Fugitive Pieces - Grafik

For the eighteenth-century English writer and moralist Samuel Johnson (or Doctor, if you prefer) small tracts and “fugitive pieces” were the lifeblood of a literary culture too easily lost and a repository that he tried his utmost to tourniquet. He was also aware that this could only be an exercise in mitigation; these were, literally, the unbound – pamphlets, flyers, sheets, cuttings, scraps – and, as such, their confluence was perhaps unbindable. Of course ephemera is, by implication, fleeting. The word ephemeral derives from the Greek “eph?meros”, which means lasting only one day. The dailyness, day-to-dayness or quotidian nature of ephemera is not its weakness but its source of vitality. These are the most dynamic of textual objects, responding to events in the moment of their becoming, oxygenating and enlivening a public as they pass from press to hand to gutter.