The Improbable, No. 1: Time IndefiniteEditor’s Note by Lisa Pearson & What's In This Issue

the improbable, 09/10/22

Originally published on the occasion of Siglio’s pop-up at the Museum of Modern Art store, October 2020. All rights reserved. More about The Improbable.

Dear Reader,

Welcome to The Improbable. This is the first issue. A second is in the works, and there may be more. It is intended as a gift.

For this issue and the next, I invited artists, writers, and scholars whom I admire to investigate the spaces between art and literature, or even simply spaces “in-between.” I encouraged play—in its most serious sense—and expansiveness, too—to go wherever their reverie took them. I suggested treatises, rants, manifestos, meditations, studies, lists, notes, but I also received a questionnaire, a novel excerpt, a film script, and a fictive dialogue. Among the luscious writings here, there are many serendipitous frictions, nodes, and (entangled, even) threads. I am giddy.

The Improbable takes its inspiration from Dick Higgins’ Something Else Newsletter just as his Something Else Press (1963–1974) is a totemic spirit for Siglio. There is quite a bit about Higgins here in this newsletter, so I’ll just say that he had little use for purity (ideological or aesthetic), the constraints of categories or linear chronologies, books as commodities, and instead cared a great deal about dialogue, flexibility, continuity, plurality, expansiveness, the misunderstood, the margins, the convergence of life and art, and the book as nexus.

If you have stumbled on The Improbable, it’s because you have connected to a book. You might not know much, or anything, about Siglio. It’s a small press I started in Los Angeles in 2008 that’s now located in the Hudson River Valley, New York. It’s dedicated to publishing wondrous, unusual and often unwieldy books that live in the rich and varied space between art and literature (books that corporate publishing does not, perhaps cannot, even imagine). To date, Siglio has published almost forty of them, along with dozens of artist and ephemera editions, as well as this newsletter. Siglio’s manifesto “On the Small & the Contrary” is available online along with copious information about Siglio books and their artist-writer authors. I invite you to explore.

This issue was postponed by many months because of the pandemic. I knew back in March that I wanted to include this quote from Dick Higgins’ essay “A Book” (1983) as it speaks to the imagination—which gives form to the improbable. Now, more than six months later, his words are even more meaningful as we search out new shapes, new possibilities: “A book in its purest form, is a phenomenon of space and time and dimensionality that is unique unto itself. Every time we turn the page, the previous page passes into our past and we are confronted with a new world.”

—Lisa Pearson, October 1, 2020


in this issue (a to z, indirectly)

Narcissus poeticus: Reflections on a Taxonomy of Image x Text

On Poison, Paralysis, the Inhabitants of the Moon, and Cruelty Among Poets (an excerpt from a new fiction) with ink blot drawings by Justinus Kerner

The Entangled Imagination: A Fictive Dialogue

Calvacade of Hats (a filmscript)

Ubu Trump

Party Talk

Snail Time

from Nueve newsletters y un reportaje

The Multiplying Factor

Three Poems

Feeling Brought In: Flexing, Fluxus, Flexibility and Afrofuturist Seeing of Dick Higgins

A Something Else Manifesto

Dick Higgins, Publisher: Notes Towards a Reassessment of the Something Else Press Within a Small Press History


see also

✼ elsewhere:

“In my opinion, genre is a way of speaking about conventions of reading and looking, where you sit or stand and whether you’re allowed to talk to other people or move around while you’re communing with an object or text.”  —Lucy Ives, from her interview with Karla Kelsey in Feminist Poetics of the Archive at Tupelo Quarterly


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