Constraints on Only Revolutions

Well, this book was rather an adventure to read. it was very interesting to see all the different constraints Danielewski used while writing this piece.  The first constraint I noticed was how on the very first page of both Hailey and Sam’s story was how they were essentially the same; identical but backwards. After reading further, you notice this is the way it is throughout the entire novel. Virtually the same text on both sides; both telling the story from their point of view using language according to the era in which they are in.

A second constraint is the mathematical layout of the book. The length of the book, the exact number of lines on each page, and the number of words on each page all have to do with the degrees of a circle, or making 1 full revolution.  The book is 360 pages long and the two stories meet in the middle at page 180(half a revolution), each half of a page is 90 words(making a full page 360 words) and every page contains 36 lines of text. All the numbers symbolize 1 full revolution within a circle.

A third constraint is that on page 2 of both sides of the story there is the symbol of the circle with the two parallel lines in the center. Also, on pages 6, 67, 71, 143, 215, and 283, just to name a few, there are solid filled in circles in the corners of the pages. I am not sure what the meaning is exactly yet, and still haven’t found a pattern for them but hopefully as I keep reading I will discover why they are used.

-Marissa Casagrande

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~ by bighouse113 on February 20, 2011.

3 Responses to “Constraints on Only Revolutions”

  1. As far as getting the correct content of the page going, you did a great job. The post was also not in a list format per-se like a lot of the other posts. Your first constraint was eluded to by other people before you, but I guess not spelled out (for instance, Joe mentioned that the stories had similar lines, and I mentioned that the same characters were referenced in each story). Your second constraint, however, was used by Diana.
    I thought you did a good job describing the nature of the page layout in terms of mathematics in relation to the title of the novel. I didn’t even notice the line count restriction, because the number of lines actually changes for Sam and Hailey’s parts, but actually do add up to 36. (I had formulated a theory about why there were 22 lines, but I guess its completely wrong.)
    As far as your third constraint goes, I’m sure that this is definitely some sort of constraint, but until we know what it is, we can’t know for sure. Great pickup on that one by the way! I never noticed those circles before you mentioning them. Actually, I didn’t even think of the circle filling as being parallel lines, but the numberal 2. You’re description makes much more sense.

    • I agree with Mike, the first and the second constraints were being used by others, and the second constraint is interesting.
      However, I did not see the 3rd constraint, not sure if it’s a constraint.

  2. This comment addresses the originality of the post, and it is useful that you provided references to posts where similar lines of thought occurred. I see, as you both point out, that the mathematical object of the circle is used as a part of the story, though I am not sure if the imagery is what makes the layout of the book mathematical. The restriction to line and page counts themselves, without reference to the circle, seem to be more of a mathematical constraint because because they are directly numerical and algorithmic, algorithmic in the selection of where to place a word to meet a constraint. With regard to the third constraint, I think we can trust, because of the rule-based construction of the book they occur in, that the circles are placed according to a plan of some sort, even if we do not know yet what meaning it has. The constraint may in where the circles may be place, a constraint on the circles rather than on the text.

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