visual identity for the project

I usually find it quite hard to begin with a cohesive visual identity for a project and not feel tied to a brand or identity that might no longer suit the project. Previous thoughts on title pages or brand are in this post.

More iterations on an identity for the book, thinking about a symbol that might work and a font selection that could be cohesive across the entire book.

Experimenting with hexagons and suggestions of the infinite through repetition.

 

 

I think this is my current favourite: suggestive hexagons with Didot font.

Thinking about how it might look in color, and in a more Faber & Faber style:

(too James Bond?)

Thoughts? Which is the strongest? What is working and failing miserably?

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hexagons: why?

I suppose, dear blog reader, that you might be wondering why hexagons are so prevalent in The Library of Babel. I am still curious myself. They are the building blocks for the whole library, the construction of the universe. Perhaps because they tesselate endlessly, perhaps for no other reason than a random choice. The ‘galleries’ of the Library, containing all of the books in the universe, are hexagonal in shape:

“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long shelves per side, cover all the sides except two; their height, which is the distance from floor to ceiling, scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase. One of the free sides leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery, identical to the first and to all the rest. To the left and right of the hallway there are two very small closets. In the first, one may sleep standing up; in the other, satisfy one’s fecal necessities. Also through here passes a spiral stairway, which sinks abysmally and soars upwards to remote distances.”

-Jorge Luis Borges

Imagining what shape this library must take is quite mind boggling, and seemingly impossible, or unimaginable (hence the title of my project: the infinite unimaginable). Some however – architects, engineers, mathematicians (Hayes 2009), those unable to leave enigmas unexplored – have devoted time to figuring out the structure, and even, indeed, the air circulation and location of load bearing pillars!

 

Within the Library, there is talk of a “the books in the Crimson Hexagon: books whose format is smaller than usual, all-powerful, illustrated and magical…” Borges’ ‘universe library’ is interesting in its absolute confusion. I was musing yesterday on the title’s inclusion of ‘Babel’ and yet the fact is that the word cannot be found anywhere within the story… In another short story, Borges’ protagonist asks:

In a riddle whose answer is time, what word is prohibited?’

-The Garden of Forking Paths, Borges. JL

In a story about _____________ what word is prohibited? The library contains all the books and languages and stories about the whole universe – if anything can be said or imagined, it is and must be contained in the library. And yet there is a stark lack of literary content – no quotes from books save to point out the impervious nature of the letters (or orthographic symbols) contained within. The letters and books appear to obstruct meaning, rather than communicate it. (Is the story about Babel? language? stories?…). As Lisa Block de Behar points out, perhaps the significant literary lack of the library can be justified in a similar way. Borges seems more concerned with the architecture and structure of the library than the books it contains.

by Karl Kempf

The origin of the library is unknown, as is its creator, as is the purpose of the ‘librarians’ existence (Piper, P. 2001). How can the author speak of hope? Is this the allusion to the human condition, scattered at Babel and unable to understand the universe we live in, language obscuring rather than revealing “humanities basic mysteries – the origin of the Library and of time” (Borges, 1959).

References

Block de Behar, L. 2001, The Place of the Library, Latin American Literary Review, Jul-Dec 2001, 29:58,  pp. 55-72.

Hayes, B. Books-A-Million (‘The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel’), American Scientist, 97:1, Jan-Feb 2009, p.78-79, book review.

Piper, P. 2001, ‘For Jorge Luis Borges, Paradise Was Not a Garden but a Library’, American Libraries, August 2001, pp.56-58.

 

 

Borges’ Labyrinths + Doctor Who – Part 2

Continuing my collection of the labyrinthine imagery contained in the new Doctor Who series…

Murillo suggested  that “each of Borges’ stories contains one or several variations of the labyrinth theme… the plan of a city, the sands of the desert, a spider web, a flaming pyre, and the dream state…” (‘The Labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges’, 1959)

The opening of series six begins with a flaming pyre, beginning a confusing sequence of events in space and time. 

The dream state made an appearance early on in series five, in ‘Amy’s Choice’ (Nye, S., 2010, 5:7) where the character of the mysterious Dream Lord who conjures two false realities to force Amy to make a choice. Interestingly, the TARDIS also features a lot of hexagonal design this season. Coincidence?

My mother suggested to me that I had missed the main point – the TARDIS itself is a labyrinth. 

This is actually explored a bit more in The Doctor’s Wife episode (2011, Moffat S., 6:4) in which the two companion characters, Rory and Amy, run through a maze-like arrangement of the TARDIS’ corridors, pursued and taunted by the omnipresent voice of the creator of this particular labyrinth.More hexagons (references to Borges’ ‘Babel’?), fear, a beast that appears to destroy them, apparent death, and finally salvation by the actual owner of the TARDIS, the Doctor, who alone can unravel the maze.

 

Interestingly enough, the Minotaur has made an appearance before in Doctor Who (1972, Bernard P., season 9)…

and will appear again in the second half of series six, as indicated in the trailer for part two.

Have I missed any? What other labyrinth metaphors or allusions are there in Moffat’s new Doctor Who?

REFERENCE LIST:

Murillo, L.A. 1959, ‘The Labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges: An introductory to the stories of The Aleph’, Modern Language Quarterly, 20:3 , pp.259-266.

All images from the television series Doctor Who, episodes indicated.
New seasons’ screen caps from http://doctorwho.sonicbiro.co.uk/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Borgian labyrinth imagery in Doctor Who – Part 1

An article by L..A. Murillo (1959) discusses the idea of the labyrinth presented in the work of Jorge Luis Borges, and in reading this article, I noticed a lot of parallels with recent plots and settings in the remake of Doctor Who. This is a cumulating collection of Doctor Who labyrinth imagery and/or metaphors as described by Murillo, referring to the works of Borges.

Murillo suggests that  “each of Borges’ stories contains one or several variations of the labyrinth theme. In The Aleph it is not overly difficult to make out the nucleus of images that Borges uses for the labyrinth: the plan of a city, the sands of the desert, a spider web, a flaming pyre, and the dream state…”
(‘The Labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges’, 1959)

Russel T Davies and Gareth Roberts use the metaphor of the sands of the desert when creating a planet that is entirely sand dunes (2009, ‘Planet of the Dead’, 4:15)

Interestingly, they also work in the labyrinthine city image – the planet used to be a thriving metropolis-planet in the past: 

The most relevant example for this project is ‘The Silence in the Library’ story arc (2008, Steven Moffat) which imagined a planet entirely composed of books – called ‘The Library‘. The darkness lurking there and recalls Murillo’s associations of the labyrinth with the fear of death and the helplessness of man (p.266, 1959). The plot recalls the original labyrinth myth in the terrifying beast/destroyer lurking in the library and the apparent inability to escape, but for the maker of the labyrinth – the character whose family created The Library is the one who possesses the knowledge to let them escape.

In another interesting layer, it also recalls Borges’ Babel in the sidelined role of humans within the library, and the search to find out what is at the heart of the library and discover its purpose to decipher it. Characters are ‘saved’ or ‘consumed’ (depending on your viewpoint and understanding of labyrinth stories) by both the character at the centre of the library (Cal) and also the ‘beast’ (the Vashta Nerada). 

More to come!

Reference List:

Murillo, L.A. 1959, ‘The Labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges: An introductory to the stories of The Aleph’, Modern Language Quarterly, 20:3 , pp.259-266.

All images from the television series Doctor Who, episodes indicated.
Screen caps from http://doctorwho.sonicbiro.co.uk/.