buck downs

the hopper

UPDATE: I’ve taken down general access to the hoppers on Lulu as of this month (October 2011). Actual interest has been pretty minimal to nil, and I think that’s an important outcome of the experiment — something something something about personal data and a poetry workflow, and it’s no surprise that people would rather work their own data than use a copy of mine (see William Blake on systems).

Since late 2001, everything I write has been made by remixing and sifting through a growing number of large Word files, collectively called the hopper. Each hopper file is composed of raw feed from my daily notebook riffing practice, about 150 pp. of material in a three-hole clip binder. A couple years back, Adam Good put together a symposium on remix and reuse which you can find here. It includes some page scans from the hopper and other posts of interest.

Here’s a set of the twelve printed files from the beginning of 2008; the bulldog clips and general dog-earedness are the result of twelve months of reading, editing and collaging within the files:

hopper03.jpg hopper04.jpg

Now with some 1,800 pages of material, the process of printing and hole-punching by hand has become time-consuming and tedious, which leads me to uncosciously want to avoid using it. As David Allen notes in his book Getting Things Done, it is imperative that you have a system that you trust and that you like to use; otherwise entropy sets in and awful etc. (my paraphrase).

So this year I am using the print-on-demand service lulu to create a bound copy of each hopper. Although this is primarily if not exclusively a publication with a target audience of one, the public availability of the hopper opens up some collaborative possibilities. An interested person could get a hopper and remix up some work for themselves from the raw text. A more editorially-inclined type could mark up with revisions, deletions and re-orderings, which I would work from. A passive supporter could simply purchase a download copy and serve as a silent partner in the process. With a modest buy-in, anyone can make themselves a participant in the creation and distribution of works by Buck Downs. At some point, Buck Downs could become an open source brand in the manner of MF Chicago.

You can find the files here. If you buy a hopper, thanks for your support. Send any comments or outcomes to hopper.

Update, August 2008: All of the first twelve hopper files are now available at lulu; the earliest seven have been combined into three hopper archives. Two hopper files of new material have also been added, so there are a total of ten hoppers available. Here’s a shot of the ten files, about 2,300 pages total:

And the hopper download can be used on an e-book reader as easy as can be. Here’s a picture of my friend Aaron’s kindle, showing a hopper in his TOC:

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