Materials relating to the work 'Agrippa (a book of the dead)'
Bodleian Library, University of OxfordRebecca Nielsen
Department of Special Collections
Search Online Catalogues
Documents concerning the production and reception of
'Agrippa (a book of the dead)', a collaboration between William Gibson, Kevin Begos Jr.
and Dennis Ashbaugh.
Extent: 5 shelfmarks (papers); 2 shelfmarks (digital); 0.1 Linear metres
Language of Material: English
Agrippa (a book of the dead), published in 1992, is a collaboration between William
Gibson, Kevin Begos Jr. and Dennis Ashbaugh. The work consists of an artists' book with
images by Dennis Ashbaugh that are intended to fade after exposure to light, and an
enclosed floppy disk containing a poem by William Gibson, which is programmed to erase
itself after being read once.
Scope and Content
Documents concerning the production and reception of 'Agrippa (a book of the dead)', a
collaboration between William Gibson, Kevin Begos Jr. and Dennis Ashbaugh.
The materials were presented to the Library by Kevin Begos Jr. in 2011.
A metal dog tag that reads 'Retirw William Gibson Tsitra Dennis Ashbaugh 1946-48/1992'
is now JL896 and a slightly rusted metal plate that reads 'William Gibson Dennis
Ashbaugh' is now JL897. They were originally with MS. Eng. c. 7980.
The Library also received from Kevin Begos Jr.:
- The deluxe edition of Agrippa, a Book of the Dead. (1992) (now at Rec.
- The presentation box accompanying the deluxe edition (now at Rec. a.25).
- The small edition of Agrippa, a Book of the Dead. (1992) (now at Rec.
- The presentation box accompanying the small edition (now at Rec. a. 30).
Restrictions on AccessSome items are restricted from access. These are noted in the catalogue.
Preferred Form of Citation
Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and item reference, e.g. MS. Photogr. c.
503 fol. 2, or MS. Digital 8/2].
Personal name(s) (NCA Rules)Ashbaugh | Dennis | 1946- | Artist
Begos | Kevin | Publisher
Gibson | William | 1948- | Author
Memory in literature - Poetry
Photographs of Agrippa.Scope and Content
Shelfmark: MS. Photogr. c. 503
Extent: 17 items
Removed from MS. Eng. c. 7980. Comprises:
- Sheet of thumbnail images of the pages of the deluxe edition of
- 2 photographs of proofs of Agrippa.
- Negatives of photographs of the front cover, pages 4-5, and pages 62-3, and
the slip they were contained in.
- Negatives of photographs, and the sleeve they were contained in.
- Negatives of photographs of the case of the Deluxe edition of Agrippa, and
the book open at the page containing the floppy disk.
Documents about the production of Agrippa.Scope and Content
Date: 1991-6, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7980
Extent: 13 folders
Restrictions on Access
- (folder 1) "Oxford 1 Oxford 4/2011 ready to ship" Invitation to the
'unveiling' of Agrippa. Photographs removed to MS. Photogr. c. 503.
- (folder 2) "Agrippa": Photocopies from the Kodak catalogue featuring the
original 'Agrippa' album, and a copy of a page from the Gutenberg Bible.
- (folder 3) "PR": Four press releases announcing Agrippa.
- (folder 4) "The Code": Documents relating to the production of the
encryption code for the floppy disk. Includes instructions for the Agrippa
diskette with a note to Kevin Begos from the developer of the disk on the
reverse; letters and faxes from the developer regarding progress on the
encryption; a possible printout of the encrypted text; pages and faxes
containing calculations; photocopied extracts from "An Introduction to the
Theory of Numbers: Fourth Edition" by G.H. Hardy and E.M. Wright (p.52) and
"The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic", with highlighted passages referring to
Agrippa; and a printout of Agrippa computer code.
- (folder 5) "Poem": An incomplete copy of Gibson's poem, missing some pages
at the beginning and the end.
- (folder 6) "Images": Ashbaugh's etchings with adverts printed over them, and
large copies of the adverts.
- (folder 7) "Images": Transparencies of some of the adverts in the previous
- (folder 8) "KB essay": extract from an essay by Kevin Begos about the making
of Agrippa, with annotations, along with a letter from Allan Chasanoff about
- (folder 9) "Barlow": Correspondence between Kevin Begos and John Perry
Barlow regarding encryption issues and the National Security Agency, and a copy
of the invitation list and Agenda for the Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility 2nd Cryptography and Privacy Conference.
- (folder 10) "Sequence": Contains a printout of the genetic sequence used in
Agrippa (the biocid maternal morphogen genomic sequence) with printers marks,
and a photocopy from a textbook about CRGP and DNA sequencing.
- (folder 11) "Greg Elin": Letter of agreement for a prototype CD-ROM of
Agrippa, between Greg Elin and Rich Lappensbush, producers, and Kevin Begos
Publishing, Inc., publisher.
- (folder 12) "Gibson" "Not for Publication or copying" "Gibson
Correspondence" : Letters to Gibson and Martha Millard, and faxes from Gibson
regarding the publication and promotion of Agrippa.
- (folder 13) "4/2011 Oxford to be copied": Contract between William Gibson
and Kevin Begos for Agrippa; a coupon from Genosys Biotechnologies; a note
regarding foreign editions; letters regarding publicity in Germany; letters
concerning the transmission; and about expenses arrangements.
The contents of folders 12 and 13 may not be copied, transcribed or published
without the written approval of Kevin Begos Jr.
A metal dog tag that reads 'Retirw William Gibson Tsitra Dennis Ashbaugh
1946-48/1992' is now JL896 and a slightly rusted metal plate that reads 'William
Gibson Dennis Ashbaugh' is now JL897.
Documents about the reaction to Agrippa.Scope and Content
Date: 1992-2005, n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7981
Extent: 7 folders
- (folder 1) Printout from the cyperpunk dictionary featuring entry on
- (folder 2) "Correspondence": Email correspondence between Alan Liu and Kevin
Begos regarding urban myths/rumours surrounding Agrippa.
- (folder 3) "Articles": Articles about Agrippa, the artists involved, and
related issues from publications such as Esquire, Art in America, New York
Times, New Scientist, Business Week, Vanity Fair, Details, Omni, The Sunday
Record, USA Today, Art and Auction Magazine, The New Yorker, Publishers Weekly,
The Print Collector's Newsletter, Poets and Writers Magazine and The Sciences.
Correspondence with publications regarding these articles.
- (folder 4) "Net Postings": Printouts from internet messageboards about
Agrippa, particularly Gibson's poem. Includes 'Templar.txt' 'Introduction by
Templar' introducing the 'hacked' version of the poem; printouts from the
alt.cyberpunk messageboard about Agrippa and Gibson's works; and printouts of
the responses to the announcement that the 'Echo' website will be transmitting
- (folder 5) "Transmission": Documents about the Agrippa transmission event.
Includes letters to Apple Computers and The Kitchen Center, and from The Art
Institute and Bookworks; a press release for the transmission of Agrippa at The
Kitchen Center; and a weekly report about the transmission with technical
- (folder 6) "Exhibits": Documents about exhibitions which featured Agrippa.
Includes a leaflet and invitations to the exhibition of Agrippa at the Center
for Book Arts (NY) April 24-June 19, 1993; correspondence regarding the 'Future
of the Book' project; a news release and correspondence for 'See Jane run;
Short Sweet Gone; Transmissions' at FSU University Gallery (9/12/1992); a copy
of 'Koob Stra' featuring an article on the Agrippa exhibition at the Center for
Book Arts; a write-up of the event at Florida State University; a loan
agreement for Agrippa at Florida State University; 'The Book and Beyond'
pamphlet containing the text of the labels for a display at the V and A Museum
in 1995; and correspondence from the Americas Society regarding a symposium
featuring William Gibson and Agrippa.
- (folder 7) "Ms. Correspondence" Letters from Peter Schwenger and Debra
Balkan requesting information about Agrippa.
Videos about AgrippaScope and Content
Shelfmark: MS. Digital 27 = RES
Extent: 3 items
Restrictions on Access
- 27/1 An emulation of the poem running on a Mac.
- 27/2 A bootleg video of the transmission event, including an interview and Q
and A with Kevin Begos and a reading of the poem by Penn Jillette.
- 27/3 Re:Agrippa, a video remix of the transmission event.
Digital material is not currently available.
Unbound Agrippa image, with traces of the 'disappearing
image'.Restrictions on Access
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. b. 2160 = RES
Extent: 1 leaf
Reserved from access for conservation reasons.
Proofs of the large and small sizes of Agrippa, and copies of the
prospectus.Scope and Content
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. b. 2161
Extent: 4 folders
- (folder 1) Proofs of the images from the 'Deluxe' edition of Agrippa.
- (folder 2) Proofs of the text from the small version of the book.
- (folder 3) Proofs of the text from the 'Deluxe' edition of Agrippa.
- (folder 4) Four copies of the Agrippa Prospectus.
Photographs of the 'Deluxe' edition of AgrippaScope and Content
Shelfmark: MS. Digital 28
Extent: 31 items
- 28/1 Photograph of the front cover, in the 'Honeycomb' casing and wrapped in
- 28/2 Photograph of pages 4-5, with artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh.
- 28/3 Photograph of pages 6-7.
- 28/4 Photograph of pages 8-9.
- 28/5 Photograph of pages 10-11, with artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh.
- 28/6 Photograph of pages 12-13.
- 28/7 Photograph of pages 14-15.
- 28/8 Photograph of pages 16-17.
- 28/9 Photograph of pages 18-19.
- 28/10 Photograph of pages 20-21, with artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh.
- 28/11 Photograph of pages 22-23.
- 28/12 Photograph of pages 24-25.
- 28/13 Photograph of pages 26-27.
- 28/14 Photograph of pages 28-29.
- 28/15 Photograph of pages 30-31, with artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh.
- 28/16 File does not display.
- 28/17 Photograph of pages 34-35.
- 28/18 Photograph of pages 36-37.
- 28/19 Photograph of pages 38-39.
- 28/20 Photograph of pages 40-41, with artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh.
- 28/21 Photograph of pages 42-43.
- 28/22 Photograph of pages 44-45.
- 28/23 Photograph of pages 46-47.
- 28/24 Photograph of pages 48-49.
- 28/25 Photograph of pages 50-51, with artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh.
- 28/26 Photograph of pages 52-53.
- 28/27 Photograph of pages 54-55.
- 28/28 Photograph of pages 56-57.
- 28/29 Photograph of pages 58-59.
- 28/30 Photograph of pages 60-61.
- 28/31 Photograph of pages 62-63, showing the floppy disk situated at the
back of the book. With artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh.
Transformation from XML (EAD 2.0) to HTML
28 May 2014