Rob Walker's Blog
August 7, 2012
There’s a really great account of the triumphant public debut of the Significant Objects, at The Strand on July 10 over on Electric Literature’s Outlet blog, and maybe we’ll say more on that later.
But today, we need to take a moment to thank some great friends for throwing a rather amazing Significant Cocktails party the following night, to celebrate the book’s release.
This wasn’t just hanging around drinking and yakking and having fun — although there was plenty of that. It was a creative event unto itself: In the spirit of the project, three expert mixologists created new cocktails inspired by … objects.
Contributing writer (and superfriend of the project) Ben Greenman contributed a curious gun-necklace trinket to this effort. The object inspired Martim Smith-Mattsoon to devise the Trinket Gimlet, featuring Beefeater 24 gin, earl grey tapioca pearls, and lime.
Molly Peck, one of the cunning and delightful individuals who purchased a Significant Object or three during the project’s active-sales period, offered up a mysterious bottle-stopper featuring a grinning head that some surmise may be a representation of Dwight Eisenhower. It became the muse of Michael J. Cirino, who concocted what he dubbed the Temporomandibular, including vodka, Bugal Especial, Plymouth Gin, Cointreau, tequila, and Coke.
Finally, project founders Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker came up with a pair of suspiciously similar buggy toys (the true significance of which is a proprietary secret of Significant Objects Enterprises, our shadowy parent company). Lynette Marerro responded with a drink called the Malibu Beach, featuring Goslings Black Seal Rum, lemon, and raspberry shrub.
These brilliant creators of drink were rounded up by Emilie Baltz, who masterminded the evening, along with Allan Chochinov. Chochinov, a longtime friend of the project, made everything happen, under the auspices of the Products of Design MFA program he has created for New York’s School of Visual Arts. The new and highly impressive Products of Design space was, in fact, the venue for the party. Allan and Emilie’s colleagues Kofi Aidoo and Stephanie Pottinger also played crucial roles in making the evening a success.
We offer sincere thanks to all of the above. But there is one more entity to thank, as well: eBay. That’s who sponsored the evening, and we are particularly grateful to Marie Tahir and Dane Howard.
In short, it was quite a night. We got to see some friends again, make lots of new ones, meet in person writers who contributed great stories to the book, and generally spend a few hours feeling like we’d done something worthwhile (and, also, getting drunk). The cocktails were all quite wonderful, but it was really the creative spirit of the night that made it a perfect celebration of the strange and unlikely thing that is Significant Objects.
June 29, 2012
Earlier, Significant Objects chose Girls Write Now to receive all proceeds from one of our “volumes” of stories and auctions. We were thrilled to donate over $1,700 to this worthy organization. But today’s check is going out on behalf of twenty-four contributors to the Significant Objects book who requested that we donate their honorarium to Girls Write. So, public thanks to:
Deb Olin Unferth
Matthew J. Wells
PS: As mentioned yesterday, another batch of writers directed their fees to 826 National.
Our thanks to all for being so generous!
Here is a VIDEO PREVIEW of the gorgeous book. DON’T FORGET: Join contributors Luc Sante, Matthew Sharpe, Mimi Lipson, Ben Greenman, Annie Nocenti, Shelley Jackson, Jason Grote — and editors Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker — as they read stories from and celebrate the release of the Significant Objects book at New York’s Strand Book Store, on July 10 from 7 pm to 8 pm. Buy Significant Objects or a $10 Strand gift card in order to attend this event. Both options admit one person. The event will be located in the Strand’s 3rd floor Rare Book Room at 828 Broadway and 12th Street. Tell your friends!
June 28, 2012
Today, Significant Objects donated $450 to the youth creative-writing tutoring program 826 National! As you may recall, in 2009–10 we raised over $2,200 for 826 National via the auctions associated with the second “volume” of our project’s stories.
We made the $450 donation in the name of the following 18 contributors to the Significant Objects book (forthcoming from Fantagraphics in July) who requested that their $25 honorarium go to this worthy charity.
Mark Jude Poirier
Significant Objects commends these terrific writers for their generosity. And 826 National, if you’re reading this, the check is in the mail today.
PS: Another group of our contributors donated their honoraria to a different creative-writing tutoring program. So keep an eye peeled for another announcement soon!
REMINDER: Join contributors Luc Sante, Matthew Sharpe, Mimi Lipson, Ben Greenman, Annie Nocenti, Shelley Jackson, Jason Grote — and editors Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker — as they read stories from and celebrate the release of the Significant Objects book at New York’s Strand Book Store, on July 10 from 7 pm to 8 pm. Buy Significant Objects or a $10 Strand gift card in order to attend this event. Both options admit one person. The event will be located in the Strand’s 3rd floor Rare Book Room at 828 Broadway and 12th Street.
PPS: Here is a VIDEO PREVIEW of the gorgeous Fantagraphics book.
May 29, 2012
Last week, Fantagraphics sent us advance copies of Significant Objects, the book. That is to say, the gorgeous book that is bursting at the seams with 100 stories that first appeared on this website! Plus our (semi-)scholarly analysis of the experiment’s data! And lots of charts! It’s quite a production — thanks to the excellent editorial work of Fantagraphics’ Eric Reynolds and the design chops of Jacob Covey a/k/a Unflown.
The book (which comes with two different covers) is available for pre-ordering now. As the publication date draws nearer, watch this space.
May 25, 2012
In a recent Design Observer post, Rick Poynor visits Istanbul’s Museum of Innocence, founded in April of this year by Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, and flatteringly describes it as “a fabulously extended example of Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn’s ‘Significant Object’ genre of writing — in this case, a vast system of objects constitutes a fully realized fictional world, where every item, wherever it happened to come from, acquires a new backstory.” Thanks, Rick!
We’re also grateful to Bruce Sterling for spreading this meme (Significant Objects as a literary genre) via his Wired blog, Beyond the Beyond.
May 3, 2012
April 23, 2012
April 17, 2012
Our friends at Cabinet magazine recently announced that Cabinet’s event space will be the spring 2012 home of “Show-and-Tell,” Paul Lukas’s monthly open-mic night. If you are going to be in Brooklyn tomorrow (April 18), check it out:
Wednesday, 18 April 2012, 7:30–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (map and directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary
Previously hosted by City Reliquary, “Show-and-Tell” is exactly what it sounds like: Anyone can bring an object of personal significance and talk about it for up to three minutes. There is no theme or agenda — interesting objects and the stories behind them are their own reward.
Objects that have previously been presented at “Show-and-Tell” have ranged from the eccentric (a glass eye, an electroshock machine found in an abandoned mental hospital) to the everyday (a candy bar with an odd connection to a Chinese funeral, a pair of jeans acquired via some highly unusual haggling at an Egyptian village market). But “Show-and-Tell” is less about the objects than the histories that accompany them. Look in your own pocket or home, and you will find many excellent show-and-tell candidates.
You can either (a) bring an object and be prepared to talk about it or (b) simply be part of the audience, because show-and-tell also needs people who like being shown and told.
PS: If the object shown above looks familiar, that’s because Cabinet has published a photo of it before. In fact, Significant Objects co-founder Joshua Glenn wrote a story about it for Cabinet in 2006. You can read that story at the bottom of this page. The story begins “Forget The Da Vinci Code, that ham-fisted compendium of half-baked claptrap.”
April 13, 2012
“Nearly all of art history is about trying to identify the source of value in cultural objects. Color theories and dimension theories, golden means, all those sort of ideas, assume that some objects are intrinsically more beautify and meaningful than others. New cultural thinking isn’t like that. It says that we confer value on things. We create the value in things. It’s the act of conferring that makes things valuable. Now this is very important, because so many, in fact all fundamentalist ideas, rest on the assumption that some things have intrinsic value and resonance and meaning. All pragmatists work from another assumption: No, it’s us. It’s us who make those meanings.”
— Brian Eno, “A Big Theory of Culture” (1997)
Thanks, Jess Bruder