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Project Statement

by J.Drucker

Against Fiction was six years in the writing. The notes and texts for the book accumulated over a period that spanned time in Greece and Amsterdam and well into the years in which I returned to the Bay Area, worked, and began graduate studies. The book embodied the conflicts I had with the traditions of fiction in which I had been steeped as a young writer and the terms of literary production I was being exposed to in the Bay Area literary scene, as well as in the art contexts I had encountered in Europe and on my return. The "Against" of the title was intended to signal dependence on and rejection of that tradition. The massive set of notes and fragments got organized by "affinity" during an Xmas holiday visit to my sister's house. In my mind's eye, I still see the pile of mss. fragments, the scotch tape, and the sorted stacks on the bed in her guest room. That has to have been the winter of 1981-82, I think, since 1980-81 I stayed in Oakland, too poor to travel. But maybe this doesn't make sense. My mother would have still been alive, and that means that my sister wasn't married yet. So obviously I'm misremembering something. Perhaps it was the winter of 1983 that I put the mss. together. But that also doesn't make sense because I recall that the first version of the printed edition was being printed the night of my mother's accident. I was working at the Vandercook in the warehouse and kept breaking off to call my folks, because it was my mother's birthday. I never reached them and thought they were out to dinner. Next morning my father called to tell me she'd been in an accident. I don't think the original larger format would have worked in any case, but I never had the heart to go back to the project in that form after that event. The other crucial recollection that helps date the production and conceptual design of the project is the response of Dalia Judovitz to the first version in manuscript. She and her then partner Jason took a look at the mss. It had taken months to type. I was using an IBM Model B, a good machine, but just an electric typewriter (office model, an upright, solid machine). Remember, this is in the early 1980s, and no one had computers yet. When I finished typing, I had the project copied at Kinko's, which seemed hideously expensive to me. The mss. was close to 300 pages, and even at 5 cents a page, must have cost me about $20 a copy. Since I lived on about $400 a month, including my $160/month rent, plus utilities, that was a sizable chunk of my monthly income. The blue paper covers were pale and the black velo binding seemed solid, functional. The heft of the manuscript gave me a sense of having really done something. But they flipped through it, gave it back, and said it needed to be printed letterpress. I was aghast. They had no idea what that meant. Hard to think one was at the end and find oneself instead at the beginning of another huge phase of a project. Since I knew them well enough to depend on their response, it has to have been 1982 or so. The book was finished printing in 1984, before I went to Paris for a year, so that is the terminus point. Much editing, of course, went on in the stick. But that is for a later section of production narrative.

Against Fiction

Johanna Drucker

title note: The subtitle--Organized Affinities--was adapted from Goethe's Elective Affinities. The difference should be obvious. [J.Drucker]


Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


born: United States
active: United States
citizenship: United States

birth: 1952-05-30

Publication Information

publisher: Druckwerk

production: 1983-06-00:1983-10-00
publication: 1983-00-00

publication history: A single edition was issued, but the first three pages of an initial attempt at the book, in slightly larger format, was printed in a full run. The final edition had an author's binding on all the copies that were distributed originally. A handful of copies were bound by a professional in New York City in the early 1990s. [J.Drucker]

Aesthetic Profile

language poetry (local)

artists' books (LCSH)

themes: The impossibility of continuing the forms of fiction in a contemporary world, news, and women and language." [J.Drucker]

content form:
experimental text (local)
narrative (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)
broadside (local)

inspiration: The tabloids and Peter Eisenman's House X, an odd combination perhaps. [J.Drucker]

related works: News (unfinished fragment, 2005) and Narratology (1994) are probably the two closest. [J.Drucker]

other influences: []

community: other Certainly the poets were my major community during the time I lived in the Bay Area, though by the early 1980s, the U.C. Berkeley folks were important to me as well. Bertrand Augst was an enormous influence on me in that period, and so were people in the Architecture Department. Book arts and printing folks remained important as well, but as the theoretical and critical issues in this project became increasingly informed by the academic life I was leading, I started to imagine the audience for the work would be located in a critical, rather than creative, community. [J.Drucker]

Exhibition Information

exhibition history: See c.v. or Artist's Profile

reception history: The book has been written about, and pages occasionally reproduced, but not extensively.

Related Documents

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

note: Many.

manuscript type: mockups

location: artist's archive