Book Chewing and Slogan #6 (Douglas Coupland at the VAG)

chewed books 2

chewed books description

book chewing 1Douglas Coupland has a new project: eating his own books. He recently chewed his way through a first edition of his novel Girlfriend in a Coma. “Mostly with my molars,” he says, helpfully pointing to his mouth, “the back teeth, here.” After reducing what may be his best-loved book to mush, he used it to fashion a replica of a hornets’ nest. The nest is affixed to a short twig like a Japanese lantern cut from a cherry tree. The twig is a nice touch, suggesting both authenticity and artifice.

Thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ for this edited article.

chewed books 3The following from http://coupland.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/08/31/.

Douglas Coupland’s words:

“Nests are beautiful objects — the inner combs in Koolhaasian layers, the striations of pulp that resemble avant garde Japanese fabrics. You can easily meditate on one for hours.”

Hornet-Royalties.533 “So after my nest meditations I took copies of my own novels and began pulping them myself, chew by chew, a slow, laborious process. Have you ever chewed a book? I doubt it. The first thing you need to know is that doing so really trashes your saliva ducts, and it takes about a week to get through one average-size book. The second thing to remember is to drink lots of water and spit regularly or your teeth will turn gray. Usually I’d chew while watching ‘Law & Order.’ (I’m an addict.)”

hornet.533.1“To look at my own complete wasp nests raises odd issues in my head and, I hope, in the minds of observers. Is our bunkered mentality about the sanctity of books more genetic than cultural? Are we no different than wasps defending against intruders when we force students to read Henry James or Nadine Gordimer? What would wasps make of books?”

hornet.gf“How do wasps think of their role within evolutionary time? Do wasps have any sense of culture? Why does it feel so strange to see a book removed from our own sense of history and culture and inserted into a non-cultural slot where art or music or any other art form don’t exist?”

hornet.533Slogan #6:

Slogans #6

But thank you if you made it this far 😉

Please see my first post in this series for full explanation of all posts. Also see my first ‘Slogans’ post to understand #6.

Credits: thank you to Douglas Coupland and the Vancouver Art Gallery for images and wall descriptions.

First 4 photos by clinock, the remainder with thanks to http://coupland.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/08/31/.

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28 thoughts on “Book Chewing and Slogan #6 (Douglas Coupland at the VAG)

    1. Suggest you start small, maybe a few haiku for breakfast. Then when your jaws are in shape you could work up to epic poems, short stories and eventually dinner sized novels such as War and Peace…

  1. I particularly enjoy these pieces…given my love of books/reading AND observing nature. These pieces seem so fragile. I love the sense that the words are outside of our grasp. We seek out meaning. This has always really interested me where text is concerned in art. I want to explore this a little, using resins…have wanted to do this for years, but I’m scared. lol

    1. I love your adventurous spirit Kathleen. If it’s the chewing that scares you perhaps another process might work, such as a gentle blending, although it would lack that personal touch of molars on manuscript…

  2. Very interesting John. I once did a paper mache project with students called ‘The Peace Container.’ A simple idea: We used ‘fake’ paper mache on balloons (tissue paper and watery glue) and layered within the paper were written thoughts about peace. A few simple steps led to a container ‘vase’ with a base.

  3. I posted too soon. The rough texture of the paper (tissue paper alternating with layers of brown, ‘school,’ paper towels led to a wasp – nest type feel of irregularly covered balloons. Maybe the students should have chewed books!

    1. Brilliant project Steven, sounds like you are or were an art teacher. I was and did a similar project exploring form and texture in sculpture class. The end result was intended to look so like a wasp nest that when hung on a porch or patio it served to keep real wasps away. Many of my students were chewers, hair, fingernails, pencils, corners of book covers…I think it’s in our genes…

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