Bethany Nowviskie

tiny treasures of the pataphysical tradition

This is a letterpress broadside, typeset in late 2000 or early 2001 by members of SpecLab (including Jerome McGann, Bethany Nowviskie, Johanna Drucker, and — I think — Andrea Laue) and some of our friends (including Charlie Sligh, Damian Rollison, and Maura Tarnoff).

click to embiggen

“Tiny Treasures of the Pataphysical Tradition” was printed by Nowviskie and Drucker in a very small edition at the former McGuffey Arts of the Book Center, Charlottesville, Virginia.

I just found a cache of about 30 of them in my garage!

My memory is entirely fuzzy as to how many of the advertised pamphlets actually got printed. Mine was the excerpted “ludic edition” of a Thomas Tod Stoddart poem by one “Ivy Bannishe-K’weto” (an anagram for my name), which exists in digital surrogate here — “The Death-Wake; or Lunacy. A Necromaunt in Three Chimeras.” (That page, however, lacks the steganographic cryptogram I created for hiding a bizarre frog-ritual by Aleister Crowley, a propos of absolutely nothing and in plain sight, in Baconian cipher, in the letter-press version of the thing. The poem itself, if you don’t know it, is an almost-unknown 1831 freak of fancy about a monk who steals the dead body of his girlfriend (a nun) and sails away, rhapsodizing as she rots, until he is killed by a tidal wave. It was not a hit, and is pretty rare, because most of the printed sheets were used to wrap fish. Coincidentally, Stoddart was an angler.)

And people wonder why it takes digital humanities PhDs so long to finish their degrees.

Further evidence? When I was scouring old email for record of the “Tiny Treasures” project, I found this sonnet, penned by fellow grad student William J. Hughes, when I turned over project management of the Rossetti Archive to him in April of 2001:

On Madamoiselle’s Departure

If I had a nickel for every time
One of us newbies craned our necks back
And asked, “Beth?”, courtier-like crying our lack
To you, dispenser of all our good, I’d
Have one big honkin’ bucket of nickels.
But now, as some star-circled Cynthia,
You stun us from afar, marking all the
Hours that waste us without you, the thick spells
Of error riddled stupor. You’ve the keys,
Damozel, to memory and mastery;
But, now wedded to another, you we
See, a bright goddess for new web monkeys,
    And ask, “Maiden Queen, pure as driven snow,
    What new cult shall begin now that you go?”

I’m saving one of the “Tiny Treasures” printings for Bill (for the sonnet), and a few for old SpecLabbers and friends. A dozen are up for grabs on Twitter!

DM me if you want one.

Creative Commons License This site uses a heavily modified version of Bryan Helmig's Magatheme. Work at http://nowviskie.org by Bethany Nowviskie is always CC-BY. Want to know why? The falling letters are by Wayne Graham. He kindly made them to replace a set I designed in Flash in the late 1990s and had in place for more than 17 years. Not a bad run! Ave atque vale.