BMCS | A peer-reviewed publication of The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

BMCS | A peer-reviewed publication of The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

Yay!  In Volume 6, which just came out right now, you can find a version of the research I did and the writing I wrote for my Masters at UBC.  Reading this greatly pared-down version of my own writing I am reminded how miserable and unwieldy it was writing that thesis.  But I have to say, I am pleased as punch (perhaps with a more realistic outlook at my life as a writer now) seeing this in publication on teh Internets.

Thank you BMCS editors!

Incidentally, there is another great and closely-related piece on the history of social justice at BMC “before the Civil Rights Age,” which I am keen to read.  And several other interesting essays and an interview in this volume, all organized into a newly revamped journal homepage.  Yippee!

Black Mountain College, An Experimental School | This Day in North Carolina History

Black Mountain College, An Experimental School | This Day in North Carolina History.

80 years ago Monday Black Mountain College was incorporated in Buncombe County, NC.  Neat summary article here with some great photos.

One day soon, I’ll finish my Masters Thesis on the topic…

Update from Kure, Japan

Today has been a slightly unusually productive day.  I got a good draft done of my Bucky Fuller abstract which I’ll submit at the end of the month to the ReViewing Black Mountain College Conference.  Additionally I got some good reading done in the Fuller essays.  He definitely flirts with Positivism, and eschews Pragmatism (at least Peirce’s Pragmatism) to a great degree.  I wonder if it’s possible that Fuller’s appearance on the scene at BMC in 1948 and ’49 signalled a much more radical philosophical break for the school– I mean, much more so than I anticipated.  I’m looking forward to taking a closer look at the Josef Albers Papers when I’m back in Asheville this Summer so I can get a sense of where he stood relative to Rice/Drier and the other founding minds, who I have up until now assumed to have been more or less subscribers to Dewey’s Pragmatism.  Another interesting note– in some background reading on the web today I came across some online materials from the Ramsey Library at UNC-A (which houses some BMC materials in their Special Collections Library) which listed Dewey as a member of BMC’s Advisory Council.  So, that’s an encouraging tidbit.  I knew there was a Dewey connection to BMC, but I wasn’t aware that it would be so clear or official as that.  I was expecting something much more casual– an acquaintance with Rice, say.  Hopefully there will be some letters to elucidate Dewey’s role as an Advisor there…  Then again I suppose it is possible that his role on the Council was much more symbolic.  After all he was nearing the end of his life and had retired from Columbia by the late ’40s anyway.


A note on yesterday’s post, Hot Bones.  That’s a true account of an episode from my stay with Yuco and her family a couple of weeks ago.  Yuco’s Grandmother passed away suddenly at age 77, and I had the privilege of attending the various funeral ceremonies held by the family and community in her honor.  The cremation was, admittedly slightly horrifying, however.  The legendary Chinese General Sun Tzu’s words come to mind:  “That which does not kill me can only make me stronger!”  In any case, I hope that the tone of that story is reverent enough.  A few of my asides (like the bit about Indiana Jones) are perhaps in questionable taste, though I think they convey my physical psychological and emotional states in the Bone Collection Room with fidelity.


My apologies for not posting more photos more consistently.  I’ve had pretty spotty Internet access from Yuco’s house, so uploading images has been a bit of a pain.  If I make it out to my friend, Myia’s apartment tomorrow I’ll be able to do some of that uploading there, where I can use her LAN cable connection and much more reliable modem.


In part due to Yuco’s Grandmother’s Funeral causing us to have to postpone our trip to Miyajima for the initial wedding planning meeting, I’ve decided to nix my plans to volunteer with WWOOF in Northern Japan.  I think that will be for the best.  I had some anxiety about outwearing my welcome at Yuco’s parents’ house.  I will certainly want to ramp up my involvement in housework and so forth– doing all of the breakfast and lunch dishes, cooking a meal or two a for the family a week, and dusting and vacuuming the upstairs floor of the house where my room and Yuco’s room are.  I have never felt unwelcome here.  And so, after talking it over with Yuco and her parents, I settled on sticking around Kure for the duration of my time in Japan this Summer.


One event I wish I had brought my camera to this past Monday evening was when Yuco’s Uncle Deki and his wife treated Yuco and I and all of her siblings and their wives to dinner at a fairly fancy sushi restaurant in Hiroshima City.  Great God!  That was a treat!  It was a semi-formal family occasion, held in part in mine and Yuco’s honor, and so it fell to me to make some opening remarks.  I toasted to my new Family and my Second Home (in Japanese of course).  And everyone drank and made merry and ate until we were stuffed.  Yuco ended up having to lay her head down on the counter towards the end of the night, partially from the alcohol, but mostly from having spent all day on Miyajima running around with our host from the hotel where we’re going to have the fancy wedding feast.  And yes, I do mean “fancy feast!”

ReVIEWING BMC 4 – Call for papers and proposals

Click here for more Info on BMC M+AC’s 4th Annual ReVIEWING BMC Conference, which, this year, is centered on the work of R. Buckminster Fuller.

ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 4
September 28-30, 2012
Asheville, North Carolina

Thematic Focus: Looking Forward at Buckminster Fuller’s Legacy

Co-sponsored by The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, the Buckminster Fuller Institute and the University of North Carolina at Asheville


Keynote Speaker: Allegra Fuller Snyder, daughter of Buckminster Fuller; Director Emerita of the Buckminster Fuller Institute; Professor Emerita of Dance and Dance Ethnology, UCLA

Featured Speaker: David McConville, media artist; President of the Buckminster Fuller Institute

Featured Speaker: Joseph H. Clinton, President of Clinton International Design Consultants; Synergetics Collaborative; associate of Buckminster Fuller

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, along with the Buckminster Fuller Institute and the University of North Carolina at Asheville, will present a 3-day conference exploring Buckminster Fuller’s Legacy, including his forward-thinking work during the two summers he was at Black Mountain College (1948 & 1949) as well as his innovative work in architecture, engineering and design science in the decades after BMC. In addition to panels and presentations, the conference will include an experiential Design Science Day held outdoors on the UNC Asheville campus on Saturday, September 29th.

Papers, performances, multi-media and panel proposals in all relevant disciplines are welcome. Abstracts of 400-600 words should be submitted to Brian Butler ( or Alice Sebrell ( by June 30, 2012. Notification will be made by July 15, 2012. The conference will take place in Asheville, NC Sept. 28-30, 2012.

Potential topics and presentations could include:

  • Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science
  • Synergetic Geometry
  • Identifying Trimtabs & Leverage Points
  • Making the Invisible Visible
  • Doing More With Less: Real World Strategies
  • Learning from Nature’s Principles (Design Science, Biomimicry, Permaculture, etc)
  • Whole Systems Approaches & Livability Initiatives
  • Papers on any aspect of the history and legacy of Black Mountain College will be considered.

In conjunction with the conference, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center will collaborate with the Buckminster Fuller Institute to present an exhibition that explores the new generation of Fuller-inspired thinkers, artists and problem-solvers via The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, an award given annually by BFI to a project that addresses a planetary problem with an elegant, whole systems-based solution. The exhibition will also include some of Fuller’s own inventive designs for solutions to the many needs he saw on “Spaceship Earth.”


Jargon Society Entrusted to BMC Museum + Arts Center

BMC Museum + Art Center’s New Info Page on the Jargon Society.

The Jargon Society is now a part of the BMC Museum + Arts Center

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is honored to announce that the Jargon Society, the highly significant small-press publisher founded in 1951 by Jonathan Williams (Asheville native, Black Mountain College alumnus, poet, publisher and photographer) is now under the museum’s auspices.

The Jargon Society was founded by Jonathan Williams and David Ruff in 1951 in a San Francisco Chinese restaurant. Jargon 1 was a folded pamphlet with a poem by Williams (Garbage Litters the Iron Face of the Sun’s Child) and an etching by Ruff. Just 150 copies were produced. Jargon 2 was called The Dancer and consisted of a poem by Joel Oppenheimer and a drawing by Robert Rauschenberg. It was published at Black Mountain College soon after Williams’ arrival there in the summer of 1951.  Other Jargon publications included The Maximus Poems by Charles Olson, The Neugents by David M. Spear and many others.

Williams died in 2008 and is survived by his partner Thomas Meyer. It was Meyer who made the decision to give The Jargon Society inventory and rights to the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

Meyer had this to say about the new arrangement: “The Jargon Society has always championed outsiders, mavericks and the neglected, itself no stranger to same. Yet with the death of its founder, it seemed to me the time had come for the foundation to make some changes. The BMC Museum + Arts Center struck me as a perfect compass to provide new directions. Shared histories, shared aesthetics, and shared missions. In short, a perfect shelter, a perfect match.”

Jonathan Williams’ publishing philosophy was to seek out writers, poets and photographers who pursued a singular path in their work and were under-recognized, outside of the mainstream, but deeply deserving of attention. Jargon books and publications were always beautifully designed and printed, expressing Williams’ unique aesthetic sensibility. He often paired artists, photographers and writers in a way previously unseen. There are 115 Jargon Society titles in the original series.  A number of these are rare, valuable and highly sought after by collectors. Of the 115 original titles in the Jargon catalogue, approximately 85 are books and another 30 are broadsides, pamphlets and other publications.
Jonathan Williams provided early appreciation and an important publication outlet for now-celebrated writers such as Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan, Mina Loy, Lorraine Niedecker, Kenneth Patchen and many others. One of Jargon’s most noteworthy titles was the publishing phenomenon White Trash Cooking by Ernest Matthew Mickler. Now celebrating its 25th year in publication with a special edition, White Trash Cooking has received rave reviews by a diverse roster of fans including the governor of North Carolina, the New York Times Book Review, cookbook authors and actress Helen Hayes. It continues to be Jargon’s top-selling title even now.

Aptly characterized by Hugh Kenner as a “custodian of snowflakes,” Williams championed the outsider in art and literature. The Jargon Society provided a vehicle for Williams, a man of wide-ranging interests and talents, to pursue the writers and artists he valued and to encourage collaboration between them when appropriate. Poet William Carlos Williams wrote to Jonathan, ““it’s a strange thing about the ‘new,’ in which category I place what you do. At first it shocks, even repels, such a man as myself, but in a few days, or a month, or a year, we rush to it drooling at the mouth, as if it were a fruit, an apple in winter.”

As a publisher, Williams’ goal was to give the artist and/or the poet “the book that they wanted” if it was at all possible.  This approach, while unusual in the publishing world, was consistent with William’s belief in democracy and consistent with a philosophy that championed the underdog.

Brian Butler, Board Chair of the BMC Museum + Arts Center states, “We are greatly honored to carry on the singular and extraordinary legacy of The Jargon Society. There is nothing quite like it in publishing history, and Jonathan’s and Jargon’s connection to Black Mountain College makes this an absolutely perfect fit for our organization. We look forward to the possibilities. While not by any means unsung, the importance of the Jargon Society’s publications is certainly not given near its proper canonical place in American publishing, in poetry, nor in its highly significant, indeed central, place in regards to the history of Black Mountain College. The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is extremely proud to be the recipient of Jargon’s great tradition and thanks Thomas Meyer deeply for his confidence in our Museum.  We consider this gift a great sign of trust in the Museum’s mission and will treat the gift with the deep respect it deserves.”

Thomas Meyer, Williams’ partner, worked with him on Jargon projects for many years and has several books of his own poetry published under the Jargon imprint. Additionally, Meyer’s work as a poet and translator has been widely published and acknowledged for its precision and depth of feeling. His recent book Kintsugi  has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.

Future Jargon/Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center projects have yet to be identified, but the possibilities are exciting to contemplate.

For more information please contact Alice Sebrell, Program Director, at 828-350-8484.

Image: The Jargon Society sign and Poetry Crown (both made by artist James Harold Jennings) now reside in the BMC Museum + Arts Center office underneath the Black Mountain College sign.