Restrictive Text

One contraint used is that it is recommended to rotate the book after 8 pages.  This is significant because the number 8 is basically the infinity symbol rotated 90 degrees.  Because there is the theme of truly no beginning and end, and how Sam and Hailey live to be 16 forever (8 (infinity)x 2 (people) = 16 (their age)).

Another contraint is the dates on the side. There are no historical dates after the publication date.  This is likely to be because, well, nothing had happened in those years. But also, maybe, to make the point of “what can happen these years?”  I argue this is a contraint because, since it is a work of fiction, the author could have made up historical events but he deliberately chose not to.  Also, the only date that overlaps is November 22, 1963– the date of President Kennedy’s assassination.  This is an important date in U.S. history.

The last contraint is US which is always capitalized.  This is probably a play on U.S. and us, and may be reflective of some kind of theme or message we are supposed to draw from the story.  (The title is “Only Revolutions” and it starts in the U.S. Civil War, converges at the date of JFK’s assassination.)  The word us implies a connectivity and a shared collective, as well.

(Also, to note–I’m adding this one last because I’m not sure it is a contraint.  Only Revolutions refers to revolutions which are 360s.  But a revolution is also that in a political sense.  And they’re both referred to in this novel.  A revolution is also to change the way you think, and the novel is a revolution for printed fiction.  You could argue the title is restrictive in itself, where the book is about, well, only revolutions.)

– Aly Ferguson


~ by notsinthetix on February 21, 2011.

3 Responses to “Restrictive Text”

  1. Unfortunately, the listing of US as always being capitalized has already been pointed out by another classmate here: .
    Also, a note regarding the first mentioned constraint – this was a suggestion by the publisher, not the author. However, it has been pointed out that every 8 pages contributes to a spelling of HAILEY AND SAM or SAM AND HAILEY (depending on which thread you’re reading), and so this observation is still valid.

    -Dave Turka

  2. I agree that rotating the book every 8 pages is a constraint. It forced Danielewski to build two stories that were spliced together both every 8 pages and in a way that was artistically appealing and effective. Aly wrote clearly about this constraint and the other related significant data.

    I was slightly less clear on the content of the second paragraph. I believed that the dates were intended to add symmetry to the two sides of the book, which would add to the many numerical connections. This would make it a constraint, because it requires more balancing from the author. I am not sure that it was designed to beg any certain questions.

    I don’t think the capitalization of US counts as a constraint. To me it appeared to simply to be a tool to draw connections in the reader’s mind. Aly outlined a few good examples of such connections.

  3. @dave: Again the biggest problem is brevity, but this may be a differing of opinion on criticism. You point out flaws in Aly’s reasoning, but don’t really do more then that. This is more to do with the second statement (the first is just plain accurate) in that while you say the revolve every 8 pages thing isn’t a constraint imposed by Danielewski you leave your point hanging as to why this may or may not count for the assignment. Are we sure that suggestion, even if it is from the publisher, doesn’t count as a constraint? I’d side with you, but I don’t know how I’d add to the argument.

    That said, the writing was efficient and well phrased.

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