The Labor of Ideas: A Visit to the Printing Press

the labor of ideas and how actions speak—this is what I’ve been thinking about ever since our class made a visit to the printing press that amongst many, many other things, happens to manufacture: seagull’s books—books that between their bound covers and printed letters aim (as i understand it) to advance a culture of consideration and critique; to point out the theater of the absurd that so much of our day’s politics in-and-of structured violence has tragicomically become; and books that, for me, in all personal honesty, have provided an extremely valuable line to follow as i’ve tried to figure the form of my own efforts. but . . . look—and this is what i can’t help but say i saw at the factory that day—there’s a very real materiality to these ideas, a matter as a matter of fact, not merely of hearts and minds but of hands and bodies too: in particular, the ones that press the buttons on the machines and the ones that have themselves become as if machines themselves; and it left me kind of speechless in my thoughts, to be standing there, to be walking around, to come and go through such a place of modern production. and it’s not a metaphor, not a representation of a concept for discourse or dialectic, but an actual place, with actual living people, actually structured into actually specified repetitive action groups, actually working 9 am to 9 pm to earn an actual flesh-and-blood livelihood which actually provides such people as i interacted with—enjoyably—with the actual dignity of making their actual actions speak to the actual maximum leverage of their actual socioeconomic standing in order to actually provide for their actual selves and the ones they love—and that’s how it’s actually, actually, actually made; these things, those objects, our doubly-bound words which weigh far heavier than i ever realized till i saw what i saw. grateful i did

and . . . to tell what more i can, of machines and men, in best-laid plans, it looked from my limited perspective like some combination of—

locations: exposure and development room; setting and corrections room; lamination, coating, gluing, paper cutting, an first-stage binding floor; printing room; sorting, folding, and binding floor

persons: subhendu, k. dutta, suraj, yarul, mohammed, pranab; somewhere between 40 and 60 others

machines: kodak trendsetter quantum plate developer, heidelberg plate punching press, protex pc 115 guillotine, heidelberg speedmaster cmyk offset printer, horizon cross-folder afc-544akt

printed materials: biology and zoology laboratory notebooks; paintings of rabindranath tagore; ravi shankar memorial calendar; subhas chandra bose tribute box; vivel clear and fair skin poster; rajesh khanna die-cut poster

I’m still thinking about this and what it means

 

about how

whose actions

speak

 

in what manner

in the method

 

of material

and immaterial

 

production

 

that

is

 

the

 

labor of ideas

Sankalpo Ghose

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