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An Exceedingly Odd Book
Dec 27, 2006, 1:49a - Communication

Jason, Becca's brother, gave me an exceedingly odd book for Christmas. It's called Arboretum, written by a man named David Byrne. After flipping through a bunch of pages, my initial reaction was "Wow, this is definitely on the hardcore side of weird."

When I first picked up the book, what struck me was the cover and binding: it's got that "I'm-a-book-cover-made-from-paper-bags" sorta feel. It looks like a sketchbook, and when you open it up that is pretty much what it is. The book is exceptionally well-printed, as the drawings look like they're done in pencil replete with smudge marks from erasing. The way Jason put it was that he thought the book was an "original" until he saw the stack of copies at the bookstore.

Here's the cover:

Here's a sample page entitled "History of Mark-making":

The book is a collection of mind maps on various topics, from "Movement in Gestural Transformation" to "Nambikwara Verbal Suffix Categories." I've flipped through a quarter of the book so far. I find that my mind has to work in a new way to really understand each sketch, almost as if it needs to form new connections somehow. It's similar to the feeling I get when I read poetry, esp. after reading non-fiction for so long, where I'm focused on efficiently understanding each concept and then moving on to the next. Perhaps this book should be part of a new grouping called "Visual Poetry", a genre where lingering is encouraged and productivity/efficiency have been banished.

Here's another sample page called "Romantic Destiny":

I'm not sure whether to recommend the book or not, but I've certainly found it intriguing and unlike any other book I have ever seen. It's uniqueness is unparalleled.

Read comments (3) - Comment

Jason - Dec 27, 2006, 10:12p

Apparently David Byrne is actually an accomplished musician/composer. That may have something to do with his organizational patterns. Most books I've seen by non-composer artists tend to be very rough and loose unlike Byrne's Arboretum which is loose but exact somehow. Anyway, the links above go into a deeper scope of his work that I knew nothing about when I bought the book. I also haven't seen the last emperor but I do remember it winning an Oscar.

Evan - Dec 29, 2006, 12:41a
David Byrne was the lead singer of Talking Heads. He is also something of a PowerPoint buff lately:

Jon - Dec 31, 2006, 9:30a
This seems somewhat similar to a blog to which I recently became addicted:

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