Pamphleteerism

Over the last year I’ve been equipping myself to make pamphlets. I’ve purchased several reams of beautiful French Paper in cover and heavy text weights, waxed linen bookbinder thread, needles, and awls and a bone folder. I’ve figured out how to use Adobe InDesign with my printer (which prints 2-sided) to create booklets in signature format ready for binding. I’ve practiced and refined my booklet sewing technique constructing and revising Shabbat prayer booklets.

I think I am going to force myself to work differently in the coming months. I think I’m going to steal from the product development industry (my greatest, most beloved, most intensely detested frenemy, who has nourished me with so many unavoidable crises, who has dragged me through so much dark despair into so many enlightenments). What I intend to steal comes directly from the single most painful trend of the last decade. I intend to force myself to work in “sprints”.

Working in pamphlet sprints, I will write with the intention of always creating a printed pamphlet by the end of the session. I am also going to get rid of this notion of getting everything I’ve learned into a single book. I’m going to get it all out in microcosmic bursts of various genre.

Here are the pamphlets I have planned so far:

  • Geometric Parables. This is a book of diagrams I’ve been drawing and redrawing, interpreting and reinterpreting over the last 15 years. These images guide my best thoughts. When I think, often I am just growing the consequences of particular problems onto these frameworks, as if they were trellises. This will be an obscure little book, consisting of diagrams and meditations in compact verse. Its purpose is not explanation, and it is unlikely to make sense by itself. Its purpose is prayer: recollecting what memory cannot grasp. I will be flirting with idolatry making this pamphlet the way I want it made.
  • The Ten-Thousand Everythings. This could end up being a book that explains Geometric Parables. I’ve accumulated a large number of aphoristic scraps that fit together into a cohesive philosophical perspective. I want to attempt to demonstrate my way of thinking by exploring some key domains, especially ethics, ontology and religion. This will be my idea dump. I’m going to try to force myself to be more relaxed and prosaic writing and rewriting it.
  • Syllabus Listicalis. This idea came to life yesterday, when I just started listing out the most consequential points where I disagree with conventional wisdom. Few people understand the extent to which my thinking has diverged from the norms of everyday thinking, especially at the most crucial life-shaping points. This has left me in a place where at best I agree with others on details, but not for the reasons people tend to assume, which cannot be explained within contemporary customs of polite conversation. I doubt I’ll try to explain anything in Syllabus Listicalis. It will be a bare list of instructive disagreements, maybe a negative image of The Ten-Thousand Everythings.
  • Interface: This will be a more or less explicit book about the myriad lessons I’ve learned oscillating between human-centered design and philosophical reflection, and how these insights have constellated around what I think is an important new way of thinking about reality. I believe many designers have intuited the importance of this new perspective as they have developed and applied its methods to an expanding sphere of problems. But so far, I have seen no attempt to articulate the perspective itself and  account for its importance.

In addition, I may start typesetting my better blog posts. Maybe I’ll make a series called Anomalogues. But first, I’m going to make some editions of the pamphlets I’ve listed above.

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