Shelley Jackson on Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus (1976-78): It would become a drastically different book the minute it became completely translated, which of course could be part of the plan. He could have conceived this as a sort of embryonic or chrysalitic work that at some point would take a kind of completely different shape. But the way I see it, it’s probably meant to hover on the verge of scrutability, to constantly hold forth the possibility of being read but stay resistant at the same time. It’s important that it bothers you with the feeling that there is some content that you ought to be able to extract from it in a normal discursive kind of way. It’s meant to appeal to the rational or exegetical urge. It wants to be interpreted but it won’t let you, and it’s very interesting the way it teasingly asks to be read and then refuses. You could see this as a really really elaborate inkblot. It’s never going to completely yield to you in the sense of giving you insight into the artist’s intentions, so it kind of reverts you back on yourself and makes you notice what you’re noticing and notice the associations that you make. It’s a kind of springboard for your own creative musings.
(From Justin Taylor’s luminous Believer essay on the codex. If you’re interested in the full Codex Seraphinianus, they’re rereleasing it this October for $125: more info here.)