Land of Confusion

Why are the three greatest (debate amongst yourselves) mimeos all bibliographically challenged?  Fuck You, C, and My Own Mag all have quirks in the numbering of their issues.  My Own Mag's is by far the most confusing.  In Maynard and Miles masterful bibliography on William Burroughs, the sequence of issues was all messed up.  For years this has lead to failure to read completely the interaction between Nuttall and Burroughs.  In Maynard and Miles, the Cut-Up Issue is listed as number 5 and the Tangier Issue is listed as number 8.  In fact, the numbers should be Issue 6 and 5, respectively.  In a perfect world, one would want the Cut-Up Issue to follow Issue number four.  In Issue four, Burroughs contributes a cut-up as a grid that he invites to be read any which way.  The Cut-Up Issue reads Burroughs' grid by integrating it into the form of the magazine.  See above.  The entire issue is structured as a grid and thus comments on Burroughs' contribution.  It fits too perfectly.  Instead, the Tangiers Issue with Burroughs on the cover is issue five.  You can tell the sequence of the issues by reading Nuttall's Perfume Jack comic strip that appears in all 17 issues.  The comic strip narrates a sequential story line.  The Tangiers Issue is really a Burroughs Issue in that it announces the fact that Burroughs will be a major presence in the magazine.  It just so happens that this issue resulted after a meeting between Nuttall and Burroughs in the Winter of 1964 in England.  The meeting in a pub solidified what was a correspondence through the mail.  The inclusion of a three-column newspaper format cut-up in issue 5 is important.  It demostrates the speed of mimeo.  Burroughs had only begun experimenting with the three column format weeks before so My Own Mag allowed Burroughs to get his latest work in print fast.  In a postcard to Nuttall, Burroughs expresses his satisfaction that the Tangier Issue was selling well in bookshops in Tangier.  This rapid reception is the key to mimeo.

All the Fuck You issues are numbered, but after Number 4, the issues shift to Number 5 Vol. 1 and then continue onward to Number 5 Vol. 9.  I have often wondered why this was and it seems to me to be a bibliographic joke.  Sanders' Peace Eye Catalogs are full of jokes of this type directed at collectors, libraries and bibliophiles.  As an archivist and historian, Sanders was intimately involved in the importance of such details.  In works like W.H. Auden's The Platonic Blow, he would describe elaborate and hilarious limited editions.  Just one more aspect of Sanders' wildly irreverent assault on the culture.

Many people are not aware of the numbering anomaly associated with C.  The New York Public Library in its World Cat listing states that it is missing Issue Twelve.  In fact, there was no issue twelve.  The mags go from issue eleven and jumps to issue thirteen (the last).  C Comics #1 was considered to be C 12 but was never marked as such and is usually taken to be a separate publication, but it was put together after C 11.  For whatever reason, Berrigan decided make this ambiguous and proceed on to Issue 13.  Berrigan, like Sanders, was in tune with the library and collecting market and dependent on it for cash.  Possibly, he enjoyed throwing a curveball to obsessive book nerds who would be distrubed by the lack of order.  Stan Persky, editor of Open Space, threw such a curveball when he made Issue 9 deliberately scarce, so complete runs of the magazine were nearly impossible to obtain.  Such anomalies are one of the joys of mimeo and indictative of their status as the tricksters of the publishing world.


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