Granary Books, 1996. Item #GB_44
7 x 9 in., 164 pp., smyth-sewn in wrappers.
“Prefaced by Mallarmé’s famous dictum that ‘everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book,’ this spirited collection demonstrates the reverse as well: everything in the book exists in order to end up in the world. Edited in 1982 by Jerome Rothenberg, the greatest American anthologist of the postwar years, and his associate, anthropologist and translator David Guss, The Book, Spiritual Instrument pushes the envelope not only on what books contain but also on what they are. Rothenberg and company read the book as metaphor for aesthetic framing devices, but they also read frames as metaphoric books. In a series of exemplary essays on, and demonstrations of, what might be called the ethnopoetics of the book, books from a wide range of cultural traditions are portrayed as radical extenders of form rather than neutral vessels of content. The result is a vision of books as laboratories for the invention and performance of perceptual systems: new worlds carved out of the wilderness of human thought and language.”
“There is a primal book as there is a primal voice, & it is the task of our poetry & art to recover it—in our minds & in the world at large.”
Essays, musings, pictures, and interviews by Stéphane Mallarmé, Edmond Jabès, Becky Cohen, Alison Knowles, George Quasha, Dick Higgins, Karl Young, David Meltzer, Tina Oldknow, J. Stephen Lansing, Paul Éluard, David Guss, Jed Rasula, Gershom Scholem, Jerome Rothenberg, and Herbert Blau. Originally published in 1982 as New Wilderness Letter, no. 11.
Designed by Diane Bertolo. Illustrated with over 200 black and white halftones, including a series of gate-folds. Cover photograph by Michael Gibbs. Printed offset, this is from an edition of 3000 copies. As new.
Further reading: Beam, Jeffrey. "Three Books about Books." Oyster Boy Review 14 (Winter 2001): 52.