Issue 087
November 26, 2023

Things Become Other Things Become Books

The fine art edition of my new book is out and ships in time for the holidays

Faithful Roden Subscribers —

Things Become Other Things, fine art edition, launched a couple of days ago, and — I swear — I was about to send a letter here, to you kindly folks of Roden, but sales were happening so quickly, flying at my head like JK-Simmons chairs (except infused with love and kindness, and not chairs, but stuffed, plush, capybaras), and I had so much laundry to do (where does all this laundry come from, and how do I generate so much of it?) and was inundated with so many customer queries (all polite, courteous) which is what happens when you sell 1000+ books in a few hours (whoa, yes, whoa), and it’s only been in the last day or so where I’ve felt the slightest of lulls and have managed to catch up on the most important emails and have taken a step back and went and watched the sunset behind Mt. Fuji and so, now, finally, here I am, here to tell you all (thought I suspect most of you already know), that Things Become Other Things is out, and you can buy your copy if you so please (please do).

I’m Craig Mod, and I don’t know what day it is.

tbot cover1

The livestream launch with SPECIAL PROJECTS members was a blast. Despite me looking like a burglar and being sick as a dog in a blizzard with the latest viral sinus thing to infect 80% of Tokyo (outside of camera view: mountains of snotty tissues — the secret glamours of online video), and despite having only 60% of my voice, some 200+ people showed up (biggest members-only livestream thing by far) and copies sold so quickly my computer sounded like a machine gun at one point (I had wired it up to say thanks on each sale and had to mute that pretty quickly).

Mainly, I’ve very grateful. Grateful for the vast outpouring of support. Grateful for all the lovely messages of congrats folks have sent in. Grateful for the team behind being able to make this happen (Fujiwara Printing, Mochizuki Binding, Oli, Carina, Hikaru, Cady, John and many more). Grateful for Molly Turpin and David McCormick and the other folks who made the Random House deal possible, and thus enabled me to lean into and produce this distilled, collimated, Craig Mod Cinematic Universe version of the book, hand-bound in cloth and foil-stamped and wrapped in craft paper and shipped out in custom boxes to keep the books safe and comfy as they fly around the world. I am very proud of this thing. This thing, this book, which is difficult to summarize. I keep writing and rewriting a précis in an attempt to “market” it better. This is where I’ve since landed:

Things Become Other Things (TBOT) is a book about a decade of walking. It’s where I’ve tried to distill why it is that I walk so much: Walking as a way to become who I wanted to become but didn’t know how to. Walking as a way to reflect on where it is that we come from. And walking as a way to bear witness to a certain grace visible only when you’re bored out of your skull, when you’ve been walking for weeks on end, and when you think you should just pack it up and go home. There, at that point of exhaustion, appears a little thing — a hello, the smallest gesture, something that becomes, yes, almost supernatural, spiritual in a way that is impossible to recognize amid the average day-to-day routine. Something you can only see in that elevated rhythm of the walk.

This is a book of those moments.

It’s about talking with a thousand fishermen and farmers and kissa owners, about communing with the mountain fauna, about hopscotching around leeches. It’s about floods and tsunamis and the capricious fecundity of nature. It’s about walking through a hundred old villages, many gone or soon to be gone. It’s about whispering priests and suddenly-appearing rain-soaked Irish priests and foul-mouthed little kids. It’s about the life of one lost friend, decades back, and an ocean away.

You’ll see echos from my “Aloneness” essay up there. Specifically, from that essay:

What I’ve learned from my walks is that every day — every step — on the road is a chance for self-renewal, to cast off some small micron of a past, shittier, scared, low-self-worth, less-kind self, and replace it with a more patient, more empathetic, higher value bizarro self. Someone you could have been earlier in life, given a different set of circumstances. Micron by micron, atom by atom, it adds up (one hopes!).

Which is just me cribbing from TBOT, from the book itself (p. 75):

With each hello to a peninsula shop owner, or farmer, or drunken horse bettor, I feel the entirety of my body activate, the heart rise, a minor transcendence, and for a second I inhabit some version of who I could have been much sooner, had the right systems been in place.

Like this, the walk becomes an ascetic practice. Creates a space for aggregate change of the heart and mind. A thousand days and tens of thousands of moments for renewal.

And on and on it goes. (Looking at this again for the first time in months: man, p. 75 — heartbreaking ❤️.)

the old van

Of course, I’m proud of the text, but the object is also a thing of great beauty, elevated way above the station of whim-wham:

Offset printed on Heidelberg presses, with a cloth, foil-stamped illustrated cover, 56 photographs, 68 chapters, 240 pages — yes yes yes. This is a thing — something to hold and feel the softness of (so soft! that cover!), the little ridges of the debossed illustrations, the real heft of the whole. Printed and hand-bound here in Japan, I dare say it will delight the heck out of your mind, your fingertips, and your eyeballs.

I was on the Longform podcast last week, and interviewer Aaron Lammer very kindly noted, TBOT is “entirely unique, no one else is making books like this.”

the old van

I am still trying to get the word out about this edition. If you have a newsletter or blog or TikTok channel and want to promote, please do! You can find a bevy of high-res images here. Deploy at will.

TBOT makes for a wonderful gift. The TBOT + Kissa by Kissa 5th edition (slightly discounted) combo, an even better one. The books are of the same design language and physical dimensions (TBOT is 240 pages, Kissa is 128), so they sit side by side in an assortment of pleasing ways. All copies ship via DHL, and will begin shipping from our Osaka warehouse in a couple of weeks, arriving in usually 2-3 days, certainly in time for the holidays. SPECIAL PROJECTS Yearly members get a $40 discount ($80 discount on the TBOT + Kissa combo). It’s a good time to join.

I mean, look at these two handsome fellas:

tbot and kissa by kissa spread out all nasty

Anyway! Enough selling. It’s available now, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

Thank you for all the incredible responses to the “Aloneness” essay. I’ve read them all. The responses have moved me. I think I should be clear, though: I’m doing great. These past few years have been the richest and least Alone of my life. (I think that was clear in the essay, but a few responses seemed overly prescriptive in a crossed-wires kind of way.)

The TOKIO TŌKYŌ TOKYO³ walk was also a spectacular success, and I have more to write about that over on Ridgeline. (These last few months have been, categorically, perhaps, a bit too active / productive / packed.)

Next Friday, I’m off to lead a walk with Kevin Kelly in Thailand. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about that, too. And then my parents are visiting me Japan, and I’ll be ushering them all around. And then the year will be done, and I’d like nothing better than a few of the laziest sunny New Years days with a few people I love to cap off this utterly bizarre, media-frenzied (so many TV interviews!), book-deal-making, mega-walking-all-over, TBOT-fine-art-shipping, helluva 2023.

Thanks for all of your — you all out there, SP members especially, but everyone reading this — support, attention, responses, all that good stuff, for being a critical part of making this such a rich and full year.

OK. OK. My brain is spaghetti. I should sleep. Goodnight.

p.s., TBOT!

those tetrapods