JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 597
Several years ago I purchased a very large collection of pamphlets of the Library of Congress. It was all housed in 2400 blue document boxes, all the document boxes were labeled and neatly ordered. The problem was that the classification scheme really didn’t relate to one thing in particular, and the judgment which set one pamphlet in a box wasn’t the same through and through—the alphabetization could have related to author or title or region or keyword or publisher. In short, each box was an adventure—and a lovely, bizarre one at that.
It may be a unique one, too. The one thing that really did hold this thing together as a collection was that the vast majority of the pamphlets were not located in any other libraries in any part of the world. Now for many of them it was probably okay for the work to slip into a bliblio-singularity, but for thousands and thousands of others, it was a good save.
And here’s the larger rub: as I classified and segregated the pamphlets into the “normal” areas of interest, I also started a pile of good-god-what-is-it pamphlets. The GGWII material was extraordinary—some had fantastic covers (and which many times was the most interesting thing about the publication), some had extreme titles, some had ludicrous subject matter, and some were just, well, bizarre. As the GGWII pile grew into the low thousands, I started to box them for a rainy day project, because I frankly didn’t want to deal with them. Some of the pamphlets’ covers/subject/title were rather mundane, pedestrian things when they were originally published; however, the high-winded sands of time ripped the flesh from this commonness, making them somewhat unapproachable, unknowable, and incredible--this group was called The Naïve Surreal . A subset of this group are works that were not approachable and enveloped by their own unique needs from the day they were born; pamphlets made of the stuff of incomplete dreams and adventurous vocabulary—the Outsider Logic group.
The Naïve Surreal has all manner of representatives: pamphlets with just question marks or exclamation points as the title, or histories of unknown things, or beginning with “The Story of ______ “ [mud/zippers/a stone/a bubble/etc]. You get the picture. The Outsider Logic pamphlets are really very difficult to categorize—perhaps that is their unintended job.
Today’s emergent beauty from the Outsider Logic collection is .A. Alles Suggest theory The Clock of the Earth, printed in Pug, Pa., in 1935. This pamphlet is only 18 pages long but I just couldn’t read it.
Here’s why: the first sentence reads:
"The Clock of the Earth represents strange matter from inner-stellar space collected and compounded at the equator which accurately controls the revolutions of the seasons…"
It goes on but I just can’t type it out. Sometimes there is a benefit to reading the Outsider Logic pamphlets, and sometimes the benefit is knowing the cover.
Mr. Alles’ cover is striking and deeply inscrutable, as you can see. Somehow there is a system for the hour hand there at the equator, but it is mainly a secret, even though it is explained. Why the geographic locations are printed in the white space surrounding the earth and connected to Addis Ababa, the Nile, Gizeh and the Great Petrified Forest and placed the way they are and connected to the equator clock will have to stand as art rather than explanation.
Most of the time superior, deeply-removed art like this cover is disappointed by the textual counterpart. Mr. Alles may not disappoint with his writing, though. He ends the book beginning the last paragraph with this:
“Four thousand years ago the open spigot on the equator at longitude thirty-one degrees east of Greenwich , flowing directly to the pyramids in Gizeh…. “ Then there’s something about “exhaust flow”. Again, as I said, I just can’t penetrate this work. I’m happy enough with the art, forever open to interpretation.