HYPOCRITE IDLER 1Q2023
March 29, 2023
To idle is to work on meaningful and varied projects — and to take it easy. The title of the series refers to this self-proclaimed idler’s inability to take it easy.
HILOBROW is a noncommercial blog! The info below should not be construed as a vulgar advertisement for SEMIOVOX, MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE series, the LOST OBJECTS book, SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, GO WEST, or any of my other more-or-less profitable projects. It is merely an update on my doings and undoings — in this case, during 1Q2023.
Also see: HILOBROW 1Q2023.
I’m cofounder of the semiotics-fueled consultancy SEMIOVOX. Our methodology provides insight and inspiration — to brand and organization strategy, marketing, design, innovation, and consumer insights teams, as well as to their agency partners — regarding the unspoken local/global “codes” that help shape perceptions of and guide behavior within product categories and/or sociocultural territories.
During 1Q2023, our projects included (but were not limited to) the following.
- Working with one of the top cannabis edibles companies in the USA, we analyzed packaging, social media, and other brand communications within the cannabis space — selecting our stimuli with a specific demographic in mind. Analyzing a category that has only recently come into existence is always fascinating…
In February, I enjoyed speaking (via Zoom) with Andreina Sosa’s INTRO TO VISUAL SEMIOTICS class, at Paier College in Connecticut. Course description: “This course aims to build a semiotic toolkit that lets you intentionally and effectively design and decipher visual communications.” I wish every school offered courses like this!
Also see: SEMIOVOX 1Q2023.
HILOBROW is published by King Mixer LLC; I’m the editor. To see what we’ve published recently, please check out the HILOBROW 1Q2023 post. Here, I’ll just mention two 1Q2023 series that I edited.
During 1Q2023, we published the series DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM. Twenty-five (plus two) HILOBROW friends, regulars, and newcomers waxed enthusiastic about favorite country songs from the Sixties (1964–1973, in HILOBROW’s periodization). Here’s the DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM lineup:
David Cantwell on Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s WE FOUND IT | Lucy Sante on Johnny & June Carter Cash’s JACKSON | Mimi Lipson on George Jones’s WALK THROUGH THIS WORLD WITH ME | Steacy Easton on Olivia Newton-John’s LET ME BE THERE | Annie Zaleski on Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E | Carl Wilson on Tom T. Hall’s THAT’S HOW I GOT TO MEMPHIS | Josh Glenn on Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen’s BACK TO TENNESSEE | Elizabeth Nelson on Skeeter Davis’s I DIDN’T CRY TODAY | Carlo Rotella on Buck Owens’ TOGETHER AGAIN | Lynn Peril on Roger Miller’s THE MOON IS HIGH | Erik Davis on Kris Kristofferson’s SUNDAY MORNIN’ COMIN’ DOWN | Francesca Royster on Linda Martell’s BAD CASE OF THE BLUES | Amanda Martinez on Bobbie Gentry’s FANCY | Erin Osmon on John Prine’s PARADISE | Douglas Wolk on The Byrds’ DRUG STORE TRUCK DRIVIN’ MAN | David Warner on Willie Nelson’s WHISKEY RIVER | Will Groff on Tanya Tucker’s DELTA DAWN | Natalie Weiner on Dolly Parton’s IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS (WHEN TIMES WERE BAD) | Charlie Mitchell on Stonewall Jackson’s I WASHED MY HANDS IN MUDDY WATER | Nadine Hubbs on Dolly Parton’s COAT OF MANY COLORS | Jada Watson on Loretta Lynn’s DON’T COME HOME A DRINKIN’ (WITH LOVIN’ ON YOUR MIND) | Adam McGovern on Johnny Cash’s THE MAN IN BLACK | Stephen Thomas Erlewine on Dick Curless’s A TOMBSTONE EVERY MILE | Alan Scherstuhl on Waylon Jennings’s GOOD HEARTED WOMAN | Alex Brook Lynn on Bobby Bare’s THE WINNER. PLUS: Peter Doyle on Jerry Reed’s GUITAR MAN | Brian Berger on Charley Pride’s IS ANYBODY GOING TO SAN ANTONE.
As the DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM series editor, I am grateful to the series’ contributors — many of whom have donated their honoraria to Covenant House, which provides housing and supportive services to youth facing homelessness. I am also grateful to David Cantwell, who helped me recruit all-star music writers and scholars.
49th PARALLEL serializes a 20,000-word epistolary exchange — between Mark Kingwell and myself — about real-world and fictional adventures. The series title references not only my cross-border collaboration with Mark, but one of our favorite WWII movies. Here’s the complete 49th PARALLEL lineup:
FULL OF BEANS | DERRING-DO | ON THE BEAM | A WIZARD DODGE | RURITANIA | ROBINSONADE | CAMARADERIE | WISH I WERE HERE | PICARESQUE | TILTING AT WINDMILLS | PLUCK | SKOOKUM | SAGAMAN | HOT-SHOT | CUT AND RUN | THE WORST ANGELS OF OUR NATURE | ACUMEN | APOPHENIA | ESCAPADE | I AM NOT A NUMBER | HEAD-SHOT CIRCUS | 86 | GAMBIT | PLAY THE GAME | HAYWIRE | REPETITION.
To see my solo HILOBROW series and posts from 1Q2023, please check out the WRITING (HILOBROW) section of this post.
What’s coming up at HILOBROW? Check out: SNEAK PEEK 2Q2023.
SEMIOVOX, my branding consultancy’s eponymous website, is published by SEMIOVOX LLC; I’m the editor. Here’s what we published during 1Q2023.
Last year, SEMIOVOX began publishing MAKING SENSE WITH…, a series of Q&As dedicated to understanding what makes semioticians tick. I’ve asked my commercial-semiotics colleagues and friends from around the world to answer 10 revealing questions. Here’s the 1Q2023 series lineup:
VIJAY PARTHASARATHY (USA) | DIMITAR TRENDAFILOV (Bulgaria) | SÓNIA MARQUES (Portugal) | LUCIA LAURENT-NEVA (England) | VLADIMIR DJUROVIC (China) | WHITNEY DUNLAP-FOWLER (USA) | ALFREDO TRONCOSO (Mexico) | KAIE KOPPEL (Estonia) | AUDREY BARTIS (France) | THIERRY MORTIER (Sweden) | XIMENA TOBI (Argentina).
In March, SEMIOVOX published the first three installments in COLOR CODEX, a new 25-part series — the contributors to which will be commercial semioticians from around the world — that explores the unexpected associations evoked for us by specific colors found in the material world. Here’s the 1Q2023 COLOR CODEX lineup:
For the series CODE-X and more from 1Q2023, please check out this post: SEMIOVOX 1Q2023.
I’m editor of the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE proto-sf reissue series, which launched in 2022.
During 1Q2023, we published the following RADIUM AGE series titles:
- Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD AND THE POISON BELT (1912–1913), with a new introduction by Conor Reid and a new afterword by Josh Glenn. Cover illustration by Seth. “The Lost World and The Poison Belt is a wonderful snapshot of the Edwardian scientific mind, both its virtues and its defects.” — Katherine Addison, author of The Angel of the Crows. Originally published in 1912–1913. Cover designed by Seth. See this book at The MIT Press.
- Cicely Hamilton’s THEODORE SAVAGE (1922), with a new introduction by Susan R. Grayzel. Cover illustration by Seth. “Challenging last century’s assumptions about the invulnerability of imperial civilization, Cicely Hamilton’s novel is a grim, swift read — and an argument for pacifism as the first principle of survival.” — Nisi Shawl, author of Everfair. Originally published in 1922. Cover designed by Seth. See this book at The MIT Press.
During 1Q2023 I resumed my role as coordinator for SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, a series of online get-togethers — intended not only to share best practices among, but to nurture collegiality and friendship within the global semio community — that I helped the Semiofest folks start last year.
The first Semiofest session of 2023 (and 15th overall!) was convened in March. Ximena Tobi (Argentina), William Liu (China), and Sam Grange (France) discussed the semiotics — and the complex politics and economics — of SUSTAINABILITY in their respective markets. Semiofest’s Lucia Laurent-Neva moderated the session. It was a thought-provoking event attended by over 50 semio, semio-adjacent, and semio-curious folks from around the world. A terrific kickoff for 2023.
Forthcoming sessions — on topics including ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, BIOSEMIOTICS, UMBERTO ECO, and ANALYZING THE UN-ANALYZABLE — have been scheduled through the end of the year.
During 1Q2023, Hat & Beard Press officially published LOST OBJECTS. (Because of distribution problems, the book was “soft-launched” last year.) Designed by HILOBROW friends Tony Leone Design, and introduced by Debbie Millman, Lost Objects is a gorgeous book that evolved from nonfiction narratives and accompanying illustrations first published here at HILOBROW under the aegis of Project:Object. Rob Walker and I are the book’s editors.
“The contributors to this book have imbued a palpable, living soulfulness into the items that have disappeared or were misplaced or given away. Now — here in this book — that love can be discovered all over again.” — Debbie Millman | “This ridiculously entertaining book performs a neat conjuring trick. You will find your own lost objects flying back to you as you read about other people’s dearly departed things. The conceit is ingenious and the beautiful illustrations make each writer’s ‘rosebud’ flare into radiant life again.” — Jenny Offill | “These micro-tales are the best of the short confessional. They leave you with that same wonderful feeling you sometimes get on one of those special nights in the corner of a bar with a few friends.” — Air Mail | “Filled with exotic and eccentric things, this book proves that discarding hoarded items is not always the best way to take existential control of our lives.” — The Daily Heller
During 1Q2023, we began planning LOST OBJECTS events at art book fairs later this year — in Los Angeles and San Francisco. For 1Q2023 LOST OBJECTS press and mentions, please check out this post’s GOOD VIBRATIONS section.
A complete list of Lost Objects authors and illustrators, as well as a look back at 2022 LO publicity, events, and excerpts, can be found here.
During 1Q2023, I wrote the following solo HILOBROW series:
HILOBROW continued to publish installments in HADRON AGE SF — a weekly series via which I aim to identify my 75 favorite sf adventures published between 2004 and 2023. The list in progress is here. Here’s the 1Q2023 lineup:
Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein’s BLACK HAMMER | Becky Chambers’s A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT | Nisi Shawl’s EVERFAIR | Tade Thompson’s ROSEWATER | Kameron Hurley’s THE STARS ARE LEGION | P. Djèlí Clark’s A MASTER OF DJINN | Lydia Millet’s PILLS AND STARSHIPS | Neal Stephenson’s SEVENEVES | S.L. Huang’s ZERO SUM GAME | Yoon Ha Lee’s NINEFOX GAMBIT | Ann Leckie’s PROVENANCE | Charlie Jane Anders’s THE CITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT | Margaret Atwood’s THE TESTAMENTS.
Via the series SCHEMATIZING, I’ve used found circular diagrams to depict the intellectual and emotional highs and lows of developing a semiotic schema. This is all in reference to the squared-circle “G-Schema” that I’ve developed in recent years….
HERMENAUTICA is an irregular series via which I’m sharing pages scanned from back issues of Hermenaut (the DIY intellectual zine/journal that I edited and published from 1992–2001) along with my commentary. Still thinking about a potential book project….
In addition to these series, during 1Q2023 I published the following here at HILOBROW.
- INTRODUCTION to the DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM series. Excerpt: “The cultural era known as the Sixties (1964–1973, in HILOBROW’s periodization) was one during which various sociocultural conventions which until then had appeared to be natural, inevitable, and permanent were tested and — to some extent — subverted. This was true even in Country, perhaps the genre most resistant to change of any and all sorts.”
- DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM series installment on “Back to Tennessee” (1971) by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Excerpt: “Originally a University of Michigan art-student “happening” featuring a cast of dozens, including tap-dancing sisters, Pat the Hippie Strippie, and a moniker referencing a 1950s sci-fi serial — CC&HLPA’s blend of punk energy and country twang arrived on the scene a decade too soon.”
- TEN STAGES OF MAN is a post featuring my (culturally and temporally specific) theory of humankind’s life-stages.
Excerpt: “Best thing about my stages-of-life scheme? It makes the ‘0’ years less stressful. Instead of starkly marking the end of one stage and the beginning of the next, in my scheme a ‘0’ year becomes merely a stage’s initial post-apex year — i.e., the first of four years during which one gradually approaches the next stage of one’s life.”
Here’s the breakdown.
04–13: EARLY & MID-CHILDHOOD
14–23: MID- & LATE CHILDHOOD / “TEENS”
24–33: EARLY ADULTHOOD / “TWENTIES”
34–43: MID-ADULTHOOD / “THIRTIES”
44–53: LATE ADULTHOOD / “FORTIES”
54–63: EARLY MIDDLE AGE / “FIFTIES”
64–73: MID-MIDDLE AGE / “SIXTIES”
74–83: LATE MIDDLE AGE / “SEVENTIES”
84 & up: OLD AGE / “EIGHTIES” & up
As mentioned in the RADIUM AGE section of this post, I contributed an afterword (“Challengers of the Known”) to the MIT Press’s new edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger adventures The Lost World and The Poison Belt. Here’s an excerpt:
The Challenger-Summerlee dialectic is central to The Lost World… and yet, as noted, the over-the-top action of the duo’s first outing rather overshadows the lesson that Doyle intended to impart via their bickering. By contrast, within the Oulipian constraints of The Poison Belt, Challenger and Summerlee cannot act; instead, they can only interact. As a result, the reader of The Poison Belt will realize, belatedly, that The Lost World — like the subsequent Challenger stories — is a philosophical thriller.
HILOBROW readers may recognize this. It’s an updated and improved version of my intro to HiLoBooks’ 2012 edition of The Poison Belt.
Also… for one hour nearly every weekday during 1Q2023, I convened with some combination of James Parker, Matthew Battles, and Charlie Mitchell in a virtual environment known as THE SPACE, where we each toiled away at our respective fiction projects.
Although I announced late last year that Tony Leone, Elizabeth Foy Larsen, and I were working on another UNBORED family activity kit, we’ve abandoned that project. In other UNBORED news, though, we’ve just heard from Bloomsbury that (as of Dec. 31 2022) the three UNBORED books together have sold nearly 100,000 copies. That’s in the USA alone; we also have UK and Japanese editions. Nice!
Getting the word out, during 1Q2023…
- In “The New Black Canon: Books, Plays and Poems That Everyone Should Know” (from the March issue of “T” Magazine (from the New York Times), Adam Bradley, founding director of the Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture at U.C.L.A., lists Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood as the first of 20 books that “help to tell a story of Black American literature that reflects the infinite number of ways of being Black in America — and of being in the world.” It’s amazing to think of Hopkins’s proto-sf becoming canonical. And it was fun to discover that the edition of Of One Blood shown in (and linked to from) in “The New Black Canon” is the RADIUM AGE series edition.
- RADIUM AGE advisory panelist Anindita Banerjee, who teaches Comparative Literature at Cornell, is leading some of her graduate students in a campus- and town-wide Black re-memory project this semester. To that end, her students requested copies of the MIT Press’s edition of Of One Blood to give away at the local public high schools. I’m thrilled to report that the MITP has donated 25 copies of the book to this terrific effort.
- As discussed here, I represented the MITP’s RADIUM AGE series at BOSKONE in February. My first-ever sf conference. I liked it! I’ll also make an appearance at Boston’s ReaderCon in July.
- 1Q2023 press for the MITP’s edition of Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage: “The writing is brilliant, nuanced, and deep. No aspect of the hellish aftermath of scientific warfare is unexplored. […] A terrifying and prescient science fiction novel that’s unflinching in its portrayal of the fragile scaffolding that supports ‘civilized’ society. — Foreword
- 1Q2023 press for the MITP’s edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World & The Poison Belt: “An excellent addition to the Radium Age series, in that it is both an important contribution to the development of science fiction and enjoyable to read.” — PopScienceBooks.
- 1Q2023 press for the MITP’s edition of Rose Macaulay’s What Not: “Macaulay’s alphabetical caste system, from A down to C3, clearly influenced Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, published 14 years later. […] It’s dystopian fiction, at times a feminist dark comedy, and at heart a love story.” — Fortean Times
- 1Q2023 press for the RADIUM AGE series in general includes the following: “It’s an attractive crusade,” Niall Harrison writes in a January 2023 Los Angeles Review of Books essay. “Glenn’s project is well suited to providing an organizing principle for an SF reprint line, to the point where I’m a little surprised that I can’t think of other similarly high-profile examples of reprint-as-critical-advocacy.”
- In March, I paid a couple of visits to Tom Weis’s RISD Graduate Introduction to Industrial Design class — the topic of which is Objects and Exhibitions — to discuss the LOST OBJECTS project (and also my semiotic methodology). Fun! Shown above: Students developing taxonomies of their meaningful possessions — symbols for which they’ve rendered in material forms.
- Here’s a Hat & Beard ad placed in the Publishers Weekly newsletter in March…
- Rob Walker and I recorded an episode of the BIG TABLE podcast.
- “It’s a really, really good book, filled with short, evocative stories about lost items ranging from the mundane (a pack of crackers) to the evocative (a silicon vagina) to the Uni Watch-ish (a baseball glove), and the writers are an all-star gallery of geniuses: Ben Katchor, Nina Katchadourian, Gary Panter, Lucy Sante, Debbie Millman, and more.” — Paul Lukas’s UNI WATCH
- “[This is how Lost Objects, and Josh Glenn and Rob Walker’s other] Objects projects operate: By adding a ‘layer of story’ to objects, we give them significance, maybe even value, and we cause people to pay attention to them.” — AUSTIN KLEON
- “With evocative storytelling and a well-edited roundup of authors, Lost Objects shows us that objects – even the most ubiquitous of them – can hold special meaning. And it’s this simple fact that somehow imbues the book with a tenderness and connection to each story.” — COOL MATERIAL
- The January 10 issue of Rob Walker’s THE ART OF NOTICING newsletter describes how a prompt from Rob’s The Art of Noticing book was inspired by my 2007 book Taking Things Seriously. “Identify the Weirdest Thing in the Room, and Ask About It. Whether you are in someone’s home, office, or business, determine which is the most inexplicable and unlikely object you can see. Then ask, ‘So what’s the story with that?’ Chances are, a memorable tale will follow.” Thanks, Rob!
I continue to oversee operations at GO WEST, the coworking space that I cofounded in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood. In March, we installed a fancy soundproof “Zoom Room,” and also welcomed a new member: 1587 Sneakers.
In January, Susan and I toured Puerto Rico with Max and Diana. Not shown here: El Yunque National Forest, a trip highlight.
In February, we spent a few days in New Hampshire, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with Matthew and Rebecca Battles.
In March, I’m sorry to report, my mother had another stroke. She’s recovering well, but it’s a major setback. Here she is a few days previously, at Boston’s MFA.
On to 2Q2023…