importance of quality book-making

Charles Richardson discusses the state of book-making in the United States in the article “Book-making in America.” He starts of by saying that more people started to read more and that newspaper audiences increase so do the number of people who read books. Even though there was increase in readership, he says that the quality of new books decreased. He compared the paper, construction, and printing of book in America, Germany, and France.

This article was important to our class since a broad focus in our class was to learn about and appreciate the art of making a book. Making a book is much more than writing a compelling and original story. Many people think that the main labor of a book belongs to the author. However printing pages and binding a book takes a manuscript from being a concept to a marketable book. People may not usually consider all the work that went into the creation of a book. The type of paper, print, clothe that creates the front and back cover of books all play a role in the feel of a book.

Richardson noticed that the books being printed after the Civil War, were not as ornate or beautiful as previous books. A comparison can be made to today. Many books are offered in soft covered and hard covered editions at bookstores and on the internet. Today’s books are also available in a digital format. As Richardson stated, books became more popular but the process was made more efficient. As with most things quick efficient processes create a large number of products but each individual product is of a lesser quality. Mass produced books served to be read by many. Books that were handcrafted were considered pieces of art and collected as heirlooms. Books printed in small numbers were more expensive and highly decorated.

For the comrades and lovers eyes only


While some take a sadden viewpoint on Walt Whitman’s No Labor-Saving Machine, I see it as a positive reminder. Mr. Whitman (1819 – 1892) is primarily known for a collection of poems called Leaves of Grass.  I believe there are three things at work here; first, a speaker coming forward realizes his shortcomings and openly admits to them; second, the speaker openly admits what he is able to do and what is able to leave behind. And finally, labor versus the introduction of production (machines). Judicious about his legacy, Walt Whitman’s last contribution to the world would be “Leaves of Grass”, to which he had collected a lifetime of reflections about society and himself. Whitman would only to be rediscovered and restored to the American public by a group of editors set out to gather his “vibrating carols”, after his death. These “vibrating cords” included six very different editions of Leaves of Grass, and thousands of manuscripts, letters and journalistic pieces.

To me, this screams the saying “life is too short” Life is too much to worry about the wealth you will leave behind or the patriotic actions for your country; even the book and stories to which you will write. What matters, as identify by the author, are ones nearest and closest to him/her, friends and lovers. This was Walt Whitman’s and Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s literary success. The art of simply caring for the little things. Whitman’s repetition of the word “Nor” in a list fashion almost seem to clarity the truly unimportance of what follows. “Nor literary success, nor intellect”; taken from his own life, Whiteman’s education ended with elementary school and at times he was chronically poor, but in the end he managed to  work hard and soon he enjoyed the fruits of his labor, only to be rediscovered years after his own death.

The title “No labor-Saving Machine” also tells another story. Walt Whitman live in the time of exponential growth the United States. It was the time of Carnegie, Ford, Morgan, and Rockefeller; where man was being replaced by faster machines and newly innovative methods. Similarly to no labor, save the machines seems to relieve the sadden implications outlined by a few. The death of labor? The death of the American worker per se? I am skeptical.  Labor-saving machines, does reduces demand for some workers but increases demand for others, more specialize. However, for the author this may be different or difficult to understand.

All in all, Walt Whitman acknowledges that there is nothing to gain from major success nor of a person to showcase their talents or materialistic items; but at the core, to do only what you think you can do even, in death, to leave behind few carols (stories), vibrating (traveling through generations) through the air (history).



A World Too much in itself

The sonnet, The World Is Too Much with Us by William Wordsworth (a 19th century English  poet), portraits an idea that people have become so involved in earning  money that they have not only lost touch with all things beautiful in the world but also within themselves. Born, raised and educated in the time of the Industrial Revolution, where the transition from old to new manufacturing processes occurs; William Wordsworth witnessed much of the changes in his beloved Great Britain. He conveys his frustration about the state, which he sees daily throughout the poem.

Stating his dissatisfaction, Wordsworth writes “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers” to clearly portray that people have given up their “powers”, whether that meant their livelihoods, passions, or even freedoms, (since the industrial revolution introduce the time clock), for this form of efficiency. Would that be true today? William also goes on to say “we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” The word “boon” means to be helpful; however, he uses the word after writing “sordid” which means dishonorable, or ignoble motives. Elevating his tone from dissatisfaction to anger, William here, showcases the significance of the problem; all while depicting cynicism and the decadence of society.

In this poem, it seems that human society beginning in the speaker’s time as made a bargain with the devil. Literally or figuratively, society have lost our powers in the bargain, our lives revolve around a clock of work, earn and spend to then work again. A dark and empty pit, we, society are blind and find ourselves alone. But is it preventable? William writes near the end of his poem “Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea”; having the sight of Proteus, is define as one to have the ability to foresee the future or what the speaker notes as potential “glimpses”. The hopes that this ability can help him become less forlorn or sad about the world we see around us.

William Wordsworth criticizes materialism and distancing of humans from the nature of our world and most importantly ourselves. As I read this piece: I wonder. Are there forms like this that exist today? Would we as a collective agree with Sir William Wordsworth? Are there those out there, with the ability of Proteus to notice these changes? Have we, as a society, fell victim to our own problems too greatly to witness the changes to our world?


A Grieve Mother, A Lonely Soilder

She is a mother, and her heart

   Is breaking in despair.

It has kept me hunted from the very beginning. If the shrieks piercing through the air are quite understandable because a mother undertakes a great deal of effort and pains to give birth to her baby, I lost my track when the mother “is a mother paled with fear”. Isn’t giving a birth to a human being and watching him growing up day by day one of the greatest happiness that mothers can ever ask? Yes, and no. She is a mother. She is a slave.

The poem deeply depicts the storm of agony that a slave mother is suffering when giving a birth. It is not that pain deriving from parturition, it is because she clearly understands that she does not have the ability to protect her baby. She knows that her baby, made of her flesh and bones, will be torn apart from her by these cruel people, and his life will be doomed to be a repentance of her tortuous path. Therefore, her bitter shrieks “rose” into the wild sky, it is a high-pitched piercing sound, but an expression of terror and pain. It is deadly-depressing because no one would thrust a hand to help, it is just lonely and helplessly echoing in the wild sky.

There are pairs of “sad and imploring eyes.” Every glance the mother gives to the baby is full of pain because she knows “he is not hers.” They are the mother’s imploring eyes, she begs a little bit more time to star at her baby. They wouldn’t let her. Every glance is saying hi, and goodbye. They are also the baby’s imploring eyes, he seeks his mother’s breasts and fond arms to hide, seeking mother’s caress and guidance to teach him how to survive in this world. But they wouldn’t let him.

So she “sadly clasped” her baby as a last try to protect him. He is the best gift to her sad life. ” A fountain gushing ever new, amid life’s desert wild.” The use of a metaphor yields a smart contrast which emphasizes the bond between the mother and her baby. The arrival of this newborn meant to the mother is what a fountain meant to the dead desert.

She fought, as a lonely solider. But she knew clearly what it meant to be as a slave mother. All she has left to the world is a baby that is not hers, and these bitter shrieks as the only means to tell the world her angers and agonies.

Notes from Underground Check-In Part 2: Beginning the Labor

This past Saturday, I (Shannon) met up with Jia at the arts and crafts store, Michael’s, to purchase felt, string, and scraps of crinkle and gift wrapping paper in assorted shades of brown and black to achieve an authentic, “Underground”-feel. We have five black copies of the book that are brimming with crinkle paper to signify messiness and the wooden boards of the floor the Underground Man lives under. Then, we also made five brown felt covered copies of the book, which are neat and beautiful, to represent the ideals that the Underground Man believes in and attempts to pursue. All of the copies will be bound by twine-like string to capture the sense that we, too, were struggling underground while making these books and could only tie together our manuscripts with bits of string that we scrounged up. As we get into the actual labor of making our ten copies of the Book About a Book project, we are getting into a position where we are more informed and better able to answer the professor’s questions and delve into details.

 Our work at the library

The audience of our book will be art critics, art enthusiasts, and consumers of culture. This broad category includes students of this class and the professor, but also the greater art community that appreciates punk zines and grungy garage band style music. After all, Dostoevsky’s novel was published near the turn of the century, at the end of the Victorian era for many Western countries, where traditions were beginning to be questioned and subverted. Our book’s chosen format and methodology is reflective of those historical implications. This particular aesthetic of embracing free will and the tendency toward messiness and chaos is very popular amongst purveyors of modern art and the pioneers of the modernist art movement.

More specifically, our book is made by artists who wish to pay homage to the influence of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground by imitating the aesthetics of the period (as if our book is an artifact from the 1800’s that has only recently been unearthed) and the aesthetics of the ideals that the Underground Man is keen on pursuing. While paying tribute to Dostoevsky, we are at the same time analyzing the labors that his work involved and the discourse that he sparked on humankind’s free will and the pursuit of lofty ideals. We want our book to ask and answer several questions including why is Notes from Underground an influential and “great” text? Who said so? (To some extent, artistic community judged it to be so.)

As we finish up our book, we have made a series of changes and upgrades to our initial idea. We will order our copies of the book as one through ten. The second book and the fourth book will have a special connection (more details on this will be determined as we reach completion of the project) to reflect the prominence of the mathematical formula 2 x 2 = 4 in Dostoevsky’s novel. The order of the contents of our book will vary from copy to copy, thus giving each copy a distinct and unique feel. The reader will get a different experience and interpretation depending on which copy they read.

The text and graphic parts of our book will be photocopied and reproduced for each copy but each copy will come with its own unique short poem to give the copies its own bit of fresh content. The many poems will be reflective of the Underground Man’s garrulous tendencies and his ability to write on and on forever so much so that Dostoevsky, or the implied editor of the manuscript, had to cut him off at the end of the text. We really like the professor’s idea about making part of the text ask the reader to flip the book over and start reading in a different direction, but as we haven’t reached this step yet, we are unsure of if it would really look good and be effective upon execution.


A Hot Mess, What and Why –Notes from Underground

The What

We’ve decided unanimously to create a series of black and white pencil sketches coupled with explanatory text and analytical details in a handmade collage and mishmash of pieces bound together by string and hole punched. These black and white pencil sketches will include etchings of the Underground Man and the various villainous characters he meets along his journey that eventually lead him to hide underground. The cheekbones of the Underground Man are very defined; this is one characteristic of his face that the readers can use to differentiate this character from the others. Additionally, his eyes have very dark circles, from the lack of sleep and heavy buildup of anxiety he suffers from. All of these elements have textual evidence to back them up. There will also be one sketch reflective of our field trips, most likely influenced by the anime event some of us attended. Our descriptions will include a few, extremely brief poems inspired by the Underground, essay-like analyses, and an introduction to our book. Unfortunately, with the formatting we’ve chosen, there can only be one true original and nine copies but even this too is significant.

The Why

I doubt the Underground Man was sitting in the underground handwriting dozens of copies of his manuscript. Of course, there was only one, original manuscript in the story. This manuscript will be represented by the Book About a Book that we formulate. Additionally, the Underground Man’s obsession with math, with his own appearance, and with the haven-like qualities of the Underground will all inspire the way we craft the Book About a Book. More specifically, we will include formulas, drawings of his face, and dark poems and sketches that reflect the romantic appeal of the Underground. Furthermore, this format best allows us to display what we’ve learned about the craft and labors that go into making a book, since we will be making everything from scratch, in collage form. The repetitive nature of our work will reflect the repetitive nuances of the Underground Man’s thoughts as he ponders humankind’s free will over and over throughout the text. All these darkly romantic and confused pieces will come together to form a somewhat incoherent whole that captures the essence of what makes Notes from Underground great. It is quite literally a text that is befuddled–that is precisely the point. It was written at a time when the world was feeling confused, when an author finally admitted to and encapsulated that feeling in a text for the world to behold, and it had never been done before. By taking bits and pieces from god knows where, we will form a Book About a Book that is the ultimate homage to Fyodor Dostoevsky.

What Really Matters?

This comic tells a story about how the No-Face (a.k.a. Kaonashi) transforms himself from a socially isolated person into a popular star by effectively marketing himself on social medias but he still feels desolate. No-Face is a spirit in the famous Japanese animated film Spirited Away. He is a lonely spirit who begins to show emotions and compassion to other people after receiving a genuine care from Chihiro. Without too much knowledge about the society, No-Face learns by examples and adapts to his surroundings.

At the very beginning of this story, No-Face was still that lonely spirit, isolated by society, nobody cared. He was used to the life hiding behind the crowd and learned to be quite. He has always been needing attention and craves for someone who can truly understand him, however, facing people walking on the street with masks on and being indifferent to each other, he felt lost. No-Face wished to find love and care from the crowd, so he started to make the moves to blend in. No-Face learned by examples so he begins from becoming a smartphone user. He downloaded all the apps that are ranked the highest around his neighborhood and set up on all social media channels. He completed case studies about all the self-made YouTube star, people receives the most likes and followers on different channels. Then No-Face duplicated the model and started marketing himself on social medias. He gained more than enough exposures to the public and eventually became a self-made superstar. Regardless how famous and viral he becomes, he remains lonely and unhappy.

Resemble the underground man’s social isolation feature, No-Face is not accepted by the mainstream. In opposite to what the underground man’s reaction towards his self-isolation, NO-Face wants to step out of his comfort zones and seeks for the true love he is yearning for. Even though he was smart and tried hard on marketing himself and creating his self-image and finally he gained the attention that he was craving for, still he felt empty deep inside, because no one really knows who he is. So here lies some messages that I am trying to communicate with my readers through the slides: the quality of your social network is more important than the quantity. To start investing in the depth of your social life, people need to drag themselves away from the distracting screens that some of them are gluing onto day and night, peel off the filters the social apps make you comfortable using and seriously make the process of socialization personal and genuine.

Through the Dark Wood and Open Door…

In the first panel, a man is struggling to climb out from the underground. This is represented by the many lines of the wooden panels inserted around his arm. We will know the man by his green shirt. Then, in the second panel, the man has emerged from the underground and into the house, which is pitch dark. He sees light streaming out from the doorway, so he decides to be brave and venture outside, since he is craving freedom. Outside, in the third panel, the biggest and most significant panel, it is revealed that there is only more wood on the ground. The lofty dreams and ideals he has are only in his mind. There is even a hideous cockroach laying near him, paying homage to Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.”

These three panels are a reinterpretation of Dostoevsky’s philosophy mentioned in the text. While he wrote of a man hiding underground to express his free will, I re-imagined it to be a man escaping the underground, whether figuratively or literally, in hopes of finding something more beautiful outside. Both the novel and this comic panel end in disappointment.

This scene is a derivation, a riff, off of the original text. By making these three panels, I’ve given readers a small taste of the novel without them actually having to slog through the 136 pages of philosophy and whimsy. I’ve taken the core idea of the novel and found the easiest simplified example to convey it.

Am I a Demon?

One Hundred Demon by Lynda Barry  demonstrate to the reader all the demons that the author is created by, meaning these demons put together is what makes her persona. I believe that the “demons” are a representation of her memories and her life experience; since we are who we are because of the experience that we have lived in our life, and Barry is telling us that she is created by these demons, can we come to the conclusion of making a statement that the author is a demon her self?

Barry explains to us every demon by giving us a little story of how she created them. The fist demons that we get to have a look at is the “head lice”. As we go more into the story we can see that for every demon she has a special name for each one. Most of the demons are “bad” demons as she categorized them as bad or good, but we only have the opportunity to see only one good demon (memory of her playing with her friend as a kid). So since we get to see more bad demon from her can we automatically say that she is also a bad demon herself she had more bad memories than good?

one hundred bullies, phobias, and fears

Barry faces her own demons when she first starts to illustrate her graphic novel. The illustration with demons that say “This is pointless!”,”what in the hell are you doing?!”, “Time Waster!”, ” Where’s this gonna get you?!”, What a waste of paper!!”, shows the demons of low self-esteem. Lynda was inspired and motivated by the painted hand scroll. She attempted to draw as well but her own self-doubt tried to discourage her. She made the choice to keep drawing. Soon she transformed these demons that stopped her from drawing into a way of mapping out and working out the different problems in her life. The creation of the graphic novel was therapeutic for her in my opinion. When Lynda started to invite the demons she faced her fears.

The entity of demons are used to in reference to things that bother and weaken us. There are phrases like “inner or personal demons”, or “demon in the bottle” when talking about alcoholism. Lynda Barry adds to this use of the word demon to mean things that plague many children. Children deal with bullies or abusive parents. Children also struggle with anxiety, depression, and stress. Young children that are not properly supported usually have low self-esteem and little to no confidence. this lack of belief in ones abilities and potential maybe the worst demon of all. All the self help seminars and karate lessons cannot save you from this. Turning to alcohol and drugs is a sign of defeat from these inner demons. Confidence, self respect , and a tenacious attitude that says “of course you can’ are fantastic to have, however finding this inner power is very difficult. These demons will fly around you choking you, not letting you take a free step in the direction of your choice. They will trap you and tighten around you like a boa constrictor. These demons grab you and push you into frozen waters. When these demons come for you, you must ask yourself if you are willing to let go of happiness? Do you give them control because that is the reality, you are giving them control. It only seems that they are taking it.  You must ask yourself if you will let yourself drown.