Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out of the Dark and Dusted Off: Codex Seraphinianus

I've collected lots of stuff over the years. Books, comics, toys, movie memorabilia . . . stuff. Much of it is buried in boxes, deep inside dark closets. Most of it I see only when I stumble across it by accident.

So what's the point of having all this stuff? I like to look at it, sure. But I also like to share it.

Used to be, you shared your cool stuff with friends when they dropped by to visit. You'd say, "Hey, look at this amazing thing!" Or, "Do you remember this?" And you'd pull a book off a shelf or a toy out of a box and let your conversation cascade into nostalgia and shared passions.

So time to do some sharing. I think I'll pull a few things off the shelves and out of the boxes and show them to you.

Today I've got one of the most fascinating books I've ever seen. It's called the Codex Seraphinianus by Italian artist Luigi Serafini and it is really hard to describe with just words. You have to see it to appreciate it. Yes, it's an art book; but it is so much more. It appears to be an encyclopedia from an alien/alternate world, a book--an artifact--that landed on earth through some transdimensional rift. It seems complete, hermetic, and yet it teases with glimpses into something vast and strange and taunts with the promise of decipherability. The jacket copy on the Abbeville Press edition describes it as: "the accumulated wisdom of an imaginary, parallel world that is at once bizarre and at the same time strangely familiar and recognizable." I like to think of it as the kind of book Dr. Seuss would write if he lived in China Mieville's New Crobuzon.

Whatever. It's weird, compelling and unforgettable.

Here are some interior pages:

(These pictures really don't do the book justice--check out the links below for great images from the book and pictures of its various covers.)

You can find out more about this strange book on its Wikipedia page.

Also, check out this great article from The Believer Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks John for those great memories (and the links!) According to Amazon, you have a real treasure on your hands there: $550! (but we both already knew a long time ago that it was priceless ;-)