Designed, edited, and produced by Dick Higgins, the Something Else Press books contained offbeat and avant-garde writing in a neat and tidy, yet quirky and distinctive form. The press began in 1964 following Higgins’s break with Fluxus founder George Maciunas and embodied many of the concerns of the then nascent art movement. Early titles included Jefferson’s Birthday/Postface, Higgins’s collection of performance scores; mail art pioneer Ray Johnson’s The Paper Snake, Al Hansen’s A Primer of Happenings & Time/Space Art, and Romanian-born Nouveau réaliste artist Daniel Spoerri’s An Anecdoted Topography of Chance. Higgins’s foew&ombwhnw (a 1969 collection disguised as a prayer book) contains his important essay “Intermedia,” in which he describes artworks which “fall between media,” arguing that the social conditions of the time (early to mid-1960s) no longer allowed for a “compartmentalized approach” to either art or life.
Wolf Vostell and Dick Higgins, eds., Fantastic Architecture [1970 or 1971]. Book jacket illustration is Richard Hamilton’s Guggenheim Collage, 1967.
Indeed, the range of works published by Something Else exemplifies a very diverse approach: first American editions of several of Gertrude Stein’s works, including The Making of Americans
; a reprint of Henry Cowell’s New Musical Resources
; Merce Cunningham’s Changes: Notes on Choreography
; John Cage’s anthology of unusual musical scores, Notations
; Jackson Mac Low’s Stanzas for Iris Lezak
; R[ichard] Meltzer’s The Aesthetics of Rock
; One Thousand American Fungi
by Charles McIlvaine and Robert K. Macadam; as well as Emmett Williams’s important Anthology of Concrete Poetry
, among many others. Artists’ books, critical theory, conceptual art, amusement, back-to-the-land hippie culture—through the use of conventional production and marketing strategies, Dick Higgins was able to place unconventional works into the hands of new and often unsuspecting readers. Something Else Press had published more than sixty books when it ended in 1974, in addition to pamphlets, newsletters, cards, posters, and other ephemera.
“My job included copy editing, proofreading, managing the office and correspondence. I never knew what to expect, as Dick was always bursting with ideas…. My most vivid editorial memory concerns…Daniel Spoerri’s An Anecdoted Topography of Chance, translated from the French and anecdotally expanded by the author’s friend, the expatriate American poet/artist Emmett Williams. (Emmett, though still in Europe at the time, later came to New York to follow me as editor at the Press.) Due to Emmett’s professionalism, the Topography made for tricky proofreading. Unaware of Emmett and Dieter Roth’s mnemonic ‘the man with 5 A’s in his name,’ I removed what appeared to be extra letters from the name Aagaard Andersen. As the proofs traveled back and forth across the ocean in those pre-fax days, Emmett kept putting the A’s back in and I conscientiously kept removing them. I got my comeuppance on that one when about 12 or 15 years later, I was shackled with a typewriter that printed double A’s every time I hit the key.”
— Barbara Moore, from Some Things Else About Something Else (New York: Granary Books, 1991)
Wolf Vostell, dé-coll/age happenings (1966). Translated by Laura P. Miller. Wooden box with sliding plexiglass panel as cover. Contents include book plus 15 folded posters, silk-screen print, one package of Bromo-Seltzer mounted on mirrored Mylar, and one piece of matzoh.
Something Else Press books include
Cage, John. Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) Continued Part Three. 1967. A Great Bear Pamphlet.
Cage, John, with Alison Knowles. Notations. 1969.
Cowell, Henry. New Musical Resources. 1969.
Cunningham, Merce. Changes: Notes on Choreography. 1968.
Filliou, Robert. Ample Food for Stupid Thought. 1965.
Finlay, Ian Hamilton, and Gordon Hundy. A Sailor’s Calendar. 1971.
Gomringer, Eugen. The Book of Hours and Constellations. 1968. Translated and edited by Jerome Rothenberg.
Gysin, Brion. Brion Gysin Let the Mice In. 1973. Edited by Jan Herman with contributions by William S. Burroughs and Ian Sommerville.
Hansen, Al. A Primer of Happenings & Time/Space Art. 1965.
Higgins, Dick. foew&ombwhnw. 1969.
Higgins, Dick. Jefferson’s Birthday/Postface. 1964.
Johnson, Ray. The Paper Snake. 1965.
Kaprow, Allan. Some Recent Happenings. 1966. A Great Bear Pamphlet.
Knowles, Alison, Tomas Schmit, Benjamin Patterson, and Philip Corner. The Four Suits. 1965.
McLuhan, Marshall. Verbi-Voco-Visual Explorations. 1967.
Oldenburg, Claes. Store Days. 1967.
Porter, Bern. I’ve Left: A Manifesto and a Testament of SCIence and -ART (SCIART). 1971.
Bern Porter, I’ve Left: A Manifesto and a Testament of SCIence and -ART (SCIART) (1971).
Roth, Dieter. 246 Little Clouds. 1968. Introduction by Emmett Williams.
Spoerri, Daniel. An Anecdoted Topography of Chance. 1966. Translated from the French, and further anecdoted at random by Emmett Williams. With one hundred reflective illustrations by Topor.
Stein, Gertrude. The Making of Americans. 1966.
Vostell, Wolf. dé-coll/age happenings. 1966. Translated by Laura P. Miller.
Vostell, Wolf, and Dick Higgins, eds. Fantastic Architecture. 1971.
Williams, Emmett. Anthology of Concrete Poetry. 1967.
Williams, Emmett. Sweethearts. 1967.
For a complete list of Something Else publications, the reader is referred to: Peter Frank, Something Else Press: An Annotated Bibliography (New Paltz, NY: Documentext/McPherson & Company, 1983).