabezas rascan paredes. Picture: Michael L. Darough.

Surprisingly, in contrast to careful textual elaboration, the usefulness of the very object is striking, matches industrially created that propose to the reader a performative act: light the poetry, burn the text, reduce it to ashes. There is a strong contrast between the difficult production of the texts and its easy destruction. The hand that writes, it also manipulates the match, the genesis and the death of the text are related to hand movement. The object invites the reader to light the poetry and burn the text.

In fact, this object-book proposes self-destruction in its back cover:

ACTION 1. Go with the poems to a pacific riot. 2. Open the matchbox and share the matches with trustworthy people (be careful with undercover agents). 3. Indicate to the protesters that they have the possibility to change the content of the poem as they wish. 4. Light all matches at the same time before the police charge against you (avoid hits at all costs). 5. Read the poems while running, or once safe. 6. Meet again in private to fill the box with the remains of the matches and keep the book in a public library.53 53 Ibid. In the original: “ACCIÓN 1. Acudir con el poemario a una revuelta pacífica. 2. Abrir la caja y repartir las cerillas entre un grupo de confianza (cuidado con los infiltrados). 3. Indicar a los manifestantes la posibilidad de modificar a su gusto el contenido del poema. 4. Prender la cerilla a un tiempo y antes de que cargue la policía (evitar a toda costa los golpes). 5. Leer los poemas en plena carrera, o una vez a salvo. 6. Volver a reunirse en privado para llenar la caja con los restos y guardar el libro en una biblioteca pública”.

This performance, which includes public reading, goes beyond the limits of the object by creating an event where active participation of readers is required: the process has as much interest as the result. On the other hand, it refers to ephemeral art since it is a work conceived not to last in time but designed with a transitory nature. The burning of matches would make the book disappear in a matter of seconds. Writing on matches allows a simple act such as lighting a match to become a performance.

Further, the destruction of the book links Heads Scratching Walls with the history of the destruction of books committed throughout history when burning books pursued the destruction of knowledge, memory, and of the individual.54 54 In Universal History of Book Destruction, Fernando Báez (2004) offers a fascinating history of biblioclasts and bibliokleptomaniac practices, prohibited books and censored books over the centuries in very different cultural contexts. A more specific work on the same issue is Burning Books… What a Strange Pleasure! by Francisco Gimeno Blay (2001). The ACTION talks about vigilant police in points 2 and 4 and, therefore, of state control. This idea makes us think about the burning of books carried out by the Spanish Inquisition, or more recently by the Nazis in Germany to prevent “textually transmitted diseases.”55 55 Pennac (1993, p. 159). In fiction, well-known examples include the famous scrutiny in the first part of Don Quixote, or to cite more recent instances: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury or 1984 by George Orwell. In spite of the originality of the format, the possibilities of Heads Scratching Walls can be framed within specific historical practices and literary contexts that sometimes are more associated with the object that transmits the text and its uses than with its textual content. The history of the object is a useful itinerary for the analysis of object-books.

The fact that there is no pagination forces the reader to pick the matches up randomly and read them out of sequence since there is no organization of any kind within the matchbox. The match itself also proposes problems for the reader, since each one can be read in different order. On the other hand, the materiality of the object offers new creative possibilities for the writer. For instance, we find a headless match with the following text:

this poem without head/a blank thought

is/oris

a blank thought/this poem without head

isis56 56 Fernández Peláez, op. cit. In the original: “este poema sin cabeza/ es/ un pensamiento en blanco/ es”.

There are two matches joined together with white sticky paper (see Figure 4). On one side of the paper is written the word “passion”, on the other “condemnation”, both richly connoted if thought of in relation to fire: passion and fire, condemnation and fire. Poetical ideas are also part of this self-destructive object-book. There are matches with poetic multiplications with wrong, but also poetic results, since there is a play of alliterations between the wrong and right result:

2 × 5 = d i o s [ d i e z ] / 2 × 4 = n o c h e [ o c h o ] / 2 × 3 = s e x o [ s e i s ] / 2 × 2 = c u a d r o [ c u a t r o ]

2 × 5 = g o d [ t e n ] / 2 × 4 = n i g h t [ e i g h t ] / 2 × 3 = s e x [ s i x ] / 2 × 2 = p i c t u r e [ f o u r ]
57 57 Ibid.

But, does the result of the operation matter when the final destination is to be burnt? The playful nature of Heads Scratching Walls is clear.

There are metapoetic references like: “This poem is better crossed out / to learn / to be / poem”,58 58 Ibid. In the original: “Este poema mejor tacharlo / para que aprenda / a ser / poema”. and even some appeals to the reader: “DECLARATION OF FRIENDSHIP / please burn me up / give me an ember in your lips / a hug of coals”,59 59 Ibid. In the original: “DECLARACIÓN DE AMISTAD / abrásame por favor / dame un rescoldo en tus labios / y un apretón de ascuas”. where there is a clear pun between abrásame (burn me) and abrázame (hug me) in Spanish, the meaning of these verses is emphasized by the fact that they are written on a match. The text is clearly referring to the material that conveys it in a kind of metaobjectual allusion. Through this verse, the object asks to be used, the match asks to be lit. This is another example of how materiality determines the interpretation of the text, a reading that would not be possible if the text was offered in a codex format.

There are matches with romantic verses that bring playful relations between words and syllables: “Love heals everything / MADNESS / love all love / everything heals love”.60 60 Ibid. “El amor todo lo cura / LOCURA / el amor todo el amor / todo lo cura el amor”. In these verses there is an original anadiplosis between lo cura -it heals it- and locura -madness- followed by an epanadiplosis with el amor -love. The easy manipulation of matches affords the possibility that by joining different matches new poems may arise, these combinations of matches and verses would produce endless poetic sequences. It is also interesting to note that since the match is produced to be lit, this book would correspond to a variety of ephemeral writings.61 61 Cardona (1999, p. 52). As the object itself attests, it is not made to last in time, but to disappear.62 62 In relation to this idea, Simón Marchán Fiz (op. cit., p. 12) proposes to relate obsolescence and art as follows: “From the perspective of productive relationships, I suggest that obsolescence, as a specific psychological category, affects the artistic sphere. In today’s societies, artistic work, like other products, will be of a provisional originality, condemned to a rapid and incessant consumption that enhances the exploration of the new, preferably formal, but not of contents. Artistic psychological obsolescence, then, is hardly comprehensible detached from planned obsolescence, which affects current relations of production. The interests of the market in a society, where the work has progressively lost the values in use in favor of the pure exchange value, impose the need for incessant artistic innovations, similar to fashion phenomena”.

Surprisingly, the matchbox seems to be a preferred object for many writers and poets in Latin America. There is a yet unwritten history of these objects in relation to literature. This kind of pyromaniac literature has several followers. Among them, I will highlight Phosphoros, by the Brazilian artist and writer Elida Tessler.63 63 Cf. Tessler (2014). This specific work is based on all books that were burnt in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Phosphoros consists of 122 matchsticks where the title of the books and their authors in Bradbury’s novel are inscribed in matchsticks. It is also worth mentioning the Brazilian writer Samir Mesquita’s Dois palitos / Two Matchsticks (see Figure 5), an object-book with 50 mini short stories.64 64 “Two Matchsticks contains 50 mini short stories, made up to 50 letters (not counting title and punctuation), perfect for transporting anywhere” (Mesquita, 2007). In his webpage, Mesquita offers the possibility of reading these mini short stories with the same time it takes to burn a match.65 65 Available from: <https://bit.ly/315jJVG>. Access on: Mar. 15, 2020.

Figure 5
Dois palitos. Picture: Samir Mesquita.

I finally want to mention the Hai-kaixa (see Figure 6) by Marcelo Dolabela, a small matchbox that contains one hundred haikais:66 66 Cf. Dolabela (2010).

Figure 6
Hai Kaixa. Picture: Michael L. Darough.

EXPOSED WRITINGS: HOUSE-BOOK AND TEXTS IN THE CITY

The last sample I want to analyze is an extreme denial of the codex book, a house-book in Havana, Cuba. This book is unique and unrepeatable, in this case the place of publication has never been more important if someone wants to read it since we deal here with an actual house. The text tells the story of three generations about the author’s family who lived in the house for decades. It is not common at all to find narrative works out of the codex format; in fact, narrative has been much more dependent on the codex format than poetry. Manuel Martínez Pérez, author of this house-book, wrote his family story in the internal walls of the family house, where he actually lives surrounded by his own writing. All rooms and walls have been written to complete the story that was first written in regular paper.67 67 On public writing, see Petrucci (1993). The concept of exposed writings was created by the Italian paleographer Armando Petrucci and it is very useful to analyze this work. Petrucci defined exposed writings as:

Any type of writing designed to be used in open or closed spaces, which allows a plural (in-group, massive) reading, from a distance, of a text written on an exposed surface. As a result, a necessary condition for its use to be effective is that exposed writing needs to be sufficiently large, and to present the message it carries in an evident and clear (verbal and/ or visual).68 68 Id., 1986, p. xx. English translation in Castillo Gómez (2020, p. 58).

In the case of the house-book (see Figures 7, 8, 9 and 10), the reader does not manipulate the written object, here the reader is both literally surrounded by text and in transit within the space depicted in the narrative, the actual spaces where the characters lived. This literary creation is at a crossroad of several fields: architecture, literature, visual arts, anthropology of writing, etc. But, again, there are uncertainties on what steps to follow in the reading process within the house:69 69 For writing practices in domestic spaces in early modern Europe, see Castillo Gómez (op. cit., p. 59-62). how to read this book?

Figure 7
House-Book. Picture: Manuel Martínez.

Figure 8
House-Book. Picture: Manuel Martínez.

Figure 9
Kitchen. Picture: Manuel Martínez.

Figure 10
Corridor. Picture: Manuel Martínez.

In order to read the story, the reader is going to be part of an involuntary performance. There is a challenge to the act of comfortable reading, now the reader is a puppet-like in the hands of writing. The reader in movement will read the texts in the walls, but she/he will also walk in the spaces once dwelled by the characters of the story. At the same time, the reader finds in the walls old and new photographs of the characters and even random objects that are sometimes part of the story. The spatial position of writing and reader is very innovative in this creation. We can link this writing to graffiti art, but there are obvious differences since most of the text is not in sight for passers-by who would not been able to read it. Readers need to walk within the house in order to read this narrative.

To finish, I would like to analyze briefly a very original example in relation to writing and the poetization of urban space. It is the work made by a group of artists called Boa Mistura -Good Mix- from Madrid, Spain. They have worked together since 2001 and their motto is “Art as a tool for change”. This group has poeticized the degraded and polluted urban spaces usually in big cities all over the world including Latin America and Spain, where they started informally their work as graffiti artists. Writing is one of the elements that Boa Mistura uses in order to create that possibility of change. On their webpage,70 70 Available from: <https://bit.ly/34b1XCA>. Access on: Mar. 16, 2020. Boa Mistura asserts that, “We understand our work as a tool to transform the street and to create bonds between people. We feel a responsibility for the city and time we are living in”.71 71 On the process of creation of Boa Mistura see Serrano Guerra et al. (2018). The pictures -Figures 11, 12, 13- are from 2012 when Boa Mistura made several urban interventions called Luz nas vielas -Light in the Alleyways- in the slum of Brasilândia, in São Paulo, Brazil.72 72 Boa Mistura (2012). São Paulo seems to be an open book as city, not just for the art of graffiti in its streets and avenues, but also for the abundant pichação / pixação or “wall writings” all over the city. For an analysis on pichação in São Paulo as exposed writing, see Pereira (2010, 2016). The group was hosted by several families in the slum, having in this way direct contact with the people of that community and their concerns. Since the purpose was to modify rundown communities using painting and writing as tools for change and inspiration, there is a clear communicative function of these graffiti:

After preliminary studies and analysis, the defined framework are the narrow and winding streets that connects the urban net, known as vielas and becos. The dialogue with residents and their active participation has been decisive for the Project. BELEZA [beauty], FIRMEZA [strength], AMOR [love], DOÇURA [sweetness] and ORGULHO [pride] are the concepts chosen by the collective for the interventions.73 73 For a short documentary on this project, see: <https://bit.ly/2Yf5OuC>. Access on: Mar. 28, 2020.

Figure 11
Beleza / Beauty. Picture: Boa Mistura.

Figure 12
Doçura/ Sweetness. Picture: Boa Mistura.

Figure 13
Poesia/ Poetry. Picture: Boa Mistura.

It is meaningful that for the interventions, the members of the community, stigmatized with misery, distress, violence and drugs, chose democratically to print on walls words like “beauty”, “persistence”, “love”, “sweetness”, and “pride”, all of them full of positive connotations.74 74 Following Armando Petrucci, Antonio Castillo Gómez (op. cit.) has recently analyzed public writing in Early Modern Europe. My analysis of this intervention by Boa Mistura is guided by both Petrucci (1986, 1993) and Castillo Gómez (op. cit.). These are meaningful concepts for dwellers that represent their hopes and dreams, these public writings openly question the stigma that these communities face. The interventions were made in busy alleyways of the neighborhood, the words in the walls will be read but the intention is that oral interaction among passers-by will bring those topics -beauty, sweetness, poetry, love, etc.- to regular conversations. Readers will be surprised to find themselves walking through those art interventions. The permanence of those words in the walls of the alleys remember inhabitants and visitors that the meaning of those words also dwells those spaces that they transit. As aforementioned, Roger Chartier75 75 Cf. Chartier (2013). supports the idea that sometimes just the intentionality of binding different parts together could be a book, perhaps these alleyways are binding a book that Boa Mistura just only started to write. Further, Boa Mistura explores here a social function and use of writing when they gathered together many members of the community to intervene those spaces.

To draw these meaningful words in the walls of the space where they live is also an attempt to create a better atmosphere in the daily lives of the inhabitants with the hope that the essential values that those words represent -beauty, strength, love, sweetness, pride- would come true and be permanent in the community. The written words on those walls constantly will remind the inhabitants of the slum of the possibility of a change for the better.

Figures 11, 12 and 13 show writing activities that take place in the urban scenario. These large size graffiti are painted with a clear design and a well-thought size and perspective. There is also the intention of permanence, passers-by will repeatedly read them again and again, interacting with the written walls as part of their daily routines. Eventually, the community will decide if they keep those interventions and the public exposure of those words, or just let them disappear over the years.

CONCLUSION

In this essay I analyzed new ways of literary transmission edited in formats other than the codex. Taking as departing point an open understanding of the concept of book by Roger Chartier76 76 Id. (1995, 2013). as well as some important concepts such as exposed writing by Armando Petrucci77 77 Cf. Petrucci (1993). (1993), I dealt with several object-books to offer a detailed analysis of literary texts edited in non-codex supports. This essay proposed a clear distinction between book-object and object-book, and a strong vindication of including these original materialities of literature into the field of literary studies, an area that has omitted non-codex formats considering them literary diversions. In my analysis, I have shown how the objects and the new material supports that convey literature to readers are enhancing surprising connotations and new interpretations of the text that they transmit.

BOOKS, ARTICLES AND THESES

  • BÁEZ, Fernando. Historia universal de la destrucción de libros: de las tablillas sumerias a la guerra de Irak. Barcelona: Destino, 2004.
  • BENTIVOGLIO, Mirella. Il non libro: bibliofollia ieri e oggi in Italia. Roma: De Luca, 1985.
  • BENTIVOGLIO, Mirella. Il librismo: 1896-1990: dalla cornice alla copertina, dal piedestallo allo scaffale. Cagliari: Arte Duchamp, 1990.
  • BLOOM, Jonathan M. Paper before print: the history and impact of paper in the Islamic world. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.
  • BRUSCKY, Paulo. Como ler Recife: Padaria Nabuco, 1974.
  • BRUSSEL, Angela. The curious intersection between food and fine arts. ARTpublika Magazine: Art Culture for the People, New York, v. 3, Oct. 1, 2017. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/2Q6ww3O >. Access on: Mar. 14, 2020.
    » https://bit.ly/2Q6ww3O
  • CAMPOS, Augusto de; PLAZA, Julio. Poemóbiles São Paulo: Annablume, 2010.
  • CAMPOS, Augusto de; PIGNATARI, Décio; CAMPOS, Haroldo de. Teoria da poesia concreta: textos críticos e manifestos, 1950-1960. São Paulo: Livraria Duas Cidades, 1975.
  • CARDONA, Giorgio R. Antropología de la escritura Barcelona: GEDISA, 1999.
  • CARRIÓN, Ulises. El arte nuevo de hacer libros México: Tumbona, 2012.
  • CASTILLO GÓMEZ, Antonio. Words on walls: an approach to exposed writing in Early Modern Europe. Journal of Early Medieval Studies, Florence, v. 9, p. 57-82, 2020.
  • CASTLEMAN, Riva. A century of artists books New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1994.
  • CAVALLO, Guglielmo. Libros y público a fines de la Antigüedad. In: CAVALLO, Guglielmo. Libros, editores y público en el mundo antiguo: guía histórica y crítica. Madrid: Alianza, 1995. p. 109-168.
  • CHARTIER, Roger. Forms and meanings: texts, performances, and audiences from codex to computer. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995.
  • CHARTIER, Roger. What is a book? In: FRAISTAT, Neil; FLANDERS, Julia (eds.). The Cambridge companion to textual scholarship Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 188-204.
  • CHRISTIN, Anne-Marie (ed.). A history of writing: from hieroglyph to multimedia. Paris: Flammarion, 2002.
  • CLIMENT-ESPINO, Rafael. Al margen del códice: análisis de tres ejemplos recientes de objetos-libro en España. Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, Tucson, v. 22, p. 89-109, 2018.
  • CLIMENT-ESPINO, Rafael. Bibliofármacos: subversiones poéticas de la medicina a través de la palabra. MATLIT: Materialities of Literature, Coimbra, v. 7, n. 1, p. 175-196, 2019.
  • DOLABELA, Marcelo. Hai Kaixa 3. ed. Belo Horizonte: Minimemória, 2010.
  • DRUCKER, Johanna. The century of artists’ books New York: Granary Books, 1995.
  • ELIOT, Simon; ROSE, Jonathan (eds.). A companion to the history of the book Malden: Blackwell, 2007.
  • FERNÁNDEZ PELÁEZ, Julio. Cabezas rascan paredes: poemas para prender en plena calle. Madrid: Librería Arrebato, 2012. Special edition.
  • FINKELSTEIN, David. The future of the book. In: FINKELSTEIN, David; MCCLEERY, Alistair. An introduction to book history New York: Routledge, 2005. p. 118-132.
  • FIORILLI, Sebastián. La poesía da para comer Illustrations: Sergio Verdú Martínez. Madrid: Edición en Oblea, 2012. Fully edible book.
  • GIMENO BLAY, Francisco M. Quemar los libros… ¡qué extraño placer! Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 2001.
  • GÓMEZ-BRAVO, Ana María. Textual agency: writing culture and social networks in fifteenth-century Spain. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.
  • GRAFTON, Anthony. Codex in crisis New York: The Crumpled Press, 2008.
  • GRAFTON, Anthony; WILLIAMS, Megan. Christianity and the transformation of the book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.
  • GRAFTON, Anthony; SHELFORD, April; SIRAISI, Nancy. New worlds, ancient texts: the power of tradition and the shock of discovery. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.
  • GREETHAN, David C. Scholarly editing: a guide to research. New York: Modern Languages Association of America, 1995.
  • HALL, David D. Cultures of print: essays in the history of the book. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996.
  • HUBERT, Renée R. Surrealism and the book Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • HUIZINGA, Johan. Homo ludens: a study of the play element in culture. London: Routledge, 1980.
  • LÓPEZ JIMENO, María del Amor. Las tabellae defixionis de la Sicilia griega Ámsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1991.
  • LÓPEZ JIMENO, María del Amor. Nuevas tabellae defixionis Áticas Ámsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1999.
  • LUNDE, Paul. The Book of Codes: understanding the world of hidden messages: an illustrated guide to signs, symbols, ciphers, and secret languages. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
  • MALLARMÉ, Stéphane. A throw of the dice never will abolish chance New York: Limited Editions Club, 1993.
  • MARCHÁN FIZ, Simón. Del arte objetual al arte de concepto (1960-1974) Madrid: AKAL, 1990.
  • PENNAC, Daniel. Como una novela Barcelona: Anagrama, 1993.
  • PENSADO FIGUEIRAS, Jesús. El recetario final del manuscrito BNE 3338: edición crítica. Revista de Literatura Medieval, Alcalá de Henares, v. 30, p. 29-71, 2018.
  • PEREIRA, Alexandre Barbosa. As marcas da cidade: a dinâmica da pixação em São Paulo. Lua Nova, São Paulo, v. 79, p. 143-162, 2010.
  • PEREIRA, Alexandre Barbosa. Visibilidade e escrita de si nos riscos do pixo paulistano. Revista de Ciências Sociais, Fortaleza, v. 47, p. 77-100, 2016.
  • PETRUCCI, Armando. La Scrittura: ideologia e rappresentazione. Torino: G. Einaudi, 1986.
  • PETRUCCI, Armando. Public lettering: script, power and culture. Translation: Linda Lappin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.
  • PRINZ, Jessica. The “non-book”: new dimensions in the contemporary artist’s book. Visible Language, Cincinnati, v. 25, n. 2-3, p. 283-302, 1991.
  • ROBERTS, Rebecca et al MoMA Highlights: 375 works from the Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Arts, 2019.
  • RODRÍGUEZ NÚÑEZ, José A. Hojeando… Cuatro décadas de libros y revistas de artista en España New York: SEACEX, 2008.
  • SERRANO GUERRA, Javier et al Art as a tool for change. The Journal of Public Space, Bologna, v. 3, n. 2, p. 13-40, 2018.
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  • SILVEIRA, Paulo A. A página violada: da ternura à injúria na construção do livro de artista. Porto Alegre: Editora da UFRGS, 2001.
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  • SÜSSEKIND, Flora. Não-livros. In: SÜSSEKIND, Flora; DIAS, Tânia (orgs.). Historiografia literaria e as técnicas de escrita: do manuscrito ao hipertexto. Rio de Janeiro: Vieira & Lent, 2004. p. 442-488.
  • TESSLER, Elida. Φωσφόρος= Phosphoros São Paulo: Clube de Colecionadores de Gravura, 2014.
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WEBSITES

  • BOA MISTURA. Luz nas vielas São Paulo: Boa Mistura, 2012. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/2CGLCKy >. Access on: Mar. 16, 2020.
    » https://bit.ly/2CGLCKy
  • DIETER Roth: Literature Sausage (Literaturwurst): 1969, published 1961-70. MoMA, New York, 2020. Available at: <Available at: https://mo.ma/3ijmoBx >. Access on: Mar. 25, 2020.
    » https://mo.ma/3ijmoBx
  • MESQUITA, Samir. Dois palitos: contém 50 microcontos. [S. l: s. n.], 2007. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/315jJVG >. Access on: Mar. 15, 2020.
    » https://bit.ly/315jJVG
  • PANTIN, Isabelle; THEIS, Valérie. Pages. In: STAUDER, Andréas; HUYSE, Philip; SCHMID, Charlotte (dir.). Scripta-PSL: History and practices of writing. Paris: Université Paris, 2017. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/34f6kMP >. Access on: Mar. 7, 2020.
    » https://bit.ly/34f6kMP

  • 2
    Part of this research was published in Spanish in the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. It can be found in the references section under Climent-Espino (2018CLIMENT-ESPINO, Rafael. Al margen del códice: análisis de tres ejemplos recientes de objetos-libro en España. Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, Tucson, v. 22, p. 89-109, 2018.).
  • 3
    I will follow David D. Hall (1996HALL, David D. Cultures of print: essays in the history of the book. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996.) and Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose (2007ELIOT, Simon; ROSE, Jonathan (eds.). A companion to the history of the book. Malden: Blackwell, 2007.) on topics related to the history of the book.
  • 4
    An important work on this issue is A History of Writing edited by Anne-Marie Christin (2002CHRISTIN, Anne-Marie (ed.). A history of writing: from hieroglyph to multimedia. Paris: Flammarion, 2002.).
  • 5
    The works by María del A. López Jimeno (1991LÓPEZ JIMENO, María del Amor. Las tabellae defixionis de la Sicilia griega. Ámsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1991., 1999LÓPEZ JIMENO, María del Amor. Nuevas tabellae defixionis Áticas. Ámsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1999.) on tabellae defixionum are extremely valuable.
  • 6
    A general overview on writing and reading practices on an important plethora of material supports can be found in The Book of Codes by Paul Lunde (2009LUNDE, Paul. The Book of Codes: understanding the world of hidden messages: an illustrated guide to signs, symbols, ciphers, and secret languages. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.).
  • 7
    On the transition from roll to codex, I find illuminating the study by Guglielmo Cavallo (1995CAVALLO, Guglielmo. Libros y público a fines de la Antigüedad. In: CAVALLO, Guglielmo. Libros, editores y público en el mundo antiguo: guía histórica y crítica. Madrid: Alianza, 1995. p. 109-168.).
  • 8
    Cardona (1999CARDONA, Giorgio R. Antropología de la escritura. Barcelona: GEDISA, 1999.); Eliot; Rose, op. cit.; Lunde, op. cit.
  • 9
    Chartier (2013CHARTIER, Roger. What is a book? In: FRAISTAT, Neil; FLANDERS, Julia (eds.). The Cambridge companion to textual scholarship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 188-204., p. 194).
  • 10
    Gómez-Bravo (2013GÓMEZ-BRAVO, Ana María. Textual agency: writing culture and social networks in fifteenth-century Spain. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013., p. 6).
  • 11
    On how digitalization is threatening the codex see Grafton (2008GRAFTON, Anthony. Codex in crisis. New York: The Crumpled Press, 2008., p. 41-58), and Finkelstein (2005FINKELSTEIN, David. The future of the book. In: FINKELSTEIN, David; MCCLEERY, Alistair. An introduction to book history. New York: Routledge, 2005. p. 118-132., p. 118-132).
  • 12
    Eliot; Rose, op. cit.; Chartier (2013CHARTIER, Roger. What is a book? In: FRAISTAT, Neil; FLANDERS, Julia (eds.). The Cambridge companion to textual scholarship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 188-204.).
  • 13
    Cf. Grafton; Williams (2006GRAFTON, Anthony; WILLIAMS, Megan. Christianity and the transformation of the book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.); Grafton; Shelford; Siraisi (1992GRAFTON, Anthony; SHELFORD, April; SIRAISI, Nancy. New worlds, ancient texts: the power of tradition and the shock of discovery. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.); Greetham (1995GREETHAN, David C. Scholarly editing: a guide to research. New York: Modern Languages Association of America, 1995.).
  • 14
    Cf. Chartier (2013CHARTIER, Roger. What is a book? In: FRAISTAT, Neil; FLANDERS, Julia (eds.). The Cambridge companion to textual scholarship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 188-204.).
  • 15
    Cf. Bentivoglio (1985BENTIVOGLIO, Mirella. Il non libro: bibliofollia ieri e oggi in Italia. Roma: De Luca, 1985., 1990BENTIVOGLIO, Mirella. Il librismo: 1896-1990: dalla cornice alla copertina, dal piedestallo allo scaffale. Cagliari: Arte Duchamp, 1990.); Silveira (2001SILVEIRA, Paulo A. A página violada: da ternura à injúria na construção do livro de artista. Porto Alegre: Editora da UFRGS, 2001., p. 214).
  • 16
    On the concept of non-book, see the studies by Mirella Bentivoglio (1985BENTIVOGLIO, Mirella. Il non libro: bibliofollia ieri e oggi in Italia. Roma: De Luca, 1985.) and Jessica Prinz (1991PRINZ, Jessica. The “non-book”: new dimensions in the contemporary artist’s book. Visible Language, Cincinnati, v. 25, n. 2-3, p. 283-302, 1991.). Flora Süssekind (2004SÜSSEKIND, Flora. Não-livros. In: SÜSSEKIND, Flora; DIAS, Tânia (orgs.). Historiografia literaria e as técnicas de escrita: do manuscrito ao hipertexto. Rio de Janeiro: Vieira & Lent, 2004. p. 442-488., p. 442-443) suggests the possibility that object-books be framed within the concept of non-book, which would also be within the tag of artist book.
  • 17
    On the importance of play as cultural element, see Huizinga (1980HUIZINGA, Johan. Homo ludens: a study of the play element in culture. London: Routledge, 1980.).
  • 18
    Cf. Pantin; Theis (2017PANTIN, Isabelle; THEIS, Valérie. Pages. In: STAUDER, Andréas; HUYSE, Philip; SCHMID, Charlotte (dir.). Scripta-PSL: History and practices of writing. Paris: Université Paris, 2017. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/34f6kMP >. Access on: Mar. 7, 2020.
    https://bit.ly/34f6kMP...
    ).
  • 19
    Chartier (1995CHARTIER, Roger. Forms and meanings: texts, performances, and audiences from codex to computer. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995., p. 2).
  • 20
    Cf. Mallarmé (1993MALLARMÉ, Stéphane. A throw of the dice never will abolish chance. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1993.).
  • 21
    Though calligrams were revitalized by Apollinarie at the beginning of the 20th century, they have a long tradition that would take us at least to 300 BCE with the Egg by Simmias of Rhodes.
  • 22
    Surrealism and the Book by Renée R. Hubert (1988HUBERT, Renée R. Surrealism and the book. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.) is a fascinating study on the role that book and print art played in the avant-garde movements, specifically in surrealism. For a review of Duchamp’s work, see Calvin Tomkins (1966TOMKINS, Calvin et al. The world of Marcel Duchamp. New York: Time-Life Books, 1966.).
  • 23
    Cf. Pantin; Theis (op. cit.).
  • 24
    Cf. Bentivoglio (1985BENTIVOGLIO, Mirella. Il non libro: bibliofollia ieri e oggi in Italia. Roma: De Luca, 1985., 1990BENTIVOGLIO, Mirella. Il librismo: 1896-1990: dalla cornice alla copertina, dal piedestallo allo scaffale. Cagliari: Arte Duchamp, 1990.); Castleman (1994CASTLEMAN, Riva. A century of artists books. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1994.); Drucker (1995DRUCKER, Johanna. The century of artists’ books. New York: Granary Books, 1995.); Rodríguez Núñez (2008RODRÍGUEZ NÚÑEZ, José A. Hojeando… Cuatro décadas de libros y revistas de artista en España. New York: SEACEX, 2008.); Silveira (2001SILVEIRA, Paulo A. A página violada: da ternura à injúria na construção do livro de artista. Porto Alegre: Editora da UFRGS, 2001.).
  • 25
    Chartier (1995CHARTIER, Roger. Forms and meanings: texts, performances, and audiences from codex to computer. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995., p. 2).
  • 26
    I refer to strangeness or defamiliarization as used by Russian formalists, mainly by Viktor Shklovsky (1990SHKLOVSKY, Viktor. Theory of prose. Translated by Benjamin Sher. Elmwood Park: Dalkey Archive Press, 1990., p. 1-14).
  • 27
    Cf. Carrión (2012CARRIÓN, Ulises. El arte nuevo de hacer libros. México: Tumbona, 2012.).
  • 28
    Ibid. p. 37.
  • 29
    Ibid., p. 37.
  • 30
    Cf. Campos; Plaza (2010CAMPOS, Augusto de; PLAZA, Julio. Poemóbiles. São Paulo: Annablume, 2010.); Campos; Pignatari; Campos (1975CAMPOS, Augusto de; PIGNATARI, Décio; CAMPOS, Haroldo de. Teoria da poesia concreta: textos críticos e manifestos, 1950-1960. São Paulo: Livraria Duas Cidades, 1975.).
  • 31
    To explore the codex as artifact, see Structure of the Visual Book by Keith Smith (1984SMITH, Keith. Structure of the visual book. Rochester: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1984.).
  • 32
    Marchán Fiz (1990MARCHÁN FIZ, Simón. Del arte objetual al arte de concepto (1960-1974). Madrid: AKAL, 1990., p. 163-171).
  • 33
    Paper before Print by Jonathan M. Bloom (2001BLOOM, Jonathan M. Paper before print: the history and impact of paper in the Islamic world. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.) is a fascinating work on the importance of paper as material support of writing.
  • 34
    Cf. Fiorilli (2012FIORILLI, Sebastián. La poesía da para comer. Illustrations: Sergio Verdú Martínez. Madrid: Edición en Oblea, 2012. Fully edible book.).
  • 35
    Ibid. Unless otherwise indicated translations from Spanish and Portuguese are my own. In the original: “24 obleas comestibles escritas e ilustradas. Cada tarjeta está impresa en azúcar y su consumición es apta para todo tipo de lectores. Los poemas tienen una caducidad de 2 años, a no ser que usted se los coma antes. La poesía no es la hostia, consúmala preferentemente en comunión con su prójimo”.
  • 36
    Cardona (1999CARDONA, Giorgio R. Antropología de la escritura. Barcelona: GEDISA, 1999., p. 52).
  • 37
    Ibid., p. 170-174.
  • 38
    Ibid.
  • 39
    In relation with this therapeutic component, Climent-Espino (2019CLIMENT-ESPINO, Rafael. Bibliofármacos: subversiones poéticas de la medicina a través de la palabra. MATLIT: Materialities of Literature, Coimbra, v. 7, n. 1, p. 175-196, 2019.) has analyzed several books offered to readers with formats of medicines.
  • 40
    There are documentary evidences of this practice of graphophagy in relation to medicine in medieval times as documented in Pensado Figueiras (2018PENSADO FIGUEIRAS, Jesús. El recetario final del manuscrito BNE 3338: edición crítica. Revista de Literatura Medieval, Alcalá de Henares, v. 30, p. 29-71, 2018., p. 43, 49).
  • 41
    Cardona (1999CARDONA, Giorgio R. Antropología de la escritura. Barcelona: GEDISA, 1999., p. 171-172).
  • 42
    Fiorilli, op. cit.
  • 43
    “Between 1961 and 1970 Roth created about fifty ‘literature sausages.’ To make each sausage Roth followed a traditional recipe, but with one crucial twist: where the recipe called for ground pork, veal, or beef, he substituted a ground-up book or magazine. Roth mixed the ground-up pages with fat, gelatin, water, and spices before stuffing them into sausage casings. The source materials include work by authors and periodicals that the artist either envied or despised; they run the gamut from lowbrow illustrated tabloids to well-regarded contemporary German novels to the works of Karl Marx and the influential nineteenth-century philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Roth turned literature into a metaphorical object for intellectual consumption and physical subsistence” (DIETER…, 2020DIETER Roth: Literature Sausage (Literaturwurst): 1969, published 1961-70. MoMA, New York, 2020. Available at: <Available at: https://mo.ma/3ijmoBx >. Access on: Mar. 25, 2020.
    https://mo.ma/3ijmoBx...
    ).
  • 44
    Cf. Roberts et al. (2019ROBERTS, Rebecca et al. MoMA Highlights: 375 works from the Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Arts, 2019.).
  • 45
    Cf. Brussel (2017BRUSSEL, Angela. The curious intersection between food and fine arts. ARTpublika Magazine: Art Culture for the People, New York, v. 3, Oct. 1, 2017. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/2Q6ww3O >. Access on: Mar. 14, 2020.
    https://bit.ly/2Q6ww3O...
    ); Silveira (2001SILVEIRA, Paulo A. A página violada: da ternura à injúria na construção do livro de artista. Porto Alegre: Editora da UFRGS, 2001., p. 224-226).
  • 46
    Cf. Bruscky (1974BRUSCKY, Paulo. Como ler. Recife: Padaria Nabuco, 1974.).
  • 47
    Como ler can be translated as “How to read” or as “I eat reading”. Note that como in Portuguese can be translated as ‘how’ but it is also the first person singular present indicative of comer, to eat.
  • 48
    Silveira (2001SILVEIRA, Paulo A. A página violada: da ternura à injúria na construção do livro de artista. Porto Alegre: Editora da UFRGS, 2001., p. 211-213).
  • 49
    Fiorilli, op. cit., p. 1-3. In the original: “Cierra los ojos / muérdeme la pena / constrúyeme un desastre cuando me toques / por favor / no te pido otra cosa”.
  • 50
    Cardona (1991, p. 170-174).
  • 51
    Cf. Fernández Peláez (2012FERNÁNDEZ PELÁEZ, Julio. Cabezas rascan paredes: poemas para prender en plena calle. Madrid: Librería Arrebato, 2012. Special edition.).
  • 52
    Ibid.
  • 53
    Ibid. In the original: “ACCIÓN 1. Acudir con el poemario a una revuelta pacífica. 2. Abrir la caja y repartir las cerillas entre un grupo de confianza (cuidado con los infiltrados). 3. Indicar a los manifestantes la posibilidad de modificar a su gusto el contenido del poema. 4. Prender la cerilla a un tiempo y antes de que cargue la policía (evitar a toda costa los golpes). 5. Leer los poemas en plena carrera, o una vez a salvo. 6. Volver a reunirse en privado para llenar la caja con los restos y guardar el libro en una biblioteca pública”.
  • 54
    In Universal History of Book Destruction, Fernando Báez (2004BÁEZ, Fernando. Historia universal de la destrucción de libros: de las tablillas sumerias a la guerra de Irak. Barcelona: Destino, 2004.) offers a fascinating history of biblioclasts and bibliokleptomaniac practices, prohibited books and censored books over the centuries in very different cultural contexts. A more specific work on the same issue is Burning Books… What a Strange Pleasure! by Francisco Gimeno Blay (2001GIMENO BLAY, Francisco M. Quemar los libros… ¡qué extraño placer! Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 2001.).
  • 55
    Pennac (1993PENNAC, Daniel. Como una novela. Barcelona: Anagrama, 1993., p. 159).
  • 56
    Fernández Peláez, op. cit. In the original: “este poema sin cabeza/ es/ un pensamiento en blanco/ es”.
  • 57
    Ibid.
  • 58
    Ibid. In the original: “Este poema mejor tacharlo / para que aprenda / a ser / poema”.
  • 59
    Ibid. In the original: “DECLARACIÓN DE AMISTAD / abrásame por favor / dame un rescoldo en tus labios / y un apretón de ascuas”.
  • 60
    Ibid. “El amor todo lo cura / LOCURA / el amor todo el amor / todo lo cura el amor”.
  • 61
    Cardona (1999CARDONA, Giorgio R. Antropología de la escritura. Barcelona: GEDISA, 1999., p. 52).
  • 62
    In relation to this idea, Simón Marchán Fiz (op. cit., p. 12) proposes to relate obsolescence and art as follows: “From the perspective of productive relationships, I suggest that obsolescence, as a specific psychological category, affects the artistic sphere. In today’s societies, artistic work, like other products, will be of a provisional originality, condemned to a rapid and incessant consumption that enhances the exploration of the new, preferably formal, but not of contents. Artistic psychological obsolescence, then, is hardly comprehensible detached from planned obsolescence, which affects current relations of production. The interests of the market in a society, where the work has progressively lost the values in use in favor of the pure exchange value, impose the need for incessant artistic innovations, similar to fashion phenomena”.
  • 63
    Cf. Tessler (2014TESSLER, Elida. Φωσφόρος= Phosphoros. São Paulo: Clube de Colecionadores de Gravura, 2014.).
  • 64
    Two Matchsticks contains 50 mini short stories, made up to 50 letters (not counting title and punctuation), perfect for transporting anywhere” (Mesquita, 2007MESQUITA, Samir. Dois palitos: contém 50 microcontos. [S. l.: s. n.], 2007. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/315jJVG >. Access on: Mar. 15, 2020.
    https://bit.ly/315jJVG...
    ).
  • 65
    Available from: <https://bit.ly/315jJVG>. Access on: Mar. 15, 2020.
  • 66
    Cf. Dolabela (2010DOLABELA, Marcelo. Hai Kaixa. 3. ed. Belo Horizonte: Minimemória, 2010.).
  • 67
    On public writing, see Petrucci (1993PETRUCCI, Armando. Public lettering: script, power and culture. Translation: Linda Lappin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.).
  • 68
    Id., 1986, p. xx. English translation in Castillo Gómez (2020CASTILLO GÓMEZ, Antonio. Words on walls: an approach to exposed writing in Early Modern Europe. Journal of Early Medieval Studies, Florence, v. 9, p. 57-82, 2020., p. 58).
  • 69
    For writing practices in domestic spaces in early modern Europe, see Castillo Gómez (op. cit., p. 59-62).
  • 70
    Available from: <https://bit.ly/34b1XCA>. Access on: Mar. 16, 2020.
  • 71
    On the process of creation of Boa Mistura see Serrano Guerra et al. (2018SERRANO GUERRA, Javier et al. Art as a tool for change. The Journal of Public Space, Bologna, v. 3, n. 2, p. 13-40, 2018.).
  • 72
    Boa Mistura (2012BOA MISTURA. Luz nas vielas. São Paulo: Boa Mistura, 2012. Available from: <Available from: https://bit.ly/2CGLCKy >. Access on: Mar. 16, 2020.
    https://bit.ly/2CGLCKy...
    ). São Paulo seems to be an open book as city, not just for the art of graffiti in its streets and avenues, but also for the abundant pichação / pixação or “wall writings” all over the city. For an analysis on pichação in São Paulo as exposed writing, see Pereira (2010PEREIRA, Alexandre Barbosa. As marcas da cidade: a dinâmica da pixação em São Paulo. Lua Nova, São Paulo, v. 79, p. 143-162, 2010., 2016PEREIRA, Alexandre Barbosa. Visibilidade e escrita de si nos riscos do pixo paulistano. Revista de Ciências Sociais, Fortaleza, v. 47, p. 77-100, 2016.).
  • 73
    For a short documentary on this project, see: <https://bit.ly/2Yf5OuC>. Access on: Mar. 28, 2020.
  • 74
    Following Armando Petrucci, Antonio Castillo Gómez (op. cit.) has recently analyzed public writing in Early Modern Europe. My analysis of this intervention by Boa Mistura is guided by both Petrucci (1986PETRUCCI, Armando. La Scrittura: ideologia e rappresentazione. Torino: G. Einaudi, 1986., 1993PETRUCCI, Armando. Public lettering: script, power and culture. Translation: Linda Lappin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.) and Castillo Gómez (op. cit.).
  • 75
    Cf. Chartier (2013CHARTIER, Roger. What is a book? In: FRAISTAT, Neil; FLANDERS, Julia (eds.). The Cambridge companion to textual scholarship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 188-204.).
  • 76
    Id. (1995, 2013).
  • 77
    Cf. Petrucci (1993PETRUCCI, Armando. Public lettering: script, power and culture. Translation: Linda Lappin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.).

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    26 Oct 2020
  • Date of issue
    2020

History

  • Received
    31 Mar 2020
  • Accepted
    09 June 2020
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