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Bizzare & Odd

Codex Seraphinianus – The World’s Weirdest Book

 

Some people think it’s one of the weirdest books ever published. An art book unlike any other art book. A unique and disturbing surreal parody. Grotesque and beautiful. It’s very hard to describe. Codex Seraphinianus by Italian artist Luigi Serafini is a window on a bizarre fantasy world complete with its own unique (unreadable) alphabet and numerous illustrations that borrow from the modern age but veer into the extremely unusual.
Codex Seraphinianus, originally published in 1981, is an illustrated encyclopedia of an imaginary world, created by the Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini during thirty months, from 1976 to 1978. The book is approximately 360 pages long (depending on edition), and written in a strange, generally unintelligible alphabet. Originally published in Italy, the book has since been released in a number of different countries.
The word “Codex” in the title means “book” or “code” (from Latin caudex), and “Seraphinianus” is derived from the author’s last name, Serafini (which in Italian, refers to the seraphs). Literally, Codex Seraphinianus means Serafini’s code. It was first published in two volumes by Franco Maria Ricci in 1981. The pictures in this AbeBooks article are from the 1983 American edition published by Abbeville – 370 pages of the Twilight Zone. There is also a 1993 single volume edition and a revised 2006 Italian edition with new illustrations – this final edition is the most affordable version.
Created in the late 1970s, the book’s blurb on the cover flap talks about Codex Seraphinianus being a book for the “age of information” where coding and de-coding messages is increasingly important in genetics, computer science and literary criticism. “The Codex presents the creative vision of this time…” goes on the blurb. If Serafini was so influenced by “information” in the 1970s to create this maverick art book, then what must he make of today’s information age? Codex Seraphinianus Covers featuring Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Google? Countless websites and blogs can be found pondering the meaning of Codex Seraphinianus or simply admiring a truly original piece of art/fantasy/imagination – call it what you will. 

The cover alone is worth studying. The 1991 Abbeville edition features a couple having sex and being transformed into a crocodile. Shakespeare described sex as the “beast with two backs” butSerafini is operating on a different level to the Bard. The 1993 edition uses a different image for its cover – a man in very unpractical headwear appears to be riding a llama, which has an impressive set of antlers. They are both staring into a mirror outside a stone building that appears to be offering some sort of brightly colored food. Both covers are strange but the crocodile sex image is more disturbing.
Essentially an encyclopedia about an alien world that clearly reflects our own, each chapter appears to deal with key facets of this surreal place, including flora, fauna, science, machines, games and architecture. It’s difficult to be exact because no-one has ever understood the contents page. Elements of today’s world are visible but they are nearly always given some surreal twist – floating flowers, a peeled banana containing pills, a strange car covered in flies, clothing that would seem strange even in the 1970s, a man wearing roller-skates – with a fountain pen’s nib instead of a hand – stabbed through the chest with a pen, and lots of biped creatures with human legs attached to all manner of crazy things.

Codex Seraphinianus was No.8 on BookFinder’s report of the most searched for science fiction, fantasy and horror books in 2008. AbeBooks has sold 44 copies of this book at $350 or more, and the most expensive copy to ever sell on our site was a true first edition in two volumes signed Luigi Serafini that went for $5,000.

Artists have studied the book’s illustrations, philosophers have pondered the book’s meaning, codebreakers have tried (unsuccessfully) to decipher the text (although the numbers are now understood apparently), science fiction and fantasy fans have embraced it, and academics have tried to classify the book. Collectors just like to own it – an invaluable tool for making house-guests slightly uneasy.

filaments. There are also illustrations readily recognizable, as maps or human faces. On the other hand, especially in the “physics” chapter, many images look almost completely abstract. Practically all figures are brightly coloured and rich in detail.
Baird Searles, in Asimov’s Science Fiction (April 1984), says “the book lies in the uneasy boundary between surrealism and fantasy, given an odd literary status by its masquerade as a book of fact”.Douglas R. Hofstadter, in Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, finds many of the illustrations “grotesque and disturbing” and others “extremely beautiful and visionary”. He says the book “seems to [many people] to glorify entropy, chaos, and incomprehensibility”. American journalist Jim Dwyer finds that the work is an early critique of the Information Age.

Codex-Seraphinianus

Codex Seraphinianus Writing system
The writing system (possibly a false writing system) appears modeled on ordinary Western-style writing systems (left-to-right writing in rows; an alphabet with uppercase and lowercase letters, some of which double as numerals). Some letters appear only at the beginning or at the end of words, a feature shared with Semitic writing systems. The curvilinear letters of the alphabet are rope- or thread-like, displaying loops and even knots, and are somewhat reminiscent of Sinhala alphabets.
The language of the book has defied complete analysis by linguists for decades. The number system used for numbering the pages, however, has been cracked (apparently independently) by Allan C. Wechsler and Bulgarian linguist Ivan Derzhanski, among others. It is a variation of base 21. In a talk at the Oxford University Society of Bibliophiles held on 11 May 2009, Serafini stated that there is no meaning hidden behind the script of the Codex, which is asemic; that his own experience in writing it was closely similar to automatic writing; and that what he wanted his alphabet to convey to the reader is 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.

Codex-Seraphinianus-3

Codex Seraphinianus Contents
The Codex Seraphinianus is divided into eleven chapters, partitioned into two sections. The first section appears to describe the natural world, dealing with flora, fauna, and physics. The second deals with the humanities, the various aspects of human life: clothing, history, cuisine, architecture and so on. Each chapter seems to treat a general encyclopedic topic. The topics of each separate chapter are as follows:

  • The first chapter describes many types of flora: strange flowers, trees that uproot themselves and migrate, etc.
  • The second chapter is devoted to the fauna of this world, depicting many animals that are surreal variations of the horse, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, birds, etc.
  • The third chapter deals with what seems to be a separate kingdom of odd bipedal creatures.
  • The fourth chapter deals with something that seems to be physics and chemistry, and is by far the most abstract and enigmatic.
  • The fifth chapter deals with bizarre machines and vehicles.
  • The sixth chapter explores the general humanities: biology, sexuality, various aboriginal peoples, and even shows examples of plant life and tools (such as pens and wrenches) grafted directly into the human body.
  • The seventh chapter is historical. It shows many people (some only vaguely human) of unknown significance, giving their times of birth and death. It also depicts many scenes of historical (and possibly religious) significance. Also included are examples of burial and funereal customs.
  • The eighth chapter depicts the history of the Codex’s alien writing system.
  • The ninth chapter deals with food, dining practices, and clothing.
  • The tenth chapter describes bizarre games (including playing cards and board games) and athletic sports.
  • The eleventh chapter is devoted entirely to architecture.

There are a few lines of text written in Codex Seraphinianus in French on two plates in the sixth chapter. It is a quote from Marcel Proust’s “A la recherche du temps perdu: Albertine disparue” (In Search of Lost Time: Albertine Gone). The words scattered on the floor of the picture are from the same book.

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Bizzare & Odd

Banana duct-taped to a wall sells for $120,000

Some people will buy anything… 

Modern art connoisseurs have taken to a rather tongue-in-cheek exhibit at a Miami Beach art festival this week.

A fool and his money are soon parted, as the saying goes – and nowhere is this more apparent than at the Art Basel in Miami where at least two art collectors have already paid an absurd $120,000 for a piece of ‘art’ that amounts to little more than an overripe banana stuck to a wall with duct-tape.

The farcical exhibit, which is appropriately entitled ‘Comedian’, is the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan who reportedly acquired the piece of fruit from a local supermarket.

After going on sale by Paris-based gallery Perrotin, the first iteration of the piece sold to a French art collector for the full $120,000, while a second version also sold for the same amount.

Given the success of the piece, subsequent iterations are set to be sold for even higher sums.

Exactly what will happen to its value once the banana rots away however remains unclear.

Source: NBC News

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Bizzare & Odd

Nikola Tesla lied that he received messages from aliens from Mars

The Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943) completely changed the course of history thanks to his inventions. The AC system, which he championed and improved, remains the world standard for power transmission. Mankind is indebted to him.

Nikola Tesla

It is worth recognizing that many of his ideas and statements were still insane. Investors did not want to sponsor, and banks did not give out loans not for the reason that they were afraid of changes, but because they did not see prospects. For example, Tesla claimed that electricity can be transmitted through the air, but this is absurd.

Tesla loved the myths around him and helped them to spread, since it was the cheapest way to popularize his persona. Going too far, Nikola Tesla said that in 1899 he intercepted the message from intelligent creatures, living most likely, on Mars.

The inventor intrigued onlookers, telling how he repeatedly managed to receive signals from Mars, created by intelligent creatures. He seemed to be clearly aware of the presence of someone there, outside the Earth, but he did not have enough resources to establish bilateral contact.

In 1910, giving an interview to The New York Times, Tesla slowed down and admitted that he had not received messages from Mars (what a “surprise”). He explained that he recorded unusual radio signals from the moon, Venus, the sun, and probably from Mars. So, Tesla himself, destroyed his own myth about himself.

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Bizzare & Odd

China announces the completion of its Artificial Sun and expect it to become operational in 2020

One of the biggest problems facing the world today is the issue of energy. Finding a renewable energy source that does not destroy that planet is a complex task that has intrigued many countries for many years.

However, China may have found a solution. Chinese scientists are working on collecting energy from the Sun, but not in the traditional sense of solar energy, but in fusion energy. The “artificial sun” that has developed is actually a nuclear fusion device that is believed to be the future of clean energy.

Fusion reactor

On Tuesday, China announced the completion of its reactor device and declared that they expect it to come into operation as soon as 2020. The real name of China’s artificial sun is HL-2M, which doesn’t make it sound so special. The reactor is located in Leshan, Sichuan Province, where it was built to investigate fusion technology by the National Nuclear Corporation of China and the Institute of Physics of the Southwest. In reality, it has become much more and is potentially the future of the world’s energy.

% name China announces the completion of its artificial Sun and expect it to become operational in 2020

China announces the completion of its artificial Sun and expect it to become operational in 2020

How does it work?

This is essentially a giant nuclear fusion device, which basically forces atoms to bind, which releases heat, which can then be harvested for energy. While the device is known as an artificial sun, it can actually reach temperatures 13 times higher than the real star. The HL-2M can reach 200 million degrees Celsius (360 million degrees Fahrenheit, compared to just 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit) in the core of the Sun. The resulting energy is not only cheaper, but also much cleaner than current nuclear options, which means that the Earth would not be damaged.

That said, it is not as simple as it seems. Of course, there are a number of problems when dealing with such high temperatures, the main one being that they are difficult to achieve. Completing reactions like this can be complicated and must be done correctly so they don’t go wrong. The consequences could be dire. Therefore, there are a number of problems that must be resolved before this sun can get to work.

While it is not yet functional, it will be soon, and the artificial sun could possibly revolutionize the world’s energy sources and the way we use it.

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