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Luigi Serafini - Codex Seraphinianus


Bez bicia przynam się, że na temat natknąłem się na Facebooku. Zainspirowany postanowiłem opisać go na blogu, bo zjawisko jest fascynujące. Codex Seraphinianus – książka napisana w późnych latach 70. XX wieku przez włoskiego grafika i architekta Luigiego Serafiniego. Dzieło, napisane w wymyślonym przez autora języku, jest swego rodzaju encyklopedią opisującą fantastyczny świat będący parodią świata rzeczywistego.

Książka została jak dotąd wydana czterokrotnie. Oryginalne, dwutomowe wydanie, zostało opublikowane w 1981 przez Franca Maria Ricciego. 2 lata później amerykańskie wydawnictwo Abbeville wydało jednotomową, 370-stronicową wersję dzieła. Kolejne wydanie powstało w 1993. Najnowsza wersja pochodzi z roku 2006.

Książka napisana jest w nieznanym języku. Przypomina on zachodni sposób pisania - pismo należy czytać od lewej do prawej, występują wielkie i małe litery, jednak sam alfabet przypomina raczej pismo ludów semickich - bardziej zaokrąglone od alfabetu łacińskiego. (wikipedia)


Codex Seraphinianus, originally published in 1981, is an illustrated encyclopedia of an imaginary world, created by the Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini during thirty months, from 1976 to 1978. The book is approximately 360 pages long (depending on edition), and written in a strange, generally unintelligible alphabet.

Originally published in Italy, the book has since been released in a number of different countries. The word "Codex" in the title means "book" or "code" (from Latin caudex), and "Seraphinianus" is derived from the author's last name, Serafini (which in Italian, refers to the seraphs). Literally, Codex Seraphinianus means Serafini's code.

The book is an encyclopedia in manuscript with copious hand-drawn colored-pencil illustrations of bizarre and fantastical flora, fauna, anatomies, fashions, and foods. It has been compared to the Voynich manuscript, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, and the works of M.C. Escher and Hieronymus Bosch.

The illustrations are often surreal parodies of things in the real world: bleeding fruit; a plant that grows into roughly the shape of a chair and is subsequently made into one; a lovemaking couple that metamorphoses into an alligator; etc. Others depict odd, apparently senseless machines, often with a delicate appearance, kept together by tiny filaments. There are also illustrations readily recognizable as maps or human faces. On the other hand, especially in the "physics" chapter, many images look almost completely abstract. Practically all figures are brightly coloured and rich in detail.


Baird Searles, in Asimov's Science Fiction (April 1984), says "the book lies in the uneasy boundary between surrealism and fantasy, given an odd literary status by its masquerade as a book of fact".

Douglas R. Hofstadter, in Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, finds many of the illustrations "grotesque and disturbing" and others "extremely beautiful and visionary". He says the book "seems to [many people] to glorify entropy, chaos, and incomprehensibility".

American journalist Jim Dwyer finds that the work is an early critique of the Information Age.

The writing system (possibly a false writing system) appears modeled on ordinary Western-style writing systems (left-to-right writing in rows; an alphabet with uppercase and lowercase letters, some of which double as numerals). Some letters appear only at the beginning or at the end of words, a feature shared with Semitic writing systems. The curvilinear letters of the alphabet are rope- or thread-like, displaying loops and even knots, and are somewhat reminiscent of Sinhala alphabets.

The language of the book has defied complete analysis by linguists for decades. The number system used for numbering the pages, however, has been cracked (apparently independently) by Allan C. Wechsler and Bulgarian linguist Ivan Derzhanski, among others. It is a variation of base 21.

In a talk at the Oxford University Society of Bibliophiles held on 11 May 2009, Serafini stated that there is no meaning hidden behind the script of the Codex, which is asemic; that his own experience in writing it was closely similar to automatic writing; and that what he wanted his alphabet to convey to the reader is the sensation that children feel in front of books they cannot yet understand, although they see that their writing does make sense for grown-ups.(wikipedia)


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