12 O'Clock News.
Octon, France: Verdigris, 2005. Rothchild’s illustrations—two mezzotints, one of which has been broken up into eight fragments—communicate the pensive darkness of the writer’s desk, laying it, as Bishop does poetically, before the reader in pieces and as a whole. Bishop’s poem was originally published in Geography III in 1976. Her verses address the elements of her writing desk as if they were news events, as if they were soldiers on a battlefield or secret weapons or natural disasters. Her matter-of-fact tone and obsessive analysis of the trivial—the stack of papers, the typewriter, the inkwell—reflects a larger anxiety with the state of the world and with the way that world appears on the “real” news. Bishop questions, with no hint of forthcoming answers, how to live in a world in peril on all sides, and in a world whose peril is constantly and dramatically obvious at any moment of media consumption. Whether that danger is true, in the manner of unbiased journalism, or false, in the manner of hyperbolic artistic or political posturing, is all the more reason to worry. The present edition pairs Bishop’s poem with Colin Powell’s 2003 speech to the U.N. Security Council, in which Powell presented alleged evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The United States would invade Iraq only weeks later and find that there were, in fact and despite Powell’s emphatic determination to the contrary, no such weapons.
Oblong quarto. (15)ff. From an edition of 50 copies, this is one of ten deluxe copies, which include an original copper plate and an additional mezzotint. Signed by the artist and by the printer, Mark Lintott, at the colophon. Book stab-bound, and with additional mezzotint and copper plate, held in drop-back box. A fine examination on the manipulation of facts and the exhaustion of living in a world seemingly always in danger. Item #31376