The Ideal Book

Codex Gigas--The Big Book!

…is a work of text, no doubt, and there’s no need to define the words work and text, because things get tricky of we do, and they’re tricky enough as it is.  Instead, let’s stick with the Ideal Book’s layout, because that’s where the real beauty lies: two pages, side by side like husband and wife in bed, bound by a stylish hardcover—no problems, this is just like any other book.  But look at the margins.  See how they’re white and crisp, like freshly-laundered bedsheets?—see also how they extend forever in all directions?  That’s the real trickiness of this Ideal Book.  It’s created for the Ideal Reader, who always reads with ready pen in eager hand, whose mind is a sizzling kettle nestled in a flowerbed of blue flames.

It’s here on these endless margins that the Ideal Reader’s mind is free to dance, kicking its marks into the dark sand of a beach that stretches back and forth, left and right, past the far edge of the horizon.  Each word of the text, which is any text written or unwritten, is a bursting geyser of inspiration to the Ideal Reader, who writes a line of a thousand words for every one word read in the original text, and from the marginal words in these textual lines extend other lines written by other Ideal Readers.  These lines crisscross each other like the diagonal fire escapes of city tenements.

And, as the Ideal Book grows, later readers find they cannot tell the difference between the marginalia and the original text.

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One thought on “The Ideal Book

  1. Luna says:

    You should watch the demo for Google Wave. I only watched about the first half an hour of it myself, because these things can get a little tedious, but there’s some great potential for rethinking the digital text. It’s not something wholly new, but a very intelligent combination of a lot of technologies. The replay feature, in particular, came to mind when I read this post. I thought about how cool it would be to be able to replay one’s marginal comments, or even replay the marginal commentary on classic texts.

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