by J. Drucker
The Word Made Flesh and its immediate predecessor, Through Light and the Alphabet, were both made as distinct formulations in response to theoretical issues in writing and ecriture. Both address the status of materiality in visual presentation of poetic work. Both are direct responses to the work of Jacques Derrida, and also, to the dictates and orthodoxies of many of the California Language Poets whose work and lives had been so intimately bound to mine. The typographic format of the Word Made Flesh was meant to trip the eye, return one constantly to the plane of discourse, of material production. I made this book, and Through Light and the Alphabet, out of complete love of letters. Probably more than any other of my books, these two are absolute celebrations of the beauty and expressive capability of type.
by J. Drucker
This book was conceived as a typographic fugue, a work in which each new graphic theme was taken up, played with, and incorporated into those preceding. The book was inspired in part by the absolutely beautiful Caslon type we had acquired at UC Berkeley for use in the Architecture School, Visual Studies studio. The text is a polemic against the limits of language as the defining boundary of experience or sentience. The book was done in the final months in which I was in Berkeley, finished as I finished my Ph.D. work in Ecriture, and as I completed the work on my dissertation on avant-garde and experimental typography.The point of the project was to use material means, typographic possibilities, to proliferate meaning within a single text.
Project Statement: This book was created as a New Year’s greeting at the beginning of 1982. The text was extracted from Simon Frith’s The Tongues of Man, a short study of the history of language. The procedure for extraction was to take every other word, then every third, fourth, fifth etc. in sequence out of each successive section or chapter. This produced the short texts in the book. These were set in Stymie light and printed letterpress. The images were made through successive impressions all accumulating in sequence, some from paint, ink, tissues, twigs, cardboard, and anything else capable of making a repeatable mark.The images were created at the time that I was beginning to do event drawings, and they are definitely of that deconstructed and dynamic variety.
Project Statement: The premise of this book was to take the type in 48 drawers of type, make a text that made sense, and use all of the elements in the fonts once and only once. The book was to be a pseudo-bibliography, and an expose of the peculiar character and activities of all the people I had met during the time I worked as a staff typesetter at the West Coast Print Center. The project succeeded, and all of the type was used (with the exception of a few numbers and some punctuation). Composing the work was akin to doing an elaborate scrabble game. Every letter in the book corresponds to a character. Each letter of the alphabet is consistently used. Each character has a page with a poem and commentary, and a strange colophon on the verso made up of the sorts. Throughout the book a narrative recounts character A’s versions of the events that unfold in the “non-relationship” she is having with a certain Z on whom she has a crush. The marginal notes are all specific references to imagined conversations, excerpts from letters, diaries, reviews, and all are numbered. The specific circumstances of their production are explained in the footnotes at the end of the book, pages set in an insane, manic night in which all the sorts in the cases were used up in the setting of these crazed, paragon-dense, cryptic but legible passages. Every element in the book relates to every other element, and the whole is a tightly woven, hermetically perfect set of interlocking references. A world, literary, social, gossipy, narrative, and mercilessly and wickedly drawn. All characters were real, but their identities were changed in gender and age so that they were barely recognizable, with the exception of a few whose poetic styles were unmistakable. I was certain the book would provoke furious response, and I left town just as I put it into the hands of the poets who had served as its inspiration. I needn’t have worried. Few recognized themselves, fewer cared. The book remains the virtuosic triumph of that early period, unlike anything else and unlikely ever to be imitated or replicated. Letterpress printers who saw me during the time this was being produced thought it was a crazed project.