A Little Book of Denial is quite literally a little book, and its tiny size is perhaps the most telling quality on its meaning. Small as it is, it requires a little more attention—to find, to handle, to inspect—and this extra devotion makes the book feel more intimate. This sort of private character fits with the current, Western expectation of the book as an intimate space, a little world set apart from reality (Borsuk 84). A Little Book of Denial is, essentially, a private world full of “no.” Like a guilty indulgence, this little book hides its negatives in its smallness.
My accordion book, A Little Book of Denial, made of charcoal paper, cardstock, and negation. (Photos by Oli Grogan).
Funnily enough, much of the motivation for the size of A Little Book of Denial came from my hesitation to retrieve materials. There was a large roll of paper available, from which I might have procured a sizable strip of paper, but I did not want to weave my way through the classroom and stand aimlessly about waiting for the optimal moment to hastily—and no doubt clumsily—cut myself a sheet. Instead, I opted to stay at my place and tear a strip of charcoal paper from my stab-binding template (prior to that, I had been experimenting with strips of paper I tore from a notebook). I had initially had some desire to play with creating a small book, but my hesitation to intrude ultimately necessitated the tiny scale. The littleness of A Little Book of Denial is, therefore, a direct result and an explicit expression of my tendency to avoid attention—it is a sort of self-portrait.
A Little Book of Denial does not depart radically from the familiar codex form of book, but the structure does contribute to the book’s meaning. Much like a codex, the covers and the painted back of the accordion seem to contain the text in a little, private box, lending A Little Book of Denial an introversion cohesive with my self-portrait idea. However, as an accordion book, the text could be read in different ways. The “no”s could be displayed all at once, like a chorus, or perhaps a rapid repetition, or else they could be flipped through as if searching for the proper “no” for a delicate situation. It is a “sequence of spaces,” as Ulises Carrión defines a book—spaces containing the “No” we can’t always express, or the “no” we wish we could hear (Borsuk 143).
Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. MIT Press, 2018.