Making Use

When a book is published readers are made and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that as a reader comes into existence so does an author. A consequence of a book is indeed readers and authors, but something needs to be added here: books get used. Books are made for using and this where the reader truly steps in.

Copy Press as a publishing endeavour wants for a book held in the hand to be something to use and not merely an object to possess and consume. (These words say it well: those buying as not possessing and those using the world as not using it up.)  In fact, what Copy Press wants to bring to life with each book published, each reader and author coming into existence, is a ‘making use’ that removes any utilitarian or instrumental idea of use and recalls a much older sense of ‘to use’, which, for example, can be found with the Greek verb chresthai and makes an inseparability between what is used and who is using it. Here ‘to use’ derives its meaning from what follows it and as such is neither active or passive.

Today it’s more or less the case that in using something you’re taken as someone who is independent of the object that is being put to use. But the situation is quite different with the older sense of ‘to use’, for you don’t find a subject ­that uses an object but, rather, a subject that is constituted through the using. As the one who is making use, you’re not independent or separate at all but rather in the middle of the process and, moreover, your very existence is affected by it. What is used and the one who uses it can’t be disentangled; there is a relational unity, an immediate interdependence, a bond.

Let’s put it like this. Under the name ‘Common Intellectual’, Copy Press publishes books that bring to its reader ‘a proposition for living, thinking and enjoyment’. The proposition of each book, in both its form and content, calls the reader into an activity and with it something particular happens to emotions, intellect and, who knows, perhaps eating, inhabiting, travelling and loving. What the older sense of ‘making use’ asks us to understand (and this is precisely what we want cherished with the use of each and every book) is that this activity and no other has come about through the use. That’s the bond.

Enabling the older sense of ‘to use’ to come to life something happens to the separations made between authors and readers, artists and audiences. For sure, some may not want to hear this but recalling the interdependence that ‘making use’ brings means that these separations don’t go unaffected. There’s a stubborn bond that won’t go away. Through a use not invested with utilitarian interest, this bond brings readers and authors into a place of relational unity. It’s no one’s to own; it can only ever be shared and that makes it a remarkably common space. Moreover, for Copy Press, the name ‘Common Intellectual’ speaks of the ethos of anyone whomsoever inhabiting this very space.

It may well be said that the bond (between book and reader, author and audience) that comes with the ‘making use’ that we are broadcasting here is in fact an old ethos of publishing itself. This is most certainly true, but what we want is for this ethos to be heard anew, for it not to be buried under the weight of market place interests and forces. And to add something more here, which brings publishing and life tight together. It goes like this: life isn’t an object of ownership or possession but rather only for use. Life only becomes constituted in use, which means there is no life that can be separated from the activity in which it comes to be and inhabits. Using brings a bond, books and life share it and that brings them into a place that isn’t anyone’s to own but is simply and remarkably common.

Yve Lomax, 7 August 2015