The Improbable, Issue No. 2: Time is Elastic, a miscellany investigating the spaces between art & literature

News, News Section

October 15th, 2020

If you’ve found this page, you may already know what The Improbable is, and you’re looking for a copy! It’s free—you just have to find it. There are plenty at the Siglio pop-up at the Museum of Modern Art Store in New York City until December 31. It’s also now Ephemera #15, free with any order from Siglio Press. Siglio Advocates get both issues #1 and #2 free (sent separately from the books).

It’s also available at select bookstores across the country, where it is also free, but unless you can walk in and ask for it (some bookstores below are just online), you’ll need to order a book, and let them know you want a copy. A few stores will have it out in stack—I’ve marked those below with an asterisk. In all cases, supplies are very limited!

In California: Artbook at Hauser & Wirth* in Los Angeles; Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes; Green Apple Books, San Francisco; East Bay Booksellers, Oakland; in Oregon: Monograph Bookwerks* and Passages Bookshop*, both in Portland. And a smattering across the country: Binnacle Books, Beacon, New York; Brickbat Books*, Philadelphia; Lost City Bookstore, Washington, DC; Open Books: A Poem Emporium* in Seattle, Washington; The Dial Bookshop* in Chicago, Illinois; Marfa Book Company, Marfa, Texas; The Concern Newstand, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Sweet Melissa Records, Marietta, Georgia; Woodland Pattern Book Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and in Canada at The Printed Word Bookstore* in Dundas, Ontario!

(Looking for issue #1? Some of the places above might have still have copies, or you could try to track down a copy at Skylight Books*, Los Angeles; Riff Raff, Providence, Rhode Island; and Deep Vellum Books, Dallas, both in Texas; and Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, Vermont. In England, Bookartbookshop in London—one of my very favorite bookstores in the entire world—might have a few left.)

So what is The Improbable? It’s an occasional miscellany investigating the the rich and varied space between art and literature. The second issue includes: Nicole Rudick on Niki de Saint Phalle, Shiv Kotecha on Nicolas Moufarrege, J. Mae Barizo on the archive, Anaïs Duplan on the Black avant-garde, Douglas Kearney on frequencies, Amaranth Borsuk on Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, Clive Phillpot on the Flat Time House, and Rachel Valinsky writing news from home.

Here are the editor’s notes from the second issue (and further below from the first):

Volume 1, Issue No. 2

Dear Reader,

This is the second issue of The Improbable. As with the first issue, the invitations I extended to the writers, critics, and scholars were wholly open, and yet again, there is much serendipity among the marvelous works here. This issue seems to be a collection of summonings—our ghosts, ancestors, totems, touchstones, familiars. Many of these writings are also reckonings with—or, better, the embrace of—what cannot be known or seen, or fully ascertained. Rachel Valinsky, in “News from Home,” writes that Hanne Darboven’s inscrutable but highly disciplined writing/inscription “stages an ongoing affirmation of self, or of the capacity of the self to write, through and despite.” Through and despite is something we have all endeavored this last year in the face of this unrelenting, months-long uncertainty—as the corona virus pandemic still rages and the clear results of an election are undermined by the outrageous mendacity of a sitting president. This little newsletter, I hope, offers some possibilities: “Exits exist,” writes Barbara Stauffacher Solomon.

—Lisa Pearson, November 2020

Volume 1, Issue No. 1

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 serendipitious 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