Forum / Marginalia (Ephemera)

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    Ann Bogle
    Jun 27, 04:38pm

    "The classic definition of ephemera is something lasting for only a day."


    "The word ephemera is derived from the medical world, relates to a form of writing, and has something to do with insects."

    --The Ephemera Society of America

    Has anyone had luck in placing stories that rely in some part on marginal comments of the author and others? Or on the author's note? Has anyone tried to set these in standard manuscript format?

    A few of my stories most definitely draw strength from comments in the margin and grow because of them. It concerns me less that the comments are generated by other readers/writers, so, in effect, are a form of collaborative writing, and more that the story loses something by way of depth or context without them. Ideas?

    The display pages at Fictionaut are ideal for viewing stories and comments in context, especially when composed for that format. Since the display is ideal, would it show the work to equal or better advantage to migrate it along with selected marginalia/ephemeral comments to another journal (if the journal allows work that has appeared on the Internet) or to a typescript-manuscript or to leave it where it is? Please share your views and experiences in this.

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    Marcus Speh
    Jun 27, 10:20pm

    I hope this is what you mean? — I have re-posted facebook posts alongside comments on my blog & I consider them ephemera in the sense of your definition. Fluttering insects of a strange nature not flash nor flesh. Within this format, I have experimented with different forms of display. I have done this exclusively to entertain myself and in an attempt to spread myself more thinly since this seems to be my fate. I have also done this (twice) with Twitter instead of Facebook (an even more ephemeral medium I'd say).

    Examples — 1st attempt (suppressing the Facebook origin)

    2nd attempt (very close to the Facebook form)

    3rd attempt (a good compromise)

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    Ann Bogle
    Jun 27, 11:49pm

    For two weeks, I saved many of my Internet notations in a file and published them at Fictionaut under the title, "Crazy Later":

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    Ann Bogle
    Jun 27, 11:54pm

    The clearest example of what I mean is WπHπAπT2, found here:

    That piece is built as much in the margins as in the main body. The print-out for the story and its comments runs 18 pages.

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    Ann Bogle
    Jun 28, 12:08am

    Marcus, I read the texts you link in the passage above and find them all to be good as in edible. We need to be careful, lest we repeat ourselves for free. Jonah Lehrer repeated himself for pay. I found a nearly duplicate passage by Frank Kermode in two essays he had written about Freud in German, essays published singly as well as in different collections. The near repetition of the passages did not bother me. The phrasing varied to a degree, and the passages demonstrate his recurring consideration of key words in German as Freud defined them theoretically. It meant it was a passion for Kermode that he wrote it again. It is possible that no one with any impact had responded to his inquiry, and that, I have noticed, can make a body repeat him- or herself. (Speaking of Frank Kermode, I was thrilled to find that I DO have The Sense of an Ending on my shelf AND he signed and dated it, Houston. I kept a poster of him on my refrigerator for weeks. I suppose I ought to feel embarrassed, but I feel sex-positive just to recall it.)

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    Marcus Speh
    Jun 28, 01:25pm

    I like your examples Ann, I like them very much. Over in the Alt Lit Gossip corner of the Web ( I see younger artists and writers continually whip up a storm in a small glass using a tiny box of tools. A lot of their work strikes me as ephemeral in the sense of self-conscious bricolage in which you use the term to describe something artistic rather than accidental. In your case, with history and literati glitz glistering throughout the pieces (like at the end of your last paragraph in this discussion), you add something else to the mix that makes it even more special and original. I admire your experiment fervor! I am very different: when I am experimental or original it happens rather despite myself, all I ever aspire to do is tell a story in a traditional manner; but how do you walk a straight line when you perceive the horizon as bent? — I'm not so concerned about repeating myself. I accept the need for imitation and repetition. When I alter my ways it is to avoid perishing of being bored with myself. Social media themselves seem to be built more on repetition and endless sharing of minimally different experiences than on originality and creativity. Post anything too creative or too original, anything too many steps ahead of the curve or the herd or the movement... and you will soon be alone on your blog or on your timeline. This makes a lot of evolutionary sense. It also makes Freudian sense. But that's possibly a new discussion altogether.

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    stephen hastings-king
    Jun 28, 08:45pm

    I've made or helped with pieces that are modular (boxes of cards that can be arranged in different ways, read in different ways) and I know that such things aren't novel (at least in the world of artists' books and such). The only parallel that I've seen surfacing as a published object with distribution is Chris Ware's newest graphic piece "Building Stories," which is a pretty fabulous thing from a pretty fabulous maker of pretty fabulous things.

    Insofar as the transcription of things ephemeral is concerned, Kenny Goldsmith's "Traffic" and other projects go pretty far in that direction. They're sort of interestingly sculptural books, as much ideas as objects really. Remarkably boring to make, remarkably boring to read, lots of fun to think about as a procedural undertaking and so on.

    I would think that the production of a piece as a series of glosses on other pieces, or glosses on a single piece that opens laterally onto networks of pieces, would be really fun to make and would pose interesting problems for layout and/or production of some object that could then have a life independently (on whatever scale)...I would imagine you'd need more than the idea of a form, though...probably some constraints that would shape how the glosses interacted, at least at first. In the end, the piece could well end up an installation work, something quite large that would require a room or more to present, one that would make viewers of readers and let them wander an environment. This, too, is not a totally new thing. That said, there are lots of interesting possibilities that can surface in thinking about how to assemble such a thing.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about "being experimental" so much as about being conceptually consistent. If my experience is any guide---and it need not be---projects like this are great fun to make once you have a procedure or approach in place that can make of a system of people working in parallel a particular system and not another--so procedures or an approach that gives that system a kind of identity (thinking that it's the parameters that differentiate one dynamic system from another...which is maybe the way to think about such projects as it emphasizes the making more than the production of Things that one must then Do Something With...)

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    Ann Bogle
    Jun 29, 08:06pm

    Thanks, Marcus and Stephen. You are fascinating men.

    Kenny Goldsmith is unfascinating, he might insist, and uncreative. He may be smarter than you, but the idea to emulate him or the anxiety of his influence do not call me, much I love to wander Ubuweb.

    This is from Herr Doktor Speh:

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