Tree of Codes, by Jonathan Safran Foer
“Only now do I understand the war against boredom, the lost cause of empty hours, of empty days and nights. we felt Betrayed, surrendered. beset from all sides by grayness The wallpaper closed in on itself. The chandeliers wilted like hanging gardens.”
This is a most interesting reading experience. A “novel” literally carved out from another novel (Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles). It is a work of art (visual and literary) cobbled together from another work of art, to make something new, in both form and content. A combination of visual art and poetry — an experimental art form. And, of course, really it’s not entirely new. It’s more a beautiful and somewhat monstrous rendering of another’s creation. Violent cuts, gaping square holes — that make the paper feel both fragile and authoritative — provoke a strange feeling of repulsion and compulsion. The pages get tangled with each other, the cut ridges getting hooked under and over each other. Sometimes it feels like they are alive, like greenery and vines. This is messy. These pages are not docile, even if they are delicate. How very odd. The form makes me engage with the content in a completely different way from what I am accustomed to. I have to work hard for this. But the words and sentences, as they have been sliced and diced together, are beautiful.
And I love it.
“The sleeping garden screamed. the garden turned in its sleep, its back rising and falling as it breathed. August had expanded into enormous tongues of greenery. August painted The air with a mop. Hours pass in coughs. half-naked, half-animal, half-shameless, half-hoarse with shouting, mother was lying in a patch of yellow in the still broken only by the ticking of a clock, motionless like a glove from which a hand had been withdrawn.”