Codex Seraphinianus

CodexCodex Seraphinianus, Luigi Serafini

As further proof that weird is wonderful, the universe has given us Serafini’s baffling, hilarious, and terrifying masterwork.  The book is clearly a passion project, but exactly what it is remains open to interpretation.  A mysterious codex from a world very similar but completely alien to our own world, Codex Seraphinianus puts forward an incomprehensible explanation of this alternate universe.  The text is some bizarre invention of Serafini’s that resembles the written word well enough, until the reader attempts to parse it.  Equally baffling are the strange illustrations that accompany the text.  A pair of lovers transforms into an enormous lizard.  Skeletons queue up for a skin fitting.  Plants act like animals, machines act like plants, animals behave like machines.

In spite of the beautifully crafted images and the wry humor throughout, what I love most about this book is its ability to transport the reader to some preliterate state.  I remember the weight and mystery of books as a child, when I could not yet read, but suspected that there was meaning to be had in the letters.  The story in these books relied on my interpretation of the images and the few words I recognized.  The great success of Codex Seraphinianus is its ability to capture the magic of words and books by creating an incomprehensible book. – Nathan


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