Destruction Room

[ excerpted from the book ]


A room full of interesting books, or at least when cut up will be so, as far as regards the places they refer to, and quietly awaiting an opportunity to be changed from generals to particulars. [1]

Mistress of the Destruction Room

[1] You are Here: The only official footnote from the entire Galerie de Difformité.* Not a handnote nor buttnote, but the sole and heel (even soul and heal, if weak as Achilles) of this exhibitional enterprise. Being the only footnote, a responsibility is borne by what it foots—The Destruction Room—that revives an extra-illustrative entity invented by Frederick Strong when he advertised himself as “neither a book or printseller” but one who sold printed ephemera “All Dated, Cut Up” and “Arranged” according to his own classification system. “In short,” Lucy Peltz writes in “Facing the Text,” “Strong had gone in to book-breaking.”** But Strong is dead, and I am not: guiding you now by reviving a Gentlewoman named Bea***, for lack of a better nom-de-plume. Minding P’s & Q’s, you’ve found me middling while mending: “During / dressmaking / time good shears…” Facing the text, I wouldn’t call myself a breaker so much as seamstress, enlisting your help to tailor this book around a budding body: the once-and-future corpse of this corpus. To survive, I need your help to evolve. To deform and reform, to dream and metamorphose (or otherwise risk misreading: me and Bea.) Open Sesame: “During / dressmaking / time good shears…” Snip, snip…or start by sketching manicules in margins…or merely manifest a set of hypothetical instructions: “how to” build, operate, repair, maintain, recycle materials (paper, stitching, board, letters, &c). “How To” Deform This Book: 1. Make hundreds of paper dolls. 2. Make dozens of paper dresses for dozens of paper dolls. 3. Forget the dolls, and stitch all pages into one life-size dress. 4. Forget the dress, and fly origami cranes. 5. Or fold a flock of variably-shaped planes (enlisting a high school physics class). 6. Wallpaper. 7. Papier-mâché sculpture. 8. Installation art with mounds of crumpled paper. 9. Performance art, shearing and shredding and reconstructing. 10. Or otherwise demonstrate, in performative fashion, any of the above or next instructions. 11. Shred pages to fill a dream-pillow. 12. Cut confetti to celebrate whatever occasion. 13.  Make ghostprints or something palimpsestual. 14. Use each page as a canvas, painting over text and leaving words exposed, yielding a new narrative. 15. Cut into pieces for scrapbooking, bricolage, collage, &c. 16. Scatter scraps near nest-building birds. 17. No bookburning (although Exhibit J may suggest otherwise). 18. Shuffle extant pages and add new exhibits, whatever your heart desires! When you’ve deformed the Galerie de Difformité, please contact me (difformite[at]gmail[dot]com) to document your process, with the expectation of my curating an Exhibit from this collective enterprise.



Note: The above ideas are a mere few, suggesting how to approach these “Exhibits.” In general, I’m interested in how readers approach the materiality of the page (and ultimately, the book), with ranging interpretations suggesting new dimensions for reading and writing, starting with the page & its parts. Beyond text itself (paragraphs with sentences, stanzas with lines, phrases with words, letters, all rearrangeable) is the translated material through artistic approach (beyond paper: plastic, cloth, hypertext, cake frosting, skin, shells, balloons, &c.). By way of examples, some arise in this exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design, although “slashing” is merely one method to treat a “page”—see “What is a page?“—which is not to neglect “How to Read?” (i.e., aural & other-sensory interpretations, adaptations, implications). Do we listen to a page? Taste a page? Pet a page? To participate in this process of considering pages & books & their ilk, download a textual “Exhibit” from this website, consider the potential of the page as you see fit, and employ its text to whatever degree (engaging thematically with the whole or with literal words in a single sentence, or take a more conceptual approach) toward deformation. Most importantly, let your imaginations run. To see examples of deformed Exhibits, see !Home. To learn how to participate in this collaborative project, see &About.


* “The Destruction Room” first appeared in The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing (Lake Forest, IL: &NOW Books, 2009) 338-9.

**Lucy Peltz, “Facing the Text: The Amateur and Commercial Histories of Extra-Illustration, c. 1770-1840,” Owners, Annotators and the Signs of Reading, eds. Robin Myers, Michael Harris, and Giles Mandelbrote (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2005) 91. For an image of the original room:


*** Bea refers to a character in the Galerie de Difformité, otherwise known as a deformed reincarnation of Dante’s Beatrice Portinari. For more about Bea, see “Exhibit A.”

Published on December 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm  Comments Off on Destruction Room  
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