Too much typing yesterday, hence this ultra-brief post. 🙂

If (like me) you’re fascinated by the Codex Seraphinianus, I think you really, really need to read the article “THE CODEX SERAPHINIANUS – How Mysterious Is A Mysterious Text If The Author Is Still Alive (And Emailing)?” by Justin Taylor from the May 2007 edition of The Believer magazine.

Taylor even includes something which hadn’t previously appeared in print – part of an English translation of the French translation of Italo Calvino’s introduction (entitled “Orbis Pictus”) to the original Italian edition of the Codex Seraphinianus. Plenty of nice discussion of parallels with J. L. Borges’ works, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the playful machines of Serafini’s fellow Milanesi Bruno Munari, and even Leo Lionni’s “Parallel Botany” (of which I have a copy on my bookshelf).

Enjoy! 🙂

8 thoughts on “Excellent Codex Seraphinianus article…

  1. infinitii on May 19, 2009 at 2:31 pm said:

    Cool article– interestingly, I was able to check out the Codex back when I first heard about it about 7-8 years ago, and I just looked again and its still available for check-out at the local university library. I wonder how much their ‘lost book’ fee is..

  2. That’s so morally bankrupt… have you considered working in politics? 🙂

  3. Emily on May 19, 2009 at 10:03 pm said:

    There’s a Flickr set somewhere out there featuring every page of the Codex(or at least all the images), but that doesn’t quite match up to the wonders of seeing this book “in person”– which gives it more of the “artifact from a parallel world” feel. Also, Parallel Botany sounds worth a look– I’ve added it to my Interlibrary Loan requests.

  4. Dennis on May 24, 2009 at 5:27 am said:

    Thanks for the article, Nick! I visited Serafini’s site but it was blank, and I’m not sure how to interpret the page source code.

    I liked the comment that Serafini’s ‘Rosetta Stone’ was for people in his world to interpret hieroglyphics, and not for us to interpret CS script (what to call it? Serafinian?) Has anyone tried to use it to interpret Serafinian? You could try if you knew hieroglyphics.

    I also looked at the Wiki article on Serafini. I see he goes out on exhibits sometimes; it would be very interesting to speak to him.

  5. Diane on April 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm said:

    He’s a graphic artist. Maybe his point was that we rely too much on script and language, so he provided one that couldn’t be used to filter the message of his pictures.

    Speaking of imaginary worlds, though, about the same time that he published that book, I got a copy of one which purported to be a paleontological study of Australian fossils. A beautiful, coloured reproduction, with detailed description for each critter. It was only when I got about half-way through that I baulked at the “Sand Shark” – a wondrous monster which – it was claimed – once upon a time swam beneath the sands of the central desert, erupting to attack oblivious proto-kangaroos.

  6. I was the one who originally scanned the Codex. I intended it to be distributed only secretly on private BitTorrent trackers, which I felt would be suitably mysterious. But the Flickr posting is interesting for drawing out how different the book feels when viewed online.

  7. Mushroom identification? Amanita phalloides vs other look-alikes: “boots/shoes” at base of tall white stem, bad. White spore/gills also white on that same shroom, bad-bad, tattered remnants of “veil” on stem? Don’t even taste test.

    Another of the mushroomy,cartoonish characters looks like he is wearing the “fontanella” and “opanci” of a male Greek dancer.

    I’ve glanced at this post several times. Thought I’d wait for a quiet spell.

    Yassou! Opa!

  8. :fustanella (greek men’s garment originally meant to deflect sword strokes in battle). opanki/opanci were curled-up toed shoes that could resemble boats with a turned-up prow. My earlier reference to mushrooms was caused by my observation of the full (tan-brown) skirt the one character was wearing. My reference to the poisonous mushrooms was caused by the scraggly white “legs” of the other critter in the same drawing. Is there anyone out there who would like to learn the Greek dance “Syrto” in four easy step-reps?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post navigation