The Empirical & Abstract Aspects of The Tree of Codes

Tree of Codes.

Jonathan Safran Foer cuts out seven letters of his favorite novel: Street of Crocodiles to title his work. The content in the form of a “sculptural object” evokes certain phenomena in readers using means obscure to other novellas. 

As the experience of the individual reading any work is unique to each, Tree of Codes furthers this individualistic aspect. For even to read this novel, one is faced with various paths. Whether to fashion a piece of paper underneath each page to block out the layers, read it from the side flipping through, or reading every layered page at once.

I chose to read both the page I was on and all the pages underneath. This method involves repetition of phrases. However, it allows the reader to develop an awareness about the impact of one word or word ending. Also the impact of the paragraph before and after. While reading the same phrases over and over, it still felt different each time. Language evokes feelings just as the spatial structure surrounding words.

For instance pg 12:

“goings-ing over  m]   [mories”

The word memories is blocked by a slit of paper, and I felt the structure of this sentence imitated the act of remembering. The hidden ‘e’ will be uncovered as the reader flips the page, yet this physical representation evoked an imagery of an abstract process: a brain trying to bring to the surface the many many files of memories it contains.

also on pg 8-12

there is a repetition of “back rising and falling” yet this phrase adopts new inflections on each page. 

“back rising and fall” 

“into back rising and fall” 

“held back rising and falling”

The change is no more than 7 letters yet each evoke an obvious difference between each, and perhaps these differences go unrecognized or undetected in most written works. Foer utilizes these inflections as a motion for this entire novel.

I found Tree of Codes all inclusive, poetic, and smart. It uses structure as tools for developing the content.

As for the biographical background of Foer, he favored Street of Crocodiles. So I was pondering the way in which artists (in this case writers) develop their own status as an artist in relation to the influences of outside texts. Instead of Foer creating a novel with a writing style that was inspired by Bruno Schulz, he took a work of Bruno Schulz and carved it down to be his own creations. The construction of this sculptural object and the implications involved in this work are not to be dismissed. This process may perhaps speak to the controversy of “originality.” I interpret Foer as defiant (as do many publishers that rejected this project) yet as Dada or anti-art. He in a way carves into a concept like originality, recycling a work he admires and creating a separate entity from the parent text (that is not completely separate). There are letters to share in diversity & Foer gives us the codes that provoke the reader to think about the dialectic relationship between the physical appearance& material structure and the abstraction of language, feeling & thought.


~ by hamshanwitch on March 31, 2013.

%d bloggers like this: