Connecting the Fragments

I have two books on William Blake by Ruthven Todd, one is about Blake the artist and one is about Blake the poet. Reading these books you’d think that there’d been two guys named William Blake who lived at the same time and same place but had never crossed paths. Blake was not a divided man, at least not in any creative sense: his poems and drawings were all serving the same purpose. To me, this is one of the symptoms of insanity in our culture, the need to fragment and specialize (where the means become the end).

For over 30 years I’ve wanted to produce books that combine all the media in which I work. Back then it was just a matter of words and images. It seemed to become even more of a pipe dream once I started recording. Always, it was beyond my means, where I would need the commitment and money of others—that is, a publisher.

Just as we can all now be record producers in our own homes (and within the grandeur of our own minds), it is also easy to become your own publisher. And electronic publishing makes this a full-color operation immediately viewable online and downloadable. Even more wonderful, you can add audio and video. Sculptors, installation and performance artists, landscape artists and others creating immediate experiences and environments will still be limited to very meager recorded representations of their work. But for we flatlanders, we isolated recluses of the creative world, we who too often stick to the archaic media and craft of, say, painting and poetry, there is hope.

Years ago I worked as a silkscreen printer, where I was introduced to early incarnations of digital publishing via Photoshop and QuarkXPress. Since about 2003 or 2004 I’ve been using Adobe’s Creative Suite, which means I switched from QuarkXPress to InDesign. This really hasn’t amounted to anything except a few individually distributed book/CD compilations for friends (or victims, as they might seem) and a lot of debt. I was always tempted by the possibilities of the software but without a public presence and connections it was just a very strange form of self-pleasuring.

After the release of the iPad in 2010, and the subsequent burst of activity in the tablet market, the world has begun to blossom for electronic publication and Adobe has really been pushing the electronic connections for InDesign.

I now subscribe to Adobe CS6 Creative Cloud and am in the process of reading ePublishing with InDesign CS6 by Pariah Burke. The layers of debris and rot are being peeled away from my imagination and my youthful passion to produce books in which I can include all the media I work in is again becoming visible and showing signs of life.

First, I’ll recreate some of my old chapbooks and CD booklets, to master the software and publication process (and I’ll probably need some sort of website to make them available). Just think, in each book, instead of burning CDs, I can place the audio tracks within the text and graphics with a link to play the recording. This will be downloadable, interactive, and viable in almost all devices in use (probably the interactive PDF format). It shouldn’t be too big of a deal to create alternate formats from the original InDesign file.

As I continue to explore the software and process I’ll keep you informed of the results. I’d really like to convince others that this is doable (not so cheap, InDesign alone is about $650 and takes some time to learn how to use…or the subscription, with access to almost every program Adobe has, is $50 a month). As much as I love the printed page, having those sheets of paper in my hand or stacked around my bed like talismans of safety and tranquility and vivid dreams, I will embrace the very rich future of electronic publishing. At least creatively, my day is coming. I hope we all have our day, both as producers and consumers.

As a farewell, I’m going to leave you with a recording and one of my drawings, to give you a sense of how they’re each an expression of the same imagination and why they should be combined in a single publication…


LXXI-71 8”× 6” Graphite, india ink, gesso, chalk, and acrylic on cream Rieves BFK. Circa 1988.
In 1983 I began a project called Laughing Water combining poetry and erotic drawings, most of which are sexually explicit. I’m hoping this one is tame enough for the world of blogs and our supposedly free speech internet.



3 thoughts on “Connecting the Fragments

  1. I’ve been wondering about plunging into the world of tablets but ipads are so costly and I haven’t been able to justify to myself what I would need one for. However, this work of yours would drive me to want something to play and hear it on. Imagery and words, especially with the additional sound media works so well and defines ‘contemporary’ to me. It’s akin to artists who do sound installations and as a lover of poetry it is about words in a chosen ‘artisitc’ context. I really wish you well on this project and I’m now left wondering about cheaper alternatives to the ipad. What would matter to me is not the tablet, but how I could access your specific work which is outstanding. I love the above example and could engage with it over and over again.

    • Thank you for the kind words. We’ll all be a bit older and tablets will be a bit more common before I put anything together.…Actually, I was hoping to inspire others to build their own electronic publications. (Yes, I used the word “inspire”. It’s odd when a curmudgeon starts cheering on others. The world probably should have ended in 2012.)

  2. I know that I’m a little late chiming in on this but: Here! Here! The integration of spoken and written words was the impetus behind starting me starting my blog and posting texts along with soundcloud files of recordings and then the genesis of my book _Sojourner_, which was slated originally to come with a CD included–sadly, the addition of the CD proved too costly–I just couldn’t imagine people paying $20+ for a paperback book by an unknown author, CD or no. Also CDs are really already out of date–who under the age of 40 even owns a CD player nowadays? No one. perhaps at first what we need is a producer: someone with the software and the know-how to build interactive projects and to publish them on-line for authors who can’t afford the program and/or the time to learn it but who are interested in a more multi-faceted presentation of their work. Once you get your own work up and running, I volunteer.

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