Monday, May 30, 2011

Jonathan Safran Foer's "Tree of Codes"

Imagine my surprise when I opened Jonathan Safran Foer's book Tree of Codes on the airplane and it looked like this (image via):

Then imagine the people watching me read this book on the airplane. In the last week, I've read it twice and with each reading feel like I've gained something new not just in the content but in the act of how to read a book. The first page looks like this with many other pages underneath:

My two favorite pages scanned with a sheet of paper behind them:

From the Author's Afterward: "For years I had wanted to create a die-cut book by erasure, a book whose meaning was exhumed from another book. I had thought of trying the technique with the dictionary, the encyclopedia, the phone book, various works of fiction and non-fiction, and with my own novels. But any of those options would have merely spoken to the process. The book would have been an exercise. I was in search of a text whose erasure would somehow be a continuation of its creation. The Street of Crocodiles is often my answer to the impossible-to-answer question: What is your favorite book? And yet, it took me a year to recognize it as the text I'd been looking for.... At times I felt that I was making a gravestone rubbing of The Street of Crocodiles, and at times that I was transcribing a dream that The Street of Crocodiles might have had. I have never read another book so intensely or so many times. I've never memorized so many phrases, or, as in the act of erasure progressed, forgotten so many phrases."

It reminds me of Ann Hamilton's Tropos:

Needless to say this interlibrary loan from Boston College has gravitated to my "buy" list. Check out the Visual Editions website and this video on how the book was constructed.

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