Drawing on the popular format of “deleted scenes” from commercial DVDs, Dreaming in Books: A Booklog
(or Klog for short) presents portions of the vast amount of material that did not make its way into the printed book along with frank commentary about those choices. In doing so, the website offers a kind of “log” of the writing process that ultimately concluded in the book. At the same time, it includes a forum where readers are encouraged to share their own bad ideas. I am interested in exploring whether there are common features to “bad ideas,” whether there is not ultimately a genus or taxonomy of the unbookish that we might be able to develop here. What happens when we shift the conversation from what is in our books to what is not? Can the sharing of bad ideas serve as a forum to generate new ideas? Ideally, such contributions will mark the beginnings of an inquiry into the status of the “out-take” itself.
When Helen DeWitt imagined the possibility of representing the “what if,” her idea was remarkable for how romantic it was. It was precisely during the romantic period when the notebook, the sketch, the fragment, or marginalia – all forms of what ifs – became important print genres. They compensated for the growing sense of the cosmological identity of the printed book, that the book was a totality complete unto itself. Dreaming in Books
, the book, is an attempt to track the way the book was being reimagined in the romantic age as fundamentally more fluid, interconnected, and intermedial. Dreaming in Books
, the website, is an attempt to translate this romantic bibliographic poetics into digital form, to imagine new ways that digital writing can supplement, not supplant, the discrete nature of the printed book.
The book isn’t dead, it’s just being repositioned – again.