Sunday, June 9, 2019

Planning a self-published book - 4

Choosing the keywords (chapter headers)

I've changed my mind. Each volume will have unique chapters. This means that I will need approximately 42*3 = 126 keywords.

These keywords should be charged with multiple layers of meaning. They should suggest stories and mysteries. They should stimulate research. Some archetypes, but not too pretentious. Collecting them is harder than I thought. Especially if you want a wide, random spread.

See also: Latour litanies.

A warning to self

By compiling the list of keywords myself, I run the risk of revealing my deepest unconscious urges. Like Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Chapter 55 of Cat's Cradle: Never Index Your Own Book.
I got an unexpectedly expert answer, as one does in life sometimes. It appeared that Claire Minton, in her time, had been a professional indexer.  I had never heard of such a profession before...  She said that indexing was a thing only the most amateurish author undertook to do for his own book. I asked her what she thought of Philip Castle's job.

"Flattering to the author, insulting to the reader," she said.  "In a hyphenated word," she said with the shrewd amiability of an expert, "_self-indulgent_.  I'm always embarrassed when I see an index an author has made of his own work.  It's a revealing thing... a shameless exhibition....

"He's obviously in love with this Mona Aamons Monzano...  He has mixed feelings about his father... He's insecure... He'll never marry her... I've said all I'm going to say," she said. ...

Sometime later, Ambassador Minton and I met in the aisle of the airplane, away from his wife, and he showed me that it was important to him that I respect what his wife could find out from indexes.

"You know why Castle will never marry the girl, even though he loves her, even though they grew up together?" he whispered... "Because he's a homosexual.  She can tell that from the index, too."
Further challenge

Is there any way I could make the book useful? A guidebook? A self-help book? Tips and tricks? A city walk, that can really be walked. Not just a conceptual object, but a real positive contribution.

Wordlist from six sources

I picked a random book that I had laying around. It was City of saints and madmen by Jeff Vandermeer. I noted a few 'meaningful' words in my notebook. The deck of Tarot cards gave some symbolic keywords. But it should not be too obvious. While reading some articles I noted a few 'meaningful' words. I selected a few words from my own blog page of Latour litanies. And I picked several keywords from the table of contents of Capital: New York, Capital of the 20th Century by Kenneth Goldsmith. And of course some chapters named in the Lost book found movie (marked by *).

Then I ran the list of 149 words through the list randomizer at This yielded the following chapter titles for volumes 1, 2 and 3. While making the volumes I will make the final selection. But I will not change the ordering.

Volume 1 - The Kindle version
the periodic table*
colour samples
the flood*
stone lions
Japanese submarine
the clock*
savage plant
atomic number*
poetic empire
the monument*
the princeling
eagles made from plastic
conservation of matter*
wheel of fortune

Volume 2 - The book version
inferiority complex
fungal growth
burial at sea*
clay soil
potato soup
the archive*
dream city
the parade
the flood*
the grid
the hourglass*
heat stroke
the street
Volume 3 - The printed internet version
cinder blocks
perpetual motion*
mysterious flying cast-iron wheels
mendel's law*
objects of desire
overripe melons
the well*
registration form
the fossil*
drawings of buckets
the sick man*
italic number*
animal feed
ejaculation inhibitor

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Planning a self published book - 3

Part 1 of this series is here.
Part 2 is here.

Book structure
I decided on the size and contents of the book. If the book is 48 pages then I have 42 pages with keywords. The structure will be:
Front cover : 1 (title page) + 1 (blank)
Content : 42 (keywords) + 1 (blank) + 1 (explanation)
Back cover : 2 (blank)
Book layout
For my first draft this will be the layout. It will be reviewed by an expert later.

LateX script
I've hacked the following script to make the layout. It will cause pain to real LateX experts. It will make them cringe and look away:

\usepackage[a5paper, total={11cm, 17cm}]{geometry}




% the front cover
\begin{textblock*}{7cm}(2.7cm,4cm) % {block width} (coords) 
\fontsize{60}{70}\selectfont \bfseries LOST

\begin{textblock*}{7cm}(3.4cm,6cm) % {block width} (coords) 
\fontsize{60}{60}\selectfont \bfseries BOOK

\begin{textblock*}{7cm}(4.1cm,8cm) % {block width} (coords) 
\fontsize{60}{70}\selectfont \bfseries FOUND

\begin{textblock*}{7cm}(3.7cm,12cm) % {block width} (coords) 
\fontsize{14}{70}\selectfont A Rotterdam reconstruction

\begin{textblock*}{7cm}(3.7cm,13cm) % {block width} (coords) 
\fontsize{14}{70}\selectfont Volume 1 (Kindle version)

% back side of the front cover


\textbf{Keyword1} \\
\textit{Date1, Street1 - Something that happened in Rotterdam.} \\
This is the first section.
Lorem  ipsum  dolor  sit  amet,  consectetuer  adipiscing  
elit.   Etiam  lobortisfacilisis sem.  Nullam nec mi et 
neque pharetra sollicitudin.  Praesent imperdietmi nec ante. 
Donec ullamcorper, felis non sodales...


\textbf{Keyword2} \\
\textit{Date2, Street2 - Something that happened in Rotterdam.} \\

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.  
Etiam lobortis facilisissem.  Nullam nec mi et neque pharetra 
sollicitudin.  Praesent imperdiet mi necante...

Hello, here is some text without a meaning.  This text should show what 
a printed text will look like at this place.  If you read this text, 
you will get no information.  Really?  Is there no information?  Is there 
a difference between this text and some nonsense like not at all!  A 
blind text like this gives you information about the selected font, how 
the letters are written and an impression of the look.  This text should
contain all letters of the alphabet and it should be written in of the
original language.There is no need for special content, but the length of
words should match the language.


\textbf{Keyword3} \\
\textit{Date3, Street3 - Something that happened in Rotterdam.} \\
This is the third section.
Lorem  ipsum  dolor  sit  amet,  consectetuer  adipiscing  
elit.   Etiam  lobortisfacilisis sem.  Nullam nec mi et 
neque pharetra sollicitudin.  Praesent imperdietmi nec ante. 
Donec ullamcorper, felis non sodales...

This pattern will be repeated for many pages.



\textbf{Explanation} \\
\textit{What inspired me and what I did with it.} \\
This is the third section.
Lorem  ipsum  dolor  sit  amet,  consectetuer  adipiscing  
elit.   Etiam  lobortisfacilisis sem.  Nullam nec mi et 
neque pharetra sollicitudin.  Praesent imperdietmi nec ante. 
Donec ullamcorper, felis non sodales...

%front side of back cover

%back side of back cover


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Planning a self published book - 2

Part 1 of this series is here.

Installing TeX took some work. I run Windows:

For debugging the installation I used:

My installation directory for MiKTeX is: "C:\Users\User\AppData\Local\Programs\MiKTeX 2.9" and I had to enter this in the Texmaker options like this:

"C:\Users\User\AppData\Local\Programs\MiKTeX 2.9\miktex\bin\x64\latex.exe" -interaction=nonstopmode %.tex

Then it worked. And I was able to produce my first PDF page. More to come.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Planning a self-published book


Jem Cohen made a mysterious movie (video) about a unique handwritten book. It contained (seemingly) chaotic lists of headings, dates and places with some (unknown) internal structure and deep meaning. A street scavenger offered the book to the narrator, but he didn't buy it then. Since then the lists from the book have stayed in his head. Unpredictable events can trigger a voice in his head that recites lists and (almost) reveals the hidden logic of the city.
The book never existed. But I want to have this book so I will have to make it myself. And there is only one place I can find the contents: in my own archives. I will use three sources of material:
  •  KINDLE: the My Clippings file on my Kindle, they are ready to use,
  •  BOOKS: paragraphs from my English books that I've marked, I will scan them,
  •  INTERNET: the stacks of printed matter from the Internet, I will re-download them or scan them.
There will be three volumes called "Searching Lost Book Found" (or "Lost Book Found - A Reconstruction" ). The Kindle version, the book version and the internet version. There will be a few illustrations, taken from my scrapbooks of cuttings. I will start with the Kindle version, because that content is most readily available.

Each volume will have 12 categories (chapters). Some categories will repeat in all or some volumes. Most categories will be unique per volume.

When you open the book randomly there will be some short but interesting piece of text. Something to make you think or make you notice.
Form and graphic design

The cover and content could look like this:


Lost book found
a film/video by Jem Cohen (copyright 1996 Jem Alan Cohen), Poopface productions

… it was a composition notebook full of handwritten listings
page after page of places, objects, incidents, all having something to do with the city
but it was carefully divided into chapters of some kind ...

… but there was a side effect, that as I travel through the city,
I sometimes hear a voice making lists,
and sometimes they fall into groups, classifications, sets and subsets,
in other words, the book stayed in my head,
like parts of a song I didn't know I knew,
and parts of the book come back in flashes, bits and pieces ...

Forest, The clock, The fossil, Battery, Undertow
The flood, Mercury, Italic number, Well, The archive
The sick man, The monument, Periodic table, Mendel's law,
Lighthouse, Hourglass, The flood, Alchemist,
Victory, Conservation of matter, Atomic number,
Perpetual motion, Strain, Burial at sea

Renowned poet and conceptual artist Kenneth Goldsmith collects a massive assortment of quotations about New York City in the twentieth century. This kaleidoscopic montage from hundreds of sources is a literary adoration of New York as the capital of the world, and was inspired by Walter Benjamin s unfinished masterpiece, "The Arcades Project," a compendium of quotations about nineteenth-century Paris.

The missing pieces
An incantatory catalog of cultural artifacts either lost to time or never realized. The Missing Pieces (by Henri Lefebre) is a list not only to be read an item at a time, but, as the very cover of the book itself might imply, to be viewed as a mishmash of things forgotten, and of things we need to dutifully remember.


I'll do all the design work myself.

If I spread the project out over two years, I could spend 100 euro per volume on printing.
I will hire a professional reviewer on a time-box basis. I'll see if I can get some advice, tips and tricks for 50 euro.

To add further constraints I will try to break-even somehow. That means I'll have to sell most of the books. A price of 7 euro would be ideal for impulse buying. 5 euro is probably impossible. 12 euro is still doable.

I will have to think about price elasticity. This means I'll have to think about the amount of books to produce. Would I dare to print 100?
Formats and printers

I'll try to do everything in LateX, as an exercise.

A5 vertical, 48 (56) pages, black and white, softcover, glue binding > 25 books = 58.54 euro > 20 = 72.10 > 25 = 96.71 > 25 = 105 > 20 = 140.39 > 10 books = 140.24 euro > 100 = 318 + 9%

I should look at Rotterdam Publication Studio too:

A warning for myself
  • Der Augenblick der Erkenntnis seiner Unbegabung war ein Geistesblitz. 
  • Guter Rat für Schriftsteller: Im bestimmten Augenblick zu schreiben aufhören. Sogar, bevor man angefangen hat.
Das große STANISŁAW JERZY LEC  BUCH, Aphorismen, Epigramme, Gedichte  und Prosa 


The project will fail if I :
  • don't find supporters or subscribers for my project (lesser failure) 
  • get stuck with many books somehow (biggest failure)
  • don't break-even (lesser failure)
When I get stuck with books I will place them (also illegally) in bookshops and museum gift shops to confuse the buyers and sellers.

To do
  1.  Select the chapter categories
  2.  Design the covers
  3.  Make a mini trial version of the content
  4.  Rethink plan and feasibility
  5.  Make volume 1 (kindle version) in PDF format
  6.  Get a review of volume 1
  7.  Present the PDF to editors
  8.  Contact PrintRoom
  9.  GO - NOGO decision
  10.  Edition size decision
  11.  Order print run of volume 1 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The suburban sky

urban moonkitchen moonmoon mapsshadow cones
sky structuresmore sky structures
bird traces, brennschluss constellations, archaeo astronomy
webcam sun, triple sun, flaming sun, de chirico

At the moment we have a cold spell with clear skies. It's too cold to sit outside at night.
But yesterday, sometime between 23.00 and 24.00 I lay on my bed and looked at my small rectangle of sky through 10x50 binoculars.

It's bad astronomy to watch the sky through windowpanes. But I managed to recognize what I was looking at. It was the constellation of Hydra.

Being a bloody beginner I had no other choice than to scan the sky for some memorable pattern. And then I tried to find this pattern in my Stellarium app. It's very good!
This is approximately the field of view through the binoculars. Here the brightest star is tau1 Hydrae and the second brightest is tau2 Hydrae. Magnitude 4.55. Here in Rotterdam these stars are invisible without binoculars. But they were named by the ancient Greeks, Arabs and Chinese.
Again a binocular field of view with a recognizable pattern. Here the brightest star is lambda Hydrae with magnitude 3.60. A star that has used up its core hydrogen, has expanded, destroyed any surrounding planets and now has an excess of carbon and nitrogen. Again invisible with the (my) naked eye.
The only visible star is Alphard with magnitude 1.95. The traditional name Alphard is from the Arabic the solitary one, there being no other bright stars near it. It was also known as the "backbone of the Serpent" to the Arabs.

According to Stellarium I also should have seen two satellites but I didn't catch them

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Gallery Rianne Groen 2015

In 2015 I visited Gallery Rianne Groen and saw some interesting art. Often the art is complex, mysterious and unexpected. It combines everyday parts to create strange jewels. Also it is way above my financial possibilities and not my wife's taste. But I love this gallery.
Indeed, a culture is kept alive by the interaction of all its parts. Its progress is an alchemical process, in which all its varied ingredients can combine to form new jewels. (Gerald Holton, quoted in: Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality (Edward Frenkel))
The corner text by Wouter Venema is not a poem but an object, a painting, a drawing.
Wouter Venema, Two words, 2015

The combination of artworks can be puzzling and even unsettling at times:
A thing cannot be reduced to the definitions we give of it, because then the thing would change with each tiny change in its known properties. A good rule of thumb is as follows: 
unless a character gives rise to different interpretations, unless a scientific entity endures changed notions of its properties, unless a philosopher is entangled in contradictory assertions over one and the same concept, unless a new technology has unforeseen impact, unless a politician’s party is one day disappointed, unless a friend is able to generate and experience surprises, then we are not dealing with anything very real. (Graham Harman, The horror of phenomenology)
The corner of a large painting was sacrificed to be used as a postcard.
That kind of fruitful damage makes great conceptual art.
Marijn van Kreij, Untitled (BRESFSI1013, Postcard), 2014, Lower right corner used as a postcard.
Recently, Van Kreij sent a corner of his work shown in the exhibition (Untitled (BRESFSI1013, Postcard)) to Van Duijvenboden. The envelope used to send the piece is present in the drop box on the floor (the original corner is now on show at A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam).

Sunday, April 21, 2019

From a strange planet - 14

Road webcam fascination - The silent pictures of Scandinavian traffic-webcams have a strange fascination for me. My previous outpourings of webcam obsession are here: 1: Discovery, 2: From deep space, 3: Don DeLillo, 4: Scipting surveillance art, 5: Making movies, 6: Sightings and glitches, 7: More sightings, 8: Google streetview, 9: Changes in time, 10: Events, 11: Living streetlight, 12: Dino Buzzati, 13: Ed Ruscha, 15: Traffic cones, 16: Nothing, 17: Nothing and 18: Melting snow. I've used video, fiction, literary criticism, art, topography and surveillance technologies to think through this window on far-away places.

I have thought much about this view. I lack the words to describe its atmosphere. The bridge, the sea, the shed and the lamp. The arrangement is more than the sum of its parts.
I tried to imagine a story:
Two locals drive to work each day and cross the bridge. They speculate what's inside the little building. They make hypotheses. The discuss the meaning of the light and the sign. The speculations slowly escalate, starting with a toolshed, and then going from a measuring station, an industrial control system, to a modern chapel and a small temple to the bridge god. But there's never time to test those. And then one day the small building is gone, removed, burned down, blown up. Or just moved to the other side of the road.
Or another story:

Two locals drive to work each day and cross the bridge. They discuss the strange behaviour of light in this area. Sometimes they see a strange glow under the bridge. On some day the shed light burns more brightly. On other days they see the streetlight behaving strangely.
They discuss the theories of Igor Savchenko:
We no longer have a constant flow of sunlight. Light appears to us as a sequence of transient storms. Everything around us is lit up for brief instants. The world picture shimmers. But moments of light and darkness still alternate too fast, for us to notice them.
They retell local urban legends about ghosts, trolls, and dead hitchhikers. But they never reach a conclusion.

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. But sometimes fiction is stranger than reality. It is very hard to make good, strange fiction, that enhances reality. Let's be thankful to writers who can do that. Otherwise our world could be just like the one Thomas Ligotti is describing.
I once knew a man who claimed that, overnight, all the solid shapes of existence had been replaced by cheap substitutes: trees made of flimsy posterboard, houses built of colored foam, whole landscapes composed of hair-clippings. His own flesh, he said, was now just so much putty. Needless to add, this acquaintance had deserted the cause of appearances and could no longer be depended on to stick to the common story. Alone he had wandered into a tale of another sort altogether; for him, all things now participated in this nightmare of nonsense. But although his revelations conflicted with the lesser forms of truth, nonetheless he did live in the light of a greater truth: that all is unreal. (The Shadow at the Bottom of the World (Thomas Ligotti))
When I compare the camera pictures with the Google pictures I see two different worlds. Which is the real one? And which one is made of cardboard?