A Case for making shit up
Next time you’re looking to flex your imagination, why not create a codex? A codex is a book made up of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar, with hand-written content, usually stacked and bound by fixing one edge and with covers thicker than the sheets, but sometimes continuous and folded concertina-style. The alternative to paged codex format for a long document is the continuous scroll.
Luigi Serafini’s famous Codex Seraphinianus was originally published in 1981 and created during thirty months, from 1976 to 1978. It is an illustrated encyclopedia of an imaginary world. It is not only written in a made-up language, but also uses a strange and unintelligible alphabet. The book also contains eerie fantastical illustrations of flora, fauna, anatomies, fashions and foods. It has been described as a surreal parody of the real world, being hilarious, disturbing and bizarre all at the same time.
Serafini described the process of creating his Codex as something similar to automatic writing; which means he largely shut off his ‘rational’ mind and let his imagination truly flow freely.
He has said that he wanted his new language and alphabet ‘to convey to the reader 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.’
Serafini’s text has confounded translators and cryptologists alike – and he himself has remained largely mysterious over the origins, inspiration and meaning behind the codex.
A made up manuscript that encourages readers to make up their own minds. What’s not to like?
S+ Suggested Reading: Luigi Serafini’s Codex Serafinianus. Download a free .pdf HERE
Published: February 5th, 2015