Issue 7 - Jonathan Lethem

Availability: Sold Out

Quick Overview

+ Black rimmed glasses
+ Blue leather glasses case
+ Care & maintenance brochure
+ Released winter 2009

Jonathan Lethem's issue is entitled the Chaldron Optical System. It directly relates to his novel Chronic City and consists of a pair of clear glasses with text on each of the arms, a glasses case, and a care and maintenance manual written in both English and French. Jonathan's issue is the result of a design collaboration with designer Matt Singer and Selima Salaun of Selima Optique. This is their first collaborative endeavor under the banner of Project Selima and Matt. The Care and Maintenance brochure was designed by MacFadden & Thorpe.

For the last few years (and in another sense, for my entire life), I've been concerned with fictions that among other things present human encounters with "impossible objects", a description that encompasses instances as diverse as Henry James' THE  GOLDEN BOWL, Arthur C. Clarke's RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA and Dr. Seuss's ON BEYOND ZEBRA. I've finished a novel, to be published in October, called CHRONIC CITY, in which the object in question is called a "chaldron". During the years of this book's writing I found myself by chance repeatedly drawn into collaborations with a series of other artists or art-presenters (see: Jennifer Palladino, Matthew Ritchie, and THE THING) and in each case I used it to further the foolish postulate that "chaldrons" were a part of the world outside the novel, an error shared by my book's characters.  

- Jonathan Lethem


1. A chaldron is an impossible object.

2. A chaldron is treasure from the future.

3. A chaldron is lit from within.

4. A chaldron speaks of the possibility of another world.

5. It is impossible to win an auction for a chaldron on eBay.

6. An encounter with a chaldron can be catastrophic.

7. The price of chaldrons is skyrocketing.

8. The chaldron bubble has not burst.

9. A chaldron is like an opera pouring from a flea’s mouth.

10. A chaldron is like an altarpiece bigger than the museum which contains it.

11. Some people, upon first glimpsing a chaldron, remove their clothes.

12. It is better to have seen and lost a chaldron than never to have seen a chaldron at all.


Jonathan Lethem is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer. His stories and essays have appeared widely in a range of publications, including The New Yorker and Mcsweeney’s. In 2005 he was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation. He lives with his family in Brooklyn and Maine.

More information on Jonathan Lethem can be found here.  


Matt Singer designs a line of shirts, bags, and assorted accessories. The line is sold at select retailers including Barneys, Project No.8, Askov Finalyson, and online. The website features the full collection plus a number of short films, a monthly book section, a selection of vintage watches, and a series of branded collaborations with Parsons the New School for Design, Million Trees NYC, Selima Salaun, 826NYC, and Idlewild Books.

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  • "...It is sort of sculptural, making these paragraphs and sentences come into being." - Los Angeles Times, 2009
  • "Lethem said he had several reasons for wanting to work with Herschend and Rogan. Namely, Lethem appreciated the way their enterprise plays with notions of the physicality of words... 'I just saw this letter that Don Delillo wrote to David Foster Wallace, where Delillo is talking with almost autistic intensity about picking his words for either having tall shapes in them or round, flat ones and wanting to see a certain array of tall versus round on the page. And I thought, ‘Yes, this is what we’re doing that no one talks about, getting involved in the plasticity of language.’...

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