SPECIAL COLECTIONS & ARCHIVES–
ON-LINE & PHYSICAL
Is there any point in telling you what’s here on-line when you can freely browse “the stuff itself”? It’s possible that descriptions of the delights awaiting you may have some value, however, or even pay dividends in hilarity over (or insight into) the human condition. Like a menu about–yet different from–the cooking, a description can out- shine what’s described. In our case, menu & nourishment are more or less one, as are exploration & learning, card catalog & content.
The word library used to suggest books, a concept much in flux these days, with virtual publication, music & document libraries on demand, on laptops & wrists, tabs, pads & smartphones in pockets, in iBooks, Wii-books, notebooks, ultra-books, & the full Library of Congress on the head of a pin (from Pinhead Computers, a leader in Haystack Technology, magnifier not included).
Our on-line purpose is to offer you a gateway to selective materials otherwise out of range to those without wireless-direct crystal skull connection to “the heart of the Bod” (if then). For years, our main production has been virtual, often without print-out. Whether materials were ever in hard copy or not, Bod Library On Line offers an unbeatable economics of accessibility, meaning if it’s here, it’s free.
As a business model, this lacks only any clear prospect for revenue, at least in conventional (as distinct from creative) accounting. In fact, many creative projects we’ve inherited from the past were paid for–& receipts, if any, booked–as we went along, with contributions from sales, honoraria, & funds provided by others (e.g., KUNM paid for Rolling On, while the New Mexixo Humanities Council & dozens of host organizations contributed to the expenses involved in developing the Basho works & others). The expense of making such work more widely available eventually was an anticipated part of the unwritten contract, even if websites had not yet been imagined as our vehicle.
In the case of our Basho translations, we received (& paid taxes on) licensing fees (totaling about $4K) for two versions used in successive editions of Bedford’s world literature anthology. It was always part of our plan to “reinvest” these fees in the Basho project, e.g., toward physical production of a completed, stand-alone edition (with our Trail Companion Guide & supplementary essays), or other ways of making the final version more widely accessible.
In cases like Basho’s Backcountry Ways–& Beyond, results may take both forms: an on-line version where the communication is widest & most economical; a tangible physical form with values only a well-made book brings. The two realms, like ocean & air, aren’t entirely separate, whether exchanging in the mixture zone at the margins or inter-penetrating (oxygen in the liquid, cloud in atmosphere). Virtual accessibility may expand the reach of hard copies, and vice versa.
For an artist like Basho, there’s no barrier between self & nature, nor dividing line between art & life, selfless offering & tangible product, earning a living & finding value in a life. Fictions of the tax code may distort the accounting by imposing an either/or relation between for-profit enterprises, non-profit offerings, & “hobbies,” where no such distinction exists on the ground for the actual artist whose work over-laps physical & virtual realms, personal passion & practical business.
There’s an inherent ambiguity in the relation between work done for pleasure & pay. In many cases, the most unpleasant jobs pay the least. More to the point, it would be an obvious folly to disallow van Gogh’s expenses because he hadn’t turned a profit in three of his last five years. In fact he never did from painting, yet the taxing authorities in many countries have since collected from the works (in sales taxes & capital gains) more than poor Vincent earned in his whole lifetime.
The ambiguity is even greater between the virtual and physical An original poem may have been scribbled on a stained napkin, for example. The napkin is not the poem. Nor, strictly speaking, is the printed version. The poem passes more or less freely across media–through audio, video, print, web page & live forms, as well as their derivatives (e.g., films of live events), changing as it goes.
Photographs & paintings raise similar issues. The painting of a landscape is not the landscape, though it may be part of one–as on a billboard (often not for the better). A photo of the painting is not exactly the painting either, nor is the video feed, which may vary with receiver, as between a small fuzzy device & surround screen with all the hi-rez bells & whistles. Still, even a low-rez excerpt can carry considerable information about the painting not transmissable by talking or writing about it without any visual representation at all.
Such issues surfaced in photography long before the digital revolution, with advocates of every persuasion weighing in. Ansel Adams, for example, considered that a good part of the creative process of making a photograph happened in “the dance of the darkroom,” aiming at the full aesthetic impact of a perfectly finished print. Cartier-Bresson, on the other hand, seemed happiest in the 35mm moment, considering print quality a variable after-thought, far less relevant than the pop of what had been caught–the smile of a boy carrying bread & wine, a pedestrian in mid air over a puddle.
There’s a harder to describe difference between Susan Middleton’s eye-popping prints in the flesh & the same eye-popping images on screen via the web. However difficult to articulate or even rank, the two can trigger quite different experiences without one being necessarily better in itself, apart from context. Come upon the printed images in the San Francisco airport, for example, you’ll feel yourself in the presence of the “best.” Home by your screen, however, the web-version can’t be beat, with a quality of light all its own….
If there was some uncertainty about why anyone would want a description of on-line materials, there may be all the more so for a description of physical collections & archives not otherwise accessible to the reader. (That’s why it’s buried so far down here, in the virtual bowels of the Bod, a matter of deep footnote & quasi-archeology.)
Beside offices, habitat, gallery/studio, mountain & river, orchard & sky, our physical space contains archives & special collections featuring Asian literature (India, China, Japan); Chautauqua (personal & general history); Poetry (world, southwestern, personal); Travel (trail journals, haikai sketches); Games (theory, design, play); Humor; Ecology, conservation & natural sciences.
Asian texts feature poetry, along with haikai, yogic, taoist, vedic, zen, & ‘bodist’ texts, including works of & on Basho, Lao-tze, Chan masters, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindranth Tagore…. Most of our contemporary poetry, meanwhile, was unsystematically collected from used book sales, plus personal path-crossings with the makers, some during two decades hosting a Visiting Writers series in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Some collections grew out of our traveling Chautauqua programs, personal friendships with the authors or love of (&/or special respect for) their work.
Such collections feature works by and about Walter van Tilburg Clark, Victor di Suvero, Jim Harris, Elizabeth Searle Lamb, Mitch Rayes, Frank Waters, Aldo Leopold & Ansel Adams, to name a few with degrees of personal connection, with Gary Snyder, W.S. Merwyn, Lawrence Ferlinghetti thrown in for good measure. Like those of loved poets & novelists never met, you can find most of their works elsewhere, as well as far better physical archives, so not particularly related to our web-plan, which is focused on what the Bod alone can best provide.
We do have some special Walter Clark correspondence (as well as recollections) not yet available anywhere else, as part of our Richardson Archives from 1950s Nevada, and we plan to put what we can up ASAP at www.bodlibrary.org in connection to the historical events light may be shed on. (The Richardson Archives may eventually be housed closer to the Walter Clark collection at UNR.) Most of our voluminous correspondence (including collaborative creations) with Elizabeth Searle Lamb, “honorary first lady of American haiku,” have already gone to the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento, along with her personal archives.
Of most others mentioned, including all still living, we have mostly just appreciation to offer. The exceptions may be those we played after their passing–Ansel, Aldo, S. Omar Barker, & Basho. Thanks to the offerings of others, we have tended to accumulate some lesser known facts & insights worth passing along, along with a few personal mementos: an “Ansel Adams” photo hardly anyone has seen; an actual Aldo Leopold shirt; a cup with Omar’s LazySOB brand; Basho’s persimmon-stained hat…. Only the facts, insights & images fit on-line.
Our biggest special collection by far (by many orders of magnitude), & the least available anywhere else, is our own, with many aspects to it, including personal (& family) publications, audio & video recordings, theater materials (props, scripts, etc.), enterprise archives (game designs, prototypes, business records), as well as manuscripts, works-in-progress, drafts, notes, journals, and correspondence
Publications include work from school days on–Harvard Yardling (1960), Wall Street Journal (1961), Esquire (1966), =1 & Mother India (1967-68); teaching materials & game designs (’70s); hokku, poetry & humorous fillers (’80s); cassette & CD albums, plus chapbooks (mostly ’90s); ecological essays (2003~); & Basho translations (2003, 2007).
[Add bibliography here someday as embedded file?]
Who knows where the Richard Bodner papers will end up? (Who knows where they are now, for that matter?) It’s hard to keep up. We have high hopes that Cloud-4-Head’s Virtual-On-line Organizing Depository (VOOD) will do wonders for reducing physical clutter in this world of dust & ashes, while liberating whatever meaning the vehicles carried (if any) to travel on via the smoke & mirror magic of post-modern media, one being to the next, all the way from me to you.
Beside Chautauqua-style programs as Basho, S. Omar Barker, Aldo Leopold, & Ansel Adams, each with many re-incarnations, we collaborated in a few radio & album recording projects, e.g., “Words & Music of the Santa Fe Trail” (a two-program series on the trail origins with guitarist Carl Bernstein); “Like Water,” a guitar-poetry album from Leaky Buckets Music (which received a Mic Award for “Best Original Classical Composition, 1995”); “Rolling on: the wagon years, a live Santa Fe Trail show produced by KUNM public radio, with broadcast version also available on CD.
Besides the relatively few albums & radio programs actually produced & broadcast, we have many unedited & uncatalogued audio & video recordings of once live presentations, as well as field recordings collected in connection with projects like “words & music of the Santa Fe Trail.” Our Poets-In-Person audio collection of contemporary American poets, on the other hand, was part of an American Library Association’s “pilot series” at the Esther Bone Library in Rio Rancho, in 1997. We designed and led the pilot series, but had nothing to do with the audio collection, except the sharing.
I doubt it would ever be worth the time it would take just to look at the 25 years of marginal tapes of events put on by Land of Enchantment Poetry Theater, as part of the New Mexico Humanities Council’s Chautauqua catalog, or for other organizations. Usually, “you had to be there.” The live interaction is a different animal, and hardly done justice to with our marginal “documentation.” The best experiences were never caught on tape, though a few moments might stand out, e.g., Basho at a Zen monastery in R. I., & a few other places, or “Alias Aldo” in various beautiful places, including the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.
Personal archives include hyper-cubic kilometers of manuscripts, yellow pads & typescripts; digital media of various operating systems; folders with scraps & notes; cartons of letters; boxes of poetry; barrels of monkeys; bins of haiku; shelves of scrolls; chests of drawings & photo albums; curiosity cabinets & linked-poetry chains; scripts, & memorabilia; teaching materials & game designs; art tools & expressions, little of which is worth making it on-line. The same goes for Enterprise Archives, business & legal records for Mapa Systems & its divisions–Land of Enchantment Games, Poetry Theater/Bookstore, Leaky Buckets Music, Bod Library, etc.
We put most of this down for the record, but not most of the materials themselves up–only where they beckon, offer gateways to their times, ooze with nostalgia, or seem to carry some possible visitor value.