Liberature is literature where the book does not contain a literary work, it is the literary work itself. On an even more abstract level it is a creative where content and its material form are an organic unity, intricately interwoven, in terms of the meaning conveyed.
The concepts behind and around Liberature
The term for this art form (it’s creators actually would rather call it a genre) was coined in 1999 by Zenon Fajfer according to whom text and form are equally important and both should be part of the creative process of the writer. Fajfer sees Liberature to be setting the meaning free, letting it rely not only on words, narrative and style, but also on the architectonics and visuals of its container.
Examples of liberature books include triangular-shaped books, books consisting of unbinded pages which can be read in any order, a bottle with a message inside it, pages cut horizontally, where verses can be arranged at the will of the reader and many more.
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When looked from the standpoint of today’s fast and furious life of Web texts, this peculiar art, where the medium is part of the message, challenges the imagination with its similiarity to the way we read and write today. The bridge between our Internet “textual” life and Liberature is the freedom, the need and the opportunity to question form, time and space.
Liberature is an epitome of two beautiful creative forces: choice and change. Creating they disrupt and disrupting they create. Texts, authors, readers.
And this potential for creative disruption is the only reader’s and writer’s guide for the exploration of the terra incognita of formless meaning. [Prints and web versions of texts set free from the traditional book form are also available at liberatorium.com]
Free as it may appear, this transgenre is not totally freed of structure though, as one would think and read from its name (liber could be read as either the Latin book or the Latin free). This freedom for sure is far from being libertas gratia libertatis. It is rather the freedom of the author to choose a “house” in which their words fit best, be it a traditional one (including the good old book)
As two of the minds behind Liberature – Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer, share in “Traditional and emerging formats of artists books: Where do we go from here?” it is about writing books not texts, about authors considering their writing not only from the linguistic perspective, but also from the perspective of the form:
the book … [is] not a transparent container whose shape should not interfere with words transporting the reader to sphere of disembodied meaning
It is Zenon Fajfer’s firm belief that:
The writer should construct the space of his work anew, and each of his works should have its own distinct structure. Let it even be a traditional volume, so long as it constitutes an integral whole with the content of the book
(op. cit. http://goo.gl/v1x5X9)
Searching for new forms of expression, with liberature writers “reconsider such fundamental notions as “form”, “time” and “space”. Just like they do with writing for the Web.
Kissing dichotomies bye bye
Liberature as a presentiment of the Web life of texts
Today’s web is a multifaceted landscape of identities, a constant change of context. We navigate from one environment to another(email, social media, blogs, websites) in the click of a mouse. In one and the same day we are authors, readers and even texts.
Following this narrative of us as media and messages, Liberature is a presentiment of the Web life of texts as we know it. Both reading and writing on the Web and Liberature enable the text to transcend boundaries, to allow for deeper interaction, play, subjectivity and sign restructuring. Both set the perception of texts and in general of any signifying system free of splits such as individual and collective work, form and meaning, dialogue and monologue.
Kissing the above dichotomies and many others bye bye, Liberature and the processes of today’s Internet perception of texts push meanings into the wild – running between numerous agents and having the potential to be created everywhere.
What can we borrow from Liberature to joyfully continue our quest for meaning and knowledge around the Web
The freedom to question the order is also the responsibility towards ourselves to filter what we read and write. The diversity of perspectives, the deluge of possible meanings and the endless paths all around the web could be a beautiful diversity of all kind of forms on one hand and an overwhelming threadless mass that feels far away, outside us, on the other.
In this double-edged non-linearity, Liberature could turn out to be a rebellious yet polite guide and mentor to show us around the universe of synthesis and constant changing context.
The most practical advice that I received from it was the perspective of the freedom to choose time, space and form. In other words not to be afraid of but to embrace diversity. As in these web days it is up to us to hold our attention, not let our attention spans shrink and follow our curiosity without scattering our intents.
All this is neither easy nor disintegration-free. However, finding similar patterns on the Web and in the transgenre of Liberature we could arm ourselves with:
- the perspective of meaning as a continuous flow in which we all have the potential to tap, no matter the time, space or form;
- the braveness to acknowledge that we are not the single author or recipient of the things we create, consume or share;
- the responsibility to take care of our focus and meaning reception.
Above all Liberature could nudge us to explore the idea of approaching the Web with the conceptual experience that to be transformed means to feel empowered to transform.
More than a liBeratory Epilogue
Not surprisingly, given the essence of the communication on Google +, while finishing this article, a #socialpoem was created by several wonderful minds. I put it where high liBerature deserves to be put: in my free to disappear and reemerge library at any time existing in the form of (physical) absence…
The poem is called Between Lies and Truth and is “not” published here: http://goo.gl/ItwtCj