Archive for the Politics/Philosophy Category

Anniversary exhibition at CAM Raleigh through August 7

Posted in 21st century life, Aesthetic Experience, Art, Craft: not country-cute, but Craft, Design, Event, Friends, Horse & Buggy Press project, Literature, Music, Politics/Philosophy, Publishing, Type High: Letterpress, Typography on July 23, 2016 by horseandbuggypress



It’s been a busy past few months, most notably with having a fantastic first stop to the traveling exhibition “20 Years of Horse & Buggy Press (and friends!), which debuted high above the banks of New Hope Creek at Cassilhaus during May. Cassilhaus, an amazingly beautiful home, gallery, and artist residency program designed and run by Frank Konhaus and architect Ellen Cassilly is one of the true gems of our area. They put on an amazingly rich and diverse set of exhibits and events at their place. I highly suggest getting on their mailing list.

The H&B anniversary exhibit is now up and running at CAM Raleigh (there are over 200 pieces in the show including all eighteen fine press books I’ve produced, some of which have the last few copies for sale) and there’s a series of talks (all free) with a bunch of the collaborators in the coming weeks.

Copious details on the exhibit and the events at our most recent two newsletters. (if you would like to be on the mailing list, just holler to me at  I send out 4–6 newsletters in a year.

July newsletter

May newsletter

Later this summer and continuing through the fall you will see a veritable explosion of blogposts profiling the bevy of book projects I’ve produced in the last few years and a few of the larger commissioned projects. I’m very excited about Journey, a 112 page book of photomontage by Catharine Carter which I just finished printing the covers for yesterday. The first 10 or 20 copies of the edition should be on hand at the Sunday, July 31 event at CAM Raleigh (see newsletters above more info). There will also be a giclee/lettepress broadside edition produced.



Amendment One sucks.

Posted in 21st century life, Politics/Philosophy on May 9, 2012 by horseandbuggypress

Here’s to Amendment Two…


Great op-ed in the N&O

Posted in 21st century life, Politics/Philosophy on November 30, 2011 by horseandbuggypress
I arrived at the college and sat in the parking lot listening to the end of a news story on the radio. I watched a couple of students making their way to the nearest corner of our smoke-free campus, cigarettes in mouths, waiting to fire up. I have been there. I have known the sinking relief of a cloud of nicotine in the lungs. I feel for the addicted.

And then my thoughts turned to the concerns expressed recently by one of my students after a class discussion of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” The bright young woman had approached me after class with a genuine concern. She told me she did not like to think of the sorts of things we had been discussing because she was afraid she might go crazy.

It was a beautiful moment. She was comfortable in her mental chains and was honest enough to say so.

I asked her to imagine that I had a pet leopard at home. I asked her to imagine my feeding it every day, not some cheap leopard chow, but fresh raw meat. I had her picture the leopard lounging on its custom-made bed as it was bathed in sunlight through the window.

“A good life,” she said.

“Perhaps. But there is a catch.”

“What is the catch?”

“I never let the leopard run. What do you think of that?”

“That’s a bit sad.”

“I agree. Leopards are meant to run. I can’t imagine living my life as a leopard and never knowing what it’s like to run free across large open spaces.”

We were in agreement, but she wanted to know what the leopard business had to do with Plato.

“We are meant to think,” I explained. “I can’t imagine living my life as a human and not exercising my gift of critical thought to the fullest. I can’t imagine there being ideas that I was not allowed to explore. I cannot imagine looking at the world around me only in order to confirm what I already believe. I cannot imagine not being thrilled to see old beliefs slip away in light of greater understanding.”

She was not convinced. “But what if I lose my mind?”

“If you lose your mind, I promise you will find another.”

She offered a fractured smile and wished me a good evening.

My thoughts turned back to the smokers, who stood just off campus, much more relaxed because their fixes were under way.

And then I thought about my frustration with social media and the sad quality of our public discourse. The world is changing rapidly, and I love that we now have the power to be our own media, but so many of us use our digital connectedness to seek out like thinkers. I know I do.

What I don’t do is abandon discussions. I believe in dialogue. I believe that we are all subject to the trap of confirmation bias and that the best tool to escape our own bubbles of false reality is a willingness to share our ideas in bright light, not just with those who will confirm them, but more importantly with those who are able to look at them from a distance, able to see the ridiculous elements to which we are blind.

However, dialogue works only when the parties involved are willing to stick around. Critical thought takes more exertion than the feeding of dogma. And all too often I see people of different opinions not just fleeing into the irrational or simply exiting the conversation, but actually laughing at the idea of someone’s willingness to take a few minutes to offer substantive rebuttal to false claims.

For many, conversation serves little function once disagreement has been established, and they flee, like those smokers, looking for the nearest fix of confirmation.

Some of our greatest addictions are not to chemicals or foods, but to pet ideas. No one quits smoking without coming to terms with the temporary pain and discomfort of withdrawal. Similarly, no one can truly engage in honest dialogue as long as the goal is simply to arrive – through any measures necessary, logical or not – back in the comfort of one’s pet beliefs.

If we are unwilling to live in the free and open landscapes of our thoughts, we can hope for no better existence than that imaginary pet leopard who will never know the joy of running.

Win Neagle is an author and teaches at Wake Technical Community College.

New fine press book edition: Southern Fictions by Kathryn Stripling Byer

Posted in Aesthetic Experience, Art, Craft: not country-cute, but Craft, Event, Friends, Horse & Buggy Press project, Politics/Philosophy, Publishing on May 5, 2011 by horseandbuggypress

Richard Krawiec of Jacar Press commissioned me to create a fine press, limited edition book of poems by Kay Byer. Over the past year I designed the book in collaboration with Kay and Richard, working with Ann Marie Kennedy to have a custom run of handmade paper for the covers, and then I hand-printed and hand-bound all 100 copies which were then signed and numbered by the former North Carolina Piedmont Laureate.

The sonnets are Kay’s attempt to write about and reflect upon the racial conflict in Southwest Georgia that took place around her amidst growing up during the Jim Crow era.

From Kay’s introduction in the book. . .

For years I tried to write about the racial conflict in my Southwest Georgia county as I experienced it growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, but I didn’t trust my own voice to speak honestly about living in the midst of that turbulent time. Who was I then? Even more important, who was I now?

Ten years ago, an accident in the Smoky Mountains left me laid up with a broken ankle for weeks. I had plenty of time to read and think. So I opened my notebook and began writing a sonnet about growing up in the deep South. One sonnet led to another and into the material I’d tried to write about for so long. As another native Georgian, the fiction writer Flannery O’Connor, once said, “Our limitations are our gateways to reality.” The precise iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme of the sonnet had opened the gate to this particular reality and enabled me to render it into poetry.

Half of the edition is printed on tan Bugra printmaking paper, and half of the edition uses Schiller, a white printmaking paper. Both are premium, heavy-weight text sheets with a wonderful toothy finish that shows off the hand-printed letterpress impression, slowing the reader down and creating an intimate, tactile reading experience to fully enter the world of Kay’s writing.

I decided to play off the first few lines of the first sonnet by taking a few Confederate battle flags, cutting them up into small pieces, and then Ann Marie Kennedy turned them into pulp, combining them with flax paper to create a wonderful toothy and strong handmade paper for the covers. A nice recontextualization and one that means you are literally holding a repurposed flag in your hands while you read Kay’s poems. I will admit it was nerve wracking looking at a 3 foot by 5 foot Confederate battle flag… but after getting over that it felt pretty good to take a rotary cutter and slice the thing up into pieces.

Half of the edition has these recontextualized flag covers, and half of the edition has a simpler creamy warm white flax/cotton blend without any flag fibers. All books feature a frontispiece image of a flag which is meant to imitate what a flag might look like after being up in a window for decades and faded by the sun. There are no illustrations in the book other than this image. Just Kay’s sonnets in which she explores and reflects upon her time and what it means now, what she carries around.

Below are a few images from the book. The limited edition books sell for $100, and a portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be used to fund youth writing workshops exploring issues of identity.


Below are a few pictures of the finished books as well as a few of the steps involved in creating the hand-printed, hand-bound book edition.

R.I.P. Peter Yates — Breaking Away director

Posted in Aesthetic Experience, Art, Bikes/Cycling, Politics/Philosophy, Sports on January 12, 2011 by horseandbuggypress

Director of Breaking Away dies at 81

Breaking Away was of the best movies centered around cycling (there are more than you think), I only got around to seeing it in its entirety last year. Good stuff, dated yes, but good stuff.

“Breaking Away – somewhere between growing up and settling down – it happens to all of us.”

Other cycling moments in film…

Full Frame passes on sale

Posted in Art, Craft: not country-cute, but Craft, Durham, Event, Horse & Buggy Press project, Politics/Philosophy on December 29, 2010 by horseandbuggypress

The 14th incarnation of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival will be April 14–17 here in downtown Durham.

Passes are on sale now.

If you’d like a free copy of last year’s program guide to work on your netflix queue, please know they are out for the taking at our monthly open studios on the Third Friday of each month (in addition to Wednesday afternoons when we have foyer gallery hours). I highly recommend How to Fold A Flag, The Poot, Last Train Home, Summer Pasture, Wasteland, and China Blue. We heard that Restrepo was incredible, and of course if you are a Kinks fan “Do It Again” is pretty much required viewing.

The program guide also features two great essays. “Chair-Making, Ship-Breaking, Pole-Dancing, Coal-Mining, Thread-Cutting, Cart-Pushing, Cane-Cutting, Chain-Forging: Films on Work & Labor” was written by filmmakers Steven Bognar and Juia Reichert and details their choices for last year’s thematic program of the same name. Full Frame’s director of programming Sadie Tillery wrote an essay on the work and approach of Liz Garbus and Rory Kennedy, who were the recipients of last year’s Career Award.

Good article about higher education

Posted in 21st century life, Aesthetic Experience, Politics/Philosophy on December 2, 2010 by horseandbuggypress

This was an op-ed in the N&O that ran a few weeks ago. (link at bottom of copied article)
The well-written historical summary at the conclusion of the article has been highlighted for emphasis. Spot on brother.

The Humanities: At America’s Core
By Geoffrey G. Harpham

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK—When the ax fell, it was not a complete surprise. Colleges and universities all over the country are looking for ways to cut costs, and the humanities are an obvious target, given their negligible economic impact. So when, on Oct. 1, George M. Philip, president of the State University of New York at Albany, announced that the departments of French, Italian, Classics, Russian and Theater would all be eliminated, it seemed to many to be the first Arctic blast of what might be a long and bitterly cold winter of discontent for the humanities at colleges and universities across the country.

But just as troubling as the cuts themselves was the rationale for them. “Given the University at Albany’s reduced revenue base,” President Philip said, “it is critically important for the university to rethink, balance and reallocate resources to support its core academic and research mission.”

What “core mission”—especially in a public university whose motto is “the world within reach”—is served by stripping out the humanities or cutting foreign languages?

What is a core mission, anyhow?

The idea of a “core” has a history that is hard to ignore. As World War II was ending, Harvard President James Bryant Conant convened a committee of professors and charged them with devising a national program for higher education that could address the needs of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who would be returning from war and going to college on the new G.I. Bill.

In their 1945 report, called “General Education for a Free Society”—which quickly became known as the Red Book—they called for a “core curriculum” with required courses in the natural and social sciences, and, most importantly, in the humanities, a curriculum that centered on the knowledge the committee thought was essential for all students.

This was a plan not for Harvard but for the entire nation, high schools as well as colleges. And the humanities were central to the plan—were, in fact, the core of the core—because they alone could address the deep goals of higher education, which were to instill in students a sense of history and culture, to educate them as citizens not merely as employees or workers, and to enable them to lead enriched and fulfilled lives after they graduated and outside the workplace.

The plan seemed innovative, but it was also deeply traditional. Elements of it could be found in the writings of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and in the experimental educational reforms of Horace Mann, Bronson Alcott, John Dewey and Robert Maynard Hutchins. The core curriculum was, the committee thought, the culmination of the great American experiment in democracy, and was intended to “embody,” as Conant put it, “certain intangibles of the American spirit.”

The Red Book was taken as a national symbol of renewal, and its recommendations were incorporated almost immediately into the Truman Report of 1947, which described the goal of education as “a more abundant personal life and a freer, stronger social order.”

This non-vocational approach to mass education represents one of America’s great achievements. It produced the generation we now unhesitatingly call “the greatest,” and is still the envy of the world. Europe may have invented universities, but European nations are now struggling to make their system conform to the American model not just because American universities lead the world in research, but also because the American system has proven to be most effective at educating its citizens.

People who have had some exposure to literature, the arts, philosophy and history—where judgment, evaluation and interpretation are important—are equipped for democracy in a way that people educated in a more fact-based or authoritarian system are not.

They are also equipped with the flexibility and adaptability required in today’s world, where one may have to change occupations several times over the course of a working life. Those who spent their college years focusing on the job they would have when they graduated—those, that is, who were trained rather than educated —may well find themselves at a disadvantage when the job they trained for disappears or mutates into something else.

Judgment, adaptability, enrichment—these may be “intangibles,” but they embody the American spirit at its best, and developing them ought to be part of the core mission of any university, public or private, that seeks to serve its students and the larger society.

N&O article