Paratexts by Aislinn Hunter

Going to a bookclub meeting today where we will be discussing the book “Peepshow with a View of the Interior: Paratexts” by Aislinn Hunter. I deeply enjoyed it. Here is a passage from within it:

“I think that in the same way that we are too often guilty of the misuse of language, or of the wilful loss of language, we are, some of us, also sometimes guilty of failing to contemplate the physical world. This is partly because we don’t need to contemplate objects for survival to the same degree that we once did (I’m thinking here about dangerous landscapes, animals, poisonous versus edible plants etc) but also because we have so many shorthand conventions to direct us (for example: signs that yell DO NOT ENTER in huge font, a seemingly infinite number of labels, and patterned contexts – maybe aisle 2 in your supermarket is always breakfast cereal – etc) and partly because we live in the hyper-drive of a sign and image-laden world. Visual literacy is a kind of seeing but in the modern urban world it rarely affords for a leisurely read. It’s also possible that as we get older some of us lose the child’s wonder at how things work. We sometimes forget that objects, if studied, can open up, reveal secrets, tell stories and take us places. We forget that the alarm clock was once a village rooster.”

Ok, I’ll say a little more.  The particular copy of this book, checked out from the library, has the Vancouver Public Library bar code sticker on it. On the base of the book, (if you imagine the book shelved upright, the base that touches the shelf it sits upon) made up of the 103 pages bound together, it is stamped “Feb 2010.”  I am certain that there must be a better way of explaining that. Unlike the image above, in my copy, the title and authors name is gently embossed in a mirrory silver.  The front cover is slightly damaged (the surface peeled, probably from the removal of a sticker) at its lower left, this damage follows over the spine and onto the back, but stops before it obscures any text. The back text  has a possible error – the last two sentences reads: “…Taken together these essays investigate the degree to which we can understand or know the material and obdurate world and the manner in which language, writing and writers seek to evoke and celebrate it. Language, writing and writers seek to evoke and celebrate it.” It is hard to be certain if the repetition is an error. The pages inside have a pleasant visible texture; one can make out the pages have been distressed in subtle horizontal rows. The font is Adobe Garamond. Page 46 and 47 have tiny stains, probably from coffee (probably my coffee.)


Additional note: It just popped into my mind, while observing the book – when I used to send letters or packages to people I used to have a fear of strands of my hair making its way into the fold of the letter or the envelope and would carefully check the contents before sealing it. This was more an issue of invoking a possible unpleasant hair-in-my-soup reaction than worry about my DNA getting around.


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