Mirra is an artist who defies easy classification - visual artist, sculptor, poet, professor and Cloud, The 3 reflects this. In this book, Mirra has indexed John Dewey's Reconstruction in Philosophy (1920)and reformatted it as a collection of short poems. Each page contains an index entry or two. Notice in the samples shown on the left (if you click on it to enlarge you will see it better) how they are alphabetical like an index and how their position shifts with each succeeding page. Clever. I liked this book for several reasons: (a) It is fast reading, (b) I used to index for living (films not books) and (c) I appreciate short bursts of meaningful epigrams. Here's just a few more examples:
Being everything, it was
Class interest and bias, 35
Default is inevitable
and irremediable, 81
Squirm, dodge, evade,
disguise, cover up,
find excuses, 104
Paper Knowledge: Toward A Media History of Documents (2014) by Lisa Gitelman
In this series of four scholarly thought pieces (but more thoughtful than academic) Professor of English and Media, Culture and Communication, Lisa Gitelman explores the significance of often overlooked paper documents. Gitelman focuses more on how the legacy of such documents as: death certificates, fill-in-the-blank forms and a 1936 printer's manual by Robert C. Binkley entitled Manual on Methods to Reproduce Research Materials.
Though it is demanding to read, it's a pleasurable one too as Gitelman looks at how changes in technology and the business of printing has evolved in the last 150 years. She includes stories and anecdotes about ditto machines and mimeograph machines. (For those who went to school in their sixties can you recall the gluey warm smell of the fresh blue ink -- like Proust's madeleine?) In another chapter she focuses on the history of the xerography. Who can forget the early adoption of photocopying, which included xeroxing faces, hands and for the more adventurous -- buttocks. In the chapter she details the watershed moment for xerography, when Daniel Ellsburg removed classified Defense Department documents, copied them and then "published" The Pentagon Papers.
In a last full chapter, Gitelman offers a retrospective of Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF), which was developed in the 1990s and now has become ubiquitous. But what does this page-as-image really mean? For Gitelman, it reflects the culture of the modern office. In this passage Gitelman quotes from the Adobe's 1993 Acrobat manual, Beyond Paper: The Official Guide to Adobe Acrobat.
"Everyone has either launched their own memo grenade at one time or another or has sighted one lobbed over office partitions and across organizational charts." These are the memos sent up the chain of command -- to complain, criticize, or aggrandize the writer -- that fall flat, "explode" and embarrass him or her instead, with potentially career-damaging results. "And unfortunately, memo grenades will exist as long as there is office communication,"even if Adobe Acrobat exists to deliver them. Employees in this world don't as much bond together at the water cooler and the photocopy machine as they delight in deriding each others foibles and ambitions.
For the record, I really resisted trying to scan the couple of pages from the Mirra book. Besides looking kind of horrible, it really doesn't do the book any justice. This book is an art object -- if you couldn't already tell from the word jumble front cover. The Gitelman block quote in Paper Knowledge is from page 127. The quotes within the block quote come from the Adobe manual. I wanted to scan this too, because I am a lazy typist, but two ugly scans in the same posting are verboten in the blog style manual.