The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Sort Of

Being Transmogrifications of an entirely subjective cherry-picking of Book Two from the great stoic's diary entries, in part plagiarized from various translations, partly tweaked & twisted here and there, and occasionally completely subverted where whim or purpose dictated

After returning time and again to these not-so-subtle reminders to quit my complaining and get to work, it's been eating away at me for years to print at least some of them. Marcus Aurelius' Meditations have served for centuries to focus the attention of we fumbling humans as we stumble and slither through the muck of our everyday lives, prompting and urging us to quit wasting time and energy on the inanities and live a life of pure intention and action. While I claim no success at meeting the old emperor's expectations, his sharp and pithy dictates continue to serve as a stern reminder to make sure my focus has enough focus.

The process here involved obsessively reading 3 different translations of the Meditations, then sitting down with the books closed to write them anew. Time constraints and sanity required that I thin the original 12 Books significantly, so I focused on Book 2, being the section I tend to turn to when I need a good kick in the ass. The result is a snarky yet sincere reinterpretation of the original, brought into the 21st century with a playful yet earnest intent, and printed in a typeface and on paper that lends the text, I hope, a firm and earthy ground to stand on.

It was certainly an appropriate text for this project, given that the type used was an all but soul-crushing battle to print. While Greenboathouse Press is lucky to have inherited the equipment and thus, to a certain degree, the legacy of the late Jim Rimmer, and while Jim was undoubtedly a genius, he could also be a bit too quick to get things done. The type used here is Jim's Hannibal, designed for his monumental edition of Tom Sawyer, and while it's a wonderful, sturdy, approachable typeface, Jim's actual production of the type leaves plenty to be desired. In this case, the desire would be for a case of type where all the sorts are consistently cast to .918". Instead, Hannibal has a good 30 characters that are all cast low, requiring every single sort to be propped up with scotch tape, and another 30 that require careful filing to make them a bit shorter. This meant endless fussing with each forme of type on the press, pulling sorts to tape-up or file-down in a futile attempt to achieve even inking and impression. In the end it proved hopeless, but Marcus was always there, right there on the page, kicking me in the ass to focus and keep moving forward with purpose and courage. In the end the book came together well, but more importantly served as a poignant lesson in perseverance, patience and humility.

 


Jason Dewinetz is a writer, editor, publisher and typographer originally from, and now living back in, the Okanagan Valley. With an academic background in English Literature (BA. UVic, MA, U of Alberta), he is the author of The Gift of a Good Knife (Outlaw Editions), Moving to the Clear (NeWest Press), Clench (Gaspereau Press), Friends & Family, and co-author of A Bibliography of the Black Sparrow Press (University of Alberta Press). He is the founding editor, publisher and designer of Greenboathouse Press, and his design and production for Greenboathouse has brought in more than a dozen national book design awards. Jason is a current board member and past-North American Chair of the Fine Press Book Association, and is an instructor in the Writing and Publishing program at Okanagan College.

 

2019

6.25" × 8.75", 32pp. 55 copies.
Stiff paper binding with the block sewn on exposed leather thongs, printed on Khadi handmade with Khadi Hemp Indigo end-sheets and a Bhutanese Tsasho wrapper, bound by Alanna Simenson in Sooke, BC.
$300
ISBN: 978-1-894744-41-6

Copies available, .

 


Colophon:

As the ongoing saga of house-building continues, resulting in the inability to cast any new type, this project has pushed a couple of others aside. Hand-set in 18pt Hannibal, designed, cut & cast by the late Jim Rimmer, and here paired, as Jim intended, with Garamont italic and small caps. The paper is Khadi handmade, along with Khadi Bhutanese Tsasho and Sun Hemp Indigo for the wrapper and endsheets. From an edition of 55 copies this is number...