Derringer Books Catalog 30

Catalog 30 has just been issued from Derringer Books.  There is some really wonderful material on offer here for Mimeo Revolution fans.  For example, the San Francisco Keeper’s Voice, inscribed by Michael McClure to Marshall Clements, is an unofficial newsletter of the keepers of the San Francisco Zoo.  The mag is cool as a document of a community scene that I talked about a few posts ago, but it also ties in to Evergreen Review, Bruce Conner, and McClure’s Beast Language.  Then there is Angus Maclise and Piero Heliczer’s one-shot Wednesday Paper, which is incredibly scarce and in wonderful condition.  Maclise and Heliczer are cult favorites to be sure, but for the fan of mimeo as an object, Wednesday Paper is an early example of mimeo as art with multi-colored papers and the use of mixed type and holograph.  The shift from books to ephemera is in full effect and for those obsessed with the single sheet, Derringer Books has a group of two on offer that are very cool:  handbills announcing an Allen Ginsberg Reading at Fugazi Hall in San Francisco.  These are not mentioned in the Morgan bibliography and Alan Zipkin of Derringer has done a good job researching this entry and suggests that this handbill documents the second live reading of Kaddish.  One of the sheets has a two tape ghosts at the top edge.  This brings up an interesting issue regarding ephemera.  Do the ghosts detract from the value or are they a haunting trace that provides an aura?

All three of these items are not only incredibly collectible in terms of their content, but are also intriguing as objects that provide an inside look into the study of mimeography and the Mimeo Revolution.  McClure, Ginsberg and Piero are all well and good, but community newsletters, holograph stencils and multi-colored paper, and tape ghosts speak to larger material issues of the Mimeo Revolution as opposed to just a cult of personality.

To hammer this home, I want to focus on one more item that I find extremely collectible for less than obvious reasons.  Derringer Books is offering a very good example of Ed Sanders Catalogue #4 for his Peace Eye Bookstore.  This is highly prized as a rare Fuck You Press item, but as Alan Zipkin suggests in his entry for the Catalogue, its real appeal is that it is an invaluable bibliographic item that catalogs the mimeo book market at its infancy as well as providing a bibliography of extremely rare items that in some cases are so rare and shrouded in mystery that one wonders if they actually existed.  I leaned heavily on these catalogues in compiling my Fuck You checklist.

The copy for sale here takes bibliographic importance to another level as the catalog was sent to Norman Holmes Pearson at Yale University.  Before I turn to the importance of Pearson, I want to say yet again just how important it is that this catalog was actually placed into circulation.  It was mailed.  For years, this was a bad thing.  A collector wanted a mint, uncirculated copy, which was as close to just off the press as possible.  I think this has changed.  In many cases, mimeo is a form of networked art or literature.  It was designed to be sent through the mail system.  Mailing actually activates a mimeo’s power and influence.  In this case, the mailing to Pearson, serves as an association copy between Sanders, Peace Eye, Pearson and Yale University, which is powerful stuff indeed.

Pearson was a Professor of English and American Studies at Yale and, in fact, Pearson was influential in establishing American Studies in the United States.  Interestingly, before Pearson setting up the American Studies program at Yale, he worked for the Office of Strategic Services in London in World War II.  Pearson saw American Studies as a weapon in the Cold War, financed in part by millionaire William R. Coe.  As such it was a key element in foreign policy in a similar manner to that of Abstract Expressionism as researched by Serge Guilbaut in How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art:  Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War.  Besides the American Studies program, Pearson redirected the focus of the Yale Library to 20th Century writers and archives, which was instrumental in solidifying Yale as a major research institution in the Humanities. 

Paralleling Pearson’s strategies, individual and institutional book collecting and archiving were crucial to financing the Mimeo Revolution.  One of the standard means for financing projects in the mimeo world was selling the archives associated with a mimeo press or magazine.  In fact, The White Dove Review archives were offered for sale in an Ed Sanders Catalogue. 

This Catalogue #4 therefore proves to be a fascinating document in library science and bibliography as well as an extremely rare Fuck You Press item.  What does it mean for Pearson and Sanders to be working together?  Who is using who?  Is Sanders working like a mole for the counterculture burrowing into Establishment and taking it down from within?  Is Sanders taking dirty money to finance his total assault on the culture?  Or is Pearson using the counterculture a la Abstract Expressionism to further the values of American civilization?  What is happening here?  In order to find out and study the complex, sometime incestuous, relationships of the counterculture and capitalism in the Mimeo Revolution and in society at large, Norman Holmes Pearson’s copy of Ed Sanders Catalogue #4 would provide a nice case study.
I highly recommend Derringer Books latest catalog.  Check Alan Zipkin out here.


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